Swinburne helps shape higher education teaching

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Associate Professor Kym Fraser

Swinburne’s Associate Professor Kym Fraser is developing a national program for teaching professionals.

In summary

  • Swinburne to collaborate with 10 other teaching universities
  • Teachers offered national, semester-long training
  • Self-paced program will provide timely feedback

Swinburne’s Associate Professor Kym Fraser has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship to develop a self-paced induction program for staff in the Australian Higher Education sector.

The Fellowship funding, awarded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT), will be used to collaborate with colleagues from 10 other Australian universities to develop the national, open-access program.

The story behind Associate Professor Fraser’s award is one of perseverance and hard work.

In 2014, based on 2010 data showing that 20 per cent of Australian universities provided no more than one day of teaching induction to new staff, Associate Professor Fraser applied for an OLT Grant to develop a national program. The application was unsuccessful.  

“I realised that I needed to improve my case, so I collected further evidence and determined that in 2015 the number of universities with limited induction programs had risen to 25 per cent. So that was a start for making my case stronger,” Associate Professor Fraser says.

To demonstrate that other universities also supported the initiative, Associate Professor Fraser approached the Council of Australian Directors of Academic Development (CADAD), which agreed to contribute $10,000 to the development of the program.

She says feedback from the Swinburne panel on her draft application was invaluable.

Self-paced program

“The lesson for me is that just because you fail at something you shouldn’t give up on a good idea. Use the feedback provided and if you believe in the idea, try again,” she says. 

Associate Professor Fraser will lead the team to develop the online, self-paced teaching induction program which will run for a full semester.

“One of the principles that will underpin the program is that it will be ‘just in time and just for me’. For example, teachers can learn about feedback at that time in the semester when they first need to provide students with useful and timely feedback,” Associate Professor Fraser says.

“Universities that don’t have teaching induction programs will be able to encourage their staff to enrol in the national program. Each university can then provide its staff with a one-day workshop in which they learn about their university’s learning and teaching policies and other institution specific elements.”

Through the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA), Associate Professor Fraser also plans to establish an international Teaching Induction Special Interest Group for the sector.

“This will help us to develop national expertise in contemporary best practice in teaching induction,” Associate Professor Fraser says.

The OLT’s teaching and learning Fellowships have recognised distinguished scholars in their fields for the last 10 years. The Fellowship program, which had worked to advance learning and teaching in higher education, ends this year with the Australian Government’s closure of the OLT.

Associate Professor Kym Fraser is from Swinburne’s Learning Transformations Unit.  Read more on her teaching induction blog.