Sessional staff traversing diverse learning spaces: a review

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Sessional academic staff are a dominant feature of the global higher education workforce whose contributions over the past 20 years have been significant. While the higher education sector’s reliance upon these staff is expected to increase, our knowledge and understanding of these staff is lacking. This compromises the development of policies, strategies and programs designed to engage, support and improve the high quality contributions of the sessional academic workforce over a sustained period. The imperative for change in this area is therefore evident; a more informed approach to sessional academic engagement, support and quality improvement is an essential component to operating effectively in a modern higher education sector.
This project reviews the challenges associated with the effective and sustainable engagement of the Australian sessional academic workforce. It is conservatively estimated that sessional academics deliver more than 40% of university teaching in Australia, and hence we propose that the effective engagement and support of the sessional academic workforce will become a critical component of operating effectively in a modern higher education sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 43rd International Improving University Teaching Conference, 2018
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2019
EventImproving University Teaching Conference 2018 - Charles Sturt University, Port Macquarie, Australia
Duration: 27 Jun 201829 Jun 2018 (Conference website) (program) (Conference poster) (Conference website)


ConferenceImproving University Teaching Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleNew Spaces for Learning: Opportunities and Challenges for Innovative Teaching
CityPort Macquarie
OtherThe International Conference on Improving University Teaching (IUT) invites you to join us for our 43rd annual forum, focused on the theme “New Spaces for Learning: Opportunities and Challenges for Innovative Teaching,” hosted by the Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie, Australia. Each year the IUT Conference offers the opportunity for participants from across the globe to share practices, discoveries, and challenges in improving the effectiveness of postsecondary teaching and learning. The IUT Conference examines topics relevant to students, faculty, and staff in higher education as well as to representatives of business and organizations concerned with higher education.

The first IUT Conference was organized in 1975 in Heidelberg, Germany by Ben Massey of the University of Maryland system. Massey’s original aim was to stimulate discussion and improve the teaching skills of American university faculty and their European counterparts. Over time, the conference has grown in size and broadened its attendance to include participants from more than a dozen nations on six continents. After 27 years of guiding the conference, Massey retired in 2002. Jane Halonen of University of West Florida and Peter Seldin of Pace University succeeded him as co-directors of IUT. Their five years of collaborative leadership brought about renewal in the conference format and registration systems, and strong relationships with several universities around the globe.

In 2009, James Wilkinson of Harvard University and Todd Zakrajsek of the University of North Carolina succeeded Halonen and Seldin as co-directors. On their initiative IUT was chartered in 2011 as an independent, non-profit organization under United States law. The following year Wilkinson assumed sole responsibility as director and the Advisory Board was expanded to its current size of 13.

IUT is held in a different country each year. The conference emphasizes dialogue and sharing among participants through thought-provoking keynote addresses, interactive theme sessions, workshops, concurrent paper sessions, poster presentations, and a digital showcase. The small size of the conference helps to foster additional opportunities for informal exchange during the coffee breaks, lunches, and evening social events. Its expanding online presence promises to provide additional resources to the international teaching community throughout the year.
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