A national learning and teaching induction program

Project Complete Published by on the 4 February 2019

On the basis of the evidence available, thousands of new sessional, contract and ongoing staff are appointed to teach in the higher education sector annually and many of those staff are new to teaching (Department of Education, 2017a and 2017b). Higher research degree students also are appointed to teach and most, if not all of those students are new to teaching. Teaching induction programs have the potential to improve teacher confidence and they provide a toolkit of strategies for those new to teaching in higher education (HE). They are a significant professional learning strategy for the sector (Hicks et. al. 2010).

In 2015, with 25 percent of the sector providing at most a one day learning and teaching workshop, the partners in this project assumed that large numbers of HE staff who are new to teaching, struggle relatively unsupported through their first semester of teaching. As a sector, we believed we needed to do more to support these staff and ultimately improve the student experience.

In 2016 Associate Professor Kym Fraser was awarded an Office of Learning and Teaching Fellowship and with colleagues from 26 other universities developed a fully online, free teaching induction MOOC for the sector. This professional development innovation was piloted with over 200 enrollments from 18 universities in semester 2, 2017. In January 2018, Contemporary approaches to university teaching was launched with 500 participants enrolling within the first few weeks.

Contemporary approaches to university teaching is designed to provide ‘just in time, just for me’ teaching induction for those new to teaching in the higher education sector. The 12 introductory topics were selected in light of a literature review and research on the topics provided in current Australian university induction programs (Fraser et. al., accepted for publication). Specialty topics such as Teaching mathematics, Work Integrated Learning, Sessional Staff, Your Professional Well Being, and Politics of Australian Higher Education are also included. Each introductory module is designed to take two hours of engagement, while also providing extension work. While designed to be taken one module a week, across the semester, participants can pick and choose the modules to complete at a time that suits their needs and experience. The MOOC has been developed for any HE member who teaches, including sessional, contract and continuing academics, librarians and IT staff.

This Fellowship builds on the work of the OLT funded and CADAD supported PATHE project and the CADAD ‘University Teacher Preparation Programs Online Workshop’. The Australian Department of Education and Training and the  Council for Australasian Leaders in Learning and Teaching generously funded the Fellowship work.

Resources include the Fellowship report, an annotated teaching induction bibliography, information on how universities can import the MOOC content into their learning management system, publications etc. and can be found at https://caullt.edu.au/project-resources/olt-fellowship-and-mooc-available/)

Project Manager – Ms Linden Clarke, Swinburne University of Technology

Fellowship external, independent evaluator – Dr Coralie McCormack, Independent Higher Education Consultant

Fellowship critical friend – Adjunct Professor Yoni Ryan, Queensland University of Technology


Department of Education. (2017a). 2017 staff numbers. Higher Education Statistics. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/node/46141

Department of Education. (2017b). 2017 staff full time equivalence. Higher Education Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.education.gov.au/selected-higher-education-statistics- 2017-staff-data

Fraser, K., Ryan, Y., Bolt, S., Copeman, P., Cottman, C., Fisher, M., Fleming, J., & Luzeckyj. A. Contemporary induction to teaching in Australian universities. Accepted for publication by the International Journal for Academic Development.

Hicks, M., Smigiel, H., Wilson, G., & Luzeckyj, A. (2010). Preparing academics to teach in higher education. An Australian Learning & Teaching Council Final Report. Retrieved from http://www.olt.gov.au/resource-preparing-academics-teach-higher-education-unisa-2010