1 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER Improving Learning ACER s mission is to create and promote research-based knowledge, products and services that can be used to improve learning across the life span. Teaching at ACER provides evidence-based professional learning opportunities for educators building on the research and development strengths of ACER. Our research base is fundamental to the teaching in all courses and professional learning activities. This document brings together the mission, values and objectives of ACER in relation to improving teaching as well as learning. ACER Institute is responsible for ensuring that the objectives in this document are fulfilled. Course offerings ACER courses value our students professional experience and build upon it. The Australian Government s Higher Education Standards inform the design and review of ACER courses. ACER s current course offering is the Graduate Certificate of Education (Assessment of Student Learning) comprising four units: 1 Assessment to promote learning 2 Assessment methods 3 Estimating student progress 4 Using assessment evidence to inform teaching and learning Australian Council for Educational Research
2 2 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER These have been based on the research and development strengths of ACER, and the framework clearly described in the publication Reforming Educational Assessment (Masters, 2013). The learning outcomes of the Graduate Certificate of Education (Assessment of Student Learning) are to: 1 Understand the theories and research evidence underpinning the purposes and principles of assessment and feedback in the teaching and learning cycle. 2 Understand the uses of moderation and triangulation of data sources to inform judgements. 3 Critically evaluate assessment in relation to defined frameworks. 4 Critically evaluate a range of assessment methods, and use appropriate criteria to select and judge evidence. 5 Build students capacity for self assessment and peer assessment. 6 Use appropriate criteria to make unbiased judgements of student achievement based on evidence. 7 Use assessment evidence to inform and improve current practice, identify next steps for students and identify professional development needs. Within the next three years, ACER aims to offer courses in the Teaching of Writing, Teaching of Mathematics, and Teaching of Reading. Objectives 1 An overarching objective for our courses is improving learning across the lifespan. For ACER, this means both improving the learning of the adults who are our students, and the students for whom they are responsible in individual institutions and across educational systems. Our aim is for educators in ACER courses to improve their practice by: becoming acquainted with the wide body of evidence-based knowledge, familiar with the key texts, and able to synthesise this body of theory and research to communicate their understanding through scholarly writing. undertaking scholarly exploration of current and relevant theory and provide evidence of their deep understanding of the theory and current research in the area. demonstrating a commitment to intellectual inquiry and research. showing evidence of professional growth and expertise in their discipline knowledge. implementing new knowledge and skills that are developed through action research.
3 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER 3 2 undertaking intensive learning in appropriate pedagogical approaches. showing evidence of professional growth and expertise in their pedagogical knowledge. continuing to review and improve their practice. Teaching at ACER is intended to model and develop the capacity to gather, understand and use evidence to drive improvements in the quality of teaching, student learning, and organisational performance. Further, ACER aims to: ensure that teaching staff understand the educator s professional background and current theoretical and practical educational interests. achieve immediate impact in the educator s daily practice by providing programs tailored to an appropriate level. ensure participants and employing bodies see immediate and escalating benefits from the newly acquired learning. provide accessible programs: either online or in face-to-face modes. enable staff to undertake relevant and useful professional development activities. establish a community of learners that can continue beyond the program as a collegiate group of professionals who share a common knowledge base. 3 ACER seeks to develop critical and independent thought through a researchbased approach to teaching and learning and expects teaching staff to demonstrate active personal scholarship. Multiple research methods are supported: for example, action research is incorporated into many ACER courses. Action research is: 4 research by practitioners, rather than about practitioners. intended to improve practice, whether on a small scale, (eg within a class) or a large scale (eg at the level of an organisation). built on reflection and reflective practice. focused on a research problem or question developed and owned by the practitioners themselves. conducted as part of the practitioners daily work. ACER is a partner in the Science of Learning Research Centre with the University of Queensland (Queensland Brain Institute), and The University of Melbourne. Through the Centre s research program, staff and students will have access to latest knowledge linking the disciplines of neuroscience and cognitive psychology with the scholarship of teaching. ACER encourages staff and students to present their research at conferences such as ACER s Excellence in Professional Practice series and in internal publications and peerreviewed journals. ACER s research publications such as Australian Education Review form the basis for many professional learning programs.
4 4 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER Our students ACER students are generally professionals in educational workplaces. They are looking for practical, evidence-based courses that extend their undergraduate study and their professional knowledge and practice. For study with ACER, educators require at least a Bachelor s degree. In addition, they need to have access to an educational setting for field research, so that they can reflect on, and act in, a familiar context. To complete the courses, they need to allocate time to read, to communicate with their peers, to gather evidence in their context and to write reports. Details of requirements are set out in Unit Guides for each subject. ACER Values We will support our students as far as possible to develop the values espoused by ACER: Expertise: using high quality, innovative research and research-based services and materials to improve learning. Innovation: taking a creative, flexible and bold approach to the development of knowledge, services and materials. Independence: learning and teaching in a way that is informed through research, is authoritative, and non-aligned. Integrity: being ethical, honest and trustworthy in all relationships and interactions. Responsiveness: anticipating, understanding, meeting and exceeding their students expectations. Reflection and improvement: being self-reflective and listening to and learning from others in order to improve the quality of their work. Positive relationships: creating working environments characterised by respect, fairness, openness and support of physical and emotional wellbeing. Individual fulfilment: encouraging personal contribution and achievement, and the pursuit of excellence.
