Being Teaching Active

UNSW aspires to be a leading research intensive university in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on contemporary and social issues through defined strengths in professional and scientific fields — a peer in good standing with the best globally.

UNSW has committed itself to recruiting and retaining leading research staff who have a personal passion for learning and a demonstrable capacity for, and commitment to, teaching that inspires, motivates, engages and enables students to learn.

Among other initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining staff who are both leading researchers and passionate, capable teachers (B2B, p10), the University plans to introduced the concept of "Teaching Active".

Purpose of Teaching Active

Teaching Active aims to elevate the status and visibility of teaching, and to contribute to quality teaching, in all its forms, being better recognised and rewarded (B2B, p10).

"Teaching Active" is intended to be loosely analogous with "research-active", but it differs in that a wider, more flexible range of indicators and measures of teaching activity allow individuals to demonstrate their contributions to teaching in different ways, at different times, in relation to different work roles, levels of experience or appointment, as well as in different contexts or settings.

Concept of Teaching Active

The concept of Teaching Active recognises the centrality to the teaching process of "facilitating student learning" (e.g. through lecturing, convening seminars, demonstrating, facilitating online discussion, assessing student learning, and providing feedback), regardless of the context in which teaching takes place (large classes, small groups or one-to-one discussions, as in the case of research supervision).

The concept also acknowledges that this facilitation is enabled by actively engaging in the ongoing development of:

  • the curriculum (learning sequences, courses, programs) and the learning and/or teaching resources the curriculum employs
  • oneself as a scholar-teacher and
  • the physical, virtual and organisational environments in which learning and teaching take place.

Criteria for determining Teaching Active status

Staff will be afforded Teaching Active status as part of their annual Performance Development Review if they can provide evidence that in the previous twelve months they have been actively engaged in:

  • the facilitation of student learning in at least one course (or equivalent) *

AND evidence of active engagement in one or more of the following:

  • the development, review or revision of curricula and/or learning or teaching resources in at least one learning sequence within a course, one course, or one program, commensurate with their role and level of responsibility
  • OR the scholarship of learning and teaching
  • OR professional development for teaching
  • OR the leadership and management of learning and teaching.
* Where an individual has substantial leadership and/or management responsibilities for learning and teaching within a faculty or school — e.g. Associate Dean Education, Head of School — this criterion may be waived upon approval of the Dean and Director of  Learning and Teaching @ UNSW.


All staff employed by UNSW:

  • in academic positions (i.e. in teaching and research or research-only positions)
  • at Level B and above
  • on continuing or fixed term contracts
  • for a period of at least one year

are eligible for Teaching Active status. Staff on casual appointments are ineligible.

Research-only staff are not required to be Teaching Active, but may be recognised as such should they meet the criteria.

Periods of teaching inactivity of up to one Semester or six months in any calendar year for work-related (SSP, Internal Release) or non-work-related (Parenting Leave, Long Service Leave, Sick Leave) purposes are not a barrier to eligibility for Teaching Active status.

Conditions and relationships to other policies

  • Teaching Active status is not held in perpetuity but conferred for a fixed period of 12 months.
  • Teaching Active status is a necessary but not sufficient condition for academic promotion via both the Teaching and the Teaching and Research Combined tracks.
  • Teaching Active status confers eligibility on staff to apply for Special Studies Program leave to further develop their capacity for scholarship in learning and teaching.


(A) Prior to annual Performance Development discussions between staff and their Performance Development Supervisors

Heads of School should make sure all staff are aware of:

  • the concept of "Teaching Active"
  • their eligibility for Teaching Active status
  • when Teaching Active status will be determined
  • the criteria that will be used to determine Teaching Active status
  • the evidence that will/can be used to support claims for Teaching Active status.

Individual staff should:

Collect and maintain the evidence required to support their claim for Teaching Active status (see the Guidelines for Evidence to Support Claims of Teaching Active Status relative to each criterion and the Self Report Form staff should use to summarise their claim for Teaching Active status.

(B) During the annual Performance Development discussion

Performance Development Supervisors should:

  • confirm the staff member's eligibility for Teaching Active status
  • discuss with the staff member their engagement and performance in teaching during the last twelve months
  • review the evidence provided by the staff member of their engagement and performance in teaching against the criteria for Teaching Active status
  • make a recommendation to the Head of School as to the Teaching Active status of the staff member (the Self Report Form should be used by the Performance Development Supervisor to recommend Teaching Active status to the Head of School).

(C) After completion of annual Performance Development discussions

Heads of School should:

  • review Performance Development Supervisors' recommendations and, where appropriate, confirm the eligibility and Teaching Active status of all staff in their school
  • report the Teaching Active status of their staff to their Faculty at a designated time each year (see the Template for Head of School to report the Teaching Active status of school staff to the faculty)

Faculties should:

  • report to the Office of the DVC(A) on the Teaching Active status of their staff by close of business on the second Friday in November each year. (These reports can be made by forwarding a copy of the Report on Teaching Active Status of Staff in each school making up the Faculty.