A Comparative Study of Assessment Grading and Nursing Students' Perceptions of Quality in Sessional and Tenured Teachers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal Of Nursing Scholarship, 2010, 42 (4), pp. 423 - 429
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Purpose: Although the global nursing faculty shortage has led to increasing reliance upon sessional staff, limited research has explored the impact of these sessional staff on the quality of teaching in higher education. We aim to examine differences in (a) student satisfaction with sessional and tenured staff and (b) assessment scores awarded by sessional and tenured staff in students' written assignments. Design: A comparative study method was used. Participants were recruited from students enrolled in the three nursing practice subjects across the 3 years of the baccalaureate program in an Australian university during the second semester of 2008. Methods: This study collected student data via an online version of the Perceptions of Teaching and Course Satisfaction scale and compared the grades awarded by sessional and tenured academics for a written assessment in a single assignment in each of the nursing practice subjects. Of the 2,045 students enrolled in the nursing practice subjects across the 3 years of the bachelor of nursing (BN) program, 566 (28%) completed the online teaching and course satisfaction survey, and 1,972 assignment grades (96%) were available for analysis. Findings: Compared with tenured academics, sessional teachers received higher rating on students' perception on teaching satisfaction by students in Year 1 (p = .021) and Year 2 (p = .002), but not by students in Year 3 (p = .348). Following the same trend, sessional teachers awarded higher assignment grades to students in Year 1 (p < .001) and Year 2 (p < .001) than tenured academics, with no significant disparity in grades awarded to students in Year 3.
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