Perceptions on requirements to inform the design of a pharmacist tutor training programme


  • Gillian Knott James Cook University, Townsville
  • Linda Crane Bond University, Gold Coast
  • Ian Heslop James Cook University, Townsville
  • Beverley D Glass James Cook University, Townsville


Pharmacist Tutors, Pharmacy Student Perceptions, Training Programme, Tutor Support


Background: Practising pharmacists as sessional tutors have been identified as providing value to a Pharmacy programme, particularly in maintaining the currency and relevance of the curriculum. However, the lack of training and support provided to this sessional academic workforce has been considered as a risk to the quality of their contribution to the education of pharmacy students at universities.

Aim: This study thus aimed to determine the requirements of pharmacist tutors in order to inform the design of a pharmacy tutor training programme.

Method: A cross-sectional survey was administered to pharmacist tutors, with simple descriptive statistics used to calculate frequency counts and percentages. Focus groups with tutors, pharmacy academic staff and students were conducted in order to interpret and develop the survey data.

Results: Ninety-six percent of the 27 respondents supported the development of a pharmacy-specific tutor training programme, indicating that they saw their primary role as providing the link between theory and current practice. This was strongly supported by the participants in both the staff and student focus groups. Assessing student performance and giving effective student feedback were identified as two key areas for inclusion in a pharmacist tutor training programme, with 93% and 89% of respondents respectively rating these areas as very important and important.

Conclusion: This study highlighted the need for a pharmacy-specific tutor training programme, addressing key areas, which have been identified by not only the tutors themselves but also the pharmacy academic staff and students. 

Author Biographies

Gillian Knott, James Cook University, Townsville

Lecturer - Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Dentistry

Linda Crane, Bond University, Gold Coast

Associate Dean - Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine

Ian Heslop, James Cook University, Townsville

Associate Professor - Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Dentistry

Beverley D Glass, James Cook University, Townsville

Professor - Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Dentistry


Andrew, S., Halcomb, E., Jackson, D., Peters, K. & Salamonson, Y. (2010) Sessional teachers in a BN program: Bridging the divide or widening the gap? Nurse Education Today, 30, 453-457.

Australian Universities Teaching Committee [AUTC]. (2003). Training, Support and Management of Sessional Teaching Staff: Final Report (online). Available at: http:// Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Barrington, E. (1999). Catching academic staff at the start: professional development for university tutors. Paper presented at: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference 1999; Melbourne, Australia 12-15 July (online). Available at: at_the_start_professional_development_for_university_ tutors. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Bexley, E., James, R. & Arkoudis, S. (2011). The Australian academic profession in transition: Addressing the challenge of reconceptualising academic work and regenerating the academic workforce (online). Available at: pdf_file/0010/1490923/The_Academic_Profession_in_ Transition_Sept2011.pdf. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

Chan, J. (2010). The use of practitioners as part-time faculty in postsecondary professional education. International Education Studies, 3(4), 36-44.

Cowley, J. (2010). Confronting the reality of casualisation in Australia: Recognising difference and embracing sessional staff in law schools. Queensland University of Technology Law and Justice Journal, 10(1),27-43.

Davis, D, Connor, R., Perry, L., Perrott, B. & Topple, S. (2009). The work of the casual academic teacher: A case study. Employment Relations Record, 9(2), 37-54.

Goodlad, S. (1997). Responding to the perceived training needs of graduate teaching assistants. Studies in Higher Education, 22(1), 83-92.

Halcomb, E., Andrew, S., Peters, K., Salamonson, Y. & Jackson, D. (2009). Casualisation of the teaching workforce: implications for nursing education. Nurse Education Today, 30, 528-532.

Herbert, D., Hannam, R. & Chalmers, D. (2002). Enhancing the training, support and management of sessional teaching staff. Paper presented at: Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Symposium 26 2002; Brisbane, Australia (online). Available at: base.php/3489/enhancing-the-training-support-and- management-of-sessional-teaching-staff. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Herbert, D., Masser, B. & Gauci, P. (2002). A comprehensive tutor training program: collaboration between academic developers and teaching staff. Paper presented at: Australian Association for Research in Education Symposium 24 2002; Brisbane, Australia (online). Available at: Training.pdf. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Kift, S. (2002). Assuring quality in the casualisation of teaching, learning and assessment: towards best practice for the first year experience. Paper presented at: 6th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference 2002; Christchurch, New Zealand (online). Available at: http:// htm. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Kimber, M. (2003). The tenured 'core' and the tenuous 'periphery' : the casualisation of academic work in Australian universities. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 25(1), 41-50.

