Beginning to Address 'The Elephant in the Classroom': Sessional Law Teachers' Unmet Professional Development Needs

25 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2015

See all articles by Mary Heath

Mary Heath

Flinders University - School of Law

Anne Hewitt

University of Adelaide - School of Law

Mark Israel

The University of Western Australia Law School

Natalie Skead

The University of Western Australia Law School

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

As casualisation increases across the Australian tertiary education sector, sessional staff have become the most visible teachers for many law students. The quality of sessional teaching is therefore critical to law students’ learning and progression through their degree. However, many sessional teachers in law have limited teaching qualifications and little teaching experience. Despite this, few law schools have the institutional capacity to develop effective development programs for these teachers. This is the ‘elephant in the classroom’ of tertiary legal education. This article exposes that elephant and seeks to assist the legal academy to resolve this problem. It explores the scope of teacher development opportunities available to sessional law teachers in Australia in 2013, investigates the development resources which are most required, and describes the work of the Smart Casual project in addressing that unmet need.

Suggested Citation

Heath, Mary and Hewitt, Anne and Israel, Mark and Skead, Natalie, Beginning to Address 'The Elephant in the Classroom': Sessional Law Teachers' Unmet Professional Development Needs (2015). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 38, No. 1, p. 240, 2015, UWA Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2015-8, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2663254

Mary Heath

Flinders University - School of Law ( email )

Adelaide S.A. 5001
Australia

Anne Hewitt

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005
Australia

Mark Israel

The University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

M253
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

Natalie Skead (Contact Author)

The University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

M253
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

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