Students, Learning and Teaching Conference 2017 - Engaging Students for Success

The Students, Learning and Teaching (SLT) Portfolio invites you to attend the Students, Learning and Teaching Conference 2017.

The theme for this year’s conference is Engaging Students for Success and the aim of the conference is to:

  • Promote engagement with students from diverse backgrounds, with equally diverse aspirations and support needs
  • Raise awareness of the impact of portfolio services on student engagement
  • Demonstrate relationships between curricular and co-curricular experiences for students in enhancing student learning
  • Strengthen and build effective partnerships between faculties and SLT directorates to create a positive learning environment for student success.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Registration from 8:45am

9:30am–6:00pm (5–6pm cocktails)


Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport Hotel, Mascot NSW


The Conference is open to all ACU staff responsible for delivering and supporting teaching at ACU.

Registration for Students, Learning and Teaching Conference is limited to 200 places. Approval from your nominated supervisor to register is required.

Keynote speakers

Shelley Kinash

Professor Shelley Kinash is Director, Advancement of Learning and Teaching at University of Southern Queensland. Shelley’s major academic scholarship achievements have been: championing employability throughout the everyday curriculum; migrating student evaluation of teaching to online systems; and supporting whole-of-university approaches to blended / technology-enhanced learning.

Previously, she was the Director of Learning and Teaching at Bond University, an academic at the University of Calgary in Canada and a visiting academic to the Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland. She has over 200 publications including 3 books. She has led three Australian Education & Training strategic priority research projects on graduate employability, postgraduate student experiences, and student evaluation of teaching.

Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly came to higher education after 20 years in the schooling sector, holding both professional and industrial roles at state and national level. As QUT’s Equity Director, she has a university-wide portfolio covering staff and student issues. In the student area, her department is directly responsible for equity scholarships, disability services, widening participation and discrimination matters, and provides advice and direction to all parts of the university on social justice.

Mary has tried to ensure that social justice issues are treated as core business at all levels of the hierarchy, and has taken a particular interest in influencing public policy at a national level. A believer in collaboration, she chairs the Queensland Widening Participation Consortium of which ACU is a part.

Cost and registration

Registration is now closed.

For further information please

Conference program


Registration and Coffee


Conference Opening – Ms Evelyn Picot, Director, Office of Student Success
Welcome by Professor Anne Cummins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching)


Keynote: Engaging Diverse Students: the value of collaboration, and the importance  of evidence
Ms Mary Kelly, Equity Director, Queensland University of Technology

How to target and tailor support and engagement for our diverse student community in the massified university environment is a perpetual challenge. Engagement with the curriculum; engagement in co-curricular activities; and the provision of practical supports for those with complex lives, are all crucial elements in maximising retention, completion and satisfaction. With the world of work undergoing radical transformation, and governments increasingly focussed on performance metrics, these challenges have never been tougher.  This keynote will explore how academic and professional staff can better integrate their respective contributions across organisational boundaries to benefit students, and how research evidence and professional judgement can be used together when devising strategies.


Morning Tea


Parallel Session 1 of 2

Orientation - Transition Smart
Dr Peta Drury, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedicine & Mr Joel Walker, Student Enrichment

Orientation programs play a key role in assisting students to successfully transition to University. Past research has identified that successful orientation promotes student success and increases student retention rates. This information session will provide an overview of the ACU Orientation strategy with a particular emphasis on the importance of integrating academic, social and co-curricular elements of University life to ensure a successful orientation program.

Building career development learning in the first year of study – embedding authentic learning experiences for students
Mrs Helen Haslem, Thomas More Law School & Ms Brigitte White & Mrs Caroline Ryan, Career Development Service

Key recommendations from current research into Graduate Employability suggest educators need to plan to develop students’ employability systematically from the beginning to the end of their studies. Furthermore, research suggests the first year of study is a crucial time for academics to engage students in key employability concepts (Kinash et al., 2017) including developing a professional identity, linking learning outcomes and graduate attributes with the development of transferable skills.

This session focuses on building career connectedness through an authentic learning experience for first year students that can be adapted to fit a cross-disciplinary approach. The session touches on the power of collecting real time feedback to increase student participation, how to ‘engage with the enemy’ and understand their ‘weapons of mass distraction’. Using a collaborative approach and linking current research to career development learning practices, discover authentic learning experiences to engage, empower and connect first year students.

