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HEDC provides wide-ranging opportunities for academic staff with teaching responsibilities.

We offer support from one-to-one consultancies to improving aspects of teaching or academic life at Otago, through to online self-help resources and more formal staff development workshops.

If you have questions about teaching, contact:

Associate Professor Vijay Mallan

If you are unsure which services you require, please contact HEDC reception:

Tel +64 3 479 8492

Workshops for teachers

We have a suite of workshops covering various aspects of teaching.

Learn about and register for HEDC workshops

Assessment in Higher Education Programme

Assessment is central to the student experience at university. Since the 1970s, universities including Otago have increasingly shifted away from solely relying on end-of-course examinations towards incorporating internal assessment tasks. Subsequently, assessment has become a well-known driver of both learning and behaviour, and students often concentrate their effort into tasks that carry a grade. Assessment of student work includes both summative and formative aspects and serves a few purposes, including shaping and enhancing student learning, determining student level of achievement, and providing information for administrative decisions. The incorporation of assessment into the curriculum, however, involves several challenges, such as large classes, students' preferences and considering short- and long-term objectives. The workshops in this programme attend to such challenges by addressing policy, theories and practical issues pertaining to this important aspect of teaching and learning. Those who attend will have a good understanding of different assessment functions and options to help them design and implement effective assessment tasks.

This programme is designed as a coherent series of seven workshops over the course of a semester. Rather than offering those workshops in isolation, the intention is to create a topic-based professional learning community (PLC) that includes academic staff from across the University who are interested in assessment. The focus in PLCs is on shared and collaborative learning for the purpose of improving teaching and student learning. Since establishing such a community requires time, registration will be for the seven sessions as a group. This is a less common approach to academic development, and while it requires greater commitment from colleagues, it also provides more opportunities for connecting with colleagues and enhancing our collective learning.

Workshops will be 1.5 hours long and held fortnightly during lunchtime (12–1.30pm)

Principles of good assessment and guidelines at Otago

(Dr Navé Wald)

  1. Introductions and aims
  2. Otago's assessment guidelines
  3. Otago's principles of good assessment

In this workshop we will first introduce the programme and get to know the participants and their interest in the assessment of student performance and learning. In part two of the workshop, we will examine Otago’s ‘Guidelines for the Assessment of Student Performance’, followed by how to use these in practice using Otago’s ‘Best Practice for the Assessment of Student Performance’.

Assessment for learning

(Dr Navé Wald)

  1. Summative and formative assessment
  2. The assessment 'arms race':  Frequency of assessment; student behaviour

Assessment should consider several short and long-term objectives, and this workshop will address what underpins the idea of ‘assessment for learning’ in higher education. Issues around assessment practices across the institution will also be explored, including in relation to an 'arms race' in terms of high frequency of assessment items in each paper and the formation of a culture of assessment across the university that may not always be in the best interests of learning or teaching.

Assessment feedback

(Dr Navé Wald)

  1. Effective feedback and feedback literacy
  2. Feedback as dialogue
  3. Feeling feedback

Feedback lies at the heart of any learning experience and giving and receiving feedback is an important and integral part of teaching and learning. Yet, both teachers and students are often dissatisfied with the provision and uptake of feedback, rendering feedback a challenging aspect of student assessment. In this workshop we will discuss what constitutes effective feedback and what feedback providers and receivers need to know and consider in order to increase feedback effectiveness. We then explore dialogical approaches to feedback, and the affective aspect of providing and receiving feedback.

Constructive alignment

(Dr Julie Timmermans)

  1. Alignment
  2. Learning outcomes

We begin this workshop by exploring an approach for designing an aligned and coherent learning experience for students. We then examine a framework that will help us to plan the different steps in the assessment process. We will discuss how assessment can be used to help students to achieve learning outcomes while providing us with important information about our teaching. Participants will have an opportunity to apply ideas to papers or modules they are currently teaching.