5 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER 5 Learning environment ACER courses aim to build a community of learners through ensuring equity of access and supporting communication. Geographically, ACER students are based in many locations across Australia and potentially the world. Through online delivery, blended with face to face meetings, students can benefit individually while contributing to a community. Our emphasis on social learning means that learning activities are focused on addressing participants concerns using methods such as collaboration, action research, use of tools and frameworks, data analysis, presentations and reflection in a wider context. Online activities must consider the level of participants access to the infrastructure required, such as bandwidth and connection speeds. The main online tools used currently are Adobe Connect and similar products for group meetings and tutorials, and wikispaces for course materials such as videos, discussions and peer to peer communication. These tools are intended to support student engagement. In his research into online learning, Coates defined student engagement as active and collaborative learning, participation in challenging academic activities, formative communication with academic staff, involvement in enriching educational experiences, and feeling legitimated and supported by university learning communities (Coates, 2007, p. 122). To support the increasing demand, ACER aims to develop its expertise in: designing engaging activities that support professionals in their context. creating high quality resources to support learning. developing staff skills in teaching online. using a range of tools to gather and provide feedback. using online tools to create communities of learners. Cunningham Library ACER s Cunningham Library offers ACER staff and students an up-to-date collection of educational research publications including: over books including some electronic books over 400 journals including many electronic journals government reports conference proceedings directories web documents
6 6 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER Online services which the ACER Cunningham Library offers include: daily education news service remote access to selected databases and full text journals provision of Unit readings online where possible customised alerting services Our staff ACER academic staff have a minimum of a Masters degree with experience in teaching adult learners. They are encouraged to continuously improve the teaching and learning in higher education courses offered by ACER. A focus of professional development activities in the short term is online teaching and learning. Through ACER s Special Studies Program, and the Staff Development Fund, staff members can study to broaden their areas of knowledge and expertise to enhance their own development and their contribution to ACER s programs. Participation in conferences is an integral part both of the professional development of staff and the presentation of ACER s work, to encourage critique and engage in debate that leads to improvement. It is a professional responsibility of ACER staff to seek opportunities for sharing the work of ACER with the general and educational community. Administrative staff are a first point of contact for many students. They are familiar with the policies and procedures of ACER, and have the skills to assist with preenrolment enquiries and support learning right through to graduation. Feedback ACER acknowledges that feedback in all directions is valuable for learning. The Director, ACER Institute is responsible for ensuring that all units in a course of study are reviewed using a range of methods, such as: student feedback data to support lecturers of the units to make adaptations, or to highlight areas of specific need or interest to the students as the program progresses. feedback gathered informally through ongoing communication with students during the progress of their studies. surveys on all aspects of the program including content, delivery methods, supporting materials, teaching and learning, and the value and relevance of the program to students roles in education. feedback from lecturers so that their insights can inform improvements. feedback from employers when graduates have returned to or entered their employment.
7 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER 7 benchmarking, which will take place through developing associations with other higher education providers and bodies responsible for maintaining teacher quality. The Course Development and Quality Committee meets to analyse and interpret feedback and summarise findings for consideration by the Academic Board. ACER Professional learning quality principles ACER acknowledges that professional learning occurs on a daily basis, formally and informally throughout a person s life. With our experience in research, data collection and analysis, and tailored courses, ACER can add value to individuals learning and help improve practice at a larger scale. ACER professional learning activities are designed for primary, secondary and tertiary level teachers and leaders, coaches, support staff, policy makers, data professionals and others who want to improve learning experiences and outcomes for students of any age and at any level. 1 Needs based ACER professional learning activities are based on evidence of: participants current performance context and available resources participants knowledge and capabilities 2 Evidence informed The content of ACER professional learning activities is informed by evidence from: large scale data collections research into practices that have worked in similar settings 3 Practice oriented Whether online, blended or face to face, ACER professional learning activities are conducted in a social context, tailored to individual and local needs, and encourage immediate practice and sharing in participants workplaces. 4 Active and reflective ACER professional learning activities are focused on addressing participants concerns using and modelling teaching and learning methods such as collaboration, deep action research, use of tools and frameworks, data analysis, presentations and reflection in a wider context. 5 High expectations ACER professional learning activities set achievable high-level goals. 6 Incorporating feedback ACER professional learning activities encourage and incorporate formal and informal feedback through written, verbal and video reflection.
8 8 TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH ACER 7 Expert presenters ACER presenters and facilitators have deep content knowledge and teaching skills. 8 Supporting career development ACER professional learning activities contribute to ongoing career development and in many cases can be credited towards qualifications. 9 Evaluating for improvement ACER continually evaluates its professional learning activities to improve quality. References Australian Government Higher Education Standards (drafts available from Coates, H. (2007). A model of online and general campus-based student engagement. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32(2), Masters, G. (2013). Reforming Educational Assessment. Australian Education Review No 57. Melbourne: ACER. ACER Institute has the responsibility for ensuring implementation of this plan, values and principles in relation to teaching and learning. It will review and report findings to Academic Board and ACER Board of Directors.
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