The Taxonomy for Credentialing Australasian University Educators (TCAUE)
An initial literature review conducted in 2019 provided insights into the benefits, challenges, design recommendations, and key considerations to inform the development of a micro-credentialing taxonomy for university educators. In 2021, there was further investigation of these key considerations, supplemented by an expanded search of international frameworks, a review of recent reports and policy documents, and a scan of commercial websites and industry updates to assure currency.
The resulting TCAUE provides an Australasian learning and teaching recognition framework which offers a credential that is contextualised and transferable. The TCAUE has an overarching Principles Statement which underpins the taxonomy, three University Educator Profiles, and outlines dimensions for learning in Six Essential Focus Areas, which characterise quality teaching in higher education.
The taxonomy’s statements and descriptors provide the guiding framework for institutions and educators. A Credential Outline is completed by all providers to assure consistency, transparency, credibility, and portability in the utilisation of the taxonomy. Each provider is expected to customise the Credential Outline to meet its individual needs and values.
The taxonomy positions learning and teaching as practice- and evidence-based to demonstrate impact on student learning and self-learning. It is a development- and capacity-building framework that outlines descriptions of practice for educator profiles, and values and recognises sophistication and advancement of knowledge, skills, application and impact. The descriptors are indicative, and not intended to be prescriptive, nor exhaustive in nature.
Ongoing and historic tensions around university teaching quality and professional standards have been considered in the reframing of this work. The development phase recognised that teaching quality standards are multifactorial and resource-intensive to assure consistency and moderation — interlinked with government surveys and reviews and shaped by national university-tertiary teaching awards programs in Australia and New Zealand. It was evident from benchmarking that university teaching quality standards are measured at institutional-level.
Each institution customises its professional learning and standards through university success indicators, and in the valuing of recognition and development pathways (for example, fellowships or professional certificates).
Although the taxonomy could be perceived as having embedded standards — due to the presentation of essential focus areas and educator profile descriptions — in practice its interpretation is specific to each institution, and the professional development needs and interests of each educator. The taxonomy has the flexibility to consider quality measures at subject/unit, course and institutional levels, and attests to learning and teaching as practice-based and impact-focused, as outlined in the following chapters.