Barriers to adoption of blended learning and online feedback and assessment by sessional staff

    Shannon, Susan J.
    Francis, Rebecca
    Torpey, Gemma
    Design education and computing


The use of blended learning techniques is beneficial for design and engineering (architectural) students. In the case studies reviewed, a range of feedback and assessment was provided through blended learning, although none was provided solely utilising online elements. In considering the barriers to a more widespread adoption of digital or online feedback in the blended learning studio setting, speculation arose that one of the major limitations may be the reliance upon sessional staff for teaching, including marking and giving feedback.

To determine the barriers (if any) to the adoption of blended learning assessment and online feedback by sessional staff we interviewed twenty-two sessional staff members from two adjacent Universities’ Architecture and Engineering Schools about their engagement with blended learning and providing online feedback. Sessional staff’s conceptions of their role in academia, and their beliefs about learning and teaching determined their practices in the studio and online. They were resource deficient, and unwilling to invest upfront in courses only taught once. Their constant juggling of commitments favoured the paid over the unpaid. We concluded that for universities to promote an effective e-learning strategy a re-conception of the teaching enterprise – from tool-led to staff development-led – is required.

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