Herdsa 2009

Keynote speakers

Professor George KuhBio

George Kuh is the Chancellor’s Professor of Higher Education, Indiana University, and the Director of the Center for Postsecondary Research and founding director of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and related instruments for faculty, beginning college students, and law school students. George is also the director and co-principal investigator for the U.S. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

The NSSE is an annual survey of more than half a million US and Canadian college students that provides information to colleges, universities, states, and policymakers to help improve undergraduate education. Since its launch in 2000, the NSSE project has enriched understanding about what matters to student success and reshaped perceptions about the quality of undergraduate study in North America. It has also helped colleges and universities use the survey results to improve teaching and learning as well as student services through providing establishing national roundtables, regional users workshops, an accreditation tool kit, and a five-year initiative to improve student attainment at universities that target minority groups. The widely used Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) administered by the Australian Council for Educational Research is based on NSSE.

In the U.S., the assessment of collegiate learning outcomes occupies a prominent place on higher education’s national agenda. Over the next three years NILOA NCLOA will chronicle the journey of learning outcome assessment as it unfolds at the campus and sector levels.


High Impact Practices: What They Are, Why They Matter to Student Success, and Who Has Access to Them


Creating the conditions that foster success in university is more important than ever.  Much progress has been made during the past two decades in using active, collaborative, and problem-based learning, learning communities, student-faculty research, service learning, internships, and other pedagogical innovations to enrich student learning and promote educational attainment.  Despite all this activity, too often these and other effective educational practices are underutilized.  In this session I will review what matters to student success in university, examine some key indicators of quality such as student engagement, and illustrate the kinds of policies and “high impact” practices that channel student and institutional effort toward educationally purposeful activities and often boost the performance of historically underrepresented students and the less well-prepared.  I will also discuss how the National Survey of Student Engagement, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), and related projects are providing colleges and universities and their stakeholders with have comprehensive, accurate information about what institutions are doing to evaluate and report student learning outcomes and how they are using the data to improve student learning.


Professor Elizabeth HarmenBio

Professor Harman is the Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University (VU), Australia. She has led the university since 2003 towards a future that aims to make VU a distinctive multi-sector institution internationally and in the western region of Melbourne. VU has a strong commitment to students, employers and the communities it serves.

Professor Harman was educated in New Zealand and Canada, and has professional expertise in politics and public policy. She has served on a wide variety of state, national and international boards, including Universities Australia, Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Business-Higher Education Roundtable and the World Association for Co-operative Education.

For further help, please contact Claire Brown claire.brown@vu.edu.au
Phone: + 61 03 9919 4198


Diversity and the student experience: targeting specific student needs ina multi-sector university


One of Victoria University’s central commitments as part of its Making VU a New School of Thought change program has been to provide customised student learning experiences that reflect the specific needs of a diverse student body. VU College, established in 2007, is a portal to learning preparation and support for students across VU, working with them to consolidate their English language skills, literacy, numeracy, personal and career development. In order to target these services and facilities effectively, VU needs a complex and nuanced understanding of the nature of the student body. The newly released landmark study, The Diversity and Performance of the Student Population at Victoria University, looks at all aspects of the diversity of the student body at VU over 2003-2007. The study is a rich source of insights into the ways in which diversity and other factors affect student outcomes.

Cluster analysis shows there are three major segments for VU Australian students and a further three segments for the one in four VU students who are international students. The challenge for VU now is to provide first class facilities and services on, and beyond, its campuses appropriate to the needs of these different student segments. These include language and learning support, advisory services, leadership programs, and course choice options. VU is currently developing a holistic approach that will deliver customised services across three spheres:

  • VU College ‘shopfronts’ or outlets for prospective students, located either on campuses or in central business districts, providing career and course advice, diagnostic literacy and numeracy assessment, and Recognition of Prior Learning
  • Integrated language and learning support as a component of all VU courses
  • Community learning spaces (Learning Commons) providing extended hours access to the university library collection; computer facilities; language, learning and career development support; peer support; and opportunities for socialising.

VU’s student population varies across a number of dimensions that are central to current policy debates. These include socio-economic status, cultural and language diversity, the interaction between work and study and the differences and similarities between vocational and higher education students. Responding to the Federal Review of Higher Education (the “Bradley Review”), VU will advocate strongly for recognition of the need for targetted, outcomes-based funding for universities educating a socially inclusive student group. The VU experience will hold special interest for other educational providers and policy makers facing similar complex educational challenges.

Professor Ron OliverBio

Professor Ron Oliver is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia. Previously he was Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Education and Arts at ECU and Professor of Interactive Multimedia.

Ron is a member of various Editorial Boards including the British Journal of Educational Technology, Journal of Educational Media and Hypermedia, Distance Education, Journal of Interactive Learning Research. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, Australian Educational Computing and ALT-J.

Ron has used technology extensively to engage and motivate his students and has considerable experience in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of technology-supported learning.  He is an active researcher and has published in most of the major international journals in this field.  His particular interests include authentic and task-based learning and the sharing and reuse of technology-supported learning activities.

He is an Associate Fellow of the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, and a Fellow of the Association for Advancement of Computers in Education.


Taking the distance out of off-campus learning


Whilst information and communication technology (ICT) has now become integral to the delivery of off-campus courses across all sectors, in many instances its use fails to take full potential of the learning opportunities offered.  This presentation will explore contemporary technologies and learning approaches that engage and motivate distance learners.  It will showcase examples of strong practice and provide pragmatic and practical solutions that teachers can use to create effective learning settings for their off-campus learners.