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HERDSA – ACEN Snapshots          

Deakin Downtown

Monday, 24 September 2018

8.30-9.05 Registration and coffee/tea
9.10-9.20 Welcome and thank you to the organisers

Higher education's value: In the experience itself

Mollie Dollinger2

  Stream A Stream B Stream C Stream D

A1. WIL Networks within Australian universities

Leoni Russell4, Lea Campbell6, Damian Spencer2, Rachael Baron2, Friederika Kaider1 & Chris Gonsalvez3

B1. Ready and WILing: Science students want more and earlier access to WIL

Joanne Elliott1, Trina Jorre de St Jorre1 & Elizabeth Johnson1

C1. Conditions that support effective assessment feedback in higher education

Michael Henderson3, Tracii Ryan3, Michael Phillips3, David Boud1, Philip Dawson1, Elizabeth Molloy6 & Paige Mahoney1

D1. Mental health plans for all: The genesis of university mental health plans and implications for institutional research

Matt Brent2



A2. Scaffolding WIL across the curriculum

Friederika Kaider1, Francesca Bussey1 & Anthony Neylan1

B2. The impact of reflection on science undergraduates’ ability to recognise and articulate curriculum-embedded transferable skill development

Michelle Hill3, Tina Overton3 & Chris Thompson3

C2. Structural inequality and retention in equity students: Best practice models of institutional culture from across the sector

Ryan Naylor2, Nathan Mifsud2


A3. Emerging models of WIL: Enablers and challenges

Leoni Russell4 & Judie Kay4

B3. The many faces of external partnerships: Partnering for authentic learning

Angela Ziebell3, Stephen George-Williams3, Chris Thompson3 & Tina Overton3

C3. Voicing the pleasures, passions and challenges of a university teaching scholars development program

Reem Al-Mahmood2, Gerardo Papalia2, Sinead Barry2, Minh Nguyen2, Terri Meehan-Andrews2, Brianna Julien2, Lucas Bester2, Christopher Bruce2, Colleen Holt2, Rebecca Miles2, Cheryl Neilson2, Juliane Roemhild2 & Judy Louie2

11.00-11.30 Morning tea

A4. Bringing the industry to the classroom – building authenticity – the Swinburne-UQBS advertising capstone challenge

David Reid5 & Nicole Hartley7

B4. Revealing the what and why of learning: Using explicit pedagogy to scaffold the development of transferable skills

Darci Taylor1, Chie Adachi1, Virginia Hagger1, Catharine McNamara1 & Rhonda Brown1

C4. Re-booting the first year experience in higher education

Trish McCluskey8, John Weldon8, Andrew Smallridge8

D2. Innovation and scalability through a centralised WIL delivery model

Sharon Cook3 & Kate Abraham3


A5. Breaking Down Barriers for WIL Engagement: Flexible, responsive and authentic internship models for the creative industries and beyond

Clare Dyson5

B5. FutureLearn-ing: 'Knotworking' as an analytical framework for (re-)evaluating digital learning processes and academic identities

Chie Adachi1 & Marcus O’Donnell1

C5. Investigating pre-service teachers’ conceptions of using the Big Ideas of Science as a framework for STEM education

Neil Fernandes8, Sam Dang8 & Kirsten Agius8


A6. Graduate outcomes and employability in generalist degrees

Elizabeth Johnson1 & Trina Jorre de St Jorre1

B6. The value of outside of the classroom learning to enhance student experience

Elena Verezub5, Stephen Price5, Kathryn Wallace5 & Elena Sinchenko5

C6. The RMIT belonging strategy: Fostering student engagement in higher education

Rachel Wilson4, Gabrielle Murray4 & Bronwyn Clarke4

12.30-12.45 Finish and networking
1Deakin University, 2LaTrobe University, 3Monash University, 4RMIT, 5Swinburne University of Technology, 6The University of Melbourne, 7The University of Queensland, 8Victoria University



KEYNOTE:  Higher Education’s Value: In the Experience Itself

Mollie Dollinger, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Parkville Campus

Globally, the traditional norms and practices of higher education are under question. From this, there has been an increasing level of emphasis placed on higher education’s role to be a pathway for future employment; however, historically the value of higher education is more complex. It is not only after graduation that students receive value from their studies but also during when the experiences and relationships can have immediate benefits. It is critical in the future that, as higher education continues to justify its value, its community can communicate both the value of degrees towards employment prospects and the value of the experience itself. This paper will explore the construct of value-in-use to highlight and discuss the nature of value within the higher education experience. It will further unpack the construct across three dimensions: relationships, personalisation, and experiences to analyse how these dimensions are currently met or unmet in the typical higher education experience and how they may be repositioned in the future to create more value for students. Empirical analysis arising from interviews with students who had participated in a range of higher education activities, such as peer mentoring programs, will be further provided, and their responses on how specific activities influenced their perceptions of value-in-use analysed. Analysis resulting from the data further demonstrates how specific activities may be designed to foster value-in-use and improve the student experience..


