Guidelines on Learning

Guidelines on Learning that Inform Teaching at UNSW

This page outlines and links to the 16 guidelines on learning developed as part of our guideline vision, values and strategies to help you reflect on your teaching and develop learning activities to improve the educational experience of students.

You may not be able to apply all 16 guidelines to every course but each element of your teaching should demonstrate one or more of these guidelines. It's likely that you're already applying many of the guidelines, but some may be less familiar and it's worth investigating these.

To help you apply these guidelines in your course, we recommend that you answer the questions in the Guideline Review Template for each guideline.

Engage student in learning

  • Guideline 1: Actively engage students in the learning process.
  • Guideline 2: Create an appropriately challenging climate of enquiry; link activities to research and scholarship.
  • Guideline 3: Develop interesting, challenging activities that are fun for students to engage in.
  • Guideline 4: Build into your course opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences, challenge their current beliefs and develop new practices and understanding.

Contextualise learning

  • Guideline 5: Recognise and build on students’ prior experience and knowledge.
  • Guideline 6: Emphasise the relevance of students' learning in professional, disciplinary and personal contexts.
  • Guideline 7: Encourage dialogue between students and teachers, and among students in and out of class, creating a community of learners.

Be inclusive

  • Guideline 8: Acknowledge, value and draw on the diversity of students' experiences in learning and teaching approaches and activities.
  • Guideline 9: Use multiple teaching methods and modes of instruction (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and read/write). Students learn in different ways.

Design curriculum to engage, contextualise and be inclusive

  • Guideline 10: Clearly articulate your expectations and the course goals, learning outcomes and requirements.
  • Guideline 11: Encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning, so that they develop higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
  • Guideline 12: Embed acquisition of graduate capabilities in your course. These capabilities are best acquired in a disciplinary context.

Teach to engage, contextualise and be inclusive

  • Guideline 13: Encourage independent learning through the appropriate use of information and communication technologies.
  • Guideline 14: Create opportunities for students to learn cooperatively with peers, to help them develop interpersonal, professional and cognitive skills.
  • Guideline 15: Align assessment practices with the desired learning outcomes.
  • Guideline 16: Give students meaningful and timely feedback.


These guidelines were developed by Emeritus Professor Adrian Lee and Associate Professor Michele Scoufis and passed at the November 2003 meeting of the UNSW Academic Board.