WA-AALL State Report 2017

WA-AALL State Report 2017

WA-AALL state report 2017


There are currently 29 financial members of WA AALL. Members are from UWA, Murdoch. Edith Cowen, Curtin and Navitas (Curtin College and Edith Cowan College). We also have a contact list of past and current members that we use to promote AALL events and encourage membership. Notre Dame is the only university in WA that has no current members. They have been contacted and invited to AALL events to encourage membership, but so far have not renewed memberships.UWA and Edith Cowan pay for the memberships of all their academic learning advisers. Curtin Health Sciences pays the memberships for its staff.

Central Queensland University (CQU) has just opened a number of campuses in Perth including Perth city where two learning advisors are located. We have invited them to our final meeting of 2017 to encourage membership.

Meetings and events

The WA-AALL sub-committee met three times to plan events and share institutional developments. The sub-committee includes the WA state reps and members from Edith Cowan (Jo Ashton), UWA (Meriel Griffiths) and Edith Cowan College (Richard Hewison).

WA-ALL started the year with a very successful PELA symposium at Curtin University funded by AALL in February. Around 60 people attended the symposium, 60% were AALL members with several attendees travelling interstate and from overseas to attend. An AALL sundowner was held after the event where AALL members got to mingle with speakers and network.

A second ALL event took place in July at Edith Cowan where around 25members got together to discuss national and local developments and network. A national update was presented to members that illustrated the recent increases in the number of students from diverse background and the related pressure on staff and resources. The use of technology to support the increasing numbers of students from non-traditional pathways and the role of third party providers in the ALL space were also discussed, Updates of AALL activities at member institutions were presented and discussed.

A final event for 2017 is planned for 8th December at Murdoch Univeristy. The main focus of the meeting will be identity and agency in ALL addressing three key questions and related sub-questions. Senior academic staff from WA institutions will speak to each of the questions:

1. What can we do to ensure that institutions value the knowledge and expertise we bring to our roles?

2. What we can we do to convince others of the significance and value of the work we do?

3. What identities do you align yourself with as an ALL specialist? Which do you reject?

AALL activities in WA institutions

Curtin University

11.6 FTE staff (8 academic and 3 professional) involved in academic support for students enrolled on award bearing courses. Three staff are located centrally (Curtin library) and the remainder are faculty-based.Most staff are employed on continuing contracts.

Central support: The Learning Centre at Curtin was re-located into Curtin Library from Curtin Learning and Teachingin 2017, the aim being to develop a more seamless approach to academic skills and increased integration of information literacy and academic literacy. With the benefit of cross-promotion and being in a more central position, workshop attendance has improved, as has engagement with our online programs. The SPSS, NVivo, maths and numeracy programs complement the Library's existing offerings particularly well, and does support for research students. Another positive in the transition process has been joining forces with UniPASSand the Library's Makerspace. We're all still learning more about each other's programs, but the collaboration and mutual support is energising, especially at a time of cutbacks and ongoing change.

Faculty-based English language support: A review of Curtin’s English language proficiency development is currently close to completion with Dr Anne Harris facilitating a final review workshop on October 25 to look at high impact practice and policy with key stakeholders prior to the submission of a final report on 2 November.Faculty-based English language development activities expanded in 2017 to include more widespread identification of academic language and literacy needs of post-graduate students via diagnostic testing as well as additional administrative support for English language development coordinators. Each faculty has a mandated PELA and associated tutorial stream (SUCCESS/SELL) embedded in core communication skills units for first year undergraduate students. Health sciences doubled the number of contact hours offered to first year students via its mandatory academic language programme (UG SUCCESS). The faculty also implemented two embedded discipline-specific language tutorial streams for new to Curtin post-graduate students (PG SUCCESS), which included an academic language diagnostic and up to twenty hours of mandated tutorials. Student satisfaction with language development activities in Health Sciences remains very high averaging over 90% across courses in 2017. Humanities continues to deliver a unit specific PELA and to provide ongoing support for 1st year students via SUCCESS. The key priority in Curtin Business School has been to provide targeted, timely language and academic development. In 2017, they have trialled some new initiatives and extended other offerings. This has included continuation of the compulsory UG PELA (onshore, offshore and online), introduction of a compulsory PG PELA in one MBA programmeand recruitment and training of volunteer ‘peer facilitators’ for the CSB Assignment Lounge.

