Indigenous Student Success Program / Lecturers in Indigenous Knowledges

Our three UNE Lecturers in Indigenous Knowledges, Caitlin Davey, Lynette Marlow, and Britt Abraham, continue to do outstanding work across the university. They’re involved in teaching activities across a range of units, are involved in new unit development and existing unit re-development, and have been working on broader policy/procedural issues, such as a Framework for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content within our units, a guide to ‘Sorry business’ for UNE staff, and input into the forthcoming UNE Indigenous Teaching and Learning Strategy. Any staff interested in working with the Lecturers are encouraged to reach out to them directly.

360-degree Unit and Course Review Update

 At the HASSE Faculty Forum on 4 April, the Dean spoke about the 360-degree course review process. As you may be aware, the entire process adheres to a very tight timeframe.

To summarise, Pricewaterhouse Coopers [PWC] have been appointed by UNE to review our units and courses, and provide recommendations for actions to the Faculties.

As part of the first stage in that process, all units across the Faculty were assessed by PWC according to student satisfaction, student disengagement, sustainability outlook [long term trend in enrolments], unit size, and financial viability [effectively, cost to run the unit against income].

Based on that assessment, HASSE Faculty Executive were then provided with a list of all units across the Faculty, divided into ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ and ‘High’ risk categories. We were given the opportunity to provide brief ‘Strategic Rationales’ for each of these units, such as where the unit was core to a Major, required for accreditation, double-coded with another unit [eg. 300/500 level], or prescribed for certain other requirements, and we worked together and responded with that information on Tuesday [18/4/23].

Based on our feedback, on Friday [21/4/23], Faculty Executive received a revised list of all units and courses across the Faculty, with draft ‘Recommended’ Actions [but I emphasise, not yet ‘Final’], and we were given several days to reply with a second round of feedback.

As we worked through that list with a short timeframe in mind, we consulted with colleagues across the Faculty [mainly Heads of Department, CAM teams, and Course Coordinators as needed] to understand the full implications of the Recommendations, and to develop Feedback for all of these.

I understand the next step of this process is for PWC to provide recommended ‘Improvement Charters’ based on their revised recommendations, which outlines suggestions for actions that we can consider for units [which may include amendments to assessment, partnerships with industry, consolidating several similar units into one, reducing duplication of units, or, for a very small number of units, stopping/suspending the units].

I appreciate that this has all happened quickly, and to reduce unnecessary angst and work, we’ve been instructed not to share earlier draft recommendations/suggestions from PWC as these are a ‘work in progress’ and ‘subject to change’. For example, in cases where PWC cite a unit as ‘High Risk’, but we identify it as Core in a Major and double-coded with a 500-level unit, we can provide feedback to adjust their recommended action.

I’m hoping we’re close to a point where we have clear and reliable recommendations that we can share, and in the interim, if you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me.

Project Uplift

Many of you will be aware that the Tranche 1 of ‘Uplift Evaluations’ is well underway for units being offered in T3, 2023, and the first sprint of Tranche 2 has now commenced for units being offered in T1, 2024. This involves meetings between unit coordinators and the project team to discuss possible changes to align with the desired ’16 elements’ of unit design and delivery.

I emphasise that this is a discussion, and we encourage unit coordinators to advocate for their unique and successful unit design/delivery concepts. Any subsequent unit development work needs to be approved by your respective Head of Department, and should be recognised/captured as unit design work.

Teaching Focused Roles

I meet regularly with staff in our Teaching-Focused Roles across the Faculty, and a number of concerns have been raised about the nature of their roles, specifically:

  1. They often have insufficient periods to take annual leave when working on 5/6 Trimesters over a 2-year period [as there is little time between end of Trimester marking, and preparation for the next Trimester].
  2. They experience intense marking workloads when working on 2/3 Trimesters in a year [as they condense marking workloads into two intense Trimesters]
  3. They experience marking workloads that result in staff exceeding 37.5 hours of work per week [as it’s difficult to distribute the high marking workloads across the Trimesters]
  4. They experience insufficient recognition of diverse teaching activities [such as working with casual examiners, etc]
  5. They experience high teaching loads at 100-level, necessitating relatively more extensive assessment feedback.
  6. There are unclear guidelines on how to convert to a balanced role [ie. what are the expectations of HoDs and HoS’s].
  7. They experience mixed expectations from Heads of Department and departmental colleagues around what the staff in these roles ‘should be doing’.
  8. They fear their heavy teaching loads [and relatively lower research activity] will impact on their chances for academic promotion.

To address these concerns, several outcomes have already been addressed including:

  • Acknowledging that the forthcoming workload model should address concerns with lack of recognition of teaching, we hope from T1, 2024 onwards [addresses concern 4].
  • Discussion on promotion and ‘crafting’ career goals and personalised journeys [addressed 7 and 8].
  • Discussions on how to manage assessment due dates to provide periods for leave throughout the year [addresses concerns 1,2,3 above]
  • Discussions on distributing the 70% teaching load across a diverse range of activities [eg. units at different levels, diverse teaching activities, including unit/course design and team-teaching opportunities], and ensuring those activities are recognised by Heads of Department when setting workload [addressed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
  • Communicating with the Learning Design Teams in EF to seek assistance in building semi-automated TurnItIn rubrics and assessment sheets [addresses 5].

In the near future, I will work closely with the Dean and Heads of School to develop further, guidelines and make some changes to address outstanding concerns, including:

  • Consultation with Heads of Department to consider how to manage TFR workloads, including: careful distribution of teaching load across diverse teaching focused activities, not only unit delivery and marking; considering opportunities for leave throughout the year; managing HDR supervision teams to consider adding TFRs as co-supervisors to existing teams; recognition of diverse teaching work [including teaching leadership, unit/course development, pedagogical advancements, etc]; careful planning of workloads across 2/3 and 5/6 Trimester plans [addresses 1-5, 7-8]
  • Working with the forthcoming workload model to develop Faculty guidelines on breaking down 70% teaching loads into teaching activities, and capping the hours allocated to individual teaching activities [eg. marking capped at 25% of total hours] [addresses 1-5,7]
  • Develop guidelines to enable Teaching-Focused Roles to convert to Balanced Roles [addresses 6].