An Association for Academic Developers?

Project Complete Published by on the 1 May 2018

An Australian association for academic developers: Concept testing


Final ReportAAD 2018 project report final

Final presentationAAD Presentation

AAD web page


The practice problem

The proposed project would provide an initial organised opportunity for networking and professional development of Australian Academic Developers (ADs), and scope out potential for an ongoing network to facilitate these activities.

The significance of the problem

Australia has no organisation of ADs, such as operates to support developers in the UK or North America. Professional development of ADs in Australia depends primarily on the initiative and effort of individual Developers, who must seek out and create their own professional development opportunities and networks. As a consequence, professional development experiences are varied and sometimes piecemeal. Importantly, because they are individually constructed, they are not bench-marked, and nor are they usually designed to meet objective professional standards.

What the literature and/or experience tell us about the problem

Australia has no dedicated body representing the interests of ADs1 in higher education. There are, of course, related bodies; however, it is argued that none of these quite meet the demand for professional development and networking opportunities for ADs.

Internationally, other organisations exist. Of note is the UK’s Staff and Educational Development Association, SEDA, an organisation specifically focused on academic development, as opposed to the broader remit of organisations like HERDSA. SEDA claims to be “the shaper of thought and initiator of action in staff and educational development, not only in the UK but in the international domain also.” (SEDA, 2018). Most importantly, recent research supported by CADAD showed a very high degree of interest (95%) among ADs in a “nationally run formal professional learning program” (Hill, 2016). A pre-conference workshop for new ADs was facilitated at the 2016 HERDSA conference following this research.
Questions arise as to how ‘formal’ such professional development should be, and for whom it should be offered. Formal postgraduate courses, as outlined by Skead (2018), are a potential model for professional development for ADs. However, both Skead’s postgraduate course and such pre-conference workshops have focused on development for new or emerging ADs. Where, then, do seasoned ADs deepen their expertise and be recognised for their achievements? Informal personal professional networks and contact with peers has primarily been the case in the past. Internationally, SEDA offers a formal fellowship development and recognition scheme for academic developers (Bostock & Baume, 2016). Do Australian ADs as a community want to commit to an international provider, align themselves to it, or go it alone? What form might professional development, networking and recognition take? This project seeks to address these questions and propose a model.



Project Updates

  • Advancing Academic Development Event & Awards

    Published by on the 9 January 2019

    The Advancing Academic Development Event & Good Practice Awards

    The event featured keynote speakers, professional development workshops and presentations on innovative academic development practice across Australasian institutions, which culminated on the presentation of the 2018 Australasian Academic Development Good Practice Awards.

    Good Practice Awards Winners

    The Australasian Academic Development Good Practice Awards were initiated to recognise the good practices of academic developers, to share innovation, inspire others across the sector, and to raise the profile of the role that academic development plays in student success for all universities in the sector.

    The Australasian Academic Development Good Practice Awards are proudly supported by the Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT). President of CAULLT, Professor Kevin Ashford-Rowe presented the awards, and commented that: “The organisers are to be congratulated for the way in which they have designed, developed and delivered these inaugural awards. The awards acknowledge an important community of leaders in learning in higher education”.

    Overall Winner AND Peers’ Choice Awards: Jindaola, University of Wollongong (see also UoW’s media release)

    Finalist with Distinction: Contemporary approaches to University Teaching MOOC, Swinburne University of Technology

    Finalist with Distinction: Teaching in an Australian Context, QUT


    • Elevating Academic Development in a Bachelor of Nursing Course Transformation, QUT
    • Education Focused Career Support, University of New South Wales
    • Foundations of University Learning and Teaching, Bond University
    • Course Design Studios, QUT
    • VU Block Model, Victoria University
    • A University Program of Professional Development for Casual Academics, University of Technology Sydney
    • Peer Professional Learning Program for Awards, University of Tasmania

    Advancing Academic Development Event

    The Advancing Academic Development Event was supported by a grant from the Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT). We also acknowledge the support of Bond University in providing the venue for this inaugural event.

    Event and Award Organisers, Associate Professor Marina Harvey (UNSW), Dr Andrea Adam (UTAS), and Professor Jillian Hamilton (QUT).

    Keynote Speakers

    International keynote Dr Kathryn Sutherland, (Co-editor of the International Journal for Academic Development), spoke on global perspectives of academic development. National keynote Professor Suzi Derbyshire (Deputy Vice Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) at QUT), spoke on the value of academic developers across higher education institutions.