Exploring excellence in learning and teaching at ACU


Associate Professor Jason LodgeLearning means thinking; teaching means thinking about thinking; Let’s think differently!

Associate Professor Jason Lodge has a long interest in learning and teaching, the science of learning, and the use of technology to enhance learning.  This interest and expertise will offer us an especially rich combination if we want to challenge ourselves toward different ways of thinking about learning and teaching, and (more importantly) to think about improved practice.  Jason’s interests and expertise are backed by a strong record of research and scholarship which concentrates on the application of the learning sciences to higher education. Specifically, he is interested in the cognitive and emotional factors that influence learning and behaviour and how research findings from the learning sciences can be better used to enhance design for learning, teaching practice and education policy. Jason is also interested in the ways technology is influencing learning, particularly in terms of the impact of technology on the development of professional ways of being, metacognition, critical thinking and expertise.

Back to the conference page 

ACU World Linkages

WL1: Work integrated learning at ACU
Associate Professor Jillian Fox

Work integrated learning (WIL) integrates the theory of learning with the practice of work. It is often referred to as placement, professional experience, clinical education or internships. At ACU more than 30,000 tailored WIL opportunities occur each year. This presentation provides a snapshot of what WIL looks like at ACU and how these authentic experiences support student professional identity and graduate employability and stakeholder and industry agendas.

WL2: Core Curriculum: What’s it really all about?
Professor Ray Younis

This talk will focus on three questions: what the core curriculum is really about (and a related question: what the Core Curriculum is not); it will then explore critically the question of the relationship between different ways of understanding the principles of CST (which frame both core curriculum units here), and the difference that they might conceivably make to our students, and graduates.

WL3: Learning - Engaging - Teaching
Associate Professor Peter Howard

Central to excellence in teaching is the ongoing learning and engaging that one experiences in bringing about a sense of relevance and connectedness for the student. Core to a Catholic University is a commitment to an inclusion of all in the human right and social justice of access to higher education. This narrative based presentation reflects on personal principles, identity and mission gained through engaging with Indigenous communities and appreciating the socio-cultural influences evident in learning and teaching (1987-2018) together with the shared life experiences of people from diverse backgrounds living with multiple disadvantage and vulnerability in the Clemente Australia program (2003-2018) at ACU.

Back to the conference page 


P1: The use of student-led discussion forum in an online postgraduate unit
Dr Flora He & Andrew Hill

The discussion forum (DF) has been our main method to engage students with unit content in online learning. However, the DF activities for the unit were ineffective in engaging students. It seemed that (1) the DF requirements were too rigid and quantified, (2) students tended to choose the easy topics for discussion, and (3) the instructor’s DF workload was demanding. After reviewing these problems, we changed the DF activities from passive postings to student-led DFs, significantly increasing student interaction, engagement with content, and the SELT evaluation between 2016 and 2017. This approach was also more time effective for the instructor.

P2: The effects of collaborative testing on higher order thinking: Do the bright get brighter?
Dr John Mahoney

This presentation will explore the benefits of collaborative testing on overall performance, as well as performance on higher order thinking questions. It will begin by outlining current knowledge related to collaborative testing procedures, with some attention paid to theories of learning. The presentation will then detail a study where undergraduate students completed an individual followed by a collaborative test as part of a summative assessment task. Results from the study will be detailed before presenting the applied implications of the research. The majority of the presentation will focus on how other educators might implement similar collaborative testing procedures.

P3: Multifaceted Approaches to Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Dr Robyn Bentley-Williams

Engaging in collaborative conversations about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) shines a spotlight on effective evidence-based practices to improve student learning outcomes. Promoting and celebrating excellence in learning and teaching required multifaceted approaches with colleagues sharing ideas about what works well and what new opportunities may be possible. Underpinned by reflexive-inquiry orientations and social networking theories, SoTL approaches included cross-campus dialogue and professional learning workshop, designed to foster colleagues’ deeper understanding of SoTL. Outcomes included showcasing successful SoTL practice in preparing undergraduate students for their 21st century roles and developing ideas for individual and team SoTL projects.

P4: Embedding Indigenous Knowings Across the Curriculum
Phillip Dreise & Dr Kristina Everett

Over the past two years, the Learning and Teaching Centre at ACU has been engaged in an important project to embed Australia's 'First Peoples' knowledges within the curriculum of the university. This presentation outlines what has been achieved in the project to date, what resources are currently being collated and/or developed and what are the intended outcomes of the next phase. Kristina will explain how good curriculum design is vital to being able to effectively and appropriately embed Indigenous Knowings into the curriculum and Phillip will provide some insights into how all disciplines and subject areas can use appropriate Indigenous Knowings and what are the most appropriate resources and strategies to use to enhance and benefit the learning experience and graduate attributes of all ACU students whether they are Indigenous or non-Indigenous.

P5: Excellence in interprofesional learning – A Realist Evaluation Approach to identifying factors that promote success
Associate Professor Loretta Sheppard & Dr Leigha Dark

Interprofessional education (IPE) is a process whereby “…students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes” (pp.10). An interprofessional learning initiative was embedded within Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy and a Realist Evaluation Approach used to explore and map the factors that contributed to its success. Realist Evaluation asks “What works for whom in what circumstances and in what respects, and how?” As such, the critical successes and failures of the interprofessional learning program introduced within an Allied Health context will be shared.

