Centre for Advancement of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) was established in 2015 to enhance the scholarship of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning in on-campus, blended and online contexts at Avondale College of Higher Education. The Centre's activities are focused on the following four areas:

  1. Teaching, learning and curriculum design
  2. Teaching-research nexus
  3. Honours/HDR supervision support and development.
  4. Management of the centre

The Centre's reach extends to providing professional development activities and resources to academic staff for research into teaching and scholarship, and to support student learning in face-to-face, online and blended learning contexts.

The CASTL's current priorities are:
  • National and international research partnerships
  • Virtual Mentoring Program (1st year students)
  • Growing our postgraduate supervision abilities
  • Online and blended teaching and learning

Research Partners

The CASTL and its researchers collectively or individually partner and collaborate with several organisations and researchers from other academic institutions. Some of these include:
  • Alpha Crucis College
  • Australian Catholic University
  • Australian College of Theology
  • Australian National University
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Curtin University
  • Edith Cowan University
  • Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research
  • Macquarie College
  • Tabor College Adelaide
  • Texas A&M University
  • University College Dublin
  • University of Canberra
  • University of Newcastle
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Western Australia
  • Victoria University, New Zealand
  • West Chester University, West Chester, Philadelphia

Research Foci

The CASTL and its researchers are involved in numerous research projects that are related to teaching, learning and scholarship. Some of the projects CASTL researchers are involved in are listed below:

Postgraduate Supervision Training

Project title: Develop and implement an institutional framework to support and improve supervision of honours and higher degree research students

Project Funding: Extension Grant (2014-2015) Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Australia

Researchers: Associate Professor Maria Northcote, Professor Anthony Williams, Dr Brett Mitchell, Dr Kayle de Waal, Dr Kevin Petrie, Dr Malcolm Anderson and Gina Lemke

Project description: This project developed and implemented an institutional framework of support at Avondale to engage and empower potential and current supervisors of Honours and higher degree students (HDR) to develop and enhance their supervision knowledge and skills, leading to an improved student and staff experience.

Link to: Avondale's Research Training Support Framework

Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment Feedback

Project title: But when do I get my mark? Students’ responsiveness to adaptively released assessment feedback

Project funding: Seed Grant (2014-2016) Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Australia

Researchers: Professor Anthony Williams, Associate Professor Maria Northcote, Dr Lindsay Morton and Alexandra Johnson

Project description: This project investigates the impact of feedback on student’s behaviour, and the difference that variations in timing, release sequence and expectation of a response make to students behaviour. During this project we propose firstly to, explore student’s behaviour in response to the established feedback system. Secondly we plan on developing and implementing an adaptive release assessment feedback (ARAF) strategy, to determine if the adaptive release of feedback and marks affect student behaviour.

Technologies used by Higher Education students for assessment

Project title: Higher education students' Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and their use of technology for assessment purposes

Project funding: Internal Research Grants from Avondale College of Higher Education and Edith Cowan University

Researchers: Associate Professor Maria Northcote (Avondale), Dr David Bolton (West Chester University, West Chester, Philadelphia), Dr Paula Mildenhall (Edith Cowan University) and Lynnette Lounsbury (Avondale)

Project description: This project focuses on college/university students' use of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) to support their learning processes in the higher education context. During this project we propose to, firstly, find out which common technologies are used informally by undergraduate students in our three institutions to form their Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). Secondly, we plan to use the information about students' use of technologies to create a framework which will assist lecturers and students to effectively integrate common technologies into our University/College courses.

Ethical Postgraduate Supervision of Literary Journalism

Project title: The Ethical HDR Supervision of Literary Journalism: managing long form trauma narrative within the Australian tertiary sector

Project funding: Journalism Education & Research Association of Australia

Researchers: Dr Sue Joseph (University of Technology Sydney) and Dr Carolyn Rickett (Avondale)

Link to: Journalism Education & Research Association of Australia: Grants and awards


Associate Professor Maria Northcote, CASTL Director

Chris Boddey, Professional Development Officer

Gaylene Heise, Learning and Teaching Support Officer

Gina Lemke, Research Assistant

CASTL Researchers

Researchers associated with the CASTL are listed below. Click on the link for further information about the researcher, including publications.

Fields of Research

The outputs and publications of the CASTL are reported under the following Fields of Research codes:
  • 130101 Continuing and Community Education
  • 130102 Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori)
  • 130103 Higher Education
  • 130105 Primary Education (excl. Maori)
  • 130106 Secondary Education
  • 130108 Technical, Further and Workplace Education
  • 130201 Creative Arts, Media and Communication Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
  • 130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
  • 130205 Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Economics, Business and Management)
  • 130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 130209 Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 130210 Physical Education and Development Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 130211 Religion Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 130213 Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
  • 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
  • 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
  • 130306 Educational Technology and Computing
  • 130307 Ethnic Education (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Maori and Pacific Peoples)
  • 130312 Special Education and Disability
  • 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators

Post-graduate research opportunities

The CASTL offers study opportunities for Higher Research Degree (HRD) students at both Masters and PhD levels. Past and current HRD students have/are undertaking projects including:

  • The redevelopment of a teacher education program in fiji in response to changed contextual requirements: A sensemaking investigation (PhD, ongoing)
  • Building teacher capacity for deepened, harmonious reflective practice within a school setting through contextual, scaffolded professional learning (PhD, ongoing)
  • A nurturing pedagogy in education and care – intersection, interwoven or collision? A perspective from educators (PhD, ongoing)
  • What role can the development and publication of a faith-based teacher resource play in changing 21st century biblical studies pedagogy and praxis? (PhD, ongoing)
  • Investigating the impact of an overseas professional teaching experience in a developing country on pre-service teachers stories of self (PhD, ongoing)
  • Influences that shape key stakeholders perceptions of the philosophy, purpose and practice of Adventist education (PhD, ongoing)
  • How Diploma of General Studies students develop a student identity: A narrative analysis of the student experience of a tertiary pathway course (PhD, ongoing)
  • Faith and practice in the work of directors of Christian Early Childhood Centres (PhD, ongoing)
  • Incorporation of Christian faith based values within Bachelor of Nursing courses: Creating a model for holistic learning and teaching (PhD, ongoing)
  • Chemistry experiences of first-year nursing students: The interplay of self-efficacy, anxiety, prior chemistry experience and academic performance – A mixed method approach (Masters, completed)
  • Social justice and Adventist education (Masters, ongoing)
  • Teachers’ perceptions of teacher-student relationships and how Circle Time participation can impact them (Masters, ongoing)


The Centre for Advancement of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is governed by the CASTL Board, see Terms of Reference.

Professional development

In addition to the on-campus events listed below, the following online tutorials are available:

Contact the CASTL

Email: To contact staff in the CASTL, please email us at: For more information about the CASTL, please contact Assoc. Prof. Maria Northcote or email individual researchers.
Phone: 02 4980 2354 or 02 4980 2355
Location:The CASTL is located downstairs in the Library at the Avondale College of Higher Education Lake Macquarie campus.