A1. Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Networks Within Australian Universities

Leoni Russell RMIT University, Lea Campbell, University of Melbourne, Damian Spencer LaTrobe University, Rachael Baron LaTrobe University, Friederika Kaider Deakin University, Chris Gonsalvez Monash University

Work-integrated-learning (WIL) is a strategic priority for most Australian universities with WIL activities spanning multiple work units and staffed by academics and professional staff. Building and maintaining supportive WIL relationships within institutions is a key enabler to an effective WIL infrastructure. The majority of institutions have developed a network of staff interested in sharing WIL ideas, pedagogical approaches, systems and information. Whether these networks are formal committees or informal Communities of Practice (CoPs), they provide a mechanism for WIL practitioners to regularly discuss and present concepts, trends and best practices.

This showcase will present the findings of a recent survey of WIL networks/community of practice convenors at Australian universities, which sought to uncover both the benefits and challenges of organising and sustaining a WIL network, as well as investigating the different formats and demographics of members across institutions.


A2. Scaffolding WIL Across a Curriculum

Friederika Kaider, Francesca Bussey, Anthony Neylan, Deakin Learning Futures/Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

This presentation proposes a course-wide approach to scaffolding Work Integrated Learning (WIL) activities and assessments across the curriculum. Drawing upon the literature and the literal definition of scaffolding in the building and construction industries we propose a model of purposefully-designed and connected vertical and horizontal scaffolding across a whole course (degree/program) of study. A visual enabler of the scaffolding model has been developed to enable course teams to plan and integrate  WIL components which include disciplinary-specific authentic work-related activities; career development learning activities; graduate capability development and the establishment of a portfolio to enable students to collect, curate, evidence and articulate the progressive and increasingly independent development of  WIL-related skills.


A3. Emerging Models of Work Integrated Learning: Enablers and Challenges

Leoni Russell, Judie Kay Careers & Employability RMIT University

The strategic significance of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) for universities, industry sectors, and government is gaining momentum. WIL is pivotal to producing graduates with the capabilities needed to succeed in a volatile labour market. Growing student numbers and increasing demand for WIL opportunities places pressure on universities and industry partners, highlighting the need for innovative WIL models that enable flexibility and adaptability, while retaining quality outcomes for students. This Australian Technology Network (ATN) funded project identified emerging WIL models, their characteristics, challenges, and enablers.  

This presentation showcases the enablers and challenges emerging from the project. Through data collection methods including a literature review, workshops and WIL community of practice meetings with project participants including industry partners, five emerging models were identified. The recognition of the enablers that support the realisation of innovative WIL, and the challenges that inhibit progress, provide guidance for universities in facilitating innovative approaches to WIL design.


A4. Bringing the industry to the classroom - building authenticity - the Swinburne-UQBS advertising capstone challenge 

David Reid, Swinburne University of Technology, Nicole Hartley, University of Queensland

Recently Swinburne and UQBS have jointly delivered the ‘advertising capstone challenge’ - where a leading Advertising agency provides a ‘live’ client brief to undergraduate students. They form teams taking on professional roles, and compete against each other synchronously to secure the opportunity to present their campaign plans to an executive industry panel. The winning student team secures coveted agency internships. The introduction of WIL into courses can enhance learning outcomes, effective in advertising undergraduate studies (Llewellynn & Clarke, 2013; McCulloch, 2009). Earlier studies have found authentic assessment to be “positively related to student satisfaction and promoting behaviour” (James & Casidy, 2018). The authentic nature of the ‘live brief’ has resulted in enhanced student satisfaction and learning outcomes. (i.e. increase in course evaluations from 4.1 to 4.9 out of 5; and in average grades by 7.4%). Students have provided numerous unsolicited testimonials as to the skill and capability enhancement they feel they have ascertained through the experience. Offering authentic WIL opportunities helps develop the ‘advertising practitioners’ of tomorrow ensuring graduates understand key skills and attributes required of them (Waller & Hingorani 2009). These initiatives seek to reduce ‘gaps’ in knowledge and understanding of industry practice to meet industry expectations (InsideHigherEd, 2018).


A5. Breaking down barriers for WIL engagement: Flexible, responsive and authentic internship models for the Creative Industries and beyond.

Clare Dyson Senior Lecturer, Work Integrated Learning Swinburne Uni

This paper outlines known barriers for students and employers engaging in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in Australian universities and presents an internship delivery model developed in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology that looks to address some of these barriers. Three major development cycles are examined resulting in a rolling-semester internship program that responds to industry timeframes while delivering authentic WIL experiences and assessment. The program was developed over a five-year period from 2013-2017 using student surveys, staff feedback and industry partner evaluations undertaken at the end of each semester to inform the iterative changes to the program. This rolling-semester model presents new approaches to pedagogy, changes in assessment types, innovative use of technology as a teaching and learning tool and the voices of both industry partners and alumni to delivery content. This research outlines issues commonly faced in WIL internship/placement programs and offers adaptive blended-learning solutions that resolve some of these engagement barriers, applicable across many traditional teaching fields.


