Commendations for the Enhancement of and Innovation in Student Learning

These awards recognise the diverse range of activities, services and programs that contribute to student learning and engagement at the University of Adelaide. They serve to highlight the important role that staff from all areas of the University have in supporting us to achieve our strategic goals.

Staff are encouraged to engage with the various resources available for applicant support. All enquiries can be directed to the Teaching Excellence Team.

Please note:

  • The Learning and Teaching awards have undergone a refresh in March 2024. Please refer to the current award categories and selection criteria to ensure you address the current requirements.
  • The application due date has changed, please refer to key dates for the most up to date information.

Learn more about former recipients of this award

Award categories

Each year up to six Commendations will be awarded.

Up to five awards will be presented across the Learning and Teaching categories, and one award in the Implementing Effective HDR Supervisory Practices category.

Both individuals and teams may apply in any category.

Learning and Teaching categories

  • Innovations in blended and/or online learning
  • Developing graduate employability through work-integrated-learning (WIL)
  • Innovations in assessment and feedback
  • Inclusive learning and teaching approaches
  • Promoting student wellbeing
  • Embedding academic integrity education in curriculum
  • Approaches to teaching and/or the support of learning that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn (new in 2024)
  • Leadership that has influenced and enhanced learning and teaching and/or student experience (new in 2024)

Implementing Effective HDR Supervisory Practices category

The Adelaide Graduate Research School is proud to sponsor this award

Applications in this category will be assessed on their track record of successful HDR candidate outcomes and engagement in high quality supervisory practice over five years or more.  

Important information and resources for applicants

Once you have read the key information below, access these guides to assist you in the development of your application.

Commendations Learning and Teaching Award Categories Guide

Commendations HDR Supervisory category Guide 

  • Selection criteria

    All learning and teaching award category applications will be assessed on the following:

    Has the applicant demonstrated:

    • how they have positively impacted on student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience for a period of no less than two years?
    • recognition from colleagues, the institution, and/or the broader community?
    • creativity, imagination and/or innovation, irrespective of whether the approach involves traditional learning environments or technology-based developments?
    • how they have drawn on the scholarly literature on teaching and learning to inform the development of initiatives, programs and/or practice?

    Commendations for HDR Supervision applications must address criteria 1-3 with 4 an additional option.

    1. High quality and innovative supervisory practices that support outstanding student outcomes

    This may include: evidence-based supervisory practices that facilitate high quality research outputs; supervisory practices that contribute to student publications, presentations and recognition; supervision practices that support students to achieve timely and successful research goals, including thesis completion.

    2. Facilitation of an exemplary student experience and support for the development of students as individuals

    This may include: the engagement of research students in the broader intellectual life of the school/discipline, faculty and University; support and encouragement for students to develop as independent researchers; support and encouragement for students to develop the full range of graduate attributes. Applicants are encouraged to identify their contributions to the improvement of the experience and wellbeing of a diverse range of students.

    3. Support for the enhancement of student career development

    This may include: the induction of students into the national and international research communities in their fields; the development of candidate’s employability skills; the mentoring of students in their career development following completion of their research higher degrees; the building of candidate’s professional networks; the promotion of industry engagement.

    Optional: 4. Contributions to the development of excellent supervision practices within faculties or the wider University

    This may include: the mentoring of staff new to supervision; involvement in and contribution to supervisor workshops and training; development of faculty and school/discipline policies and programs to enhance the postgraduate community and the quality of the environment for postgraduate research.

  • Eligibility

    All categories

    • Applicants may only apply for one Commendation in any year, in any category. This includes team applications (i.e. an applicant must only be a member of one team and cannot apply as a member of a team and as an individual in the same year).
    • Applicants who have previously received a Commendation or a Stephen Cole the Elder for Excellence Award are eligible to apply for a Commendation two years after receiving the Commendation or Award. For team submissions, this includes any member of a winning team application who has contributed 40% more towards the winning application.

    NOTE: If you have been an award recipient in the past, your application will need to clearly articulate how the work being presented is sufficiently different to what was previously awarded for both team or individual applications (i.e. strong evidence for continual growth, expansion, development of the activities must be presented).

    • Should an applicant apply for both a Commendation and a Stephen Cole Award in the same year, they can only be awarded one prize and will be removed from contention from the other category. 

    NOTE:  These award types are quite different so the same application will not be suitable for submission into both schemes. Applicants must advise the Teaching Excellence team at least 8 weeks before the submission date if they intend on applying for both awards so individual advice can be provided.

