The last two decades has seen a dramatic increase in sessional staff teaching into undergraduate nursing programmes in Australia. These staff undertake positions as subject coordinator, lecturer, tutor, clinical laboratory leader or clinical facilitator. Their experiences are mixed, with reports highlighting dissatisfaction with employment and preparation processes, and a sense of disconnectedness from academic staff and the organization. These factors may negatively impact the quality of teaching and learning.
This review aimed to explore the following question: What are the experiences and requirements of sessional staff teaching in undergraduate nursing programmes in Australia?
A search was conducted of CINAHL, Medline and Scopus databases, resulting in a final dataset of eight papers, which were appraised using the CASP framework and then thematically analysed.
Three themes emerged from the appraised literature: 1. Who is the sessional staff member? 2. Misplaced perceptions of roles. 3. The impact of sessional staff teaching on the quality of learning.
Sessional staff are vital members of teaching teams in undergraduate nursing programmes. Student experiences are enhanced when sessional staff are supported in their roles. Clarifying sessional staff’s goals and responsibilities, providing resources and strengthening their workplace inclusion will improve sessional staff’s experiences of teaching, and educational outcomes for students.
Tenured and sessional staff have differing perceptions of each other’s roles. Ensuring job satisfaction and quality learning opportunities for students depend upon such understandings. Further exploration of the capabilities required to fulfil the roles being undertaken by sessional teachers in nursing programmes is needed.
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Published online: June 01, 2018
Accepted: May 30, 2018
Received in revised form: May 10, 2018
Received: March 13, 2018
© 2018 Australian College of Nursing Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd.