Supporting sessional staff through structured induction: evaluation, reflections and lessons learned

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Beth Dickson Janis McIntyre Davidson


The case study that is the focus of this article is based on a professional development opportunity provided for sessional staff who were recruited to the School of Education at a research-intensive university in the UK. Research literature on sessional staff demonstrates potential pitfalls both in academic management and continuing professional development for this group of staff. Taking a socio-constructive view of teaching and learning, we outline the construction and delivery of an induction training programme for sessional staff recruited to supervise Masters dissertations. The sessions were characterised by active learning, discussion among peers and with staff knowledgeable in the specific areas under discussion. The induction training programme was evaluated by an online survey. Drawing on the survey as well as our own reflections, we found that the induction sessions had enabled sessional staff to become more confident in taking up their roles; that active learning and discussion had been both important and enjoyable; and that knowledgeable staff had contributed to the effectiveness of the teaching and learning which were experienced.

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