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19 July 2023

Recap of the 2023 HERDSA conference

The 2023 Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) annual conference was held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from Tuesday 4 July to Friday 7 July. We spoke to Dr Lauren Hansen, Senior Lecturer Teaching Capability & Innovation within Deakin Learning Futures (DLF) about her top three takeaways from the conference.

Three takeaways from HERDSA with Dr Lauren Hansen

Focus on equity and inclusion

There was a strong focus on equity and inclusion throughout the conference. A special highlight for me was a presentation from Deborah Munro, QUT on what influences unpaid carers considering higher education. While there is some research on how unpaid carers, largely women, navigate higher education, we know little about those that choose not to, or who unable, to enrol in higher education. Deborah raised some great questions – why don’t we have free occasional childcare on campus? Why aren’t they included in official equity groups and afforded special consideration? Why don’t they get reduced fee or free higher education given their $78 billion contribution to the economy? Given that many in the audience were themselves unpaid carers, it was an emotional session. And there was a collective celebration when we learned that Deborah, an unpaid carer herself, had submitted her PhD thesis the night before. It really encapsulates what the teaching and learning community is about.​​​​​​​

How we deliver what we do

We were yet to see an influx of showcase presentations on generative AI, as I am sure the research is being done as we speak. The showcases on COVID pivots have also largely run its course. We are starting to see an emerging focus on what it takes to deliver the work that we do, whether that be through partnership and collaboration, critical or peer reflection or communities of practice. Several presentations focused on how we develop our identity in the T&L space, given that many of us come from other disciplines. The impact of our T&L professional identity on student learning seems to be a topic to watch.

A strong Deakin presence

Deakin showed up and showed out with 14 presentations and roundtables across the virtual and onsite conference, six posters and of course, a rousing keynote address on the final day by Dr Mollie Dollinger, who challenged us to take a more integrated approach to evaluating the student experience. Here are some of the main topics that were covered by Deakin staff at the conference:

  • Professional learning – support to use learning analytics, peer reflection, HE Fellowships, the experiences of third space academics, work/life balance for PhD candidates.
  • Assessment – student perspectives, online proctored exams, authentic assessment, simulations and assessment for inclusion.
  • How we work – the sustainability of innovation, using frameworks to examine curriculum change such as critical realism and feminist approaches, the challenges of AI and using LinkedIn and authentic learning to support employability.

Two of the Deakin roundtables, typically for 10 people, were standing room only or BYO seat. Sharing our work in this way allows us to learn from others and form important connections across the sector that allow us to design, deliver, enable and lead premium learning experiences for our students.

Deakin staff at HERDSA

Keynote presentation

Understanding the student experience in the 2020s: the need for an integrated approach Dr Mollie Dollinger

On-site presentations

Long-term impact of HEA Fellowship: a narrative study
Associate Professor Barbie Panther and Dr Lauren Hansen

Professional learning needs for everyday learning analytics
Associate Professor Linda Corrin

How do students with disabilities experience exams? Towards assessment for inclusion
Dr Joanna Tai

Online proctored exams: rhetoric vs reality
Associate Professor Kelli Nicola-Richmond

All aboard: Implementation of authentic assessment across a faculty
Dr Tiffany Gunning

Redefining work-life balance: PhD Candidature in Australia during the pandemic
Ms Citra Amelia

Measuring exercise and sports science graduate outcomes with LinkedIn
Dr Lauren Hansen

Online presentations

The development of a feminist approach to the practice to the scholarship of teaching and learning
Dr Tricia Ong


Challenging assumptions: Experiences of working in the ‘third space’
Dr Puvaneswari P Arumugam

What makes for an authentic assessment in first-year higher education?
Dr Tim Chambers

Artificial intelligence and the challenge for institutions
Dr Rebecca Awdry

Tools for evoking and provoking peer reflection
Dr Lauren Hansen and Ms Danni McCarthy

Sustainability of teaching and learning innovations in higher education
Professor Margaret Bearman, Associate Professor Linda Corrin, Associate Professor Darci Taylor and Dr Matthew Thomas

Scaffolding First Nations perspectives in the curriculum
Ms Karla Wells-Duerr


The impact of implementing a virtual simulated learning environment on students’ cognitive and affective skills in optometry education
Dr Amanda K Edgar

Unlocking the Power of Assessment: Discovering Student Perspectives and Transforming Practice
Dr Amanda K Edgar

Virtual simulated international optometry clinical placements enabling expansion of the classroom
Dr Amanda K Edgar

Critical realism as a framework for analysing curriculum change in higher education
Dr Robyn Yucel

Building peer-supported teaching practice from the ground up
Dr Tim Chambers

Pursuit of increased employability through authentic learnings
Ms Rachel Sinanan


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