Sessional Staff

Author – Mrs Catherine Campbell, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Catherine has taught as a sessional academic in the QUT Law School since 1991, predominantly as a tutor in first year units. She has also worked as a research assistant in a number of learning and teaching projects and been involved in programs for training new sessional staff, including presenting a workshop on “Engaging Learners”.

Her teaching experience also includes teaching in both primary and secondary schools, as well as TAFE and she has a strong interest in the first year experience and issues affecting both students and teaching staff in dealing with first year.

Further information is available from the QUT Faculty of Law.

First Year Curriculum Perspective

This commentary examines the design and management of first year programs from the perspective of sessional staff (pdf 1.71MB); that is, staff who are appointed on a casual, non-permanent basis usually per semester or teaching period. The author, a long-term sessional academic herself, notes that sessional staff are generally most involved in tutoring, particularly in large first year units, and for many first year students, their most regular weekly contact is with a sessional staff member (often known as a “casual tutor”). She says that sessional staff issues relating to tutor training, communication, assessment, monitoring of students, and administrative support are often not considered or addressed by program co-ordinators or faculty administrators, even though these issues impact directly on the quality of the first year experience.