Discover Avondale University


The 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. In supporting and advancing Avondale’s typology of scholarship, CASTL’s scholarly activities are focused on the following areas:

  • Professional learning;
  • Community of practice;
  • Education research and dissemination;
  • Wellbeing, spirituality and faith.

The CASTL’s reach extends to providing activities and resources to academic and sessional staff for teaching and discipline-based scholarship, and to support student learning in face-to-face, online and blended learning contexts. 

CASTL’s current priorities include:

  • Academic integrity; 
  • Assessment design and innovation; 
  • Online and blended teaching and learning pedagogy and practice;
  • National and international research partnerships and collaborations.

Professional Development

In addition to on-campus and online professional learning and community of practice events, online tutorials are available on Avondale’s Learning Management System Moodle’s Little Helper to support academic staff and sessional lecturers. Staff also have access to Avondale’s learner designer and e-Learning support officer.

Further professional learning opportunities related to digital support training and research skills are available through Avondale University library.

Research Partners

CASTL and its researchers partner and collaborate with several organisations and researchers from other academic institutions. Some of these include:

Australian Partners

Alpha Crucis College
Australian Catholic University
Australian College of Theology
Australian National University
Charles Sturt University
Curtin University
Edith Cowan University
Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research
Macquarie College
Tabor College Adelaide
University of Canberra
University of Newcastle
University of New South Wales
University of Sydney
University of Technology Sydney
University of Western Australia

International Partners

Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong
Texas A&M University, Texas, USA
University College Dublin, Ireland
Victoria University, New Zealand
West Chester University, Pennsylvania, USA

Our Projects

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:

Project title: Owning the rubric: Student engagement in rubric design, use and moderation
Partner/Funding Body: Innovation and Development Grant of $202,000 from the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT), now managed by the Department of Education and Training
Avondale Researchers: Tony Williams (Avondale – Lead), Maria Northcote (Avondale), Peter Kilgour (Avondale), Bev Christian (Avondale), Carolyn Rickett (Avondale), Wendy Jackson (Theology), Jason Morton (Science), Andrew Kilgour (CSU), Sue Joseph (UTS), Jack Seddon (Avondale – Project Manager)
Year Complete: 2018
Project information: The aim of this project is to investigate the innovative and collaborative use of assessment rubrics, in partnership between students and academic staff, in order to develop a model of collaborative rubric practice that can be applied across disciplines.

Project title: Using online teaching threshold concepts in transformative professional learning curricula for novice online educators
Partner/Funding Body: Seed Grant of $40,000 from the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT), now managed by the Department of Education and Training
Avondale Researchers: Maria Northcote (Avondale), Kevin Gosselin (Texas A&M Uni), Daniel Reynaud (Avondale), Peter Kilgour (Avondale), Chris Boddey (Avondale), Catherine McLoughlin (ACU), Tony Rickards (Curtin). Jan Herrington as Reference Group member (Murdoch). Kerrie Boddey (Avondale): Research Assistant
Year Complete: 2017
Project information: During 2015-2017 the researchers involved in this Seed Project set out to develop practical curriculum guidelines to inform the design of transformative PD programs for novice online teachers in higher education. The development of these transformative PD guidelines was informed by the identification of threshold concepts about online teaching, as well as teachers’ and students’ perceptions of their preferred online learning environments.
Project website:Threshold Concepts for Novice Online Teachers

Postgraduate Supervision Training

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

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

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

Year Complete:

Project information: 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.

See website: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.

See website:Transformational Assessment Toolbox

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 University 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)

Journalism Education & Research Association of Australia: Grants and awards

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

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 sense-making 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)


For more information about CASTL, please email Associate Professor Carolyn Rickett at [email protected]

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