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Dr Nicola Parker

Lecturer, Institute for Interactive Media and Learning

BA (Auckland), Grad Cert HETL (UTS), MA (UTS), PhD (UTS)

Associate, Australian Library and Information Association
Member, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA)

Phone: +61 2 9514 1665
Mailing address:

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In her current role at IML Nicola supports all aspects of teaching and learning at UTS, in face to face, blended or online learning environments. Working particularly within the Faculty of Law, she provides  learning and teaching support to the faculty team, teaching teams and individual academics, and advises academics engaged in the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning. Nicola is a part of the IML ePortfolio team and a key contact for the peer review of learning and teaching. She also has a keen interest in supporting Casual Academics teaching at UTS.

Nicola's research interests focus on student experiences of information and learning, including the affective dimensions of assessment and program level assessment with ePortfolios. She has contributed to learning and teaching research initiatives within IML including the ALTC project (Embedding Peer Review of Learning and Teaching in Online and Blended Learning Environments 2008 – 2010), the UTS ePortfolio project, and was a member of the ALTC Leadership Excellence project team (Building Leadership with Sessional Staff).


Accredited member of ALIA

Teaching areas

  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning - advisor for Faculty of Law
  • Learning and Teaching Induction Workshops - for new Academics and Casual Academics
  • Workshop and conference programs - for Casual Academics
  • Active Learning and Teaching in Tutorials - workshop for Casual Academics
  • IML Technology Showcase - short sessions for new staff.


Research interests

  • Students' experiences of learning;
  • Masters coursework students experiences
  • Information processes and learning
  • Affect, learning and assessment
  • ePortfolios and Reflection
  • Casual Academic's development.


Journal articles

Power, T., Virdun, C., Sherwood, J., Parker, N., Van Balen, J., Gray, J. & Jackson, D. 2016, 'REM: A Collaborative Framework for Building Indigenous Cultural Competence.', Journal of transcultural nursing : official journal of the Transcultural Nursing Society, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 439-446.
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The well-documented health disparities between the Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous population mandates a comprehensive response from health professionals. This article outlines the approach taken by one faculty of health in a large urban Australian university to enhance cultural competence in students from a variety of fields. Here we outline a collaborative and deeply respectful process of Indigenous and non-Indigenous university staff collectively developing a model that has framed the embedding of a common faculty Indigenous graduate attribute across the curriculum. Through collaborative committee processes, the development of the principles of "Respect; Engagement and sharing; Moving forward" (REM) has provided both a framework and way of "being and doing" our work. By drawing together the recurring principles and qualities that characterize Indigenous cultural competence the result will be students and staff learning and bringing into their lives and practice, important Indigenous cultural understanding.

Power, T., Virdun, C., White, H., Hayes, C., Parker, N., Kelly, M., Disler, R. & Cottle, A. 2016, 'Plastic with personality: Increasing student engagement with manikins.', Nurse education today, vol. 38, pp. 126-131.
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Simulation allows students to practice key psychomotor skills and gain technical proficiency, fostering the development of clinical reasoning and student confidence in a low risk environment. Manikins are a valuable learning tool; yet there is a distinct lack of empirical research investigating how to enhance engagement between nursing students and manikins.To describe student perspectives of a layered, technology enhanced approach to improve the simulation learning experience.Tanner's Model of Clinical Judgment underpins the entire curriculum. This study additionally drew on the principles of narrative pedagogy.Across ten teaching weeks, five separate case studies were introduced to students through short vignettes. Students viewed the vignettes prior to their laboratory class. In the labs, manikins were dressed in the props used in the vignettes.The innovation was trialed in a second year core subject of a Bachelor of Nursing program in a large urban university in the autumn semester of 2014.Following ethics approval, students were emailed a participant information sheet. A focus group of nine students was held. The discussion was digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim prior to being subject to thematic analysis. Students' comments (143) about the vignettes in their standard subject specific student feedback surveys were also considered as data.Four themes were identified: Getting past the plastic; knowing what to say; connecting and caring; and, embracing diversity. The feedback indicated that these measures increased students ability to suspend disbelief, feel connected to, and approach the manikins in a more understanding and empathetic fashion.In addition to achieving increased engagement with manikins, other advantages such as students reflecting on their own values and pre-conceived notions of people from diverse backgrounds were realized.