Multiple-choice questions

(Dr Qian Liu)

  1. Types
  2. Learning outcomes and thinking skills

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) are popular in higher education assessment practice. Compared to other types of assessment, MCQs have been regarded as being able to assess the breadth of knowledge in a relatively objective manner and with less staff input during marking. In this workshop, we discuss different types of MCQs as well as the intended learning outcomes and thinking skills being assessed. We then share some practical techniques to help participants improve the quality of MCQs.

Complex knowledge

(Dr Navé Wald)

  1. Higher-order cognition
  2. The assessment envelope
  3. Programme approach to assessment

Complex knowledge in assessment refers to tasks that require students to evaluate and create knowledge, and for which they should receive formative feedback. Such tasks are associated with the development of higher-order cognition, including critical thinking and problem solving. This workshop will examine benefits, challenges and trends relating to the incorporation of complex knowledge in assessment and will raise questions regarding the appropriate amount of higher-order learning students should encounter in the context of a modular degree structure.

Online assessments and academic integrity

(Professor Ben Daniel)

Online assessment enables teachers and students to monitor progress towards achieving desirable learning outcomes and enhanced learning experience. Using appropriate digital tools, online assessments can enable teachers to provide just-in-time feedback to students. In this workshop we will discuss formative and summative forms of assessments in the context of online learning, and the digital tools that can be used to support these forms of assessments online. We will also cover key issues of academic integrity relating to the design of online assessments.

The 2024 dates for the workshops are as follows:

Principles of good assessment and guidelines at Otago (Dr Navé Wald) Wednesday, 14 February
Assessment for learning (Dr Navé Wald) Wednesday, 28 February
Assessment feedback (Dr Navé Wald) Wednesday, 13 March
Constructive alignment (Dr Julie Timmermans) Wednesday, 27 March
Multiple-choice questions (Dr Qian Liu) Wednesday, 10 April
Complex knowledge (Dr Navé Wald) Wednesday, 24 April
Online assessments and academic integrity (Professor Ben Daniel) Wednesday 8, May


Useful documents

Designing courses

Designing courses typically involves three steps:

  1. Determining the learning outcomes – what should your students know and be able to do by the end of your course or paper? How do these outcomes relate to the graduate attributes for the degree programme?
  2. Designing the assessment – how will you assess whether your students have achieved the learning outcomes?
  3. Determining the teaching methods that will be used – what will students do so they achieve the learning outcomes?

The key to effective course design is to have alignment between what you aim for students to learn, and how you teach and assess.

Planning your teaching: Curriculum, course design and delivery

The following video explains the process of course design. It is about 40 minutes long, but there are places where you can pause and apply the principles of course design to your own teaching. If possible, watching with a group is better than viewing it on your own. With pauses for activities and discussion it would take 1.5 hours. Below are handouts to refer to while you watch this video.


The last document is designed as a template for designing your course outline and can be adapted to meet your own course requirements. Guidelines are included.

Teaching methods

The following information relates to communicating to large groups. If you would like information about facilitating group work in a two-way exchange, you will find some useful guides and information in the tutoring and demonstrating section.

Lecturing – small changes, big difference (PDF)
This comprehensive guide offers an overview of important aspects such as planning and organising lectures, being in touch with your students' learning processes and designing lecture handouts.

Creating respectful learning environments (PDF)
It is important to create motivation for students to learn. Although not everything will be interesting to everyone, creating wide appeal will engage more students more thoroughly.

Teaching in diverse classrooms (PDF)
A guide to creating flexible learning processes and environments.

Co-operative learning structures (PDF)
A practical description of some cooperative learning structures, helpful for group scenarios.

Activities to get students active in their learning (PDF)
This handout contains strategies and ideas to promote student interaction in lectures or tutorials settings. We are always seeking new ideas, so if you have any to add, please contact:

Useful Links


Associate Professor Vijay Mallan
Tel +64 3 479 8489

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