P6: Attracting Successful Students: Deputy Principal Maria Trimmis explores excellence and equity through university – school partnerships
Maria Trimmis, Nicola Cull & Ryan Collins

Looking for students with determination, ability, creative and critical thinking skills?  Deputy Principal Maria Trimmis and ACU Equity Pathways explore ways of providing educational opportunities and developing the strengths and abilities of students living in areas experiencing disadvantage through pedagogy, expectations and university- school partnerships.  Maria shares her experience of factors and collaborations that have impacted on Blacktown Girls High School success in achieving a large increase in the number of students accessing, participating and succeeding in higher education and the

positive effects of this for their families and the wider community.

P7: Authentic Online Simulation-Based Learning and Assessment for Post Graduate Students: When only Moodle will do
Dr Kirsten Way, Lisa Burrell & Professor Kevin Ashford-Rowe

Authentic assessment has a number of identified critical elements and associated theoretical benefits for student outcomes (see, for example, Ashford-Rowe, Herrington, and Brown, 2013). More needs to be done, however, to empirically test relationships between different aspects of authenticity and student outcomes, particularly in the post-graduate online learning environment. Using only Moodle functionality to create a bespoke and constructively aligned simulation-based teaching, learning and assessment strategy, this paper outlines initial findings from data collected in a mixed methods study. Qualitative data collected though lecturer and student interviews and student work submitted online, as well as data analytics from Moodle in both a control and experimental condition, form the basis of initial findings in this ongoing project.

P8: Peer Observation and Review of Teaching: Learnings from the Faculty of Health Sciences
Associate Professor Diane Jacobs & Helena Williams

Peer Observation and Review of Teaching (PORT) is a voluntary, low-cost, observational system aimed at developing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) of both novice and experienced academic teaching staff. This paper will outline the development and learnings from the delivery of PORT within the Faculty of Health Sciences via the unpacking and exploration of participants’ pre- and post-participation feedback.  Key themes gleaned from semi-structured interviews will discussed along with ideas for future plans both within the scope of PORT and beyond.

P9: Enriching and enhancing curricula development practice at ACU: Using Carpe Diem workshops to develop new unit materials required for delivery across five campuses
Associate Professor Peter Lewis & Professor Patrick Crookes

Curriculum implementation requires significant collaboration and communication between academics – something which can be a problem for a multi-campus university. When developing units for the new 2018 nursing curriculum, the nursing discipline chose to adopt a Carpe Diem model to prepare their programme for delivery. Nursing used three day workshops to gather unit teaching teams together and: develop a significant proportion of all individual unit materials; provide academics with an understanding of the incoming curriculum; and extend working relationships within teaching groups through expertise sharing. This paper will present the outcomes for these workshops which showcase learning and teaching excellence, best practice and how collegiality can drive a quality teaching experiences.

P10: Creating partnerships with schools low socio-economic communities: enhancing outcomes for pre-service teachers and for schools
Dr Josephine Ryan & Mary Podporin

This presentation will elaborate on a partnership approach to teacher education which aims to enhance educational outcomes for schools in low socio-economic areas. It will outline the elements of the project which was a joint initiative of ACU, Catholic sector leadership and 16 schools in low-socio-economic communities in Melbourne. Details of the outcomes in terms of pre-service teacher experience and subsequent employment will demonstrate how teacher education is enhanced through partnerships between schools and universities. The support of ACU Equity Pathways has been an enabling feature of the program, demonstrating the value of intra-university collaboration to promote ACU’s strategic gaols and Mission.

Back to the conference page 

Nuts & Bolts

NB1: Rubrics: For Teachers? Students? ... Or?
Gus Wong

Have you ever had students contacting you asking why they have received an unexpected grade? While you know you have taught your students what they need to do well in a particular assessment task, do they know they know about this? This session will introduce a three-step learning and teaching strategy that aims to strengthen and make explicit the link between every day learning and teaching, assessment tasks and their relevant learning outcomes. In Step 1, the subjective language used in marking criteria is clarified. In Step 2, a learning and teaching portfolio is built to link assessment tasks to what has been learnt. In Step 3, students are provided with the opportunity to apply all skills and knowledge learnt in one single activity.

NB2: Writing Robust Rubrics
Dr Jann Carroll, Dr Judith Norris, Robyn Saunders, Mary Gallagher & Penny Wheeler

This session provides participants with a rationale and ‘how to’ guide to evaluate and improve rubrics to successfully improve student learning, streamline marking and improve their practice. According to the ACU Learning and Teaching and Assessment policies, rubrics are part of effective assessment, should be equitable, set transparent expectations, enable consistency across markers and model good practice for students. Results from staff professional learning implemented in semester 1 will be shared, critical points discussed, and student and staff voices articulated in this workshop. Participants are encouraged to bring their own rubric to review.

