Commendations for the Enhancement and Innovation of Student Learning

2023 Teaching Commendations Information Sessions - registrations now open!

To be successful in their submission staff will need to be able to clearly demonstrate the impact their outstanding teaching practice has had on their students, School, Faculty and/or the wider University community.

Whether you are ready to apply in 2023, or would like to prepare yourself for a future application, this one hour, lunchtime session will provide:

  • advice on selection criteria and eligibility
  • advice on generating, collating and presenting evidence to best demonstrate your impact
  • information on writing for this particular genre
  • important tips on aspects of a winning submission

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.

Read about the 2022 Commendation recipients.

Up to seven (7) Commendations are awarded annually.

Up to five (5) awards will be presented across the Learning and Teaching categories, and up to two (2) awards will be presented 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

Implementing effective HDR Supervisory Practices category

In 2022 the Adelaide Graduate Research School will be sponsoring two awards in this category.

A collection of resources is also available for applicants - including examples of winning submissions.

Resources for Applicants

Submission Guidelines and Application Requirements

Guidelines document as a PDF

  • Selection Criteria

    All applications will be assessed on the following:


    • Has the applicant provided sufficient context to understand the nature of the issue/problem/setting the activity occurred in (or in response to)?
    • Has the applicant adequately demonstrated the impact i.e. enhancement of student learning, using a range of evidence?
    • Has the applicant demonstrated sustained impact  (over at least 2 years)?
    • Has the applicant demonstrated impact beyond their immediate context?


    • Does the application adequately describe the pedagogical/theoretical/scholarly underpinnings of the approach to learning and teaching/support/HDR supervision?
    • Has the applicant demonstrated that they use a cycle of reflection and evaluation to support their practice?


    Is the activity described innovative?

    Defining pedagogical innovation or innovation in learning and teaching 

    Pedagogical innovation is intentional change in teaching practice made to enhance or transform student learning experience and outcomes, including the development of skills and attributes needed for post-study success.  Innovation in education is primarily motivated by the desire to engage students and enhance learning, to address learning and teaching challenges, adjust to changing circumstances, and to improve communication and relationships with students. The innovation may be the integration of an existing approach, method, or technique into a new context that is not already widespread in the teaching of the discipline or within a Department or School. 


    Walder, A. M. (2017). Pedagogical Innovation in Canadian higher education: Professors’ perspectives on its effects on teaching and learning. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 54, 71-82. 

    Serdyukov, P. (2017). Innovation in education: what works, what doesn’t, and what to do about it?. Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning


    • Does the application address the chosen category adequately?
    • Is the application well written and easy to follow?
    • Has the applicant used an appropriate narrative reflective writing style supported by evidence throughout?

    Implementing effective HDR Supervisory Practices category

    Applications in this category will also be assessed on their track record of successful HDR candidate outcomes and engagement in high quality supervisory practice over five years or more. Applicants should also refer to the selection criteria listed above.

    Note: Applicants in this category are required to supply a copy of their individual supervision dashboard from the Supervisor Classification and Reporting System (SCRS).

  • Eligibility

    Applications are invited from academic and professional staff, from all Faculties and Divisions of the University. Both individual and team applications are encouraged.

    Applicants may only apply for one Commendation in any year, in any category.

    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.

    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.

    Team submissions can only include members with a contribution of 10 per cent or higher. This means that the maximum number of team members is 10. No member of the team should have been awarded a Stephen Cole award or Commendation within the past two years.

  • Application

    Applications for 2022 Commendations have now closed

    Each application for a Commendation should contain:

    1. Application Form
    • Complete all details on the application form.
    • Summary - The application form must also include a short summary of the application (maximum 75 words), written in third person. For successful applicants, this summary will be used in promotional material.
    • Endorsement - The completed application must have the endorsement of one of the following: Executive Dean, Deputy Dean - Learning and Teaching, Associate Dean - Learning and Teaching, Dean of Graduate Studies, HDR Convenor, Postgraduate Coordinator, Head of School, Head of Discipline, Faculty Manager, or Line Manager.  Endorsement will be provided via a signature (which can be electronic) on the application form. 
    • Signed declaration from the applicant or the team representative


    1. Written statement

    Your entire application must be included in this statement as no optional materials in excess of the three pages will be accepted and passed on to the selection committee. This includes evidence of impact and references to scholarly research which compliments your claims. See additional notes below.