A6. Graduate outcomes & employability in generalist degrees 

Liz Johnson and Trina Jorre de St Jorre (Deakin University)

Work-integrated learning is a national priority for higher education as a means to promote graduate employability. Disciplines vary enormously in their understanding and practice of work-integrated learning and their capacity to expand provision and participation. Professionally accredited disciplines have long histories of work-based learning (practicum, placement). Generalist degrees, like the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Arts, come from a different tradition, having a greater focus on independent research and academic practice. The diverse employment outcomes of graduates also necessitate that generalist degrees seek diverse industry partnerships. Thus, generalist degrees are admirably suited to fostering transferability.  The WIL in Science project is working with all Australian university science programs to increase WIL provision through learning from academic peers, partner disciplines and structured reform. Examination of the development of WIL within these generalist degrees shows innovation and diversity in course design, leadership and industry relationships which is less constrained by traditional professional expectations and regulations.This presentation argues for new thinking to support learners out of higher education and into careers. It documents the lessons learned from Australian science degrees as they move towards sustainable WIL practice and will consider the implications for other generalist degrees and the future of WIL. This presentation proposes a renewed role for generalist degrees in exploring the transition between higher education and the workforce.


B1. 'Ready and WILing: Science students want more and earlier access to work-integrated learning'

Joanne Elliott, Trina Jorre de St Jorre & Elizabeth Johnson Deakin University

Despite increasing recognition of the importance of work-integrated learning (WIL) in developing work-ready graduates, science students participate in WIL less than students in other disciplines. We spoke to science students at four Australian universities to investigate their experience and perceptions of WIL. Students perceived WIL as most valuable when it was contextualised to their career ambitions and located in a workplace, but they also valued other contextualised experiences on campus. They suggested that all students should have access to WIL, especially placements, but their own access to opportunities had been variable. Students suggested that embedding WIL opportunities early in degrees would increase awareness of, and access to, WIL. Further, they recommended that all degrees should include the opportunity to participate in a placement, although there was disagreement on whether those opportunities should be optional or compulsory. Our findings suggest that limited awareness and opportunities to engage in WIL are responsible for reduced participation, rather than disinterest. Our findings highlight the importance of building explicit WIL into degree programs to ensure greater access and understanding. Providing some experiences early, is also important to raising awareness in time for students to seek additional opportunities relevant to their career ambitions.


B2. The impact of reflection on science undergraduates’ ability to recognise and articulate curriculum-embedded transferable skill development

Michelle Hill, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Professor Tina Overton, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Dr Chris Thompson, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

This showcase presentation addresses the conference sub-theme “Teaching, Learning and the Student Experience - Graduate Futures”, as it explores how science students can reflect on their degree learning experiences to recognise and articulate transferable skills they have developed and thus be better prepared for their future. The future of science and other graduates depends not only on their discipline knowledge and skills but also on their ability to develop, identify and apply the wide range of transferable skills required in the workforce. In response to this need, universities are embedding opportunities within the curriculum for students to develop such skills. However, research suggests that undergraduates may not recognise transferable skill development at university without prompting. In order to be successful at gaining future work and realise the full benefits of their higher education experience, students must not only recognise they have developed valuable transferable skills at university, but they must be able to communicate them in the job application process. Indeed, models of graduate employability development propose that the essential missing piece in undergraduate employment preparation is reflection on and articulation of learning and skill development. This is especially important for science and other graduates who are likely to be employed in jobs outside their degree major. Such graduates will be reliant on their generic skills to obtain employment and succeed at work, but currently typically don’t receive opportunities during their course to articulate their skill development.

This mixed methods study aimed to investigate the impact of engaging science undergraduates in a program to reflect on skill development experiences encountered during their degree. In particular, to determine whether such reflection improved student’s ability to identify and communicate their skills in preparation for the workforce.

Science undergraduates from Monash University were invited to participate in an optional semester- long program to record and reflect on their course-related skill development, supported by group discussions and email prompts. 60 students completed the program. The impact of students’ involvement was evaluated by quantitative analysis of pre- and post-participation surveys and qualitative analysis of focus group discussions and students’ written reflections.