NB3: A versatile and multidisciplinary learning and teaching sequence design to develop information literacy skills to teach research concepts in academic writing
Dr Nisha Antony & Cecilia Liddle

In tertiary programs students need to access information that is digitally stored to undertake written or oral academic tasks. This element is part of the hidden curriculum and students embark on tasks unaware that they are assessed on their ability to find and use appropriate resources. The learning sequence is a blended learning design that uses an assessment centred approach scaffolded over 9 weeks of the academic teaching period. Learning of research concepts and related information literacy skills are achieved primarily through face to face sessions in the class room and computer-based learning activities. The proposed model can be applied across disciplines and has been successfully implemented for the discipline of medicine and health science.

NB4: Using an electronic medical record to embed sustainable and authentic student learning experiences within undergraduate curricula
Associate Professor Stephen Guinea, Peter Weyand & Associate Professor Peter Lewis

Technology affords significant opportunities for creating innovative authentic work-integrated learning experiences on-campus. However, a considered approach is necessary to ensure technology enriches curricula, contributes to the distinctiveness of ACU graduates, engages students in authentic work integrated learning activities, and is sustainable. This Nuts & Bolts session will showcase one example of good practice in embedding an innovation in technology-enhanced learning into ACU undergraduate curricula. The focus of this session will be exploring excellence in learning and teaching at ACU through the sharing with participants, the four critical success factors that have underpinned this project: an authentic learning design, engaging diffusion of innovation principles, constructing an effective team, and maintaining a shared vision.

NB5: The pros and cons of Designing and Implementing E-learning Modules in Global Health
Dr Michelle Black & Annelisa Sipos

The presentation is based on the outcomes of a 2016 Teaching Development Global Health e-Learning Project and implemented in 2017 to design, develop, implement and evaluate an suite of online learning modules in Global Health using an e-learning program, Articulate©360. The project was directed towards a diverse student body and aimed to provide a constructively aligned, interactive and engaged learning experience, linked to meaningful assessment to produce competent, work-ready graduates, and design e-learning modules transferable to other ACU units of study. In the presentation, Dr Michelle Black and Ms Annelisa Sipos showcase the implementation of two e-learning modules: Module 1 Welcome to Global Health and Module 10b Assessment task 3: Global health worker briefs, accompanied by an evidence-based discussion of the implementation.

NB6: Second time’s the Charm: A How-to Guide for Soliciting and Marking Optional, Informal Drafts
Dr Rajiv Amarnani

This nuts-and-bolts session presents practical advice on and the instructional benefits of providing informal, optional draft feedback: the practice of informally encouraging students to submit one assessment draft in advance for initial feedback. First, I present empirical evidence on its benefits in my research methods unit. Second, I introduce the social, cognitive, and motivational perspectives explaining why informal draft feedback works (social exchange theory, uncertainty management theory, distributed practice, etc). Third, I outline how to set up the practice (framing, guidelines, soliciting drafts) and carry out the practice (timelines, marking, reinforcing feedback). Lastly, I comment on issues of scalability and generalizability.

Back to the conference page 

Round Table Discussions

RT1: Student led participation in development of all teaching resources and assessments from second year onwards: Fool’s idea or much more?
Dr Isabelle Lys, Dr Santha James, Dr Fiona Ballard, Laurine Hurley & Clare Crisp

Currently there are student committee/representative members on individual School Learning and Teaching committees to provide feedback on general matters related to teaching delivery and assessment procedures. Should students play a role in designing class learning activities as well and why? Often academic staff develop curriculum, teaching resources and assessments based on common teaching and learning pedagogies with other academics and eLearning designers. But what about including students’ participation in development of university teaching resources and assessment design? Is this possible and how can this work to create a distinctive and engaging learning environment at ACU?

RT2: Open Educational Resources: Supporting equitable outcomes for all students at ACU
Dr Katarina Tuinamuana, Bernice McIntyre & Vicki Bourbous

The cost of traditional academic resources can pose barriers to equitable outcomes for university students. This discussion will highlight and encourage debate on using Open Educational Resources (OERs) for addressing these issues of equity. We will employ a real-life scenario of using Open Access textbooks in a multimodal diversity unit. The aim is to stimulate active discussion on barriers and enablers to this material, supporting the use of OERs to make quality information accessible, affordable and available to student cohorts. The copyright implications, the process of evaluating usage, and the value of the materials will also be analysed.



  • Launch of inTEL
    The Innovation in Technology Enhanced Learning Advisory Group
  • Using LEO Badges to excite and maintain student interest and commitment
    Dr Adam Staples
  • Adaptive and Individualised Assessment Submission Using Qualtrics
    Dr Paul Taylor
  • Maximising the benefit of feedback using video
    Dr David Opar
  • Echo360 Active Learning Platform
    Dr Isabelle Lys
  • Creating simulations using branching scenarios in LEO lesson
    Dr Kirsten Way
Back to the conference page

Learning & teaching

Please contact the Learning and Teaching Centre for professional development, resources and advice for your learning and teaching needs at ACU.

LEO support

Available 8am-10pm Sydney time, Mon to Fri,
9am-5pm Weekends and public holidays
Closed Good Friday and Christmas

LEO Guides
LEO Guides feedback