Making a difference: Why good assessment follows good curriculum

Published: Monday 27th June 2016

Academic developer Dr Kristina Everett's primary focus is enhancing the student experience of learning at ACU by supporting and resourcing the development of excellence in teaching.

Kristina is a member of the Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC) team and for the past four years has focused on ACU’s assessment process, which she says “is arguably the most important aspect of students’ study”.

“Or at least it is perceived to be so from many students’ points of view, so good assessment design is thus at the heart of excellence in teaching,” she said.

“Good assessment, however, is not possible without a well-aligned, constructively developed curriculum.”

This fact has led Kristina to become a member of a LTC team led by Professor Kevin Ashford-Rowe that is engaged in all aspects of curriculum design, implementation and development by providing support and resources to course review committees.

As well, the team provides advice and support in assessment design and facilitates the development of assessment and learning and teaching policy.

Kristina holds a PhD in anthropology and worked for many years as a ‘cultural broker’ working with Aboriginal people by ‘translating’ many of the requirements that the Australian Government imposes on them when making land and Native title claims.

The research involved in this work led Kristina to a career in universities where she was also required to teach.

University teaching was a whole new world for Kristina and she felt a strong responsibility to learn as much about adult learning and inter-cultural learning and teaching as possible.

Kristina pre-dominantly taught in Indigenous units where students were both Indigenous and non-Indigenous and this led to many research opportunities in inter-cultural education.

At first glance it might seem that Kristina’s career path has taken a significant detour and that working as an academic developer is a world away from the sort of work that she has done in the past.

“In fact there are many parallels. My long experience of cultural ‘translation’ and brokering understanding between different groups has been essential in raising awareness at ACU about new and rapidly changing external requirements for quality and standards in learning and teaching in recent years,” she said.

“My many years of research into adult learning theories and my research into variant and multiple learning styles and power dynamics in class rooms enriches her own teaching in workshops and in teaching into the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education."