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Teaching and Learning - Fundamental Code

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) Western Sydney University is committed to achieving excellence in all aspects of the academic program and aims to provide a superior and engaged learning experience. The University is committed to continuous quality improvement, and excellence and innovation in teaching practice.

(2) In order for students to have an engaged learning experience and achieve the learning outcomes of the course it is important to recognise the collective responsibility University management, staff and students have to achieve this. In particular, the University has an overarching responsibility for:

  1. adhering to the [proposed] Higher Education Standards Framework, particularly Part A, Standards for Higher Education;
  2. ensuring that approved educational programs and opportunities are adequately supported in terms of the necessary physical, financial, technical and human resources;
  3. implementing education policies, plans and strategies that will guide staff and students and make clear to them their responsibilities (e.g. this code) and rights;
  4. implementing ongoing quality assurance and education enhancement processes including regular reviews and evaluations;
  5. providing effective adjunct services to support students and staff (e.g. Student Services, the Library, Blended Learning Advisors).

(3) The University recognises that academic staff are experts in their chosen fields and that students are committed to their studies. However, it is important that staff and students develop a common understanding of what the University expects of them in their roles as teachers and learners.

(4) The following code has been developed to assist staff and students to be clear about what the University believes are the fundamental responsibilities it has in maintaining appropriate standards within the undergraduate and (coursework) postgraduate teaching and learning environment. Students' responsibilities are contained in the Student Code of Conduct.

(5) The policy should be read in conjunction with the Student Misconduct Rule; Unit Outline and Learning Guides Policy; Assessment Policy - Criteria and Standards-Based Assessment and Examinations Policy; Work Health and Safety Policy; University's Privacy Policy and Disclosure and Use of Student Personal Information Guidelines.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(6) Nil.

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Section 3 - Policy Statement

Code of Practice

Deans (with support from the Deputy Dean, Directors of Academic Program, Academic Course Advisors and other key academic staff in the School)

(7) It is the responsibility of the Dean with support from the Deputy Dean, Directors of Academic Program (including the Directors of Academic Program for online courses, also known as eDAPs), Academic Course Advisor and other key academic staff in the School to ensure that:

  1. the University meets the Standards for Higher Education set out in the Higher Education Standards Framework;
  2. staff with teaching responsibilities are aware of the University's legislative obligations and uphold relevant university/school policies, and the Code of Conduct;
  3. staff undertake the responsibilities associated with their teaching role including those outlined in this and other codes;
  4. staff are given ongoing professional development to enhance their teaching, assessment, curriculum design skills and knowledge, and to enable them to carry out this work in multiple teaching environments, including online;
  5. casual staff are adequately informed of their teaching responsibilities and duties and where possible given opportunities to attend professional staff development programs related to teaching and learning and assessment;
  6. the necessary resources are available to staff to deliver the unit/course as outlined in the approved unit and course documents;
  7. staff to student ratios are monitored and, where possible, assistance given to staff teaching very large numbers of students;
  8. administrative assistance is provided, as needed, to staff teaching students with a disability;
  9. student and staff complaints and grievances are dealt with promptly, with courtesy and follow university policy and protocols;
  10. arrangements are made to ensure that staff are available for student consultation at set and well publicised times, also taking account of the needs of online and part-time students;
    1. The student consultation times for part-time and casual academics must also be in line with the applicable employment agreement and agreed with the Dean (or nominee) prior to the commencement of the teaching session.
  11. ensure, when a unit is taught across more than one campus or online, that the Director, Academic Program/eDAP/Academic Course Advisor (or an appropriate nominee) is available for student consultation at a key stage during each teaching session on each campus where the unit is taught or online at the appropriate times;
  12. Unit Outlines comply with the Unit Outline and Learning Guides Policy;
  13. all Unit Outlines are published on the Library website and stored in TRIM, and kept in a central location within the school, along with an up-to-date list of Directors of Academic Programs and Academic Course Advisors;
  14. appropriate arrangements are made for the conduct of classes (on campus or online) and student consultation when a lecturer is to be absent for lengthy periods of time (e.g. professional development leave);
  15. scheduled education activities are only cancelled in extenuating circumstances and, when feasible, students are advised in advance of the cancellation and if /when the class is to be rescheduled or offered in an alternative mode (e.g. in Lectures Online);
  16. appropriate arrangements are made for student consultation during non-teaching periods;
  17. sufficient numbers of staff are available to give academic advice during the university's enrolment and re-enrolment periods; the necessary information and academic advice is provided to students, enabling them to make informed choices about their degree pattern and career and other aspirations aligned with their study;
  18. students are aware of course progression requirements, and students deemed at 'risk of failure' are given timely and appropriate academic counselling;
  19. students know the standards of behaviour expected by the University and are made aware of the Student Misconduct Rule;
  20. students with a disclosed disability are accommodated as outlined in their Academic Integration Plan, with assistance sought when needed from a Disability Advisor refer: [Disability Service web page].

