Your abstract

  • Writing your abstract

    The following resources include an information sheet and template and some highly-developed modules on writing abstracts from the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA).


    Please use the ESC Abstract Template to help structure your submission. There is also a precise and very useful method for constructing an abstract which aims to make this task much easier. It involves recognising that abstracts commonly contain four parts:

    1. The WHY: Why did you undertake this study? What is the rationale? What problem are you attempting to better understand?
    2. The HOW: How did you go about doing this study? What methods/methodology did you employ?
    3. The WHAT: What did you discover? What where your results?
    4. The SO WHAT: Why is this relevant? How might it improve practice or relate to other situations?

    As an example, see this abstract from a recent journal article. Observe the WHY, HOW, WHAT and SO WHAT.

    This paper reports on findings from a large Australian research project that explored the relationship between contract cheating and assessment design. Using survey responses from 14,086 students and 1,147 educators at eight universities, a multivariate analysis examined the influence of a range of factors on the likelihood that different assessment types would prompt considerations of contract cheating in students. Perceptions of likelihood were highest among students who speak a language other than English at home. Perceptions of likelihood were also higher among students who reported there to be lots of opportunities to cheat, and amongst students who were dissatisfied with the teaching and learning environment. Perceptions of likelihood for certain assessment types were also higher in commerce and engineering than in any other discipline. Overall, four assessment types were perceived by students to be the least likely to be outsourced, however these are also the least likely to be set by educators. The analysis indicates that educators are more likely to use these assessment tasks when they report positively on organisational support for teaching and learning”

    (Bretag et al., 2019).

  • Presenting your abstract

    All of our academics are experienced presenters but fitting a solid piece of research into a 7-minute time-slot is hard. The following tips are based on lessons learned from the best past presenters and are offered as a rule of thumb, to assist you in creating an effective short presentation.


    • Seven minutes does not allow for much detail: please focus on the few important points you want to make
    • Design your slides so they are logical and uncluttered. Read Universal Design practice guide
    • As a rule of thumb, one (or less!) slide per minute is all you can cover
    • Please send your slides to the LTO at least two business days before the Conference, to be incorporated into the master slide deck to ensure the smooth running of the Conference.

    Plan your time

    • Practise your presentation with a timer
    • If there are co-authors, practise presenting together
    • The timer will be clearly visible to you as you present on the day and the timekeeper will sound a bell one minute before the end of the time-slot. Please keep an eye on the timer so that you can judge your pace and stop on time. It is very uncomfortable for the audience and unfair to other speakers if you go on over time.


    • In keeping with the collegial atmosphere of the event, please stay to hear your colleagues present
    • Engage with other presentations/presenters by writing down the questions you would like to ask them during the Question Panel.
  • Examples of SoTL presentations at the Educator Scholar Conference

About SoTL

SoTL involves curiosity, reflection, and evidence-based methods to research effective teaching and student learning in higher education.


The following shortlist of readings on SoTL, assessment, and academic integrity are offered as suggestions to guide your scholarly inquires as you prepare your submissions for this year’s Educator Scholar Conference.

  • Journal Articles

    Bretag, T., Harper, R., Burton, M., Ellis, C., Newton, P., van Haeringen, K., Saddiqui, S., and Rozenberg, P. (2019). Contract cheating and assessment design: exploring the relationship. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(5), 676-691.

    This study reports large-scale survey findings from 15,000 participants (staff and students) across eight universities. Students reported that in-class tasks, personalised and unique tasks, vivas and reflections on practical placements were the types of assessments least open to cheating. Those most open to cheating, according to students, were heavily weighted assessments and those with short turnaround times.
    Access the article:

    Ellis, C., van Haeringen, K., Harper, R., Bretag, T., Zucker, I., McBride, S., Rozenberg, P., Newton, P. and Saddiqui, S. (2019). Does authentic assessment assure academic integrity? Evidence from contract cheating data. Higher Education Research and Development, 1-16.

    The authors find that authentic assessment tasks are being outsourced by students. The authenticity of a task did not solely ensure academic integrity. This is early-stage research and there are many suggestions for more in-depth studies to better understand the context in which authenticity may make it less likely for students to engage another person (such as a paid contractor or an unpaid family member) to complete authentic assessment tasks.

