HDR Scholarship - Assessment in Higher Education

Applications now open
  • A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research about one of the 'Assessment in Higher Education' research topics.

Research topic

The successful scholarship applicant will work on a project that aligns with one or more of CRADLE's research program areas as outlined in Project Aim.

Project Aim

The aim of the project is to provide useful evidence to inform assessment research, practice and policy, with a particular emphasis on approaches that work at a large scale.

CRADLE is specifically interested in the research projects as outlined below:

  • Developing evaluative judgement in university courses (Supervisor Prof David Boud): How can learners develop the ability to make judgements about their own learning? How can it be fostered in different contexts? How does it develop over time?
  • Ensuring feedback influences learning (Supervisor Prof David Boud):  What strategies and models are effective in enabling comments made by teachers and others to have a positive impact on student’s subsequent work? What types of feedback processes can be effectively incorporated across programs? How can students influence the kinds of feedback most useful for their own learning?
  • Developing feedback literacy for study, work and life (Supervisor A/Prof Phillip Dawson): ‘Feedback literacy’ is the capability to seek out, understand and make use of feedback, as well as making productive use of emotions throughout the process. It’s important not just at university, but in life and work in general. But how can we develop feedback literacy in learners, and how can we help learners deploy their feedback literacy?
  • Designing assessment to prevent and detect contract cheating (Supervisor A/Prof Phillip Dawson): Contract cheating occurs when students pay someone else to do their assignment. Many recommendations have been made about designing assessment that helps prevent or detect contract cheating, however there is very little evidence about what actually works. This project aims to develop and test assessment designs that resist contract cheating.
  • How medical trainees learn in a data-saturated clinical environment (Supervisor A/Prof Margaret Bearman): This PhD project is a joint (Cotutelle) project with the University of Copenhagen. This ethnographic investigation examines how and when doctors learn within what are digital and data-saturated environments and considers the differences between Australian and Danish contexts. Candidates should be willing to spend at least six months in Copenhagen during the course of their candidature. The supervision team will also include Professor Karl Hoeyer from University of Copenhagen. There are additional eligibility criteria for this project.
  • Building evaluative judgement in the workplace (Supervisor A/Prof Margaret Bearman): Students often have theoretical knowledge but struggle to apply this in workplaces. This PhD project investigates how educators and institutions can build students’ evaluative judgement, which is the key capability to judge the work of self and others. It particularly focusses on work-based learning.
  • The sociomaterial foundations of assessment change (Supervisor A/Prof Margaret Bearman): It can be difficult to change assessment practices. This PhD project will trace assessment materials from inception to final use, in the process illuminating the complex teaching and learning interactions which underpin assessment design, delivery and use. This project could have a digital learning focus, if this is of interest.
  • Feedback and the educational alliance (Supervisor A/Prof Rola Ajjawi): The relational aspects of feedback are increasingly coming to be recognised as crucial in how learners make sense of and incorporate feedback. This research seeks to extend understandings of the educational alliance by examining it as a construct across different disciplines and learning environments. The research asks what judgements do students make about the credibility, interest and intent of their educators and how do these judgements influence their current and future feedback behaviours.
  • Assessment and professional identity formation (Supervisor A/Prof Rola Ajjawi): Taking part in assessment not only drives students’ learning of knowledge, skills and attitudes, but it also shapes their professional identity. This occurs as students take part in authentic practices of the community, engage with standard and criteria and receive feedback on their work. This research asks: How do assessment practices influence students’ professional identity formation?
  • Authentic assessment in WIL (Supervisor A/Prof Rola Ajjawi): work-integrated learning is an important contributor to students’ employability. Assessment can compromise authentic learning if it doesn’t contribute to both landscapes of practice in academia and the workplace. This research seeks to explore notions of authenticity in assessment design.
  • Inclusive assessment (Supervisor Dr Joanna Tai): Assessment in higher education must ensure that a diverse student population can demonstrate their achievement of learning outcomes. This project aims to explore student experiences of inclusive assessment, and the affordances and limitations of current and emerging assessment designs, within the context of technology-enabled postsecondary environments.
  • Peer learning in higher education (Supervisor Dr Joanna Tai): The benefits of peer learning for knowledge and skills are well described. There are emerging descriptions of peer learning contributing to desirable graduate learning outcomes such as evaluative judgement. This project seeks to explore and characterise the situations in which peer learning, including but not limited to peer assessments, feedback, and discussion, contribute to students’ learning. This project can be undertaken in a specific disciplinary context or in a broader postgraduate education setting.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Thursday 28th November 2019.


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $27,596 per annum tax exempt (2019 rate)

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic candidate (domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship).
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

How to apply

Please apply using the expression of interest form


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Helen Walker

Dr Helen Walker
Research Manager
Email Helen Walker
+61 3 924 45448