Most students were challenged by the unfamiliar process of thinking beyond the attainment of discipline knowledge to identify skill-related experiences, and reflect on their learning. However, quantitative analysis of survey data and qualitative analysis of focus groups suggested students obtained a range of benefits from their efforts to do so. In particular, most students expressed they had improved their ability to recognise their skill development, strengths and weaknesses and to articulate their skills in readiness for job applications and interviews. Other notable benefits included the ability to learn from mistakes, challenges and successes; recognition of previously unappreciated degree-related tasks and a new motivation to improve skill deficits.

Based on the findings of this study, recommendations are made regarding best practice approaches for implementing skills reflection in the curriculum. Current implementation plans are outlined and suggestions are also provided about ways in which this initiative could be broadly applied in course units, across disciplines and institutions.


B3. The many faces of external partnerships: partnering for authentic learning.

Dr Angela Ziebel, Monash University, Clayton,; Dr Stephen George-Williams, Monash University, Clayton,; Dr Chris Thompson, Monash University, Clayton,; Prof. Tina Overton, Monash University, Clayton,

Context: It is well known that adding context engages students and improves learning1. Adding context also shows students how, and why, knowledge from their subjects is used in potential workplaces to aid them in developing career aspirations and targets.

Initiative: At Monash Chemistry, we are actively engaging external partners to contribute to the redevelopment of our undergraduate laboratory classes (17 units). Opportunities for partnerships with any class are actively sort during the year. When an activity is matched with a practical class due for redevelopment, the relationship is more actively pursued. 

Methods: The Transforming Laboratory Learning project assesses student perceptions of the different practical experiences to measure the impact of the increase in context, and other related associated programmatic improvements (e.g. more industrially relevant equipment, integrated prelab preparation). To do this we collect pre-data before the changes are made and then resurvey the following year. 

Evidence: Analysis of the first two years of data will be presented. In summary this data shows the changes we have made have resulted in the laboratory classes being perceived as less easy, more challenging, more contextualised (to the workforce or real life), more open and there was more chance for repetition.


B4. Revealing the what and why of learning: using explicit pedagogy to scaffold the development of transferable skills

Darci Taylor, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, Deakin Learning Futures,; Chie Adachi, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, Deakin Learning Futures, Virginia Hagger, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health; Catharine McNamara, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health; Rhonda Brown, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health

The jobs of the future demand a wide-ranging skill set from our graduates beyond their disciplinary knowledge. Transferable skills are increasingly sought after by future employers (WorldEconomicForum, 2016) and necessary for life-long learners to navigate through a fast-paced world (Boud & Soler, 2016). It is noted however that these skills are often implicitly taught and assessed through learning activities and authentic assessments as part of the university curriculum (Jorre de St Jorre & Oliver, 2017), which traditionally focuses primarily on the acquisition of disciplinary knowledge. However, students can feel overwhelmed by authentic learning tasks, particularly novice learners (Wopereis, Brand-Gruwel, & Vermetten, 2008) who find it difficult to know which skills are needed to address the problem at hand. In addition, students often find it difficult to see the relationship between learning activities and skill development, and how a skill learned in one situation can transfer to other learning situations.

The notion of mastering transferable skills is, therefore, a complex task for students, where the explicit learning of disciplinary specific knowledge needs to occur simultaneously with the implicit, and often assumed learning of transferable skills. Teaching transferable skills alongside discipline knowledge is also a complex task for university educators, particularly when faced with adapting traditional teaching methods to make use of new technologies and modes of delivery, for example, fully online learning.

In creating an online postgraduate course on a MOOC platform, FutureLearn, this paper discusses a course-wide approach taken to developing and scaffolding the learning of transferable skills. Within a graduate certificate course consisting of four core units, we used explicit scaffolding to enable students to develop a range of transferable skills. The idea of ‘explicit pedagogy’ was employed into our design - whereby we articulated which specific transferable skills were being taught, why these were important, and how students would develop these skills through completing learning activities; rather than simply learning about disciplinary related content.

This presentation illustrates the ways in which we constructed the learning activities from a course perspective and how students responded to these activities. It also provides an opportunity for discussion around the use of explicit pedagogy as a strategy to address transferable skills. This paper thus makes a contribution to the conference theme of ‘graduate futures’ by enunciating our approach to cultivating graduates for the jobs of the future, which educators and practitioners could consider and replicate when designing their courses.


B5. FutureLearn-ing: ‘knotworking’ as an analytical framework for (re-)evaluating digital learning processes and academic identities

Chie Adachi, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, Deakin Learning Futures,; Marcus O’Donnell, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, Deakin Learning Futures

Curriculum transformation, one aspect of programmatic innovation, is increasingly understood as something that is brought about by a team of practitioners and experts, rather than efforts made by single individuals (traditionally, teaching academics). While notions that describe approaches to digital learning, such as learning design (Laurillard, 2012), are relatively well-understood in the higher education sector, the notion of teaching teams (and how teams successfully work) is less well understood. Teaching academics, hired for their content expertise, cannot alone carry out what’s necessary, sound and cutting-edge in digital pedagogies. Therefore, collaboration with those who inhabit the ‘third space’ (Whitchurch, 2008) - eg. learning designers, educational technologists, media producers, is key to the delivery of premium online courses.