    Access the article:

  • Journals

    Assessment and evaluation in higher education
    This well-established international peer-reviewed journal, publishes research-based, reflective and theoretical studies on assessment and evaluation practices across all disciplines in higher education. It casts its focus broadly to look at how the practices and processes of assessment influence student learning, and how they interact with course, staff and institutional development. This is a journal well-worth keeping up-to-date with as it publishes many of the seminal papers in the area.
    Access the journal:

    Higher Education Research and Development
    This is the principal journal of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA). Its focus is on higher education – the theory, practice, history and research thereof. It is an internationally peer-reviewed journal and publishes articles from the educators, researchers, administrators and policymakers who offer new and critical perspectives on all higher education issues and topics.
    Access the journal:

    Teaching and learning inquiry
    This is the journal of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL). It publishes only two journals per year and has high quality papers in SoTL, often with an international or interdisciplinary focus with scope for creative methodologies and writing genres. An interesting journal worth following, particularly in the times when your writing needs a creative boost.
    Access the journal:

  • Books and Chapters – SoTL

    Developing effective assessment in higher education: A practical guide. Maidenhead: Open University Press
    Bloxham, S., and Boyd, P. (2007).
    This is a detailed and practical guide on managing and improving assessment within higher education. It examines the different stages in the assessment cycle from preparing students for assessment, marking, providing feedback and quality assurance and designing or redesigning assessments. It also provides a concise introduction to the research literature on assessment to stimulate innovation and debate to enhance students’ learning.

    Access the eBook:\

    Developing evaluative judgement in higher education: Assessment for knowing and producing quality work
    Boud, D., Ajjawi, R., Dawson, P., and Tai, J. (2018).  Milton: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315109251
    See Cath Ellis’ chapter in this book – Chapter 4 (pp. 127 – 135) - The practicalities of using assessment management to develop evaluative judgement. This edited book explores the concept of evaluative judgement by showcasing a toolbox of strategies including peer learning, self-regulated learning, self-assessment and the use of online technologies. It aims to give educators the confidence and knowledge to develop evaluative judgement in their work with students and colleagues.

    Access the eBook:

    Innovative assessment in higher education: A handbook for academic practitioners (2nd ed.)
    Bryan, C., and Clegg, K. (2019). doi:10.4324/9780429506857
    This edited collection is designed particularly for those who are new to teaching. It encourages staff to use research-informed ways to thoughtfully innovate their design and implementation of assessment. It also explores the broader institutional and sector context of assessment, stimulating learning through assessment and assessing authentically for professional development. This guide supports new educators looking to learn more about how and why assessment in higher education can make such a difference to student learning.

    Access the eBook:

    How assessment supports learning: Learning-oriented assessment in action
    Carless, D., Joughin, G., and Liu, N. F. (2006).  Hong Kong University Press. doi: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622098237.001.0001
    This book outlines 39 innovative authentic assessment practices from an outcomes-focussed learning framework developed at Hong Kong University. Their framework straddles the multiple purposes of assessments as promoting learning, maintaining standards and judging students’ achievement. The cases have been thoughtfully analysed to be applicable across different disciplinary contexts.

    Access the eBook:

    Improving assessment through student involvement: Practical solutions for aiding learning in higher and further education
    Falchikov, N. (2006).  New York: Routledge.
    This book explores peer, self and collaborative assessment as ways to better involve students in their learning. It provides a practical guide on how to augment existing tutor-led methods of assessment and feedback with more student-focussed approaches. It doesn’t shy away from the challenges – for example addressing the validity and reliability of group and peer assessment with expertise drawn from experience, reflection and research.

    Access the eBook:

    Assessment for social justice: Perspectives and practices within higher education
    McArthur, J. (2018). GB: Bloomsbury Academic.
    This book explores assessment for social justice in two complementary ways - the justice of assessment within higher education and assessments that promote greater social justice. It works with critical pedagogies, including the work of John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum and Nancy Fraser to explore how different assessment approaches bolster or inhibit social justice and contribute to the ongoing debates about the mission of higher education.

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    Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning
    Stevens, D. D., Levi, A. J., and Walvoord, B. E. (2012). Sterling: Stylus Publishing, LLC.
    This book defines what rubrics are, and how to construct and use them. It provides a complete introduction for anyone starting out to integrate rubrics in their teaching. The authors describe a variety of processes to construct rubrics, including some which involve student participation.

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    Designing effective feedback processes in higher education: A learning-focused approach.
    Winstone, N., and Carless, D. (2019).  Taylor and Francis. doi:10.4324/9781351115940
    This work includes research on how different assessment designs can improve students’ update of feedback. It goes further, however, to analyse case studies of assessment design which have also been shown to improve how students generate, process and use feedback. The focus here is on feedback that is sustainable - in that it actively positions students in building their capacity to be better judges of their own learning.

    Access the eBook:

  • Further Resources on Assessment