A selection of my academic papers and conference presentations on teaching and learning. For my media and cultural studies research visit

Marcus O’Donnell, Margaret Wallace, Anne Melano, Romy Lawson, Eeva Leinonen, Putting transition at the centre of whole-of-curriculum transformation, Student Success, 6:2 (2015)

ABSTRACT: This paper describes the development of a model for institution-wide curriculum transformation at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Transition – a curriculum-integrated approach that enables a smooth, supported shift into and through higher education and a successful transition from the university to the world of work and lifelong learning – is one of three key principles at the heart of the UOW Curriculum Model. This paper focuses on transition as a whole-of-curriculum design principle and the way this principle informs the other elements of the UOW Curriculum Model. It aims to extend the concept of “transition pedagogy” developed by Kift and colleagues  and to show how it has been used to inform our larger project of curriculum renewal.

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Latukefu, Lotte; Burns, Shawn; O’Donnell, Marcus; and Whelan, Andrew, Enabling Music and Journalism Students To Respond Positively To Adversity In Work After Graduation: A Reconsideration Of Conventional Pedagogies, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 11(1), 2014.

ABSTRACT: Elite classical music programs continue to focus teaching in Western Classical traditions where the emphasis is on technical virtuosity in instrumental or vocal performance. In this paper we discuss group activities and assessments used in two Creative Arts disciplines (Performance and Journalism), at an Australian regional university, as examples of subjects which provide ‘real world’ experience in order to promote resilience and tenacity in students. We incorporate narratives collected from students in performance and journalism to illustrate the value of recreating the complex division of labour of real world art practice, famously described by Becker (1982), as part of the musical learning experience. The paper concludes with reflections on how collaborative assessments/teaching activities can be developed to ensure the delivery of resilience and tenacity as a threshold learning outcome in a classical music course.

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Lotte Latukefu, Marcus O’Donnell, Shawn Burns, Janys Hayes, Grant Ellmers and Joanna Stirling, 2013, “Fire in the belly: Building resilience in creative practitioners through experiential, practice-led and authentically designed learning environments,” in Holmes, Jonathan (ed) The CALTN Papers Creative Arts Learning and Teaching Network, Australia, 2013. iBooks.

ABSTRACT This paper presents part of a study carried out in 2011 by researchers in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. The purpose of the project was to customise nationally developed Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLO) for the Bachelor of Creative Arts degree in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong (UOW). The participants in the study included both full and part-time faculty staff from the Performance, Graphic Design and Journalism programs at UOW. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were carried out to determine what each participant understood by the terms Standards and Graduate Qualities in relation to discipline and course specific outcomes. A common theme that emerged during interviews and focus group discussions was the need for graduates of the creative and performing arts to be resilient. A return to the literature on resilience showed a strong congruence between the principles of experiential and practice-based learning which, underlie programs in the Faculty of Creative Arts, and parts of the literature on building resilient professionals. This similarity in key elements in the literature on resilience and the literature on experiential, practice based learning would seem to support the argument of this paper that approaches to teaching described in this paper have potential to produce informed and creative students who will become seasoned, flexible resilient practitioners ready to contribute to their communities.

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O’Donnell, Marcus, Tanner, Stephen, Green, Kerry, Cullen, Trevor, 2013, “Graduate qualities and journalism curriculum renewal: balancing tertiary expectations and industry needs in a changing environment,” International Association of Media and Communication Research Conference, University College Dublin, 25 – 27 June

ABSTRACT: Burns (2003) in an historical overview of journalism education in Australia indicates that the major approaches to journalism education “have changed little and slowly since the introduction of journalism education in Australia…[and] modern research…suggests that there have been few developments in the way journalism is taught.” Although the technological changes in journalism have initiated a series of changes since Burns wrote in 2003 in a more recent survey of global journalism education research Deuze (2007) noted that many of the debates in the literature remain constant. This panel will report on the preliminary findings of an Office of Learning and Teaching funded research project that has been set up to explore and make explicit:
• the assumptions about curriculum that are held by key journalism eductors within Australia;
• the assumptions about curriculum that are held by key members of the media industry who employ our graduates;
• the ways that the exigencies of the wider higher education sector shape these assumptions;
• the ways that the exigencies of rapidly evolving media-change help shape or alter these assumptions; and
•Identification of the key barriers and motivators for curriculum renewal in the journalism education sector and a set of model strategies and exemplars that address these issues.
Understating these issues is particularly important given:  (a) the need for university programs to be able to adapt to the next wave of industrial and technological change; (b) the ongoing debate about graduate qualities and attributes; and (c) the increased focus on the development and measurement of discipline based academic standards flowing from Australian government tertiary education reform. The national project is based on interviews with 50 Australian journalism educators and 50 key editors and journalists. The project looks at the diverse media and communication landscape that currently confront journalism graduates and the need to provide an effective mix of what Anderson, Bell and Shirky (2012) have recently called the “soft” and “hard” skills. Getting this balance right is increasingly important when research suggests (Cullen & Callaghan 2010) that only a third of journalism graduates will take up traditional jobs in mainstream media with a further third pursuing broader communications and media options.



O’Donnell, Marcus, 2007, “Journalism student as reflective practitioner,” National Assessment Roundtable: Assessing student learning: Using interdisciplinary synergies to develop good teaching and assessment practice, Sydney Masonic Centre, September 4, 2007

ABSTRACT: Philosophy of Teaching Statements have been used widely in both undergraduate teacher education programs and tertiary teaching staff development programs. This paper looks at the adoption of the “philosophy statement” model in a new undergraduate journalism program. The Philosophy of Journalism Statement will be used as an ongoing assessment device each semester as a way of engaging students in a rolling reflective process. It aims to enable students to: (a) map their progress over the course of a degree program; (b) develop their identity as reflective practitioners; (c) make connections between different subjects particularly theory/practice links; (d) develop creative ways of communicating their values and experiences as journalists and (e) develop professional goals and aspirations. It forms one of the key planks in an overall model of curriculum development that will be briefly described. This “creative curriculum” emphasises multimodal communication, interdisciplinary skills development, authentic tasks, the construction of knowledge artefacts, and reflection-in-action. This paper will describe the initial deployment of the Philosophy of Journalism Statement and address the development of a framework for assessment. Key questions arising from this project include: How do we assess reflective tasks? How do we assist students to integrate the personal, disciplinary and professional domains in reflective tasks? How do we develop and assess creativity in professional disciplines?

Slides available

O’Donnell, M., 2006, Blogging as pedagogic practice: artefact and ecology, Asia Pacific Media Educator, 17, 5-19.

ABSTRACT Much of the published discussion and research on blogs and teaching and learning in higher education focuses on evaluation of blogging as a communicative technique. This type of discussion largely assumes that successful integration of blogging into course delivery should be judged against a pre-existing and unchallenged pedagogical model. This paper argues that to leverage its full educational potential blogging must be understood not just as an isolated phenomena, but as part of a broad palette of “cybercultural” practices which provide us with both new ways of doing and new ways of thinking. The paper looks at the ways broader theoretical models associated with the development of the blogsphere might challenge or enhance current theories of teaching and learning. Spatial metaphors inherent in network models of blogging will be contrasted with the surface/depth model of student learning. The paper will argue that blogs should not be seen merely as a technological tool for teaching and learning but as a situated practice that must be brought into appropriate alignment with particular pedagogical and disciplinary practices. A model of blogging as a networked approach to learning suggests that blogging might achieve best results across the curriculum not through isolated use in individual units.

Available online


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