While recent work has called out the existence of this ‘third space’ there are few conceptual tools that allow us to think through the daily interactions and dynamics of this new ‘place’ of academic work. Drawing on the notion of ‘knotworking’ within Activity Theory (Engeström, 2000), this paper outlines a conceptual and analytical framework that could be used to understand and evaluate these learning and teaching processes. Engeström (2008) argues that ‘distributed agency’ is a key to successful social production, while various teams work as knots in resolving tensions and creatively forming contradictions as a basis for transformation across all activity systems and agents. As such, we analyse and evaluate a case study of digital learning innovation project at a large Australian university. This project brought a central Learning &Teaching unit and faculty-based Learning &Teaching units together with teaching academics to create postgraduate degree courses through a UK-based MOOC platform, FutureLearn (FL).

In 2017, the University partnered with FL in a world-first to deliver a suite of postgraduate degrees. This large-scale project aimed to achieve two primary goals: i) to transform digital learning through the application of innovative learning design frameworks and ii) to expose Deakin’s premium cloud courses to a global audience. The successful delivery of six postgraduate degrees required a deep and complex collaboration among various stakeholders and teams, namely activity systems, across the University under immense time pressures in 2017.

This paper therefore makes a contribution to two of the HERDSA 2018 conference themes: 1) innovation; and 2) academic work and identities by challenging the notion of power encapsulated in traditional learning and teaching practices. Through the application of ‘knotworking’ as an analytical framework in an innovation project, we argue that it is the co-design team approach that transforms our practice in premium digital learning and teaching and reveals new academic identities.


B6. The Value of Outside of the Classroom Learning to Enhance Student Experience

Elena Verezub, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn,; Stephen Price, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn,; Kathryn Wallace, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn,; Elena Sinchenko, Swinburne University of Technology,Hawthorn,

Universities strive to deliver outstanding learning experience to their students by providing them with a variety of opportunities to be actively engaged in learning. A vast majority of research (e.g. Chan et al, 2015; Crimmins & Midkiff, 2017; Petress, 2008) has focused on exploring how to enhance student experience within the classroom, be it a traditional, blended or flipped classroom, through experiential learning, role playing and other participatory practices (Hagel et al, 2012; Petress, 2008). Benefits reported from this enhanced engagement of students in their learning include students’ increased motivation, confidence (Petress, 2008), innovation and creativity (Chiu & Cheng, 2016), performance and retention (Carpenter & Pease, 2012; Masika & Jones, 2016; Thomas, 2012). However, learning continues beyond the classroom and it is the university’s responsibility to devise appropriate institutional support outside of the classroom by creating a supportive environment (Axeison & Flick, 2010; Krause & Coates, 2008) and physical learning spaces (Zepke & Leach, 2010). To date there has been limited research that explored outside of the classroom learning and the benefits it brings. Thus, this paper aims to explore the importance and value of engaging students in outside of the classroom activities and the benefits of this engagement. The initiative to establish a university-wide Learning and Academic Skills (LAS) Drop-in Hub at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, aimed at creating a supported learning space external to the classroom which could provide students with an opportunity to develop or further improve their language, learning and academic skills required for the university study and beyond. The Hub is open for six to eight hours each day including weekends during semester times and, to ensure high quality service provision, it is manned by a LAS Advisor who is a staff member and one or two volunteer Student Learning Assistants (SLAs) who are selected from high achieving undergraduate or postgraduate students. Drop-in consultations run for 20-30 minutes and students can seek advice on a range of topics from time management to essay writing and exam preparation. The research into the effectiveness of this initiative used a mixed method data collection conducted over one semester. It consisted of an anonymous post-semester survey which had multiple choice and open-ended questions as well as aggregate data on student performance drawn from the University database. Overall, 367 students took part in the study. Key benefits, academic and social, of the initiative for students who took advantage of the Drop-in Hub that emerged from this study, are discussed in the paper. Academic benefits included improved learning and academic skills and better marks, whereas the importance of relationship building and developing a sense of belonging to the university community were the social benefits. The initiative demonstrated the importance of the outside of the classroom learning which could positively contribute to student experience in the university, by allowing students not only to improve academically but also develop a sense of belonging to the university, which consequently could empower students to take ownership of their learning in the university and beyond. The paper outlines some recommendations for senior academics and managers who consider implementing a similar practice.


