Friday, January 18, 2019

Higher Education Learning Framework

A Higher Education Learning Framework (HELF) has been produced by the Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC), an ARC Special Research Initiative, based at the University of Queensland.

The HELF has seven themes:
  1. Learning as becoming
  2. Contextual learning
  3. Emotions and learning
  4. Interactive learning
  5. Learning to learn and higher order thinking
  6. Learning challenge and difficulty
Also provided are strategies for university teachers, students and assessment.

Unfortunately I did not find the HELF particularly useful. The document uses the term "university teachers" and discusses "designing courses". But the key problem with university education, not addressed by the HELF, is that university academics do not see themselves as "teachers", and are not routinely trained in course design, or delivery.

The HELF describes higher education as a "... transformational journey of students to become citizens of the world ...". I don't disagree with this, but it does not help me decide what to teach, or how to teach it. Someone learning to drive may be told how a car will take them on a transformational journey, but what they really need to know is the pedal on the right makes it go and the pedal in the middle makes it stop. Similarly, university teachers need practical training in how to teach: what works, and what does not. Those teachers will benefit from a little theory and philosophy of education, but only to help them master the practical skills.


Nugent A., Lodge, J. M., Carroll, A., Bagraith, R., MacMahon, S., Matthews, K. E. & Sah, P. (2019).
Higher Education Learning Framework: An evidence informed model for university learning.
Brisbane: The University of Queensland. URL

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