Collaboration to support students preparing for LANTITE
Professor Geraldine Castleton, Faculty of Education and Arts & Ms Patricia Hacker & Ms Ann Majkut, Academic Skills Unit

In 2016 as part of a set of government reforms for initial teacher education programs, a National Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) students was implemented firstly in NSW (as LANCR) and then nationally. This test is the means for education providers to show that their graduating students have achieved a personal literacy and numeracy level in the top 30 percent of the population. This workshop reflects on insights that have come from an initial collaboration between Faculty of Education and Arts (FEA) and Academic Skills Unit (ASU) to support the immediate needs of final year students to prepare for the test in 2016 and the current direction for ASU support of FEA’s long term strategy.

Inherent Requirements: a Tool for Inclusion and Retention
Associate Professor Amanda Johnson, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine & Ms Carolyn Toonen, Disability Services

Inherent requirements are the essential components of a course or unit that demonstrate the capabilities, knowledge and skills to achieve the core learning outcomes of the course or unit, while preserving the academic integrity of the university’s learning, assessment and accreditation processes. This session will provide information on the benefits and relevance of inherent requirements for staff and students and will present case studies that illustrate how the Inherent Requirements tool has been implemented in different scenarios. This will be important preparation for the university-wide implementation of inherent requirements for all courses.

How engagement in Student Accommodation builds ACU’s Graduate Attributes
Mr Paul McJannett & Miss Simone Gallo, Student Engagement and Services

ACU Living and Learning Communities provide opportunities for student support and development. At ACU education is holistic, our Living and Learning Communities (LLC) promote academic achievement, health and wellbeing, sport, spirituality, internationalisation, leadership and community engagement by way of Residential Life events and activities. At LLC we believe:

  • Safe, clean, affordable accommodation promotes secure study patterns
  • Students in residence can experience community living and learning
  • Residences give the university an opportunity to support students’ academic, social, spiritual and personal development goals to aid retention
  • Residential experiences can assist students in developing leadership and the ACU Graduate Attributes.

The challenge is to build a community of students and friends, who by engaging in residential life will become successful students and contributors to ACU and their professions. Through living and learning with peers in residence, students will develop graduate attributes including communication and interpersonal skills, resilience and leadership. ACU Living and Learning Communities have established a new standard in student engagement in our university, engagement which we believe assists residential students towards achieving the ACU Graduate Attributes.

“Ngayu Moondani Mirrup” (Let’s embrace the spirit) – Mindfulness and resilience drawn from traditional indigenous traditions
Mr Linc YowYeh, Indigenous Higher Education Unit, Jim-baa-yer IHEU

As one of the oldest surviving cultures, within traditional practices are approaches to mental health, wellbeing and resilience that continue to be practised. One approach from the Daly River region, Northern Territory is Dadirri, a form of mindfulness. This presentation explains the benefits of an Indigenous meditation technique.  The session, developed by the Counselling Service with contribution from the Melbourne First Peoples Indigenous Higher Education Unit, Jim-Baa-Yer, was co-presented by staff of both units to students on the Melbourne and Ballarat campuses.


Parallel Session 2 of 2

Exploring the potential of PASS programs in building student success
Dr Tanya Uebergang, School of Science & Ms Geraldine McNulty & Ms Heatherbell Fanani, Office of Student Success

The Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) programs offer innumerable benefits to students who choose to participate. For these benefits to become actualised, students need to attend the program on a regular basis. There are challenges to improving students’ and staff perceptions as many benefits are not immediately apparent, or may prove difficult to attribute to participation in the program. Through focussing on PASS supported by academic staff this collaborative workshop aims to share and discover strategies for improving participation in PASS and will highlight the effectiveness of peer learning as a significant factor to engage students’ transitioning to the university environment.

Equipping Active Learners using Echo360 ALP
Mr Michael Sobek, Learning and Teaching Centre

In response to student feedback and aligned with the University's commitment to Learning for Life, an enterprise-wide adoption of the use of lecture capture at ACU was considered to be an essential, priority element of improving students' learning experience. This also ensures that ACU’s technology enhanced learning usage is consistent with sector best practice.

The workshop will look at a range of in-built active learning tools that Echo360 ALP offers for both lecturers and students:

  • Polling tools which can be embedded into classroom presentations and videos.
  • Contextual notes and annotation which allows students’ notes to link directly to a presentation or video ready for discussion and future review.
  • Confusion alerts to the teaching academic.
  • Data analytics which will help both the student and the academic to understand how learning is taking place within their unit.