Parker, N.J. & McKenzie, J. 2015, 'CHAPTER 6: Institutions' in Harvey, M. & Fredericks, V. (eds), Quality Learning and Teaching with Sessional Staff, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Milperra, NSW, pp. 39-48.


Willison, J., Yazbeck, B., Bandaranaike, S., Torres, L., Parker, N., Klebansky, A., Parange, N. & Harrison, K. 2015, 'Professionally relevant research skills developed during coursework masters'.
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HERDSA 2015 - Learning for life and work in a complex world, Melbourne, 6th – 9th July, 2015, Pre-conference workshop

Journal articles

Luzia, K., Harvey, M., Parker, N.J., McCormack, C., Brown, N. & McKenzie, J.A. 2013, 'Benchmarking with the BLASST Sessional Staff Standards Framework', Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 1-15.
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Benchmarking as a type of knowledge-sharing around good practice within and between institutions is increasingly common in the higher education sector. More recently, benchmarking as a process that can contribute to quality enhancement has been deployed across numerous institutions with a view to systematising frameworks to assure and enhance the quality of higher education. However, to date, sessional staff who are the majority of teachers in higher education, have been mostly excluded from or invisible in this process, both within individual institutions and across the sector. In this paper, we present four case studies of benchmarking across four Australian universities that piloted the sessional staff standards framework in order to enhance and support quality learning and teaching by sessional staff. We discuss some of the strengths and limitations of this approach to supporting sessional staff and show how the benchmarking process facilitates active engagement for and particularly by sessional staff in enhancing quality teaching and learning.

Virdun, C., Gray, J.E., Sherwood, J., Power, T.J., Phillips, A.B., Parker, N.J. & Jackson, D.E. 2013, 'Working together to make Indigenous health care curricula everybody's business: a graduate attribute teaching innovation report', Contemporary Nurse, vol. 46, no. Special Issue, pp. 97-104.
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Previously there has been commitment to the idea that Indigenous curricula should be taught by Indigenous academic staff, whereas now there is increasing recognition of the need for all academic staff to have confidence in enabling Indigenous cultural competency for nursing and other health professional students. In this way, Indigenous content can be threaded throughout a curriculum and raised in many teaching and learning situations, rather than being siloed into particular subjects and with particular staff. There are many sensitivities around this change, with potential implications for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and staff, and for the quality of teaching and learning experiences. This papers reports on a collaborative process that was used to reconceptualise how Indigenous health care curricula would be positioned throughout a program and who would or could work with students in this area. Effective leadership, establishing a truly collaborative environment, acknowledging fears and perceived inadequacies, and creating safe spaces for sharing and learning were crucial in effecting this change.


Parker, N.J. 2013, 'What is the Place of Assessment for Postgraduate Coursework Students?', Research and Development in Higher Education: The Place of Learning and Teaching, 36th HERDSA Annual International Conference, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Inc, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 1-1.
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Volume 36 Refereed papers from the 36th HERDSA Annual International Conference

Harvey, M., Luzia, K., Brown, N., McCormack, C., McKenzie, J.A. & Parker, N.J. 2012, 'Connecting quality learning and teaching with sessional staff standards: the BLASST project', Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education, Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education, 35th HERDSA Annual International Conference, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Incorporated (HERDSA), Hobart, Australia, pp. 1-1.
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Abstract of short conference presentation Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education

Parker, N.J. 2012, 'Connecting Postgraduate Coursework Studentsâ Experiences of Research Learning with Success', Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education, Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education, 35th HERDSA Annual International Conference, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Incorporated (HERDSA), Hobart, Australia, pp. 1-1.
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Discusses two longitudinal case studies of highly achieving postgraduatesâ experiences of learning through their own research and enquiry processes in an information and knowledge management subject. This learning involved an interplay and âbalancingâ of personal research processes and boundary decision making throughout


Riley, S., Li, G. & Parker, N.J. 2011, 'Student Diversity: Widening Participation by Engaging Culturally Diverse Non-Law Students in Law' in Kift, S., Sanson, M., Cowley, J. & Watson, P. (eds), Excellence and Innovation in Legal Education, LexisNexis, Sydney, Australia, pp. 337-362.
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McKenzie, J.A. & Parker, N.J. Australian Learning and Teaching Council 2011, Peer review in online and blended learning environments, pp. 1-75.
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This is the report of a project which used an action research approach to develop and test a scholarly framework for peer review in online and blended learning environments in higher education. The report includes a literature review, methodology, framework description, description of trialing and analysis of themes from interviews with trial participants. It draws conclusions about possible approaches to using peer review for promotion.


