Monday, 1 August 2016

Constructing a snap shot of teaching induction provision in Australian higher education

Dear Colleagues

Yesterday was the official start of the Teaching Induction Fellowship and so the journey begins.

To inform the development of our national teaching induction program, it will be helpful if we could construct a snapshot of current teaching induction provision in the sector. To do this, I am in the process of developing a list of colleagues who teach/have developed a program for their institution.

I propose that through this post we discuss the questions that we might ask those colleagues in order to usefully describe their program and which would help inform the program that we will develop. Below are some questions to kick start this discussion.

What other questions would you like us to ask?

What changes to these questions would you suggest?

We are keen to have comments and suggestions from across the sector so even if you aren't a Fellowship partner, please do contribute to the discussion.

I look forward to ourquestions taking shape in the near future.



Snapshot of teaching induction in the Australian Higher Education sector in 2016

The questions below are specific to centrally taught teaching induction programs for higher education.
1) Mode of delivery - Online only, blended, f-t-f; workshops?
2   2) How long is your program?
3   3) How many participants enrolled in your program in the first half of 2016? How many completed it?
     4) How many times a year is your program offered?
     5) When is your program available? – all year, prior to teaching, during teaching etc
     6) Is there a specific question that we want to ask about any flexibility in the program?
     7) Who can enrol in your program – new staff, staff who aren’t new, sessional staff, research students, professional staff, contract academics, continuing academics, teaching only, colleagues at offshore locations?
     8) compulsory or not and if so, for whom? If not, do you know what percentage of new teaching staff attended your program this year?
     9) Is your program underpinned by a particular philosophy/pedagogy?
   10) We could have a list of topics and ask the program coordinator to indicate which topics are covered and if they cover others not in the list – eg teaching online, how to lecture, how to teach a tutorial, test construction and lots of other topics.
1   11) Do you assess in any way?
1   12)  Is it your perception that your participants usually find the program valuable and what do you perceive are the top three things that participants find valuable?
1    13)  Is peer observation included in your program?
1    14)  Does your program provide equivalent credit for a unit in a graduate certificate in higher education learning and teaching? Or partial credit to a unit?
      15)  Are there incentives or time release for staff to do this program?
      16)  Do people other than yourself teach into the program and if so, how many and what is their time commitment? What percentage of your time goes into teaching the program?
      17)  Are participants in your program also provided a mentor through the program?
      18)  In what ways do you evaluate the effectiveness/value of the teaching induction program?
     19)  How long has the program operated, and how long has this version operated?
     20)  How often is the program reviewed and how often do you do a major revision of the program.
     21)  What are the most challenging issues for you in teaching/providing this program?
     22)  What would you like to see in the teaching induction program that isn’t there or what change would you like to see to the program?
     23)  Is your program funded centrally from a specific budget or is it part of the remit of your central unit without specific funding tied to it? (any other questions about funding?)
     24)  Does any senior executive support the program by taking part in it?
     25)  How is the program advertised? – website, in employment packs distributed by HR to new staff, emails sent specifically to new staff?
     26)  Anything else that you would like to tell us about your program?

Do we need any demographic data – eg size of full time equivalent HE student cohort, (can be difficult for people to find out how many teaching staff exist), regional/metropolitan uni.?


  1. A comprehensive list of questions. I think you have most of it covered. May be it would be good to know the following:

    - who runs the induction program (central Learning and Teaching Office, or Human Resources etc)
    - get some quantitative data on each of the participating institutions such as how many academic staff, how many new staff per year, casual staff, etc.
    - does this teaching induction apply to casual staff, or is there a different model?

    Congratulations on the start of the journey.

  2. Hi Kym,

    Congratulations on starting what I hope will be a rewarding, challenging and exciting collaboration for you. These questions are great.

    At the University of Wollongong we have recently retired an old program to introduce a new program that we feel is more contemporary and will meet the needs of our teachers. I wonder if there is a question around those in the development stage of new programs, justifying, exploring and evaluating the process.

