Unit Chair Manual
This manual provides an overview of the role of a Unit Chair within the Faculty of Business and Law. It’s designed to assist you with understanding the requirements of the role and the supports available to you within the Faculty.
Expand each section below to view more information on individual sections of the Unit Chair Manual.
Becoming a Unit Chair
Key activities of a Unit Chair
Welcome to the position of Unit Chair. The role of Unit Chair is a core component in contributing to the Deakin student experience through teaching that engages learners and supports the development of employable graduates.
- Unit preparation: designing and developing the unit
- Developing learning resources
- Unit preparation: administrative activities
- Managing the unit and teaching staff
- Assessing, marking and providing feedback
- Evaluating and improving the unit
Policy requirements of the Unit Chair role
Much of the work of a Unit Chair, as the leader of a unit team, is prescribed in university policy and procedure. The Deakin policies and procedures are updated regularly and may result in changes that directly impact on some of the responsibilities you have as a Unit Chair.
You are strongly encouraged to familiarise yourself with the following policies:
- Assessment (Higher Education Courses) Procedure
- Evaluation of Teaching and Units Procedure
- Course Design and Delivery Procedure
- Academic Integrity
This unit chair manual will help you understand the administrative and pedagogical responsibilities of the unit chair role.
Unit preparation: designing and developing the unit
Overview of unit preparation design requirements
Whether it’s the first time the unit has run, whether you’re taking on unit chair responsibilities for the first time, or even if you ran the unit in the previous trimester, one of your key responsibilities is to design learning activities, assessment and feedback opportunities that supports learners in their development of specific skills and knowledge.
Learning outcomes are the building blocks for all units and courses at Deakin. They outline what students should know and be able to do on successful completion of the unit.
In order to pass the unit, students must demonstrate successful achievement of all learning outcomes. This requires careful assessment design and criteria that explicitly align to the unit’s learning outcomes.
Unit, course and graduate learning outcomes
Within a unit all teaching activities and assessments should enable students to develop the ability to demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit in a way that contributes to the Course Learning Outcomes and Deakin Graduate Learning Outcomes.
Taxonomies of learning and action verbs for drafting learning outcomes
Deakin adopts a learning outcomes approach to education. This means it’s important to understand the role of learning outcomes in the design of a unit and how they’re used to guide students’ academic and professional development.
Assessment brief template
All assessment information should be provided to students using the appropriate version of the Faculty Assessment Brief.
The unit chair is responsible for developing rubrics for assessment tasks. Rubrics are to be provided to students at the same time as the assessment brief. The Faculty has a framework for the development of rubrics that must be followed unless an exemption has been provided by the Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning.
Approval process for changing units
As the unit chair, one of your responsibilities is to regularly review and update the unit. This includes reviewing the learning outcomes, the alignment of Graduate Learning Outcomes to the unit learning outcomes, and reviewing and updating assessment tasks, criteria and learning activities to ensure they are aligned and appropriate to the course aims and the needs of students and the profession.
It is important that you are familiar with the types of changes and the approval process so that changes you identify as necessary can be implemented.
Changing learning outcomes and assessment
Although the content of assessments needs to change with every offering of the unit, the type or method of assessment is a process that is governed by the Faculty Curriculum Committee and can involve an extensive lead time.
If you want to change the type of assessment task, for example from an exam to a portfolio task, you will need to go through the formal approval process.
Modes of delivery
Units can be taught in a variety of modes including on-campus, online, blended and intensive modes. Some units have multiple modes and it is important to understand the differences between them.
CloudDeakin and associated technologies
CloudDeakin is Deakin’s Learning Management System through which all units provide learning materials to students.
Developing learning resources
Overview of learning resources and activities
The learning resources you develop for your unit and the instructions you provide students on how to use those resources is a core part of your work as Unit Chair.
Know your cohort
You can target the development of your resources to meet the interests and needs of your students by getting to know your cohort. There are several ways you can get to know who you’re teaching and this is an important first step in seeking to engage your students in learning.
Context as well as content
Students are more likely to engage with the resources you provide if you outline how the materials relate to the key concepts and ideas of your unit.
