Líf - og heilbrigðisvísindaráðstefna Háskóla Íslands 2021

Sessional faculty: how can we support their needs and identity as teachers?

Main author: Abigail Grover Snook
Institution or Company: University of Iceland/Department of Physiotherapy

Co-Author, Institution or Company:
Asta Bryndis Schram, University of Iceland.

Introduction: Sessional faculty (SF) may be challenged to improve teaching skills and struggle with teacher identity.  However, research on SF is limited. The aim of this study was to explore SF needs for faculty development (FD).

Methods: We utilized a sequential explanatory mixed methods design. We did a comparative analysis and a structural equation modeling analysis with survey results, and a qualitative focus group analysis.

Results: We compared survey responses of 78 tenured faculty (TF) and 160 SF and responses. We identified similarities in needs, motivations, identity and openness to improve when comparing TF and SF but found differences in preferred FD offerings and format, and in feelings of connectedness and appreciation. With both models, we found an association between teacher identity and openness to improve, but differences that may reflect the progression of clinician to educator. Thematic analysis of SF responses (n=11) identified that classroom SF had more needs for connectedness, appreciation, and both different and similar FD needs when compared to clinical SF.

Discussion and Conclusion: Comparing TF and SF made it possible to identify perceived needs important to SF. Using models, we saw how connectedness and appreciation predict educator identity and openness to improve differently for TF and SF. Asking SF about their needs through focus groups helped explain the SF model and added understanding to the challenges faced by classroom and clinical SF. Finally, recommendations were made which could have an impact on the quality of teaching of health science teachers and develop teacher identity.


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