The Green Paper outlines the challenges we must address to ensure The University of Queensland (UQ) continues to be a destination for the world’s best and brightest students. It also includes proposed strategies that encompass all areas of the student experience from curriculum delivery to campus design and student support.

Peter Høj

Outstanding students, staff and alumni, cross-sectoral partners, imaginative teaching, and supporters in government, industry and philanthropy, have all combined to position The University of Queensland in the top echelons of the world’s universities.

UQ graduates become national and international leaders and contribute to solving some of society’s greatest challenges. They are sought-after employees, valued for their ability to think on their feet, work in cross-cultural settings, and identify opportunities for innovation often overlooked by others. This is in no small part a reflection of the tireless efforts by UQ staff to provide high-quality learning opportunities through student-focused, researchbased teaching. It also reflects the emphasis in the UQ Strategic Plan on student success and the development of ‘must-have’ graduate employees as the first of UQ’s six foundations for the future.

We have already taken a number of steps to welcome students to UQ, enhance online systems and services, develop employability strategies and produce world class online learning materials, and are looking at strategies to free up resources to be re-directed to the academic purpose. There are also many examples of effective, future-oriented practices in student learning across UQ from which we can learn. However, there is a clear view that the University should do more.

Drawing on the perspectives of students, staff and alumni, several data sources have informed this Student Strategy Green Paper, which intends to open a discussion across UQ and its stakeholders on UQ’s distinctive student experience. Following the synthesis of feedback on this Green Paper, a White Paper will be released in early 2016. The next steps will prioritise goals and assess resource implications. In turn, the student strategy will inform UQ’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, thereby setting an ambitious, five-year enhancement process that will include all UQ coursework students, staff, and stakeholders and enrich the career and life prospects of graduates. I hope you will engage actively with this process.

Peter Høj

8. The value of active learning in the digital age

Active learning in the digital age presents challenges to universities, which have in the past disseminated knowledge through traditional transmission models of learning.[66] Yet students learn more when university educators engage them in activities and discussion with an emphasis on higher-order thinking.[67] Deep, transformative learning occurs when students are supported to develop meta-cognitive abilities through active, collegial argument and the co-construction of knowledge[68] afforded through the creative use of blended and online learning.

We know that many UQ students want more interaction in their classes with their teaching staff and peers (UQ Spaces Survey, UQ Student Forum), which suggests a student appetite for more active experiences and greater influence on their own learning. The 2014 University Experience Survey[69] results show that, although approximately eight of every 10 students at UQ are satisfied with the quality of teaching they receive, our national ranking on this measure has declined substantially in the past year. Other universities may, therefore, be improving the quality of their teaching at a faster rate.

The Australian Learning and Teaching Council suggested that when successfully implemented, blended learning can be a transformative process – altering the nature of teaching and learning by thoughtfully integrating face-to-face and online learning, fundamentally rethinking course designs in order to optimise student engagement and redefining traditional class contact hours. Integrating face-to-face and online learning requires us to challenge traditional notions of class contact and course design.[70] The University of British Columbia has hired flexible learning liaison officers to build faculty-facing linkages between their Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and faculties, and will centrally fund 40 projects reaching over 10,000 students in 2015.[71]

There is significant consensus for the inclusion of the ‘flipped’ classroom model as an effective pedagogical approach. This model largely replaces lectures with online material that students can access in their own time and at their own pace and uses campus time for high-value, high-impact, active learning experiences that cannot be achieved online.[72] An effective use of digital strategies, combined with active learning pedagogies that enable self-directed learning and enhance learning outcomes, can define UQ’s blended learning approach.

UQ’s approach to learning can also be informed by a contemporary, distinctive model of learning. Learning taxonomies (Blooms 1956[73], Biggs’ SOLO 1982[74], Revised Blooms 2001[75]) have informed curriculum development for the past fifty years. More recent models of learning, such as Marzano’s[76] taxonomy, provide significant scaffolds for course design, pedagogies and assessment that emphasise meta-cognitive skills required for autonomous learning. Given its resources in learning science, UQ could shape a more contemporary model for learning that guides and permeates our vision of systems thinking, creative problem solving and active, blended, and authentic learning.

Challenge 5:

How can UQ ensure all students’ learning is built around active, best-practice pedagogies?

Key strategies to consider    

5.1 Incorporate best-practice blended learning pedagogies across every program

5.2 Develop and apply a signature UQ learning model across all programs that is driven by learning theory and enhanced by innovative technology strategies


[66] Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., & Norman, M.K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

[67] Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M., Smith, M.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M.P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415.

[68]Biggs, J. (1999). What the student does: Teaching for enhanced learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 18(1), 57-75.

[69] Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning. (2015). 2014 University Experience Survey national report. Retrieved from http://www.qilt.edu.au/about-this-site/university-experience-survey-(ues)

[70] Partridge, H., Ponting, D., & McCay, M. (2011). Good practice report: Blended learning. The Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

[71] University of British Columbia. (2015). Annual report 2014-2015. Retrieved from http://annualreport.ubc.ca

[72] Bates, A.W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age (PressBooks version). Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

[73] Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: The cognitive domain. New York, NY: David McKay Co Inc.

[74] Biggs, J.B., & Collis, K.F. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning - the SOLO Taxonomy. New York, NY: Academic Press.

[75] Anderson, L.W., & Krathwohl, D.R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. New York, NY: Allyn & Bacon.

[76] Marzano, R.J., & Kendall, J.S. (Eds.). (2008). Designing and assessing educational objectives: Applying the new taxonomy. London, UK: Corwin Press.