What works best: strengthening the evidence base for English language practices in higher education

Project abstract

This  project will produce resources to strengthen the evidence base for English  language practices in Australian higher education. Since the introduction of the Higher Education Standards Framework in late 2011, higher education  institutions (HEIs) have developed strategic plans for addressing the English  language learning needs of all students. However these practices can be fragmented and not considered as core business within learning and teaching practices.  The challenge for institutions is in  identifying, monitoring and evaluating best practices for English language  approaches. There is little publicly available information that can guide  institutions towards best practice approaches and effective strategies for  monitoring and evaluating those approaches. With this project, we seek to  engage with the sector and produce a framework, case studies and practical resources  that will guide institutions in strengthening the evidence base for their English language practices.  The evidence  base is much needed to assist institutions in developing best practices for  English language approaches.

Project objective

To develop a  framework for identifying best English language practices in Australian higher  education. This framework will provide evidence of the efficacy of the English  language practices described. It will also present institutions with structures  to monitor and evaluate these practices to gather the evidence needed to  understand what is working well and where best to allocate resources.  The project resources developed through the  project will provide the necessary tools for institutions for this purpose.
This  project aims to strengthen the institutional evidence base for monitoring and  evaluating best practices for English language by:

  • engaging with the sector to identify effective  strategies and practices
  • producing a thorough and authoritative assessment  of best practices
  • developing a framework with practical resources
  • strengthening institutional teaching and learning  practices in relation to English language.


The project has created the Distributed Expertise Model (DEM), a guide to assist universities in developing, assessing and demonstrating graduates' communication skills.

Download the DEM

More information

Read the discussion paper outlining the focus of the  project. Please also refer to the main project website for a more in depth discussion of the DEM.

For further queries, please contact the Project  Manager, Dr Paula Kelly.


We are hosting workshops targeted at academic program leaders responsible for the development and demonstration of graduate level oral and written communication skills (details below). These workshops are designed to disseminate the findings of the project and stimulate discussion around the demonstration of graduate communication skills for different programs. They will also identify high impact practices that are sustainable and scalable at the program level.

Workshops are led by Associate Professor Sophie Arkoudis (University of Melbourne) and Dr Anne Harris (Edith Cowan University) with input from coleagues at participating institutions. Download flyer.

Places are limited to 30 participants only per workshop. Please register below if you would like to attend.

Perth Room 545, level 5, Ngoorlark (Building 34), Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup Wednesday, 5 October 2016 10am-1pm Now closed.
Brisbane Room K424, QUT, Kelvin Grove campus Friday, 7 October 2016 10am-1pm Now closed.
Sydney CB11.04.102, Building 11 (FEIT), UTS Monday, 10 October 10am-1pm Now closed.
MelbourneVenue moved to Malaysia Theatre, Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Parkville campus  Wednesday, 12 October 1-4pm Now closed.