    We are open for conversation and dissemination :)

    kind regards,

    Dr Bonnie Dean
    Academic Developer
    Learning, Teaching & Curriculum
    University of Wollongong

  3. Great topic to be pursuing, Kym.

    My particular interest within the teaching induction area is casual teaching staff. I'm really glad that you've included this group in your questions (7). It would be useful to know if there are PD components especially for casual staff or if they can fully enter the PD for T&L but there is no extra entry level portion of the program for them.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your project,

    Dr Kathryn Harden-Thew
    Academic Developer, UOW

  4. Hello everyone, I agree - these questions are great! Perhaps we should be asking more specific questions about different categories of staff eg casual staff needs as Kathryn indicated?

    One size fits all really does not meet the needs of casuals as they need help with teaching approaches, where to find things quickly, how to logon to the university systems.

    One of the key issues regarding 'take up' is marketing of these face to face or similar programs to casuals, part-time and full-time is problematic.

    Casuals often don't hear about these offerings (until they have already commenced teaching) or they know about them and are not inclined to attend due to issues regarding payment for their time (I noted that a similar question regarding incentives was mentioned in the questions post).

    So specific questions for universities:
    How do you advertise or market these offerings to a) casual academics, b) new ongoing or long contract academics?
    What challenges have you experienced reaching and engaging your target group/s?
    What strategies have you employed to reach those groups?
    Do you customise your courses for specific groups?
    How do you approach ongoing 'just in time' support or follow up at your university?

    Just some thoughts I had as I recently returned from delivering face to face Academic induction workshops across campuses in Brisbane, Ballarat and Melbourne.

  5. Hi Julie, Bonnie, Kathryn and Bernie (aka Marie)
    Thank you all for your fabulous suggestions. It will be useful to ask further demographic questions, specific questions about provision for sessional staff, questions re targeting and marketing to new staff in particular sessional staff, and some targeted questions for those redeveloping their programs (as well as all of the other questions suggested above.

    Thank you very much for your input - next week I will be asking your for your thoughts on questions to ask staff who have completed a teaching induction program.



    1. Hi Kym and everyone who has already commented and made suggestions for additional questions.

      This is a great list of questions to obtain data on the provision of an induction program to meet staff needs.

      In addition, the questions could include:

      Can staff who complete the induction gain credit or recognition towards a qualification, e.g. Grad Cert?

      Is there institutional policy or guidelines for recognition of prior learning or exemption from elements of the induction program?

      Is your induction program aligned to any national framework, e.g. HEA (UK) Fellowships? If so, can staff obtain Associate or Fellow status after completing the induction program requirements?

      Are you willing to provide overview information about your induction program? Request copies of brochures/outlines of induction programs?

    2. Hi Kym

      I posted but did not sign off as Kogi.
      Know for next time...

  6. Thanks Kym, Julie, Bonnie and Kathryn - great ideas and questions...I am looking forward to regularly participating in the blog.
    Bernie (aka Marie B. Fisher)

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Hi everyone
    Great questions Kym and others, and much of the territory is covered already
    Perhaps we can consider these parameters:
    Different groups of staff – sessionals / specific disciplines/ particular roles – lab demonstrators / supervisors / tutors/ lecturers/ Course Coordinators /
    For sessionals – is there any related details of being paid to attend ? - sessional bursaries / what advantages of undertaking the program?
    What are the parameters of the ‘mandatory’ specifications at some institution’s?- e.g. for those on appointments more than 12 months – during probation period / or in first 1 – 2 years
    As others have mentioned the ways to promote these programs is often troublesome – is there a universal communication channel for the institution? Or targeted groups / new staff, etc ?
    is the program raised in PPR discussions? Is the process embedded in HR policy?
    Looking forward to continuing challenges and provocative discussions

  9. thanks very much for everyone's excellent question suggestions for the interviews.

  10. Wow, I think you all have it covered.