BLASST National Summit 2015

Recognising and rewarding good learning and teaching practice with sessional staff


The second national leadership summit on quality learning and teaching with sessional staff was hosted at Macquarie University on Friday 10 April, and funded by an OLT extension grant. Representatives from 35 institutions attended the summit, which focused on recognising and rewarding good learning and teaching practice with sessional staff. Even before the day started there was vibrant discussion on sessional staff at breakfast and in the foyer. The presentations provided more stimulation for discussion and reflection.

Featuring the keynotes

Previous 2013 National BLASST Good Practice winner, Professor Jillian Hamilton, spoke about a holistic approach to supporting sessional staff through the Sessional Academic Success program at QUT. Professor Hamilton’s inspiring message of tackling sessional staff issues ‘bird by bird’ resonated with many.

Dr. Gail Crimmins (University of the Sunshine Coast) gave an emotive presentation on her research into the lived experience of women casual academics. Using an arts-informed narrative inquiry approach and verbatim theatre, Crimmins presented snippets from short videos that were created to articulate the authentic stories of six women casual academics from three universities in Australia. To read about Gail’s reflections on the summit you can check out her recent post in CASA.

Natalie Skead and Alex Steel from UNSW reported on their OLT funded “Smart Casual” project and shared insights into the strategies and online resources developed to support excellence in sessional teaching in Law, as a potential model for application in other disciplines.

Kate Bowles (@KateMfD) from CASA was joined by Katie Freund (@katiedigc), and Jen T. Kwok (@unicasual) from the NTEU, to talk about the role and function of social media for developing cyber communities of practice for and with sessional staff. You can also read Kate Bowles’ report on the Summit here, and the #BLASST2015 twitter feed provides insights in the back channel activity at the summit.

Perspectives on good learning and teaching practice with sessional staff were explored in a Q&A session. The panel consisted of higher education leaders and experts Dr Beth Beckmann (OLT National Teaching Fellow, ANU), Karen Treloar (Director Regulation and Review, TEQSA), Trish Treagus (Director for Awards and Networks, OLT), and Carolyn Barker AM (CEO, Endeavour Learning Group), as well as a sessional staff respondent, Sarah Yu (University of Canberra).

A highlight of the summit was the announcement of the national Good Practice finalists and winners, who also presented on their initiatives in Pecha Kucha sessions. Congratulations to the finalists, each of whom is initiating innovative and systematic good practice.


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