Parker, N.J. & McKenzie, J.A. 2010, 'Reshaping academic practice with our peers: Experiences of peer review in blended learning environments', Research and Development in Higher Education: Reshaping Higher Education, 33rd HERDSA Annual Conference, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Inc, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-1.
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Academic practices have been inevitably reshaped as university teaching has moved towards the use of blended learning environments (BLE). Peer review of teaching (PR) is also becoming more widespread, with peer observation and teaching, or course portfolios being widely used by teachers. Peer review presents particular opportunities and challenges in online and BLEs as they reposition teachers and students in time and place because of both the nature and recording of the interactions taking place. This session showcases some outcomes of a PR project, (ALTC funded), that developed and trialled a framework for peer review in BLEs based on: the promotions criteria; literature review on electronic or BLE, the qualities of scholarly work and the peer observation. Teams across five Australian universities developed, trialled, evaluated and refined a common framework, protocols and resources. A co-productive action research approach was taken with participating academics engaging in reciprocal PR of aspects of their teaching. Case studies of the reviews, institutional case studies and online materials were developed to support formative improvement and `reshaping of academic practice, as well as to enable the use of PR for recognition and reward. Engaging in a process of reflection, formative review and action planning of teaching practice with trusted peers was found to be highly effective and rewarding. A thorough briefing procedure, which included teachers reflecting on the framework criteria before the review was invaluable. The benefit of this type of review in BLE, and adaptation of the resources and materials for different contexts will be discussed as well as implications for university policies and processes.

Journal articles

Housego, S.C. & Parker, N.J. 2009, 'Positioning ePortfolios in an integrated curriculum', Education & Training, vol. 51, no. 5/6, pp. 408-421.
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Purpose - This paper discusses the potential and the challenges of successful integration of ePortfolios and graduate attributes into the curriculum. Design/methodology/approach - An argument is presented about the positioning of ePortfolios, and their links to graduate attributes, that draws upon the experiences of working with teachers to design, implement and support effective teaching practices to inform the challenges and opportunities that ePortfolios present for institutions, teachers and business curricula. Findings - The potential of ePortfolios for supporting student learning must be balanced against the difficulties of embedding the necessary curriculum changes. Institutions expecting to see take-up of ePortfolios by their teachers will need different strategies than those that accompanied the introduction of Learning Management Systems. Research limitations/implications â Based on experiences in an Australian context and a small-scale trial. The limited availability of studies of student learning and the longitudinal use of ePortfolios in the social networking Web 2.0 context. The practicality of implementing the approach suggested when resources are constrained. Practical implications â A range of potential uses of ePortfolios is considered with a particular focus on seeing their use from the whole-of-program viewpoint, with discussion of the limitations for curriculum if decisions about ePortfolio use are left entirely to teachers to decide. Originality/value â The papersâ value is in its argument about the potential for linking ePortfolios to an integrated curriculum by addressing a common problem with the process of embedding of graduate attributes, and in suggesting a role for changed assessment practices to make this possible.


