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UNMC510 Foundations for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education


UNHE500 - Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Unit rationale, description and aim

To improve your teaching practice, you need to combine an advanced knowledge of adult learning and teaching foundations with skills of critical reflection and reasoning, and to draw on the scholarship of learning and teaching in higher education. Therefore, this micro-credential aims to help you develop your teaching practice informed by adult learning theory, scholarship, the needs and circumstances of your students, the institution’s Mission and its teaching and learning policies, teaching standards frameworks, and other governance requirements in the higher education sector. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Develop and apply strategies for improving your teaching practice using analysis of, evaluation of, and critical reflection on the relationship between higher education literature and your teaching practice. (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8) 

LO2 - Design engaging learning and teaching experiences for your students which are ethical and Mission-based and responsive to student diversity, and justified by an application of an understanding of higher education literature (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA6) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • the nature of adult learning 
  • theoretical and ethical perspectives on adult learning and teaching in higher education  
  • the diverse needs of adult learners  
  • different conceptions of knowledge (including Indigenous Knowings and internationalisation) 
  • aligning adult learning activities, learning outcomes, and assessment  
  • preparing students for work and life 
  • reflecting on and reviewing teaching practice: for example, online learning, peer observation and review of teaching, team teaching, problem-based and inquiry-based learning, and universal design of learning. 
  • working with university policies and procedures and strategic priorities for learning and teaching 
  • applying the scholarship of adult learning and teaching 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Participants in this micro-credential are predominantly academics whose geographical location is widespread. These participants are adults, all of whom are qualified with at least one higher education degree. Participants have expertise that collectively spans the full range of disciplines taught by a university. Their experience in higher education teaching is diverse. Notwithstanding that some participants have decades of experience as tertiary teachers resulting in considerable ‘practice wisdom’, a few of the participants bring formal disciplinary expertise in higher education with a scholarly base. This micro-credential needs to respect the range of experience represented in this cohort and respond in a manner that assists all participants to progressively reflect upon and improve their teaching practice informed by learning and teaching foundations and theory in higher education, teaching standards frameworks, the needs and circumstances of their students, institutional mission and policies, and other governance requirements in the higher education sector. 

To achieve this, the micro-credential is delivered using an online mode of delivery. This capitalises on the maturity and capability of the participants, but also provides equitable access to a full provision of learning experiences within which a community of scholars can be developed.  

The micro-credential is structured as a progressive, constructive, developmental narrative that supports participants’ learning through a sequence of three overlapping learning stages. In each stage, the nature of the learning and the nature of the teaching supports provided are different but complementary. Each stage builds on the next so that learning from one acts as necessary foundation for the next.  

Teaching approaches need to be selected and sequenced in ways that support the nature of learning at each stage.  

  1. The first stage is characterised as acquiring declarative knowledge. Teaching supports are basic readings together with learning and assessment activities that encourage participants to relate these to their teaching practice. This stage builds upon what you learned in the preceding micro-credential, MCHE510 
  2. The second stage overlaps with the first which involves assimilating this knowledge in the form of learning and teaching theory and concepts. More advanced readings, drawing on a broader base of educational theory, consideration of relevant teaching standards frameworks, institutional context and its learning and teaching policy are coupled with learning activities that encourage a greater application of self-reflection of the participants’ teaching practices are critiqued with reference to the theories and concepts they are assimilating. 
  3. The third stage requires participants to apply this conceptual knowledge into the development of skills, that is, functioning knowledge. Learning activity here involves the application of conceptual understanding to the critique and justification of improved teaching practices. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy in this micro-credential would consist of one formative assessment task and one summative assessment task. The tasks must provide a developmental sequence that supports the educational purpose of each of the three stages described above and ensure it assesses the learning outcomes which are in the same constructive developmental sequence.  

The first assessment task is a formative assessment which provides an initial learning opportunity and assists to embed the declarative knowledge through reflection of a participants’ teaching practice as it relates to a teaching framework. This task relates mostly to the achievement of learning outcome number 1.   

The second task is a summative assessment extends the thinking from the first task to an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a participants’ teaching methods and approaches, and suggestions of improvement of the teaching practices. This task allows participants to apply their understanding of the inter-relationships between learning and teaching educational literature to an improvement of teaching practices. This task relates mostly to the achievement of learning outcome number 2, but builds on learning outcome 1, and assesses both.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Formative assessment 

Using adult learning concepts, principles and theories introduced in this and the preceding (MCHE510) micro-credential, write a critique and alignment to two of the five areas of activity in the UKPSF as it relates to your teaching practice.  

This assignment uses Turnitin. 

Guide length: between 500 and 1000 words. Not including the reference list. 



GA4, GA6, GA5, GA8 

Assessment Task 2: Summative assessment 

Using knowledge of adult learning and teaching foundations in higher education, and based on the formative assessment task, provide a justification for improving your teaching methods/approaches.  

This assignment uses Turnitin. 

Guide length: between 1500 and 2000 words. Not including the reference list. 

LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Balan, P., Clark, M., & Restall, G. (2015). Preparing students for flipped or team-based learning methods, Education + Training57(6), 639-657. 

Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university (4th ed.). London: McGraw-Hill Education.  

Boud, D. (2013). Enhancing learning through self-assessment. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis. 

Brookfield, S. (2017). Becoming a critically reflective teacher (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.  

Christie, M., & Asmar, C. (2012). Indigenous knowers and knowledge in university teaching. Ch. 13 in University Teaching in Focus: A learning-centred approach. Lynne Hunt and Denise Chalmers (Eds.) ACER Press. p214-232. 

Fry, H., Ketteridge, S., & Marshall, S. (2008). A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: Enhancing academic practice. London: Routledge. 

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A. (2007). Scaffolding and achievement in problem-based and inquiry learning: A response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006). Educational psychologist42(2), 99-107. 

Huitt, W. (2011). Bloom et al.'s taxonomy of the cognitive domain. Educational psychology interactive22

Hunt, L., & Chalmers, D. (Eds.) (2013). University teaching in focus: a learning-centred approach. Routledge, London. 

Knowles, M., Holton III, EF., & Swanson, R A. (2015). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis. 

Kolb, A.Y., Kolb, D.A., Passarelli, A., & Sharma, G. (2014). On becoming an experiential educator: The educator role profile. Simulation and Gaming, 45(2), 204-234.  

Light, G., Calkins, S., & Cox, R. (2009). Learning and teaching in higher education: The reflective professional. Sage. 

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. 

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.  

Potter, M. K., & Kustra, E. (2012). A primer on learning outcomes and the SOLO taxonomy. Course Design for Constructive Alignment, 1-22. 

Prosser, M., & Trigwell, K. (2014). Qualitative variation in approaches to university teaching and learning in large first-year classes. Higher Education67, 783-795. 

Race, P. (2014). Making learning happen: A guide for post-compulsory education. London: Sage Publication. 

Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in higher education (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.  

Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. (2006). A practical reader in universal design for learning. Cambridge, England: Harvard Education Press. 

Stewart, M. (2012). Understanding learning: Theories and Critique. Ch 1 in Lynne Hunt and Denise Chalmers (Eds), University Teaching in Focus: A learning-centred approach. ACER Press. p3-20. 

Tanner, M., & Scott, E. (2015). A flipped classroom approach to teaching systems analysis, design and implementation. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research14, 219-241. 


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