Teaching Matters

Presentation 1 TR

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Teaching Matters 2018 | Presentation Details | 2018


A casual vacancy: designing teaching employment practices for excellence


Jo-Anne Kelder, Academic Division
Steve Drew, Academic Division
Andrea Carr, University College
Natalie Brown, Peter Underwood Centre
Brigid Freeman, University of Melbourne


Excellent teaching is founded on and contributes to scholarship

Presentation Type



Tamar Room




Large numbers of staff employed on casual teaching contracts, recruited on an as-needed basis, with little or no job security or professional development, constitutes a sector-wide quality risk for higher education institutions and students. The dimensions of this phenomenon at the University of Tasmania are presented, and a Casual Teaching Staff Framework proposed to guide evidence-based redesign of employment practices that support teaching excellence. A mixed methods approach to develop the Framework included analysis of two surveys; 2012 (n=199) and 2016 (n= 216) and focus groups (2017) in conjunction with analysis of employment data from the University’s business intelligence system.

The resultant vision is an institution-grounded values model that encompasses all stakeholders and is committed to principled employment practices for casual staff. The proposed action research project explicitly aligns with University’s ‘People Strategy’ and the Casual Teaching Staff Framework will be used to outline a strategy to achieve, for all staff:

  1. Recruiting/onboarding/induction
  2. HR support
  3. Resources (tools of trade)
  4. Course/Unit coordinator’s support
  5. Input/membership to teaching team
  6. Contribution to quality improvement and quality assurance
  7. Resources for professional learning
  8. Payment and recognition for professional learning.

We claim that providing clear employment progression, support and development will enable the University to attract and keep casual and short-term contract teaching staff with demonstrated positive impacts on student learning and retention. In turn, virtuous cycles of excellence (teaching impacting learning experiences and outcomes; impacting retaining and attracting students) will raise the University’s prestige as a preferred employer and learning destination of choice.

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