C1. Conditions that support effective assessment feedback in higher education

Michael Henderson, Monash University, Clayton,; Tracii Ryan, Monash University, Clayton,; Michael Phillips Monash University, Clayton,; David Boud, Deakin University, Melbourne,; Phillip Dawson, Deakin University, Melbourne; Elizabeth Molloy, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne; Paige  Mahoney Deakin University, Melbourne

Feedback practices represent a significant investment in resources and emotion for educators and students. While there are pockets of excellence, research continues to highlight that feedback practices cannot be simply parachuted from one context to another and be expected to work just as effectively. This paper presents twelve underlying conditions that support effective feedback, and has stemmed from an extensive 18-month Australian government funded  project.  This  large  scale  mixed-method  project  was  innovative  by  adopting  a socioecological perspective, seeking the broader contextual and historical factors that shaped, supported and inhibited effective feedback. Phase 1 involved a large scale survey (n = 4920) and focus groups (n=43) with staff and students from two Australian universities to identify effective practices. Phase 2 explored seven case studies of effective feedback from Phase 1 data, and involved interviews with 34 staff and students. Phase 3 involved the iterative development of the framework of effective feedback. This framework was further honed through workshops with 295 academic staff and roundtables with 66 senior university leaders at seven Australian universities. Phase 4 involved a survey of academic staff and senior leaders (n = 250) from 39 Australian universities, in which the twelve conditions were evaluated. The final conditions reported in this paper provide institutions, leaders, and educators with innovative and empirically grounded guidance regarding how to enhance capacity for feedback, improve feedback designs, and foster effective feedback cultures.


C2. Structural inequality and retention in equity students: best practice models of institutional culture from across the sector

Ryan Naylor, La Trobe University, Bundoora,; Nathan Mifsud, La Trobe University, Bundoora,

 With the expansion of the Australian higher education system, and increased focus on student outcomes, there is increased pressure on institutions to support and improve attrition, success and completion rates for students without compromising the access and participation of students from equity group backgrounds. However, retention, success and completion rates for these students have barely changed over the past decade, despite considerable focus and effort. We argue that a different approach, focused on institutions rather than building cultural capital in students, is required to improve these indicators.

As part of a national project funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, we have examined institutional culture and structural bias in higher education institutions across the sector (rather than just universities). Using a qualitative case study approach, including institutional inventories of approaches to overcome structural inequalities and in-depth interviews with major stakeholders, we have identified best practice in supporting and retaining students from equity backgrounds from across the sector.

Evidence of effectiveness for this approach is demonstrated by the case studies themselves, which will situate examples of best practice within the broader student experience and retention, success and completion rates of the institution. Nationally, the Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) found that factors at the level of individual students provided only a relatively weak predictive ability, with only 22.55% of the variation explained by factors such as mode of study, type of attendance, age, socioeconomic status and cultural background (HESP, 2017. Improving retention, completion and success in higher education. Australia: Department of Education and Training), whereas the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) reported that an approach focusing on aspects of institutions rather than individuals provides far greater predictive power, with 41% of the variation explained at the sector level, and 86% for the universities (TEQSA, 2017. Characteristics of Australian higher education providers and their relation to first-year student attrition. Australia: Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency). These findings demonstrate the potential power of focusing on institutional culture and environment, where an institution’s locus of control is situated, rather than attempting to build cultural capital to fit students to the institution. We will also discuss implementing these approaches within a distributed leadership framework.

 This project showcases best practice across the sector in reducing structural inequalities affecting the participation of students from equity backgrounds in higher education. As such, it relates to the conference theme of (Re)valuing Higher Education, and particularly the sub-theme of social justice and inclusion within the Valuing Education stream. As the focus is on the student experience of those from non-traditional backgrounds, it is also aligned with the Teaching, Learning and the Student Experience theme. The paper will showcase theoretical insights, as well as presenting qualitative data of best- practice interventions, to inform policy and practice across the sector.


C3. Voicing the pleasures, passions and challenges of a university teaching scholars development program

Reem Al-Mahmood,; Gerardo Papalia,; Sinead Barry,; Minh Nguyen,; Terri Meehan-Andrews,; Brianna Julien,; Lucas Bester,; Christopher Bruce,; Colleen Holt,; Rebecca Miles,; Cheryl Neilson,, Juliane Roemhild,; Judy Louie,;  La Trobe University, Australia