Anderson, T.K., Parker, N.J. & McKenzie, J.A. 2009, 'Assessing Online Collaboratories: A Peer Review of Teaching and Learning', Assessment in Different Dimensions: A conference on teaching and learning in tertiary education (ATN Assessment Conference, RMIT University), ATN Assessment Conference, Learning & Teaching Unit, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 7-16.
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This paper presents action research informed by Peer Reviews of innovative assessment in a `fully blended undergraduate Communications subject. The assessments, the teachers intentions for student learning and the process and outcomes of two rounds of review will be discussed. Assessment is the crux of a subject for students and teachers, and the paper will show how `conversations about teaching as part of a Peer Review process can enhance assessment. The assessment that was the focus of the review involves collaboratories in which students use wikis to build on collaborative knowledge production about emerging technologies. Peer Reviews focused on the strategies used to encourage greater student-directed and managed participation in the construction of the wikis and associated student-moderated online discussions. The first round identified ways that the assessment criteria could be more specific and distinct in relation to the subjects themes and practices. The second round specifically focused on the assignments that flowed from the collaboratories. One motivation for this teacher to engage in the project was the need to make the assessment more sustainable.

McKenzie, J.A., Pelliccione, L. & Parker, N.J. 2008, 'Developing peer review of teaching in blended learning environments: Frameworks and challenges', Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings ascilite Melbourne 2008, Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 622-627.
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The growth of blended learning environments in higher education has emphasised the need for better ways of describing and recognising good teaching that promotes student learning in these environments. Although the affordances of e-learning technologies have long been discussed, there has been little emphasis on developing systematic processes for recognition of good teaching in blended learning environments and developmental feedback for academics. This paper reports on work in progress on a two year ALTC project in which teams across the ATN universities are developing a scholarly framework and a sustainable process for peer reviews through a co-productive, action research approach.


Parker, N.J. & Berryman, J.M. 2007, 'The Role of Affect in Judging "What is enough?"' in Nahl, D. & Bilal, D. (eds), Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behaviour, Information Today, Medford, New Jersey US., pp. 85-95.
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The concept of enough is central to productivity and success in an information-saturated world. In the face of information abundance, the continuous question of "What is enough?" moves beyond a series of quantitative judgments to complex negotiations, which are fluid, highly contextually and personally embedded, and intertwined with affect. This chapter reports on an Investigation that explored enough in information seeking-a concept described by Kuhlthau (2004) as fundamental but under-researched. The role of affect in this Important judgment is highlighted. Empirical findings from the interpretive study indicate that practised information seekers experience enougn in five qualitatively different ways, and show a picture of enough. as generative and exploratory. The findings extend our understanding of the concept beyond Its status as a barrier associated with difficulties, gaps, and stopping, and reveal the importance of affect in information interactions. The research is a useful step toward clarifying a key concept for information seeking in context and exploring the role of affect.


Parker, N.J. 2004, 'Assignment information processes: what's 'enough' for high achievement', ISIC 2004: the 5th Information in Context Conference, ISIC 2004: the 5th Information in Context Conference, Prof Tom Wilson, Uni of Sheffield, Dublin Ireland, pp. 1-2.
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Summary of a research note delivered at the conference

Parker, N.J. 2004, 'Diversity in high places: variation in highly achieving students' experiences of coursework assignments', Proceedings of the 2004 12th International Symposium, Improving Student Learning: Diversity and Inclusivity, Improving Student Learning: Diversity and Inclusivity, The Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, Oxford Brookes University, Birmingham, UK., pp. 188-200.
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Student diversity often exists where we least expect it. This paper presents findings from a phenomenographic study of postgraduate students' ways of experiencing aspects of their course work assignments. The research is illustrated with examples form a series of conversational interviews with six postgraduate coursework students. Results suggest there is a wide range of variation apparent within this group of students.

Journal articles

Parker, N.J. 2001, 'Student learning as information behaviour: exploring Assessment Task Processes', Information Research, vol. 6, no. 2, p. online.
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This paper describes the early phases of a research project exploring student learning as information behaviour during literature based assessment tasks in higher education. Although information and learning are closely linked, their relationship has been framed by a narrow interpretation of 'information' in the Higher Education literature and considered beyond the scope of Information Science. Understanding the interactions between seeking and utilising information is fundamental to a meaningful investigation of student learning. The varied processes involved in Literature Based Assessment Tasks are vital to students' success, because they are used extensively for assessment in many faculties. Bringing together information science and education perspectives can provide educators with more answers to questions of how and why students change as a result of information interactions. A clearer understanding of how information tasks and subject learning are related within the context of a specific discipline will also be gained by interdisciplinary exploration of students' perceptions of their information and learning environments as they complete assessment tasks.

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