Working towards wellbeing and promoting wellbeing with Law students
Dr Darko Hajzler & Ms Samantha Whitehead, Counselling Service

Many professions, such as Law, have high levels of stress that commence with being a student. This presentation describes how relationships have been built over a number of years between the Counselling Service and staff in the Thomas More Law School. Attention will be focused upon the personal and collegiate benefits of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program. Additionally, the MAPP (My Academic Priority Plan) will be explained and how it has assisted Law students to assess their capacities and identify areas in which they may benefit from receiving assistance.

Student Advocacy Service: Collaborative partnership for supporting students at risk
Dr Joanne Harris, School of Education & Mr Tom Armstrong, Student Advocacy

An unsatisfactory progress notification is an opportunity for intervention by the University to support students who have experienced academic difficulty. The Student Advocacy Service works with Faculties to provide independent advice delivered through information sessions, consultations and online resources. The Student Advocacy Service aims to collaborate with the Faculties to increase student retention and success. Through a solution-focused approach, the Student Advocacy Service partners with Course Coordinators and Course Advisers to empower students to positively respond to an unsatisfactory progress notification.

Active Start – A joint collaboration between Health, Sport and Wellbeing and the School of Exercise Science
Dr John Mahoney, School of Exercise Science & Ms Jen Younger, Student Engagement and Services

Active Start is a four-week Program which commenced in Semester 1, 2017 and delivered at McAuley at Banyo (Brisbane). The pilot program is offered to all first year students from the School of Exercise Science due to their high attrition rates.

Students will rotate through a series of four activities, participating in a one-hour activity per week. Each week the students will have the opportunity to participate in a sporting competition or fitness class culminating in a BBQ and brief presentation (Exercise Science Student Body and OSS) after each session. Whilst the Program is optional, it is tied in to assessment tasks within Semester 1 Exercise Science units of study. The Program is heavily promoted in lectures and tutorials and provides students with the opportunity to establish friendships, develop a sense of belonging, link academic learning with an active, healthy lifestyle and learn more about the support services and programs on offer at ACU.

This session explores the journey, challenges and outcomes of the Pilot Program, and how the Program can be implemented for other faculties and/or other campus locations

Resilience, the Higher Education Student and the Mission of ACU: A Conversation
Associate Professor Rev. Jamie Calder SJ MAPS, Identity and Mission

Much of the resilience literature points to the importance of the human person connected to community and family in meaningful ways. With the rise of Positive Psychology again attesting to the correlation between the psychologically well-adjusted individual connected to communities of safety and nurturance, could it not be that great undiscovered resource of resilience within the University is its mission and identity?

This workshop seeks to map the important connections between the Mission and Identity of ACU and resilience for student success and growth both personally and professionally. The process will involve a panel interview conducted by Associate Professor Rev. Jamie Calder SJ MAPS (Academic Coordinator Catholic Programs) with key staff from the Students, Learning and Teaching portfolio.




Keynote: Engaging students for success: Why, how & what happens
Professor Shelley Kinash, Director, Advancement of Learning and Teaching, University of Southern Queensland

This keynote address will feature three top ten lists. First, the top ten problems in higher education deriving from disengaged students. Second, the top ten strategies and approaches that Australian universities are using to engage students for undergraduate and postgraduate success. Third, the top ten success stories of students, graduates and higher education staff from heightened engagement. The key takeaways from this keynote are awareness, strategies, contacts and networks for heightening student engagement thereby leading to exemplar student experience and superior graduate outcomes.


Student Panel: Student Experience and Engagement – Enabling Distinctive Graduates


Afternoon Tea


Performance: ACU Choir


Presentation: ACU Student Portal: Online gateway to student engagement
Ms Pauline Murphy, Student Strategies & Mr Joel Walker, Student Enrichment

Students told us they were being bombarded with emails but often missed important information; that they wanted more targeted, personalised information and that they had to sign in and out of multiple systems daily to achieve their academic, administrative and co-curricular tasks. The newly released student portal aims to overcome student frustrations and facilitate their engagement through simple, single sign on access to every day systems; information that is personalised by characteristics such as campus, study level and interests; integration with the student website; news feeds and notifications and a personal schedule. This session showcases the student portal and the benefits for students and staff, including enrolments and orientation planning.


Drinks and Canapes
6.00pm Conference Ends