There has been significant interest in developing academics as teaching scholars across group programs such as Teaching Scholar Development Programs (TSDPs) in recent years. These have evolved with various design and delivery models across the USA, Canada, the UK, and more recently in Australia (Fanghanel, Pritchard, Potter & Wisker, 2016). At their core, such programs develop academics’ leadership and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) capacities towards promotion and award opportunities. Universities are realising that through such investment in their academics that they reap the benefits of developing a cadre of teaching scholar as leaders – locally, nationally and internationally. This showcase is about an inaugural cross-disciplinary TSDP at an Australian university – it’s about who we become and what we come to (re)value when we come together to learn, share, and lead. The aim of this multivocal paper is to showcase the pleasures, passions and challenges of such a program. Phenomenology is the chosen methodology framing this research as it provides a description of human lived experience by using methods designed to unfold how participants understand the phenomena in their own subjective terms (Groenewald, 2004). Research adopting a phenomenological approach proves a powerful method to describe and understand subjective experiences whilst gaining insight into participants’ motivations and actions (Lester, 1999). We also draw on metaphor analysis (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) as “Metaphors used by higher education teachers in their narratives of academic life provide insight into aspects of academic identity” (Billot & King 2015, p. 833). These provide valuable lenses into the dimensions of experience as they open up how programs are perceived and experienced – “Metaphors used by teachers indicate both alignment and dissonance between expectations of leaders and the reality of being led” (Billot & King, 2015, p. 833). We use qualitative survey evaluation data, metaphor analysis and reflective practice to nuance the pleasures, passions and challenges of our diverse experiences over a year of the program. The showcase unfolds in three parts from evolving, experiencing, to reflecting on this inaugural program at one university to unfold academic identity work and its emotional labour, its passions, and expectations and challenges. We voice our (dis)pleasures multitextually and multivocally as our words and images are juxtaposed to unfold rich palpable participant experiences and eloquent moments. Finally, we articulate ways to refine and revision such Teaching Scholar Development programs to inform sustainable design and praxis, as ultimately, “the function of teaching is to arrange – to design and implement – a context in which learning can flourish” (Dinham, 1989, p. 80) – which at its heart it is to practice what we come to (re)value in our daily academic work.


C4. Re-booting the First Year Experience

Trish McCluskey,; John Weldon,; Andrew Smallridge,; Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia 

“Australia’s university dropout rate is worsening, with one in three students failing to complete the course they began within six years of enrolling.” (Martin, 2017) Like many Australian Universities, Victoria University (VU) has struggled with student retention and success. To this end VU set out to redesign the first-year experience for both students and staff. This Australian-first innovation, known as the VU First Year Model has the potential to revolutionise how first year at university is experienced by students. It’s a radical and innovative approach which sees students undertake units singly and sequentially in four-week blocks, rather than undertaking four units at once across a 12 or 16-week semester. It also connects them to peers and teachers via smaller classes, where they have the opportunity to get to know others and make friends. However the First Year Model, at VU, is more than simply rearranging teaching schedules. VU is embarking on a program of review, renewal and renovation of all its systems and processes in order to create a sustainable model that delivers better outcomes for students, staff and the University.


C5. Investigating pre-service teachers’ conceptions of using the Big Ideas of Science as a Framework for STEM Education.

Neil Fernandes,; Sam Dang,; Kirsten Agius,; Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC 8001

The “Big Ideas of Science”, first described by the Association for Science Education (ASE) in 2010 consist of a series of ten carefully selected inter-related scientific concepts that describe the world we live in. The Big Ideas of Science Education form a backbone structure that students can build upon to connect different aspects of science encountered in school to natural phenomena in their own lives. According to a recent position paper released by the Office of the Chief Scientist in 2015, “many students entering teacher training courses have not thrived in science, technology or mathematics in their own schooling, nor have they been encouraged to continue these subjects to Year 12. For these students, teacher training needs to play a critical remedial role. For all students, it needs to provide the best possible knowledge of content and pedagogy” (Prinsley & Johnston, 2015).  In responding to this position paper, Victoria University has recently developed an innovative program where pre-service teachers concurrently develop their content knowledge of the ten Big Ideas of Science and the best pedagogical approaches to implement this innovative education program in primary school settings as part of a STEM curriculum (Harlen, 2015). The Big Ideas of Science Education were chosen from an enormous range of possible content because they represent the most relevant selection of interrelated content that encourages students to draw connections between different natural phenomena they experience in their own lives (Harlen, 2010).

In implementing these overarching principles, two assessment tasks were developed where student pre-service teachers utilized the Big Ideas of Science in Education within a framework for STEM education. For their first assessment task, pre-service teachers incorporated the Big Ideas of Science Education into their Microteaching teacher training technique to experiment with effective teacher behaviors. Microteaching, an established teacher-training practice was deemed as an ideal vehicle for pre-service teacher’s utilization of the Big Ideas of Science Education because of its emphasis on students concurrently developing their content knowledge along with pedagogical skills. In the second assessment task, preservice teachers incorporated the Big Ideas of Science to construct interactive STEM models that could be used to support learning in their own future classrooms. The formation and testing of models is central to the processes of science and through the creation of an interactive model, pre-service teachers demonstrated their ability to link content knowledge with pedagogy.

Methodology: The effectiveness of this initiative was investigated through the use of thematic analysis as a method for evaluating student pre-service teacher’s conceptions of using the Big Ideas of Science as a framework for STEM education. The implications of using the Big Ideas of Science Education in Victoria University’s new “First Year Model” where students complete their course of study in sequential 'blocks’, (Davies, 2006) rather than engaging with four units of study concurrently was also evaluated. The First Year Model, an Australian-first innovative approach to higher education where students study each subject in greater detail through the block program provides an ideal platform for the implementation of the Big Ideas of Science Education.


