by Nina Fotinatos

The future of higher education learning and teaching (L&T) is rapidly changing. Although student engagement is complex, core elements such as the role of students, teachers, curriculum, support and context remain essentially consistent and we know that effective, innovative L&T occurs across a variety of platforms, delivery modes and models. Best practice frameworks in transition pedagogy, online environment, first year experience and regional context are readily accessible to learning leadership.

Yet, how institutional cultural maturity impacts learner success is rarely discussed.  Culture runs deep in institutional DNA; it sets the educational tone, influencing implicit and explicit behaviours and actions.

Leveraging Patrick Lecioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, L&T leaders might therefore consider the transformational potential of developing

  • trust  between academics and leaders in our dynamic, competitive and self-regulated environment. Trustful environments support an innovation culture and best-practice sharing, elevating learning success as a shared vision.
  • conflict strategies to address challenging behaviours between students, colleagues and teams. Having courageous conversations to address discrepancies, expectation misalignment, miscommunication and inequitable learning experiences can breakdown barriers to positive change.
  • commitment towards genuinely transforming the student learning experience, with success and strengths-based foci. Adaptation to changing student demographics, markets and contexts requires purposeful alignment of curriculum elements and whole-of-institution approaches.
  • accountability as fundamental to meeting internal and external benchmarking expectations (eg, under the HE Standards Framework and for 2020 Performance Based Funding). Accountability underpins both continuous quality assurance and enhancement culture.
  • resultsfocus with measurable outcomes providing data intelligence and the evidence required to grow institutional maturity. Shared ownership of performance and strong alignment between discipline, school and university operational and strategic goals are essential.

These five core team functions provide an alternative lens for reviewing the efficacy and impact of L&T environments for graduate future-proofing.

How well would your team measure up with these functions?


Associate Professor Nina Fotinatos

PVC (Teaching Quality and Innovation), Federation University Australia

[email protected]


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