Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Quality Assurance and our responsibilities: a module under development

Julie Fleming and Kogi Nadioo are developing the module on 'Quality Assurance and our responsibilities ­ helping guide your career development’. Our introduction should provide you with enough information to help demonstrate where we are taking the module. We’d be happy for your feedback.

In this module you will gain an understanding of the overarching learning and teaching frameworks that assure the quality of Australia¹s higher education providers, including your institution. We start by examining the overarching regulatory body TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency), whose role is to safeguard the interests of students as well as to accredit our courses and units. From January 2017, a new regulatory framework applies to all registered providers of higher education in Australia. The framework is known as the Higher Education Standards Framework and it describes a range of specifically developed threshold standards all institutions must meet.

Our responsibility as educators is to understand these requirements, ensuring compliance. A second important framework governing our institutions is the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework). This framework is the national policy for determining Australian qualifications in education.

Moving on from these overarching regulatory frameworks, we will then examine your institution¹s related policies and procedures that help assure and enhance the quality of course learning and teaching. This will include understanding your role as an educator and the impact of, for example, policies and guidelines relating to academic integrity and your institution¹s code of conduct.
Another important consideration is collecting and examining different datasets to inform the assurance of those standards. These include internal unit and teaching evaluations and external data including Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT).

Our aim is that you are continually reflecting on the impact of your academic/professional role through quality enhancement and alignment with internal and external frameworks supporting the quality of learning and teaching. Upon completion of this module, you will develop a personal development plan, based on your choice of a professional development standards framework, that will support you in completing your probation requirements and/or set you up to progress in your higher education career.

Julie and Kogi

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Scholarly teaching and scholarship of teaching: continually improving your teaching

Dear All

We are developing the module on scholarly teaching and sotl. This module is expected to provide 2 hours of engagement by the participants. So the module is a practical introduction to the concepts and at the end, we will direct people who want to engage further, to resources/literature.

The ‘table of contents’ for the module is given below. What we want to do in the module is introduce new teaching staff to the difference between being a scholarly teacher and engaging in the scholarship of teaching. We’ll ask staff to: view a video clip of international colleagues discussing their definitions of SoTL; skim a chapter on the benefits of SoTL; and find a teaching and learning journal in their discipline.

Then we plan to introduce the different types of evaluation strategies that can be used to improve teaching and collect evidence to improve student learning and for probation, promotion, teaching awards. This work will be based on the 2009 Light, Cox and Caulkin evaluation chapter in their book “Learning and teaching in higher education”. Strategies include things like peer review, buzz groups, questionnaires, reflective triads, and focus groups. In terms of activities, we will ask participants to try one of the strategies.

As we are in the process of finalising our module, we would appreciate your thoughts on the current approach to the module and our questions below.

  1. Can you suggest great resources that we simply must include?
  2. Are there particular (short) activities that we might consider?
  3. Any other feedback?

Module table of contents

Welcome video (introduction to the module)

Context and definitions

Teaching and learning scholars

Why take a scholarly teaching approach?

Concerns about SoTL (the pros and cons of engaging in L&T research)

Where do I start?

Using evaluation to improve your students’ learning

  • Buzz groups
  • Peer review of teaching
  • Questionnaires
  • Etc

Where do I get help from/go from here?

Using SoTL and scholarly teaching to progress your career



Kym Fraser, Swinburne University of Technology

Bernie Fisher, Australian Catholic University

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Learning and Teaching Theories – a module under development

We have undertaken to develop the module on learning and teaching theories for the Induction program.

One of the reasons for our interest in this particular topic was that both of us have had extensive experience in assisting applicants for Learning and Teaching grants and awards, and in preparing and mentoring staff for Higher Education Academy Fellowships. In both these mentoring roles, we have found that most applicants have little knowledge of the higher education literature, and the long history of educational research, principles of teaching, and how students learn. Nor can staff readily call on theory to support their learning and teaching approaches and practices. At best, there may be a single reference in applications to Biggs and Tang (which is of course, a standard text in higher education), or a brief reference to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, as an argument for ‘social learning’.

As teaching academics, we need to be ‘double professionals’ who know about not only the seminal work in our discipline field, but also how that discipline is best taught. There are specialist journals in teaching particular disciplines and professions, and the module on Scholarly Teaching directs your attention to such journals, but there is a rich literature in learning and teaching in general, and if you are to think reflectively and deeply about your practices for teaching students effectively, you should have some knowledge of this literature, and the significant theories that shape or have shaped our current pedagogies. We would have liked to have included a lot more in our module but it was not feasible given the limited amount of time participants will have to spend on each module.

Our module so far consists of some learning activities, video sections, some links to several short documents, and an MCQ, to ‘test’ that you have a very basic knowledge of the education theorists. It also, as a stretch activity, includes making a voki, to encourage participants to use a free app that may open up a world of new technologies that can be used to engage students in this digital world.  The voki activity is at the icebreaker level. It starts to get participants thinking about articulating their first thoughts about their philosophies of teaching. Participants will need to continue to grapple with the development of their teaching philosophies and may need some other form of professional development, like mentoring to fully develop written artefacts.

We would welcome any comments you have for the scope of the module, and any resources we might consider essential.
Sue Bolt and Yoni Ryan

Monday, 6 March 2017

Planning for Learning – a module in development!

One of the first modules that participants in our teaching induction MOOC can choose to work through is the 'Planning for Learning' module. Below Sally and Rosie talk about the approach that they are taking in the module and ask for any thoughts, resources, activities that they might find useful in their module. Each module aims to engage participants for no more than two hours, however the module can provide extension resources for those participants who want to explore the topic further.
There are no surprises in the statement that the process of developing this module mirrors the process of planning for learning per se!   It was tempting to submit the many iterations of the module as a demonstration of the iterative process that often reflects the planning process.  Having gone through the process we have settled on the following key elements around which to focus the module.  We begin with the context as that provides an overall framework for learning. In the context we briefly consider who are the students, where will the learning occur, what the purpose of the learning is and what resources are available. The focus then shifts to the outcomes for the learning - so what are the learning outcomes for the material being taught and how are these outcomes to be assessed?  Our module then asks the question ‘How does learning happen?’ by which we introduce learning strategies by way of learning tasks as the method for the learning to occur.   The emphasis here is to move the participant from telling their student all there is to know about their unit to have their students actively involved in developing the knowledge and skills required of the unit. This section will also incorporate timing and lesson structure. The fourth section centres on utilising checking strategies to gauge the learning progress within their sessions.  The participants will be asked to utilise a graphic organiser to reflect on these aspects of planning as it relates to their institution and the teaching of their discipline. Additional resources will be linked to the module eg lesson plan templates, learning strategies and learning tasks and weblinks for further support and ideas.

We are not quite finished with our module as yet so are happy to have any questions, thoughts or ideas sent our way for further consideration! 

Rosie Greenfield and Sally Gauci - Victoria University