Snook AG, Schram AB, Arnadottir SA
Both classroom and clinical sessionals are often overlooked in faculty development, even though they play an important role in student learning. Our aim was to contrast classroom and clinical sessional faculty´s experiences of and perceived needs for connectedness, appreciation, and support, in relation to their teaching quality. We then utilized these results to make suggestions for supporting these educators.
The participants (11 physical therapy sessionals: 4 clinical, 7 clinical and classroom) took part in three focus groups. We based the interview guide questions on previous survey results, used a critical theory research paradigm, and performed thematic analysis.
We identified four emerging differences between physical therapy sessionals with experiences in the classroom and clinic. Classroom sessionals needed: (1) more connectedness; (2) more appreciation; (3) more access to the learning management system; and (4) both different and similar faculty development when compared to clinical sessionals. Differences were greater in classroom sessionals who taught more hours. We also saw similarities in needs for feedback on teaching, orientations, communication, better salary, and support from work facility for role as educator. Suggestions for context‐dependent sessional support were designed to address these similarities and differences.
Talking to various types of sessional faculty about their teaching needs is the first step in providing effective faculty development. Varying needs for connectedness, appreciation, pedagogy, and access to the learning management system among physical therapy sessional faculty highlighted the need for an investment in classroom educators who teach multiple hours and want to grow as health science educators. Differences between classroom and clinical sessional faculty brought to the forefront the importance of individualized, contextual faculty development and administrative/departmental action that supports sessional educators. The resulting context‐dependent suggestions for improvement of support of sessional faculty have the potential to improve the quality of health science teaching overall.