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UNHE500 - Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Unit rationale, description and aim

As a tertiary educator you are responsible for supporting adult learning by creating intellectually stimulating, engaging, safe and responsive experiences, using all modes of delivery, and for doing so in a way that advances the goals of your institution in accordance with the university’s policies and legislation. To do this effectively, you need to combine knowledge of learning and teaching foundations and concepts with skills of critical reflection and reasoning, and be able to draw on the scholarship on teaching in higher education. Therefore, this micro-credential aims to help you reflect upon and articulate your personal philosophy as a teacher informed by foundational teaching concepts, while also considering the needs and circumstances of your learners, institutional mission and policies, 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 - Use adult learning and teaching concepts and theories from educational literature to articulate your teaching philosophy (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8)

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 

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


Topics include: 

  • the nature of adult learning 
  • theoretical and ethical perspectives on adult learning and teaching in higher education  
  • the diverse needs of adult learners  
  • principles of Catholic Social Thought 
  • working with university policies and procedures and strategic priorities for learning and teaching 
  • governance requirements in the higher education sector 
  • reflecting on and writing a teaching philosophy narrative 
  • applying the scholarship of learning and teaching  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The intended audience for this micro-credential are academics whose geographical location is widespread, all of whom are qualified with at least one higher education degree. These academics have expertise that collectively spans the full range of disciplines taught by a university. Their experience in tertiary teaching is diverse. While they may have decades of experience as tertiary teachers resulting in considerable ‘practice wisdom’, few bring formal disciplinary expertise in higher education with a scholarly base. This micro-credential respects the range of experience represented in this cohort and respond in a manner that assists all participants to reflect upon and articulate a teaching philosophy informed by teaching foundations, 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 clients, 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. Therefore, teaching approaches are 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 you to relate these to your views about teaching. 
  2. The second stage 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 teaching standards framework/s, institutional context and policy are coupled with learning activities that encourage a greater application of self-reflection of your teaching values, beliefs and teaching philosophy, with reference to the teaching and learning foundations and theories you are assimilating. 
  3. The third stage requires you to apply this conceptual knowledge into the development of skills, that is, functioning knowledge. Learning activity here involves the application of your conceptual understanding to the development and justification of your teaching philosophy. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

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

The first assessment task is a formative assessment which provides an initial learning opportunity and helps to embed declarative knowledge through reflection on your teaching practice as it relates to a teaching framework. It is essential preparation for the summative assessment. 

The second task is a summative assessment which comprises an activity that extends the reflection of your teaching practice undertaken in the first task in a way that allows you to apply through your understanding of learning and teaching foundations through the articulation of your epistemological beliefs to the teaching practices you use.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Formative assessment 

Write a scholarly reflection addressing two of the five areas of activity in the UKPSF*, with consideration of knowledge, and professional values relating to your teaching practice.  

This assignment uses Turnitin. 

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

For feedback


GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Summative assessment 

Using adult learning concepts, principles and theories introduced in this micro-credential, write a paper which describes your teaching philosophy. This assignment uses Turnitin. 

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



GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

The “UK PSF” is a Professional Standards Framework for professionals working in Higher Education. It is utilised world-wide by Higher Education providers who associate themselves with an organisation called “Advance Higher Education”. Specifically, this engagement seeks to promote ongoing engagement in professional learning in ways that improve the quality of Higher Education. More specifically, the framework is used to guide and assess applications for recognition as “Fellows” of the “Higher Education Academy”. At the time of writing there are over 125,000 fellows world-wide. Therefore recognition as a Higher Education Academy Fellow provides global recognition, as well as signifying membership of a Fellowship community. 

Representative texts and references

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

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

Coppola, B. P. (2002). Writing a statement of teaching philosophy. Journal of College Science Teaching31(7), 448-453. 

Fry, H., Ketteridge, S., & Marshall, S. (2009). A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: Enhancing academic practice (3rd ed.). New York; London: Routledge. 

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. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research. 

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

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. London: Sage. 

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 

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.  

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 Education, 67, 783-795. 

Race, P. (2014). Making learning happen: A guide for post-compulsory education (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. 

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

Schönwetter, D. J., Sokal, L., Friesen, M., & Taylor, K. L. (2002). Teaching philosophies reconsidered: A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements. International Journal for Academic Development7(1), 83-97. 

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