Kofod M., Quinnell, R., Rifkin, W. & Whitaker, N. (2008). Is tutor training worth it? Acknowledging conflicting agenda. Paper presented at: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference 2008; Rotorua, New Zealand (online). Available at: proceedings/research-and-development-higher-education- place-learning-and-64. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Kurdziel, J. & Libarkin, J. (2003). Research methodologies in science education: Training graduate teaching assistants to teach. Journal of Geoscience Education, 51(3), 347-351.

Liamputtong, P. (2013) Qualitative Research Methods. Fourth ed. Australia: Oxford University Press.

May, R., Strachan, G., Broadbent, K. & Peetz, D. (2011). The casual approach to university teaching: time for a re- think? Paper presented at: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference 2011; Gold Coast, Australia, 4-7 July (online). Available at: HERDSA_2011_May. PDF. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

May, R., Strachan, G. & Peetz, D. (2013). Workforce development and renewal in Australian universities and the management of casual academic staff. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 10(3), Article 3.

Park, C. (2004). The graduate teaching assistant (GTA): Lessons from North American experience. Teaching in Higher Education, 9(3), 349-360.

Percy, A., Scoufis, M., Parry, S., Goody, A. & Hicks, M. (2008). The RED Report, Recognition, Enhancement, Development: The contribution of sessional teachers to higher education.University of Wollongong Research Online. Available at: cgi?article=1139&context=asdpapers. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Percy, A. & Beaumont, R. (2008). The casualisation of teaching and the subject at risk. Studies in Continuing Education, 30(2), 145-157.

Persellin, D. & Goodrick, T. (2010). Faculty development in higher education:Long-term impact of a summer teaching and learning workshop. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(1), 1-13.

Peters, K., Jackson, D., Andrew, S., Halcomb, E. & Salamonson, Y. (2011). Burden versus benefit: Continuing nurses academics' experiences of working with sessional teachers. Contemporary Nurse, 38(1), 35-44.

Prpic, J. & Ellis, A. (2002). Influences in the design of a faculty-wide tutor development program. Paper presented at: Higher Education Research Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference 2002; Perth, Australia 7-10 July (online). Available at: https://herdsa. Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Retna, K. (2005). Universities as learning organisations: Putting tutors in the picture. Paper presented at: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference 2005;

Sydney, Australia 3-6 July (online). Available at: https:// www.research Accessed 6th January, 2017.

Ryan, S., Burgess, J., Connell, J. & Groen, E. (2013). Casual academic staff in an Australian university: Marginalised and excluded. Tertiary Education and Management, 19(2), 161-175.

Salamonson, Y., Halcomb, E., Andrew, S., Peters, K. & Jackson, D. (2010). A comparative study of assessment grading and nursing students' perceptions of quality in sessional and tenured teachers. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 42(4), 423-429.

Schafheutle, E., Hassell, K., Ashcroft, D., Hall, J. & Harrison, S. (2012). How do pharmacy students learn professionalism. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 20, 118-128.

Smith, C. & Bath, D. (2003). Evaluation of a networked staff development strategy for departmental tutor trainers: Benefits, limitations and future directions. International Journal for Academic Development, 8(1/2), 145-158.

Smith, C. & Bath, D. (2004). Evaluation of a university- wide strategy providing staff development for tutors: effectiveness, relevance and local impact. Mentoring and Tutoring, 12(1),106-122.

Smith, E. & Coombe, K. (2006). Quality and qualms in the marking of university assignments by sessional staff: An exploratory study. Higher Education, 51, 45-69.

White, P. & Stephenson, A. (2002). Supervised teaching practice: a system for teacher support and quality assurance. Medical Teacher, 22(6), 604-606.

Young, S. & Bippus, M. (2008). Assessment of graduate teaching assistant (GTA) training: A case study of a training program and its impact on GTAs. Communication Teacher, 22(4), 116-129.




How to Cite

Knott, G., Crane, L., Heslop, I., & Glass, B. D. (2017). Perceptions on requirements to inform the design of a pharmacist tutor training programme. Pharmacy Education, 17. Retrieved from



Research Article