Dr Bernadette Knewstubb


Bernadette is a senior lecturer in academic development in the Centre. Her main area of responsibility at present is coordinating and developing the Postgraduate Higher Education Learning and Teaching (PHELT) programme, as well as providing general academic development support. She is one of the Centre's contacts for the Faculty of Education.

She also has experience in areas such as in new lecturer development, peer observation and mentoring programmes, curriculum mapping and design at course and programme level, and teaching and learning in first-year classes.

Bernadette is happy to discuss any of these areas, and others, and finds that in this role she usually learns as much from the people she works with as they can ever learn from her.

Professional activities

Associate Editor for Higher Education Research and Development.


As is the case for many academic developers, Bernadette came to her role by a circuitous route. Initially she studied at the University of Otago, where she completed her BA(Hons) and MA in English literature. Her Masters thesis, A gathering of forgers, explored the development of literary forgery in the 18th Century. She then spent five years teaching and then coordinating a large first-year communication course, where she became interested in research concerning first-year learning and large-group teaching.

After a year teaching English as a Second Language in South Korea, she returned to Dunedin in 2001, where she held concurrent roles as a student learning advisor at Otago University's Student Learning Centre, and as a Research Fellow on a project which studied the development of teaching academics over a three-year period.

In 2003, she moved to the University of Aberdeen, where she worked as part of a small educational development team, teaching in a graduate certificate programme and working largely with tutors and new academics, as well as on faculty projects. Between 2005 and 2011, she worked as an academic developer in both central and faculty roles at La Trobe University in Melbourne, before joining the team at Victoria's Centre for Academic Development in mid-2011.

Bernadette's doctoral thesis was titled The teaching-learning nexus: teaching and learning as communication, using higher education research and linguistic theory to investigate how it is that students and their lecturers understand one another (or don't!).

Research interests

Her two major areas of research interest presently are the communicative relationships between lecturers, tutors and students, and the development of curricula to embed discipline-defined graduate attributes.

Her current research includes:

  • A study of the communicative alignment between lecturers and students in different disciplines (Science, Commerce and Arts)
  • Developing interdisciplinary methodologies for studying the learning-teaching nexus
  • (Together with Amanda Gilbert) “Making the invisible visible: Illuminating undergraduate learning outcomes beyond content and skills” – Ako Aotearoa project led by University of Auckland

Bernadette's education interests are varied, and she is happy to discuss any ideas you might have for developing your own teaching and learning research.

Recent publications

Spencer, D., Riddle, M. and Knewstubb, B. (2011) Curriculum mapping to embed graduate capabilities. Higher Education Research & Development.

Knewstubb, B. (2010) The Search for Relevance: Student sense making in a multiple-lecturer subject. Paper presented at the eighth annual Hawaii International Education Conference, 7-10 January, 2010, Honolulu.

Knewstubb, B. and C. Bond (2009). "What’s he talking about? The communicative alignment between a teacher’s intentions and students’ understandings." Higher Education Research & Development 28(2): 179-193.