Presenters Biography

Prof Elizabeth Johnson

Prof Elizabeth Johnson is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Teaching and Learning at Deakin University and is the Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre of the Australian Council of Deans of Science.  Liz is a OLT National Teaching Fellow with awards for learning and teaching from the Federal Government’s Office of Learning and Teaching and from the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, as well as institutional awards.   

At Deakin University, Liz leads Deakin Learning Futures which delivers Deakin’s online learning environment, leads teaching innovation projects and supports course development and building staff capability for learning and teaching. Liz has led whole-of-institution curriculum reform projects at Deakin University and La Trobe University and is currently leading a national project, Successful WIL in Science, on work-integrated learning in science faculties funded through the Office of the Chief Scientist of Australia.  



Decades of educational research have made better learning and teaching an imperative for higher education. Bradforth et al. (2015) in the eminent science research journal, Nature, proclaimed ‘every university now has at its disposal the tools to improve undergraduate STEM teaching, and no defensible reason for not using them.’ A quality agenda calls for more sophisticated understanding of learning and assessment, and technical expertise in teaching, assessment, online learning, work-based learning and other priorities. Simultaneously, universities welcome more diverse students and seek to provide an egalitarian and supportive learning environment.  

It is not surprising that teaching responsibilities are becoming more demanding as universities move to more sophisticated teaching practice. Academics report increasing pressure to be expert teachers as well as experts in their discipline (Bexley, James, & Arkoudis, 2011). In practice, contemporary university teaching requires teams of experts for effective delivery at scale. 

Leading multi-disciplinary teams is a challenging task, particularly in the complex mix of structures and disciplines that make up a modern university. This presentation presents lessons learnt from development of team-based learning support including local and centrally-located educational specialists. It calls for a shift in leadership of learning and teaching to an agile and responsive approach that can adapt to different disciplines and changes in provision. 

Bexley, E., James, R., & Arkoudis, S. (2011). The Australian academic profession in transition. Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Commonwealth of Australia.  

Bradforth, S. E., Miller, E. R., Dichtel, W. R., Leibovich, A. K., Feig, A. L., Martin, J. D., . . . Smith, T. L. (2015). University learning: improve undergraduate science education. Nature, 523, 282-284.