The University of Western Australia

UWA has 8.0 FTE staff (professional) based in the libraryStudent Central (Student Wellbeing and Student Experience).The STUDYSmarter team of provides academic advice, support and resources for all undergraduate and postgraduate students. Students can get personalised advice at WRITESmart and (ma+hs) Smart drop-ins, and are offered an extensive range of on-campus workshops, and online study guides, videos and tips at In 2016, UWA underwent a whole-of-university restructure. STUDYSmarter was mapped into the new structure as part of Student Wellbeing, working alongside Counselling and UniAccess, the UWA Disability service. This year, three new Learning Skills Advisers were recruited to cover a 2.6 FTE shortfall and six long-term Learning Skills Advisers have been transferred to ongoing positions after many years of short-term contracts, bringing the total ongoing FTE to 8.0. These developments have created greater certainty for the team’s future and have enabled long-term planning and better opportunities for program development. In addition, the team has received support to increase the number of advisers with English language training, which will assist the team in responding to the large increase in international student enrolments.

STUDYSmarter secured UWA funding for three staff members to undertake English Language teacher training (CELTA) in November. In addition, the university funded AALL professional association memberships for STUDYSmarter staff and funded two team members to attend the 2017 AALL conference.

The stability provided by the creation of ongoing positions and through addressing the staffing shortfall earlier this year has enabled the STUDYSmarterteam to develop new programs and to expand the range of activities we provide. These achievements include:

  • The development of new workshop series for specific cohorts:
  • Academic skills for Postgraduate Coursework students
  • Academic Writing in English for International students
  • Study and Wellbeing for all students
  • The creation of PELAs for International Postgraduate students
  • The commencement of systematic integrated language advice in the faculties
  • Increased communication to commencing students through online newsletter GETSmart
  • Record student attendance at STUDYSmarter services, with first semester student participation up 50% overall
  • Increased take-up of Mature Age Pathways program (enrolments up by 72% in Semester 1)
  • Revision and Coordination of 2 English Language and Academic Communication units

Edith Cowan University has 19.0 FTE staff (professional). No report tabled.

Edith Cowan College (ECC) has adopted a number of strategies to embed and support academic and language learning skills (ALL) in its courses. Each course has either a designated discipline-specific or a supporting ALL unit. Furthermore, students are tested for both English language proficiency (ELP) and also progress with course content early in each semester. This is done to identify students requiring additional support. This support is available in formal ALL workshops, as well as through consultation with the appropriate academic programme coordinator. ECC has also embarked on a programme to embed ALL skills across the curriculum.

Murdoch University

In 2017, the Learning Support team in the Centre for University Teaching and Learning (CUTL) expanded with the appointment of Dr IlanZagoria as Associate lecturer (Literacy and Language), bringing the team to 3.2 FTE academic staff, 1.0 FTE Peer Assisted Study Officer and several part-time casual academic staff. Highlights for 2017 include:

  • CUTL ranked #1 in the International Student Barometer for learning centres in the ISB overall rankings
  • A credit-bearing unit delivered to international postgraduate students ranked among the top 20 units in the university in student satisfaction reports
  • Collaboratively delivered intensive transition programs were provided for over 80 HDR students
  • PASS assisted 1649 unique students.
  • The PAC program provided 47 hours of support per week and assisted 1056 students.
  • Embedded support was provided in a broad range of undergraduate units across Schools.

Thanks to WA-AALL sub-committee members (Meriel Griffiths, Richard Hewison and Joanna Ashton) for institutional reports and John Fielder for Curtin Learning Centre report.