Engaging students is often about provoking them to think about a concept for the first time or in an alternative way or to link different ideas in ways they might not have thought about before. As well as providing information to students you can use provocations to provoke and generate student thinking. This will help them develop critical thinking skills.
Teaching plans ensure all tutors approach a seminar or class in the same way. They ensure equity and consistency of teaching across different seminar groups.
CloudDeakin development sites
You can start work on your CloudDeakin unit site before the trimester-specific sites become available by using the CloudDeakin development site for your unit.
This can be a great way to explore different ways of presenting information, including the use of infographics, images, illustrations, and interactives.
Classroom teaching resources
For campus-based classes and seminars you may like to use physical resources to run an activity with students.
Use case studies to develop students’ ability to apply the concepts in your unit to situations or problems that occur within real or simulated contexts.
Guidelines for charging fees for student resources
It is important that you understand the University’s obligations to students in terms of charging students for resources and do not create resources or activities that require them to purchase anything.
Resources for designing learning and assessment
Deakin has a range of resources to support teaching development in your unit.
Unit preparation: administrative activities
Overview of unit preparation administrative activities
There are a substantial number of administrative duties that are the responsibility of the the Unit Chair.
If your unit requires a textbook, orders must be placed at least one Trimester in advance.
Create the unit guide
All units must have a Unit Guide created (or updated) by the Unit Chair for each trimester the unit is offered. The unit guide must be ready to upload into the CloudDeakin unit site one week before the beginning of the trimester.
Set up the unit site
Unit chairs are responsible for developing the CloudDeakin site for each trimester the unit is offered.
TALIS: your library resources/reading list
As Unit Chair you are responsible for ensuring that the reading list, available through the Deakin library, is up-to-date and available for students prior to the commencement of the trimester.
Timetabling and room bookings
For each campus-based offering of a unit, classes and seminars need to be scheduled and rooms allocated in the University timetable system.
Recruit sessional/casual staff
You may be allocated sessional staff to support the teaching of your unit. It is important that you understand the Faculty process for recruiting sessional/casual staff.
Using the Callista Student Management System
Callista is the Student Management System used to manage students’ enrolment, results and completion information. As Unit Chair you will use it to source accurate class lists and to upload unit results.
Managing my unit
Overview of managing my unit
As Unit Chair there are a variety of advisory, supportive and administrative duties you need to carry out to support the students and teachers in the unit.
Managing student expectations around the unit
Clearly and explicitly outlining your expectations of students and the requirements of the unit (in relation to attendance, engagement, participation) from the beginning of trimester will help reduce confusion and student complaints.
You can also engage students in conversations about their expectations too. This might be really instructive – to you and to them.
Meet with teaching staff
Keeping in frequent contact with your unit team is important and you should meet with them regularly, informally and formally, throughout the trimester.
Leading and supporting teaching staff
As Unit Chair you are required to lead and support the teaching staff who are working in your unit in several ways.
Providing advice and support to students
As Unit Chair students will often come to you for advice related to academic matters or other general issues. There are a range of strategies you can use to manage the enquiries you receive, including referring students to the appropriate services provided by Deakin.
Waiving hurdle or prerequisite requirements
At times a student might ask you to waive a unit pre-requisite or hurdle requirement for them. It is important that you follow the Faculty process for any of these requests.
Monitoring student engagement and progress
There are a variety of ways you can monitor student engagement and progress in your unit, including using some of the tools within the CloudDeakin unit site.
As Unit Chair, it is important that you have a sound understanding of the processes in place to manage academic integrity at Deakin and your role in the process of potentially identifying and managing formal allegations of academic misconduct.
There are types of actions that students at times display that may constitute general misconduct. These are not related to academic misconduct matters and instead often arise where a student has breached the Student Code of Conduct.
Dealing with complaints
You may receive complaints from students. It is important that they are treated seriously and referred to the appropriate area of the Faculty or University as required.
Safety and Deakin Safer Community
Students or teaching staff in your unit may approach you with a concern for their safety. You should encourage them to become familiar with the Deakin services and the SafeZone app, particularly if they are on-campus late in the evening.
