Academic archetypes: understanding the experience of being an academic in Australian universities

About the project

Academics need ongoing opportunities to develop and improve their practice as teachers. For professional learning opportunities to be effective, they need to be designed and delivered to meet the needs of the academics they are seeking to support. Poorly designed resources, services or programs often result in frustration or – worse – reluctance to engage in any professional learning. It is impossible to design a resource or service that will meet the needs of everyone, but basing design decisions on the needs of segments of user groups as described in behavioural archetypes can support successful product development and increase the chances of success.

This project aims to explore the experience of being an academic in Australian universities, with a particular emphasis on teaching and learning. Through a qualitative, semi-structured interview style, using thematic analysis and tools and methods from user experience, the project will establish the first empirically derived archetypes of academics working in Australian universities. The archetypes will draw on aspects of user experience personas and behavioural archetypes, and will describe different ‘types’ of academics at Australian universities with a particular focus on their professional learning, and their teaching and learning support needs.

These archetypes will help academic development units in Australia’s universities to determine priorities and goals without bias or assumptions. The archetypes can be used to inform the design and delivery of resources, products and services that support academics in their teaching practice and provide professional learning opportunities related to learning and teaching. They will support user centred academic development design by facilitating a deeper understanding of and empathy for the user. All of these factors can contribute to a better experience for academics in their professional learning and increase the usability of services and products offered by academic developers. In turn, this has the potential to impact on quality learning and teaching in universities.


We’re looking for casual, part-time, and full-time academic staff from Australian universities to participate in an interview about your experience of being an academic.

For more information about what participation entails, download the plain language statement and consent form.

If you would like to participate, please contact Dr Kate Davis via email.

This study has received Deakin University ethics approval, reference number: HAE-20-132.

Project team

  • Professor Helen Partridge (Deakin University)
  • Dr Kate Davis (University of Southern Queensland)
  • Dr Christine Yates (Deakin University)


Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching ($10,000)


Data collection taking place from November 2020 til July 2021