Connecting quality learning and teaching with sessional staff standards: The BLASST project
Harvey, M and Luzia, K and Brown, NR and McCormack, C and McKenzie, J and Parker, N, Connecting quality learning and teaching with sessional staff standards: The BLASST project, Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education, 2-5 July 2012, Hobart, Australia, pp. 35. (2012) [Conference Extract]
Sessional staff are the interface for learning and teaching in Australian higher education. However, despite the fact that 60% of all academic staff are currently employed on a sessional basis (May, 2011) research indicates that they remain at the periphery (Kimber, 2003) of learning and teaching. Audits of Australian universities (TEQSA, n.d.) and large-scale studies into sessional teaching, such as the RED report (ALTC, 2008) recommend "systemic and sustainable" approaches to policy and practice for quality enhancement of sessional teaching. The Benchmarking Leadership and Advancement of Standards for Sessional Teaching (BLASST) project has responded by developing a national standards framework to support and enhance quality learning and teaching by sessional staff. This framework and process connects standards for sessional teaching staff within, and across, institutions through cross-functional and cross-disciplinary interactions.
This showcase introduces the draft interactive framework. Based on three principles — assuring and enhancing the quality of learning and teaching, support for sessional staff and sustainability — the framework expresses each principle as a set of research and practice-based criteria, derived from an extensive research and practice base of evidence. Case study data from benchmarking workshops across four universities illustrates the framework’s role in building distributed leadership capacity to recognise and realise standards of good practice. The benefits and limitations of this approach will be explored including: the flexibility to allow for interdisciplinary, multi-level connections across and within organisations; and opportunities for improving practice through collaboration to enhance quality learning and teaching by sessional staff.