Assessing, marking and providing feedback
Overview of assessing, marking and providing feedback
As Unit Chair you are responsible for the assessment of learning within the unit and there are many academic and administrative aspects to be aware of as you lead your team through the process.
Assessing student achievement
The assessment of student achievement is based on how well each student has demonstrated that they have met the unit’s learning outcomes, not on how well they have performed in relation to other students.
It is important that the processes undertaken for marking and moderating are consistent with the University’s assessment procedures.
Providing feedback on student assessment
Feedback on student learning can take many forms and may be formal or informal. As individuals, students are entitled to receive feedback on their assessment submissions and there are also many advantages to providing class-level feedback.
When providing informal feedback to students, ensure you let them know this is what you’re doing as many students think of feedback as only those comments they receive on assessment tasks.
Using Turnitin to check for plagarism
Turnitin is a tool that can be used to identify the level of similarity between a student’s submitted work and the work of others. This can be a flag, when marking, that a student has engaged in academic misconduct, but there are other reasons for a high similarity rating.
Providing reasonable adjustments
For several reasons it may be necessary for you to provide a reasonable adjustment to the way in which a student accesses learning resources, participates in scheduled activities, or undertakes assessment, etc.
As Unit Chair you have a responsibility to ensure that any adjustments endorsed by the Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, are implemented.
Students may request an extension for an assessment based on circumstances outside of their control. Depending on the type and duration of the request, different process are required.
It is important that you are familiar with these processes.
Managing late submissions
Deakin has a consistent process for managing the late submission of assessment tasks which includes the details of marking penalties that must be applied. Consistency of application of late penalties across all markers is important and something you must remind all markers of.
Assessment panels are responsible for ensuring that the assessment within the unit is set at the appropriate standard and in line with the University Assessment procedure.
The management of examinations involves several stages. The overall process is managed by the Division of Student Administration and it is important to be aware of the requirements of each stage and the timing of each stage.
Special consideration is provided to students in instances where they require an extension for longer than two weeks or if they are unable to sit an examination. Different process apply for coursework and examinations.
Finalising student results
The finalisation of results in a unit is the responsibility of the Unit Chair. All final grades for students must be entered into Callista. Support with this process is available from within the Faculty.
Reviewing the unit assessment profile
As Unit Chair you are required to complete a Unit Report which involves reviewing the overall assessment results in the unit and identifying any matters that may require further action. That ‘further action’ might be the redesign of the assessment, changing the assessment type, redeveloping learning resources, or redesigning the unit.
Amendment of results
If a student’s result for the unit needs to be changed due to an error or if a student’s result has not been completed at the time of result release, as Unit Chair you will need to complete an Amendment to Result form.
Review of results
Following results release, students may apply for a review of their result. If this occurs for your unit, the Faculty Academic Progress Committee will require you to provide particular information depending on the type of review requested.
Pass conceded and final unit to complete
On occasion, a student may ask you about whether they are eligible for a pass conceded grade or “final unit to complete” alternative assessment.
It is important that you direct them to the appropriate information and do not give them any indication of whether they are likely to be successful.
Evaluating and improving the unit
Overview of evaluating and improving the unit
Once the unit results have been finalised it is time to evaluate the unit and consider what worked well during the trimester and what steps might be needed to improve it for future offerings.
Student evaluation of teaching – eVALUate
Students are given the opportunity to provide feedback on their experiences within units via the eVALUate survey.
You will receive details of student responses. You can use these to help you reflect on and review the unit as a whole and decide what changes need to be made.
Administrative steps in the eVALUate process
Unit Chairs are required to confirm the details of all of staff teaching into the unit during the trimester so that the eVALUate surveys will be set up to accurately collect data of student experiences associated with an individual team members’ teaching.
Reflecting on student feedback on learning and unit experience
Working with student evaluation data can be enlightening but also jarring. It is helpful to consider strategies for how to make use of eVALUate responses and how to support staff where there may be indications of a problem with teaching performance.
Reviewing and reflecting on Unit Learning Outcomes, content, teaching and assessment delivery
As Unit Chair, you should meet with your unit team to review all aspects of the unit throughout the trimester.
A result may be to propose minor changes to content or teaching strategies; or, it may be that major curriculum changes need to be put forward for future offerings of the unit.