Melbourne CSHE presents the Teaching and Learning Conference on 4-5 June 2019. This conference seeks to bring together academic and professional staff involved in teaching and learning from across the University to share scholarly approaches that contribute to a unique Melbourne experience. The University of Melbourne educational experience prepares well-rounded graduates who are academically outstanding, practically grounded and socially responsible. We seek within our teaching and learning environments to enhance student learning in ways that typify the Melbourne experience, the foundations of which are evidence based.
The Teaching and Learning Conference will focus on evidence-based approaches for student learning. Abstracts are invited from staff detailing evidence-based examples of practice. The six themes of the conference are:
- Assessment and feedback
- Innovation in virtual teaching environments
- Transition into university life (including international, local and rural students)
- Effective pedagogy in large classes
- Evaluation of teaching (including peer review)
- Transition out to employment (including work-integrated-learning and lifelong learning)
The conference will be of interest to all University of Melbourne academic and professional staff involved in undergraduate or postgraduate teaching and learning. This includes, but is not restricted to University teachers, curriculum designers and developers, educational technologists, librarians, student administrators and support staff.
Professor William Locke, Director, Melbourne CSHE
What’s not to like about teaching excellence? Some critical questions
On the face of it, ‘teaching excellence’ would seem to be something that we should all be in favour of, rather like motherhood and apple pie, and so is not really open to question. However, I will argue that the way it has come to be interpreted in policy discourses and operationalised in assessment and funding schemes in various parts of the world is open to criticism and – at the risk of being charged with heresy – not all it’s cracked up to be.
Originally, the term ‘teaching excellence’ was employed to raise the profile of teaching within universities and to match the emphasis on research, and research excellence, that has become so dominant in the reputations of institutions and individual academics. But even this serves to reinforce the separation of teaching from research and focuses attention on teaching and teachers, rather than on students and their learning, or their university experiences more broadly. It assumes that everyone knows and agrees what excellent teaching (and learning) looks like, regardless of context, and implies that all teachers can (and should) achieve excellence every time, all of the time.
More recently, system-wide efforts to evaluate and reward ‘teaching excellence’ are often more about government policies and priorities than actually measuring the quality of teaching, let alone encouraging improvements in students’ learning. They privilege outputs and outcomes at the expense of processes, and latch onto existing metrics, such as retention/attrition, student satisfaction and graduate employment, rather than devising evidence-based, valid and reliable measures of the quality of teaching and learning. I shall argue that these initiatives encourage us to chase the metrics, begin to distort how we think about education and its connection with research and, ultimately, diminish rather than expand our conceptions of teaching and learning.
I will conclude by suggesting how we might move on from ‘teaching excellence’ to enhancing the learning opportunities we might provide for our students and, indeed, create for ourselves as educators.
Professor Philippa Pattison AO, PhD Melbourne, FASSA
Shaping the Student Experience
In this talk, Professor Pattison draws on an account of the student experience by Chambliss and Takacs in their 2014 book, How College Works, to develop a framework for the student experience that emphasises its relational, navigational and enabling aspects and the interplay among them. Using this framework, she describes some data on common gaps between what students would like to experience and what they report as experiencing and argue that there are some distinctively Australian challenges in creating an excellent student experience. She suggests that, just as curricular experiences benefit from careful, creative and evidence-informed design, so too do broader aspects of the student experience. She concludes by sketching what she sees as some key design considerations for an outstanding student experience.
Professor Philippa (Pip) Pattison was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at The University of Sydney in June 2014. As Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Pattison is responsible for the University’s strategy and vision for teaching and learning and students’ educational experience. She oversees institution-wide development of better support for student learning, including the University’s approach to curriculum renewal, new thinking in pedagogy, learning and teaching analytics, e-learning and quality assurance for learning and teaching.
A quantitative psychologist by background, Professor Pattison began her academic career at the University of Melbourne, and has previously served as president of Melbourne’s Academic Board and most recently as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
The primary focus of Professor Pattison’s research is the development and application of mathematical and statistical models for social networks and network processes. Recent applications have included the transmission of infectious diseases, the evolution of the biotechnology industry in Australia, and community recovery following the 2009 Victorian bushfires.
Professor Pattison was elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 1995. She was named on the Queen’s Birthday 2015 Honours List as an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to higher education, particularly through contributions to the study of social network modelling, analysis and theory, and to university leadership and administration.