    • Team submissions can only include members with a contribution of 10 percent or higher. This means that the maximum number of team members is 10. 
    Learning and teaching categories
    • Applications are invited from academic and professional staff, from all Faculties and Divisions of the University. Both individual and team applications are encouraged.
    • Applicants must have been employed at the University of Adelaide for no less than two year’s full time (or part time equivalent). Evidence of two years’ worth of sustained impact must be demonstrated within the application.
    HDR category
    • Open to staff who are registered on the University Supervisor Register and have supervised University of Adelaide HDR students for a minimum of two years (full time equivalent). Supervisors who are categorised as Principal Supervisor E are not eligible.
  • Elements of the application

    * In 2024 applicants are able to submit either a written application or a six-minute video.

    Written application

    Complete all details on the online application form.
    Note: Your progress on this form cannot be saved, so you must compete and attach all information at the same time.

    The following information must be included within the three page submission.

    • Citation - The application form must include a short summary of the application (maximum 25 words), written in third person. For successful applicants, this summary will be used in promotional material.
    • OverviewMaximum 200 word Overview (outlining contribution and providing context)  
    • Written statement - This is where you write to the selection criteria.  The written statement is limited to three A4 pages in total (11 point Arial or Calibri, narrow fonts must not be used).


    • Two letters of reference – from alumni, peers and/or industry, professional or community partner
    • Individual SCRS supervision dashboard - Implementing effective HDR Supervisory Practices’ category only
    • Team Statement of Contribution - For team applications only.Up to one page outlining each team members name and indication of the percentage contribution of each team member (in order from highest to lowest).

    Video submission (excludes HDR submissions)
    • Six minute video statement addressing all four criteria (including evidence) Applicants may wish to use slides with the criteria as part of their presentation)
    • One page with:  25 word citation and 200 word overview and a reference list (which will include the link to your video)
  • Submission

    Applicants will need to attached their submission as a three page PDF document within the online form.

    Access the online submission form here

    Submissions are due by 9.00am Tuesday 1 October 2024.

    Applicants will receive an email of confirmation once their applications have been received.  If you do not receive this email please contact for confirmation.

    Endorsement: Your nominated Endorser will be sent a copy of your submitted application and asked to provide their endorsement in writing - confirming your excellent practice, and that they believe you adhere to the University's Values and Behaviours Framework.

    Important notes:

    • The selection process will include checks with HR and Research Integrity to ensure that there are no impediments to bestowing awards.
    • The University reserves the right not to award if there are any concerns regarding adherence to the Values and Behaviour Framework
  • Endorsement

    Completed application must have the endorsement of one of the following:

    • Executive Dean,
    • Deputy Dean,
    • Dean of Graduate Studies,
    • Head of School/ Head of Discipline/ Head of Branch

    Please note - this 2024 list of approved endorsers has been revised from previous years.

    Your endorser will be sent a copy of the application once submitted. They will be asked to confirm that they have read and endorse both the applicant and the content of their application.

    They will also be asked to verify that the applicant adheres to the University's Values and Behaviour Framework.

    As such, applicants are asked to provide a copy of their written statement to their nominated endorser prior to submission.   A short response from the endorser is all that is required.

    Important notes:

    • The selection process will include checks with HR and Research Integrity to ensure that there are no impediments to bestowing awards.
    • The University reserves the right not to award if there are any concerns regarding adherence to the Values and Behaviour Framework.
  • Selection Panel

    Applications will be assessed against the selection criteria by a selection panel, consisting of:

    • Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Learning) - Convenor
    • Director, Education Quality
    • Director, Adelaide Graduate Research School
    • one Deputy Dean (Learning and Teaching)
    • one Deputy Dean (Research)

    Important notes:

    • To be deemed suitable for an award, an applicant’s behaviour or conduct must be consistent with the University’s values of integrity, respect, collegiality, excellence and discovery as described in the University’s Staff Values and Behaviour Framework and the Code of Conduct.
    • Previous findings of misconduct, research misconduct and/or serious misconduct may be taken into account during assessment of an application where relevant.
    • The University reserves the right not to award if there are any concerns regarding adherence to the University’s Staff Values and Behaviour Framework and/or the Code of Conduct.
  • Notification and prizes

    Up to six Commendations are awarded each year.

    Up to five awards will be presented across the Learning and Teaching categories.

    One award will be presented in the Implementing Effective HDR Supervisory Practices category.

    All recipients will be awarded $4,000 which will be credited to a project code of their choice (consultancy funds preferred).  Prizes cannot be split, with teams required to nominate one project code for the entire amount.

    Applicants will be advised of the outcome in early November each year. Feedback for unsuccessful applicants will be provided to assist with future applications.

  • Celebration of Learning and Teaching

    All recipients will be presented with a certificate of achievement at the annual Celebration of Learning and Teaching event, which has been scheduled for Monday 18 November, 2024

    Family and friends in addition to work colleagues are encouraged to attend this event.

  • Resources for applicants

    A range of resources are available on the Resources for Applicants page (staff log in required) including information session recordings, previous applications, important definitions and more.

    See the key dates above for information on other sessions you may like to attend throughout the year.