Davies, W. M. (2006). Intensive teaching formats: A review. Issues in Educational Research, 16(1), 1-20.

Harlen, W. (Ed.). (2010). Principles and big ideas of science education. Association for Science Education.

Harlen, W. (2015). Working with big ideas of science education. Trieste, Italy: Science Education Programme of IAP.

Prinsley, R., & Johnston, E. (2015). Transforming STEM teaching in Australian primary schools: everybody’s business. Australian Government: Office of the Chief Scientist.


C6. The RMIT belonging strategy: fostering student engagement in higher education

Dr. Rachel Wilson,; Dr Gabrielle Murray,; Ms Bronwyn Clarke,;  RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia 

Belonging emerged in the 1990s as a conceptual framework to promote student success, retention and engagement in Higher Education (Tinto, 1993; Hurtado & Carter, 1997). Belonging is the sense of mattering and interpersonal connectedness: a basic human need, it enhances motivation and drives behaviour (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Strayhorn, 2012). Generally, its application within higher education has been to discrete student cohorts, often based on ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status or first-year transitioning status (Hurtado & Carter, 1997; Strayhorn, Bie, Dorime-Williams, & Williams, 2016; Ribera, Miller & Dumford, 2017).

RMIT University, Australia’s second largest higher education provider, has a diverse student body. Student retention at RMIT University remains relatively high, however, recent evaluations have indicated that students believe the university is not doing enough to help foster a sense of belonging and friendship. In response, the university has positioned student belonging as a major strategic focus area in 2017-2018, and has developed a whole of institution RMIT Belonging Strategy. The strategy emerges from an extensive internal stakeholder consultation process and builds on the research of The Belonging Project (Clarke & Wilson, 2016). The strategy identified and tested five drivers that impact student belonging at the university, and proposed a measurement framework to form an ‘index’ of belonging that can be tracked and reported using existing university data sets. This paper focuses on the innovative and collaborative work of developing an evidence based, data driven enterprise wide strategy for inclusive belonging, and presents a roadmap of the process.


D1. Mental health plans for all: The genesis of university mental health plans and implications for institutional research

Matt Brett, La Trobe University, Bundoora,  


The Higher Education Standards Panel has recommended that “every institution should have an institution-wide mental health strategy and implementation plan”. The presence of a mental health plan is considered by the Panel to be good practice and a first step towards addressing the learning and support needs of higher education students. There is evidence of high levels of mental distress and illness that warrants a systematic institutional and sector response. This paper explores the heredity of this recommendation, identifying critical points and influences in the preparation and implementation of mental health plans and strategies in Australian higher education, and likely future directions. This exploration examines the development of Australia’s first mental health strategy at the University of Melbourne, its importance in as a catalyst to the National Summit on the Mental Health of Tertiary Students, the subsequent integration of mental health related content in the Higher Education Standards Framework, and now normalised expectation for all institutions to develop mental health strategies. The transition of mental health from peripheral to core policy issue provides insights into the evolving role of institutional research. Mental health plans provide a case study that allows for institution and national policy development processes to be problematised and understood. The future of mental health planning remains uncertain, but it’s heredity is known and will influence institutional planning, research and researchers. Indicative directions for mental health data collection, use and application will be discussed in an interactive and collaborative workshop format.


D2. Innovation and scalability through a centralised WIL delivery model


Kate Abraham, WIL Service Manager (STEM & International); Sharon Cook Monash

In 2017, Monash University piloted a centralised WIL service model in partnership with Monash Professional Pathways (MPP) for two faculties - Arts and Business & Economics. One year on, this service has now expanded to five Faculties and Schools across the university.

Participants will learn about the features of MPP’s centralised, technology-rich WIL delivery model, and how it provides a platform for scalability within and across faculties and supports opportunities for innovative, multi-disciplinary placements both within Australia and offshore. We will showcase how our custom-designed business development methodology and customer relationship management (CRM) system enable us to leverage our unique position with industry as a one-stop shop for employer placement needs.

Following a high-level overview of the key features of the MPP WIL service, three case studies will be presented to illustrate the diverse placement experiences that have been offered using the current service delivery model. These will include a multi-disciplinary New York City placement delivered in partnership with Monash University Alumni Relations, a group based offshore placement with Shanghai Pharmaceuticals and a showcase onshore business relationship with placements across a number of Faculties and disciplines, managed centrally by the MPP WIL team. Participants will be encouraged to explore how key features of the MPP model differ from WIL models that they are familiar with, and the extent to which these features enable contemporary challenges for WIL services to be addressed.