On 7 June 2013 the Minister for Higher Education and Skills announced Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) Grants for 38 research teams across Australia. One of the grant recipients of this highly competitive grant funding was Adelaide Law School academic Anne Hewitt, whose project ‘Smart casual: towards excellence in sessional teaching in Law’ received $49,000 funding.
Anne and a team of academics from Flinders University and UWA will use the OLT grant funding to create resources to assist sessional law teachers develop the skills they require to become excellent teachers in our demanding and difficult discipline.
For both teachers and law students, this project is a timely one. Half of all teaching in the Australian higher education is provided by sessional staff, rendering the quality of their teaching critical to student learning, retention and progress. However, national research suggests support and training for sessional teachers remains inadequate. In law, this problem is compounded by the need for staff to teach discipline-specific skills and content to students destined for a socially-bounded profession.
Anne’s project will begin to addresses this problem by identifying and responding to the professional development requirements of sessional staff in law. In consultation with a national expert panel, the project team will design, trial and evaluate three professional development modules with a view to generating resources which can be of use to sessional teachers across the diversity of Australian law schools.