Presenters Biography

A/Professor Sarah O’Shea

A/Professor Sarah O’Shea leads the Adult, Vocational and Higher Education discipline in the School of Education, UOW. Sarah has nearly 25 years experience teaching in universities and the adult education sector, she has also published widely on issues related to educational access and equity. In 2016, Sarah was appointed to Chair the Wollongong Academy in Teaching and Learning Excellence (WATTLE), this leadership community supports excellence in teaching and learning. Over the last two years, WATTLE has grown its membership base and now has a thriving presence on campus. 

Aside from WATTLE related activities, Sarah also engages in research on student access and participation. In 2016, she was awarded an ARC Discovery project exploring the persistence of students from equity backgrounds; this international study builds upon an Australian Government Teaching and Learning Fellowship (2015-2016) and consolidates a decade of work in this field. 

During her career, Sarah has also received numerous awards for teaching excellence including a national Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) Citation (2012), her work has been recognised as one of UOW 40 Research Impacts and in 2016 she was recognised as one of UOW's Women of Impact



With the demise of the Office for Learning and Teaching combined with increasing metrics around ‘measuring’ quality in teaching and learning, how we, as a HE sector, continue to support quality teaching and learning practice as well as create meaningful leadership opportunities remains unclear. As a response to this, a number of Australian universities have established Teaching and Learning Communities or Academies to provide a space where quality teaching and learning practices can be disseminated and celebrated.   

One such Academy is the University of Wollongong’s Academy for Tertiary Teaching and Learning Excellence (WATTLE), which aims to establish an education-focused network which showcases expertise, scholarship and research in teaching and learning, both within and outside of UOW. Based on experiences of Chairing WATTLE, this session will explore the benefits, challenges and impacts that such organisational entities offer as well as explore other frameworks that the university teaching and learning sector has adopted to sustain staff passion and dedication to student learning and quality teaching practices. 

The presentation will also focus on the future of teaching and learning leadership in the sector, as opportunities for national recognition and reward disappear, how can we sustain and capacity build in this field?