Including and connecting sessional staff for improved organisational capability

Lucie Zundans-Fraser (Presenter), Will Letts (Presenter), Jenny Dwyer (Presenter), Sam Malloy (Presenter)

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The reliance on, but lack of systematic support for, sessional academics has been identified as a risk to the quality of the learning experiences of students by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. Sessional academics are the largest workforce within our Faculty, yet the nature of their work and constant changes in the higher educational space invariably leads to a high turnover of sessional staff. This project is grounded in existing research on the factors affecting sessional staff experiences in Australian Universities, how these issues variously manifest over time at our university and the results of a whole of university sessional staff project group the presenters were involved in.

As a result of needs and gaps identified across the institution, the Faculty of Arts and Education established two full-time Academic Lead – Sessional Staff Support (ALSSS) roles. All sessional staff in the Faculty were surveyed regarding their needs and things that were already being done well. We identified pockets of excellent practice but also that significant support was required in the coordination of sessional staff and their integration into institutional culture and practices. While all sessional staff wanted to be involved with the institution, it was important to be able to provide targeted and responsive advice on learning and teaching pedagogies, institutional processes and technologies as well as a familiar and friendly ‘first port of call’ for sessional academics. Part of the remit of these roles aim was to establish a consistent induction process across the Faculty, ensure an increased sense of inclusion and connection for sessional staff (without exacerbating their unpaid workload), provide guidance around teaching and learning experiences to improve the student experience and an increased level of stability and confidence in their roles.

This presentation will chart some of the journey of how we arrived at these roles, will report on the experiences of Faculty leadership who originally created the role of Academic Lead- Sessional Staff Support, reflect on how it has evolved and changed over time and use one of our Schools as a case study to look at how this support has been used and what it might look like in the future.


ConferenceAustralian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleTruth, Voice, Place: Critical junctures for educational research

We look forward to welcoming you to the AARE 2023 Conference hosted by the University of Melbourne. The theme of the conference this year is Truth, Voice, Place: Critical junctures for educational research. We invite education researchers to explore critical junctures in the field. We are excited to bring together a diverse community of scholars to engage in meaningful discussions and exchange ideas on the pressing issues facing education research today.

As you will see in the Call for Papers, one immediate context for the conference theme is the upcoming referendum on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. This represents one of the many critical junctures facing educational researchers today, both locally and internationally. The conference aims to provide a welcome forum for scholars to discuss the implications of this historic moment, alongside the intersection of education research with broader local and global change.

We welcome submissions from education researchers across all areas of the field, including curriculum, policy, pedagogy, assessment, and leadership. We hope that the conference will provide opportunities for transformation, new possibilities, and new collaborations.
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