Special Interest Groups

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A HERDSA Special Interest Group (SIG) provides HERDSA members with a network of like-minded colleagues with whom you can talk about shared research interests as well as potentially undertake some collaborative research.

At each HERDSA conference a session is run in which you can learn more about SIGs. If you are interested in joining a SIG or starting up a new one, you can register your interest by emailing your name, institution and research interest/SIG to office@herdsa.org.au

HERSDA members may join more than one SIG. To join a SIG, please click Member Login on the HERDSA site, click My Dashboard, click Edit Your Profile, select the SIGs you wish to join under My Networks, then click Save.


For a copy of the HERDSA SIG Handbook (PDF) click on  download.


The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning SIG engages academics, professional staff, third-space staff and part-time teaching staff. Its vision is to support HERDSA’s aims to facilitate and promote the enhancement of teaching and learning, encourage and disseminate research on higher education and tertiary teaching and learning, encourage collaboration and the development of professional communities in higher and tertiary education and assist its members in their ongoing professional development.

This SIG is especially relevant for any individual who is new to SoTL and wishes to:

  • engage in a collaborative, safe, respectful dialogic learning space with like-minded colleagues;
  • explore and improve their teaching practices through scholarly activity;
  • conduct investigative and explorative research on teaching practice and learning; and
  • engage in scholarly inquiry to enhance student learning outcomes, teaching practice and policy.

Aims for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group:

  • To bring together individuals interested in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) to create a supportive community where members can engage in discussions, share experiences, and collaborate on projects related to the scholarship of teaching and learning.
  • To encourage and facilitate research on effective teaching and learning practices, assessment methods, and educational innovations.
  • To provide a platform for members to share their findings, insights, and best practices related to the scholarship of teaching and learning through conferences, workshops and webinars.

To support the professional development of its members by offering opportunities for networking, mentoring, and collaboration.

SIG Chair

Associate Professor Deb Clarke EdD, MEd, BEd, DipTeach
Lead HERDSA SIG Scholarship of Teaching & Learning
School of Education
Charles Sturt University                                                                               


HERDSA Special Interest Group: HASS (Humanities, Arts, Social Science)

The HASS SIG will explore through inquiry, conversation and collaboration the position and potential of HASS education in Australian tertiary settings. This SIG will provide a platform for academics and scholars interested in HASS education to exchange insights, engage in discussion, and share experiences while exploring new ways to prepare future HASS graduates for the world beyond university. This SIG will also create opportunities for collaborations between its members.

It is common to hear doubts about the worthiness, applicability and viability of HASS degrees. This SIG will explore the ways to foster conversation within and beyond academia and promote a social discourse in order to engage with contemporary debates regarding the HASS disciplines. It will also contribute to the broader project of building a stronger HASS SoTL community.

SIG Chair
Dr Nira Rahman
Arts Teaching Innovation
Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne
nira.rahman@unimelb.edu.au or +61421391265


HERDSA Special Interest Group: Online Engagement in Higher Education

HERDSA Online Engagement in Higher Education Special Interest Group is focused on the phenomenon of online higher education student engagement, and  the aspects that both hinder and foster this engagement. This may include, but not limited to; student online engagement, pedagogical implications of online engagement, roles related to the facilitation and designing of learning for online engagement, frameworks that inform online engagement; non-engagement,  assessment design for engagement, teacher presence, student motivation, synchronous and asynchronous learning activities that foster student engagement and learning, the use of course learning analytics and nudging to enhance or track engagement, barriers and enablers of engagement, as well as the affordances of education technology as a means of fostering online student engagement.

SIG co-chairs:

Dr Alice Brown (Senior Lecturer, Early Childhood Education)

University of Southern Queensland


Associate Professor Jay Cohen

The University of Adelaide (Academic Director - Online Transmission)
Education Transformation, Division of Academic and Student Engagement



HERDSA Special Interest Group: Health Sciences

The role of Health Sciences SIG is to focus on health science education across undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs including professional healthcare courses (medicine, nursing, dentistry, psychology, physiotherapy etc) and more generic ones including but not limited to health promotion, nutrition, and public health. This SIG aims to develop new practices around authentic learning which may involve experiential and/or work-integrated approach, design of authentic assessment that may integrative reflective pieces on student preparedness for workforce, knowledge translation and teaching and learning practice improvement.

If you would like to get involved in the Health Science SIG please contact the SIG Leader Snezana Kusljic.

SIG Leader:  Snezana Kusljic

Email: skusljic@unimelb.edu.au


HERDSA Special Interest Group: Assessment Quality

The Assessment Quality SIG spans academics, professional staff, part-time teaching staff, casuals and students. Its vision is to support HERDSA's aims and wider membership to better understand what constitutes meaningful assessment with a particular focus on how to apply effective quality improvement of assessment. A key reference point is new requirements with respect to Assessment Quality as laid down in the revised HESF (higher education standards framework) and forms the basis of TEQSA re-registration of all Higher Education providers.

This SIG is especially relevant for anyone who:

  • Is involved in designing, marking and reviewing assessment and feedback practices to enhance quality.
  • Is responsible for assuring the quality of curriculum assessment at their institution.
  • Coordinates curriculum design and delivery at the level of subjects comprising an award degree
  • Leads and is responsible for the quality assurance of the curriculum at course level

We have the following aims:

  • To build a diverse network of staff and students interested in continuing improvement in the quality of assessment and feedback at their institutions;
  • To provide opportunities to stimulate debate and discussion about assessment quality;
  • To develop collaborations leading to outputs and outcomes including SoTL publications through HERDSA.


If you want to get involved in the growing conversation about Assessment Quality then join the Facebook site Facebook site:



Contact SIG Leader:  Simon Bedford email:  s.bedford@westernsydney.edu.au

Contact SIG Deputy Leader:  Pranit Anand email:  pranit.anand@unsw.edu.au


HERDSA Special Interest Group: Academic Development

The Academic Development SIG is a platform for those who are engaged in academic development, professional development, teaching and learning support, and similar activities to support academic staff, as well as the teaching and research in these areas. As there are usually only few academic developers in individual tertiary institutions, we wish to provide a community of practice and aim to provide a platform to

  • Share knowledge, resources, skills, and practices in academic development / continuing professional development
  • Contribute to theory building in academic development
  • Provide a community of practice and critical friends / sounding boards
  • Explore potential (collaborative) research projects
  • Discuss roles / responsibilities of (strategic) academic development in a changing university
  • Discuss strategies for remaining a collaborative community in an environment where our institutions are increasingly in competition
  • Discuss strategies to show relevance / value-add of academic development within the corporate, neoliberal university management environment
  • Maintain links with other professional bodies in academic development, such as POD in North America and SEDA in the United Kingdom)

If you want to be involved in the activities of the SIG, or be kept up to date, please join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/156781188337793/ A mailing list will be set up in the near future.

For more information or for additional ideas or activities for the SIG, please contact one of the Committee members:

Erik Brogt

University of Canterbury


Julie Timmermans

University of Otago


Maxine Mitchell

University of the Sunshine Coast