    1. Individual SCRS supervision dashboard

        Implementing effective HDR Supervisory Practices’ category only


    1. 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).
    • This should be followed by a clear explanation of the role of each team member.

    Note that team members are required to have a contribution of 10 per cent or higher, with a maximum of 10 team members.

    The application form must also include a short summary of the application (maximum 75 words), written in third person. For successful applicants, this summary will be used in promotional material.


    The completed application must have the endorsement of one of the following:

    • Executive Dean
    • Deputy Dean - Learning and Teaching
    • Associate Head - Learning and Teaching
    • Dean of Graduate Studies
    • HDR Convenor
    • Postgraduate Coordinator
    • Head of School
    • Head of Discipline
    • Faculty Manager
    • Line Manager

    Written statement

    The written statement is limited to three A4 pages in total (11 point Arial or Calibri, narrow fonts must not be used).

    All evidence must be included in the three pages no appendixes are permitted.

    It is the central element of the application as it provides the opportunity for applicants to describe their activities and contributions.  Applicants should ensure the following aspects are included/ considered in their submission:

    • Style – write using a narrative style, ensuring the application follows a logical sequence (problem/ challenge/ claim, solution/ idea, supporting evidence)
    • Impact – provide context, demonstrate your impact using a range of evidence, illustrate how your impact has been sustained (over at least 2 years). Can you demonstrate impact beyond your immediate context?
    • Scholarship - does your application adequately describe the pedagogical/theoretical/scholarly underpinnings of the approach to/ support for learning and teaching/HDR supervision?
    • Reflective practice - not only should you describe the nature of the activities, but demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the impact that the activities have had on student learning and engagement. Can you demonstrate a cycle of reflection and evaluation to support your practice?
  • Evidence

    Applicants must provide evidence in support of their claims against the selection criteria, and will be expected to draw upon a variety of evidence, which may include:

    • Self-assessment, reflection on professional development, and scholarship/publications
    • Student and/or staff feedback (e.g. surveys and evaluations, unsolicited feedback),
    • Student learning (e.g. assessment results, grade distributions, retention and completion data, learning analytics).
    • Peer review (e.g. review of classroom practice, curriculum content, or learning materials, mentoring relationships, review of scholarly contribution and research relating to teaching and learning).
    • eSELTs (ensuring that these are supplied in context, i.e. – benchmarking against others within your school, faculty or the institution.)


    Applicants in the Implementing Effective HDR Supervisory Practices category are also encouraged to consider the following sources of evidence, in addition to those listed above:

    • promotion of industry engagement,
    • demonstrated engagement in high quality and innovative research supervision practice,
    • successful and timely HDR completions,
    • any co-publication or production of other research outputs with or by their candidates,
    • the development of HDR candidate’s employability skills and professional networks,
    • positive post-graduation outcomes of candidates, and
    • supporting statements from current and graduated candidates and academic colleagues

    All evidence must be included in the written statement - and included in the three page limit.

  • Selection

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

    • Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Learning) - Convenor
    • Director, Education Quality
    • one HDR convenor
    • one Deputy Dean (Learning and Teaching)
    • one previous Commendation recipient
  • Notification and Prizes

    In 2022 up to seven (7) Commendations will be awarded.

    Up to five (5) awards will be presented across the Learning and Teaching categories, and up to two (2) awards will be presented in the Implementing effective HDR Supervisory Practices category.

    Monies will be credited to an internal project code, and all recipients will be presented with a certificate of achievement.

    Applicants will be advised of the outcome in mid-November, 2022. Feedback for unsuccessful applicants will be provided to assist with future applications.

  • Celebration of Teaching Excellence

    Successful applicants will be invited to the Celebration of Learning and Teaching Excellence (awards ceremony).

    This event has been scheduled for Wednesday 14 December 2022 from 4pm.