Academic Staff

(8) In the performance of their teaching role academic staff are encouraged and supported to strive for academic quality and excellence. They are required to:

  1. undertake the responsibilities associated with their teaching role including those outlined in this and other codes;
  2. undertake, with the Dean's support, ongoing professional development to enhance their teaching, assessment, curriculum design skills and knowledge, to enable them to carry out their work across multiple teaching environments, including online;
  3. teach the curriculum as approved by Senate through the courses and units approvals process;
  4. commence their classes on the hour (as required by the Timetabling Policy and finish the class ten minutes before the hour to enable students to travel between classes and staff to set up for the next class;
  5. efficiently perform the administrative tasks associated with teaching, including managing the activities in vUWS and meeting school/university deadlines;
  6. ensure that the vUWS site for each unit is available to students at the beginning of the session;
  7. provide students, two weeks before the commencement of the teaching session, with a Unit Outline which complies with the Unit Outline and Learning Guides Policy;
  8. make every effort to ensure that the Learning Guides are available a minimum of one week before session commences and all other learning resources that students require are available for the start of session;
  9. ensure that learning resources comply with the Copyright Act [refer also Copyright web page];
  10. ensure that sources are properly attributed in teaching materials;
  11. prepare adequately for each teaching session, including lesson objectives, online learning activities and learning support materials;
  12. choose teaching methods appropriate to the mode of delivery, subject matter, and the student cohort (first year undergraduate, final year etc);
  13. monitor subject matter understanding of the student cohort as a whole throughout the learning period and adapt teaching methods and/or materials accordingly;
  14. seek assistance, as needed, from school-based advisors and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Academic;
  15. conduct online or face to face learning activities as scheduled and, when cancellation is unavoidable, make every effort to organise for students to be notified in advance and for the session to be rescheduled or offered in an alternative mode;
  16. ensure students are aware of availability for student consultation by publicly advertising days and times (e.g. in vUWS, by posting on the office door, school web site) and adhere to the stated times throughout the teaching session;
  17. be available for set student consultation times, online or in person as appropriate;
  18. comply with the Assessment Policy - Criteria and Standards-Based Assessment, Examinations Policy and Examinations Procedures;
  19. consult appropriately and seek assistance when experiencing an education or student related problem;
  20. immediately report to the Dean any issues or concerns related to student academic and non-academic misconduct as defined under the Student Misconduct Rule;
  21. promptly address student complaints/expressions of dissatisfaction and be familiar with the University policies and processes associated with handling student complaints and student grievances;
  22. treat all students and staff equitably, with courtesy and respect, and adhere to the Code of Conduct and Federal and State Government legislative requirements;
  23. adhere to the requirements outlined in student Academic Integration Plans when teaching students with a disability and seek advice/support from the School Disability Coordinator as appropriate [refer: Disability Service web page];
  24. when possible, assist students with identified learning difficulties and as appropriate, consult with the appropriate school staff, the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Academic;
  25. undertake annual evaluation of their teaching as part of their Academic Performance Planning and Review process. Staff must use the University's survey instrument for student feedback on teaching (SFT);
    1. The use of the SFT will ensure that confidentiality protocols are met.
  26. participate in the student feedback on unit (SFU) surveys in each teaching session;
  27. abide by Work Health and Safety Policy, procedures and regulations with regard to educational facilities including reporting any damaged/non-functioning equipment or facilities or other conditions that may threaten the safety of the students or other staff;
  28. comply with the Privacy Policy and Disclosure and Use of Student Personal Information Guidelines

Students

(9) The Student Code of Conduct complements this code and provides a clear statement of expectations related to student conduct in academic work and inter-personal relationships when at university.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(10) Nil.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

Associated information