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Foundations of University Learning and Teaching Program Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) Universities operating in today's higher education environment need a range of quality assurance processes that demonstrate to the government and to their students that teaching staff meet appropriate standards of professionalism. Development of university teachers is one of these processes and is the subject of this policy.

(2) Western Sydney University is committed to the development of the teaching skills of its academic staff. This policy ensures that teachers at the University meet appropriate standards of professionalism as demonstrated though completion of the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching program.

(3) The purpose of this policy is to define the nature and processes associated with the implementation and continuation of the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching program.

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Section 2 - Definition

(4) For the purposes of this policy Foundations of University Learning and Teaching - "the program" - is defined as a teaching development program that serves as an entry point into a graduate certificate award in higher education.

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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(5) The University seeks to improve the quality of its teaching and learning through a focus on teaching development for newly appointed full-time staff. In keeping with this objective, completion of the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching program is compulsory for all academic staff appointed to teaching positions at the levels of Associate Lecturer, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer from July 1, 2007 onwards, where the appointment is for 12 months or longer. Current teaching staff on continuing, full-time appointments who gain an externally advertised position at either the Lecturer or Senior Lecturer levels are exempt from this requirement. The program must be completed within 18 months of joining the University.

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Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - The Program


(6) The program will normally be offered twice a year prior to the beginning of autumn and spring teaching semesters. The program is designed to be completed within one calendar year. The program is coordinated and taught by the Teaching Development Unit (TDU). A program coordinator from TDU carries responsibility for the program.

(7) The program consists of three modules, offering an introduction to basic tertiary teaching knowledge and skills through practical workshops, feedback on observed teaching, and self-directed project work. Significant issues in tertiary teaching are considered such as curriculum design, assessment, student learning, blended and flexible learning, retention, pedagogy of large and small group teaching, and learning and teaching for diversity.

(8) Adult learning and reflective practice principles and processes underpin the program's design. An emphasis is placed on inquiry into teaching, including the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), at the commencement of a career in teaching in higher education.


(9) The program blends face-to-face workshops with independent study and opportunities for discussion and reflection on learning using the online environment.

(10) A network of support colleagues within the schools is used to advise and support participants through two peer review of teaching cycles.


(11) Assessment consists of three module assessment tasks. Assessment is ungraded. Satisfactory completion is decided with reference to established criteria and standards for each module assessment task.

(12) A Certificate of Completion will be issued to those staff who satisfactorily complete the program.

(13) The relevant Dean /Deputy Dean of School or their nominee should discuss progress with teachers enrolled in the program as part of the Career Development Planning and Review process.

Advanced Standing

(14) Academic staff who have successfully completed the program can seek advanced standing for one of the units in Deakin University's Graduate Certificate of Higher Education (GCHE).

Evaluation of Program

(15) Each offering of the program will be formally evaluated using a feedback survey with a view to continuous improvement and a report will be provided to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education). A formal program review will be conducted every three years.


(16) Exemption from enrolment in and completion of the program may be granted on the following grounds:

  1. Completion of a postgraduate qualification in higher education or adult education;
  2. Completion of an equivalent teaching development program from another university; or
  3. Demonstrated experience and excellence in teaching as evidenced through documentation of their teaching achievements over the last three years and evidence of reflective practice.
    1. The documentation of experience and excellence in teaching should include a range of evidence relating to teaching and/or curriculum development. Sources of evidence can include:
      1. results of teaching surveys and evidence of teaching improvement,
      2. awards or citations for teaching excellence;
      3. engagement in peer review processes;
      4. participation in course reviews, teaching and learning committees, etc.; and/or
      5. short courses in educational methods in higher education.

(17) Where the case is clear, an exemption for a new appointee may be recommended by the Dean /Deputy Dean of School in the report of the selection panel. Otherwise, written applications for exemption, endorsed by theDean /Deputy Dean of School/Director of Unit, and containing all relevant documentation required to support the application for exemption must be submitted to the Chair of the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching Management Committee c/o the TDU. Prior consultation with the program coordinator in the TDU is required before a written application is made.

Part B - Administration

Office of Human Resources

(18) All records pertaining to completion of and exemption from the program will be stored within the Alesco HRMIS.

(19) The Office of Human Resources (HR) will notify the TDU when relevant new staff commence duties at the University. Letters of Offer prepared by HR sent to staff required to undertake the program will include the following statement:

"It is a condition of your probation that you have enrolled in the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching program within six months of your commencement date and have completed the program within 18 months of your commencement date."

Teaching Development Unit

(20) The TDU is responsible for the following:

  1. disseminating information about the program across the University;
  2. contacting relevant new staff to provide information and invite them to attend the next program;
  3. advising Deans and Deputy Deans of School when a staff member commences, and completes the program;
  4. coordination, teaching, and assessment within the program;
  5. consultation with individual academic staff regarding program exemption prior to the teacher making a formal exemption application to the Dean /Deputy Dean of School for approval;
  6. coordinating the exemptions application process and advising the outcome of applications to applicants and relevant Dean /Deputy Dean;
  7. providing resources for support colleagues involved in module 2 of the program;
  8. issuing Certificates of Completion of the program;
  9. ensuring that exemptions and program completions are noted on Alesco;
  10. supplying the Office of the PVC Education with annual statistics on enrolments, exemptions and completions of the program.
  11. formally evaluating each module and program and organising and administering a formal program review every three years; and
  12. Publishing statistics about enrolments and completions of the program in its Annual Report.

Part C - Management Committee

(21) A Foundations of University Learning and Teaching Management Committee will be convened by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education). This Committee will consist of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) as Chair, the three Associate PVC's (Education), the Director, Teaching Development Unit and the program's coordinator.

(22) The committee will meet once a year to consider participation in the program, exemptions granted and feedback from participants.

(23) The committee will provide advice and support to the TDU in relation to the program.

(24) The Committee will ensure that the program is regularly benchmarked against other Foundations programs offered in Australian universities to ensure continuing quality.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(25) Refer to the Guidelines for Documenting Experience and Excellence in Teaching.