Sessional academic success: a distributed framework for academic support and development

Jillian Hamilton, Michelle Fox, Mitchell McEwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With approximately half of Australian university teaching now performed by sessional academics, there has been growing recognition of the contribution they make to student learning. At the same time, sector-wide research and institutional audits continue to raise concerns about academic development, quality assurance, recognition and belonging. In response, universities have increasingly begun to offer academic development programs for sessional academics. However, such programs may be centrally delivered, generic in nature, and contained within the moment of delivery, while the Faculty contexts and cultures that sessional academics work within are diverse, and the need for support unfolds in ad-hoc and often unpredictable ways. In this paper we present the Sessional Academic Success (SAS) program--a new framework that complements and extends the central academic development program for sessional academic staff at Queensland University of Technology. This program recognises that experienced sessional academics have much to contribute to the advancement of learning and teaching, and harnesses their expertise to provide school-based academic development opportunities, peer-to-peer support, and locally contextualized community building. We describe the program's implementation and explain how Sessional Academic Success Advisors (SASAs) are employed, trained and supported to provide advice and mentorship and, through a co-design methodology, to develop local development opportunities and communities of teaching practice within their schools. Besides anticipated benefits to new sessional academics in terms of timely and contextual support and improved sense of belonging, we explain how SAS provides a pathway for building leadership capacity and academic advancement for experienced sessional academics. We take a collaborative, dialogic and reflective practice approach to this paper, interlacing insights from the Associate Director, Academic: Sessional Development who designed the program, and two Sessional Academic Success Advisors who have piloted it within their schools.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of University Teaching and Learning Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Sessional Academics
  • development
  • distributed leadership


Dive into the research topics of 'Sessional academic success: a distributed framework for academic support and development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this