Subject Improvement Program

Subject improvement is critical to achieving high quality learning outcomes for students at La Trobe University.  Continuous improvement of subject curricula and delivery is required to assure the quality of all our courses.

The Subject Improvement Program (SIP) works to improve student satisfaction, as measured by the Student Feedback on Subjects (SFS) survey instrument and student success in subjects where there have been high rates of failure.

Heads of Schools lead the development of improvement plans for all target subjects in their schools. Target subjects are selected based on low student satisfaction with the subject, or high rates of student failure or withdrawal.

The program does not seek to apportion blame for the underperformance of the subject but rather recognises this may be caused by a multitude of factors. SIP requires the Schools put in place strategies and resources to address the issues underlying underperformance. This includes options to redesign all or part of the subject, and professional development opportunities and resources for teaching staff.

This site outlines processes available to subject coordinators and members of subject teams who engage with subject improvement at La Trobe University.

Improvement Process

The process is evidence-based and supports systematic data collection, evaluation and decision-making during a defined cycle of activities. From 2017, the SIP process will commence with the development of an Action Plan based on available information, delivery of the subject in which the Action Plan is implemented, and finally a review of evidence of improvement at the end of the cycle.

Action Plans

Action Plans can include a range of activities including redesigning the subject or components of the subject, professional development activities for teaching staff and other activities as relevant to the subject and discipline.

All Action Plans should also allow for additional student feedback to be sought the first time the subject is delivered after the action plan is implemented.

Heads of Schools, with assistance from the School Director of Teaching and Learning and in consultation with College Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors (Coursework), Academic Coordinators (Coursework), Course and Subject Coordinators, College Education Teams and La Trobe Learning and Teaching (LTLT) undertake action planning. Action plans should be drafted so as to be fully executed within six months (i.e., drafted so that any changes made as part of the action plan will be fully implemented in the same teaching periods in the following year. For example, action plans for poor performing subjects delivered between July and December 2016 will be developed and confirmed from January to June 2017, for implementation and evaluation in teaching periods between July and December 2017).

Where a subject shows no improvement, the subject will be referred to the College Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Coursework) to decide on an appropriate course of action.

Subject Improvement Plan (SIP) Timeline: the 2017 process:

August – November 2016: Semester 2, 2016

Teaching period data collection (Round one)

April 2017

Action Plans (Round One) completed and approved

May 2017

Action Plans to SEG for noting

March-July 2017: Semester 1, 2017

Teaching period data collection (Round two)

October 2017

Action Plans (Round Two) completed and approved

November 2017

Action Plans to SEG for noting

Professional Development Options

There are two key action planning options within SIP for professional development of teaching staff:

Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (PATS)

PATS provides professional teaching development to participating academic staff (Participants) through assessment, advising and mentoring from academic peers (Advisers) who have a demonstrated track record of teaching excellence.

PATS has been developed to enable the sharing of good teaching practice across the University. The Scheme is configured around the three key expectations of its academics who teach: to be able to design for effective teaching and learning, deliver effective teaching and learning; and lead teaching and learning.

While it is a core component of the Subject Improvement Program, PATS is also an on-going LTLT Program open to all teaching staff who would like to improve an aspect of their teaching via peer observation and advice.

For more information regarding PATS, visit the site here.

Self-directed Activities Scheme (SAS)

The Self-directed Activities Scheme (SAS) is a customisable program of professional development activities in Teaching and Learning. Activities include seminars, modules, workshops and other activities.

Individual development plans will be established for each participant in consultation with an Educational Developer in LTLT. As a core, all plans will include:

Identifying the Intervention: a 3 hour workshop aimed at (i) identifying issues giving rise to poor student retention, progression and satisfaction in the subject, and (ii) the determination of ‘solutions’.

Student feedback: 2 cycles of actions taken in response to student feedback during the delivery of the subject.

Self-paced modules: at least 4 hours of engagement with self-paced resources relating to either teaching, design or leadership to be undertaken during an improvement cycle.

Review and Analysis: a 3 hour workshop aimed at identifying evidence that can support claims that the intervention has worked in terms of its impact on student retention, progression and satisfaction.

Download the SAS Participant Information [PDF410KB] .

For an alternative format, please contact

Activities and Resources Framework

La Trobe Learning and Teaching (LTLT) provides a combination of self-paced resources, formal peer review and advising, workshops and programs that can be accessed by subject coordinators in developing and implementing actions aimed at improving student success as measured by retention, progression and satisfaction.

SIP participants can select resources according to their needs. Click here to proceed to self-paced resources and visit the LTLT website for workshops. Access to the DLS program is via Colleges. LTLT activities form the basis of evidence required for formal credit into subjects in the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (GCHE), which in turn is linked to evidence for Academic Promotion.

For more information on professional development supporting subject improvement, contact:

Dr Damir Mitric
T: (61) 03 9479 5149

Contact List

For further support with SIP, please use the following contact list:

For the Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (PATS) and Self Directed Activities Scheme (SAS):

Brad Hodge (SHE)

Dr Ying Yu (ASSC)

For advice on proposed subject redesigns or other LTLT services:

Contact your Senior College Partner:

Brenda Cooper
T: +61 (0)3 9479 6064

Emily Kristenthal
T: +61 (0)3 9479 1758

For advice on Student Feedback on Subjects (SFS) data:

For any other questions related to the project:

Stephanie Murray (Administrative coordinator)

Neridah Baker (Policy Manager)