Great work! Dr Damian Castanelli graduates from CRADLE

Dr Damian Castanelli has completed his PhD journey with CRADLE and graduated in 2022

Damian’s thesis title is “How can assessment for learning meaningfully contribute to programmatic assessment?” Damian was supervised by CRADLE’s Professor Margaret Bearman and Professor Elizabeth Molloy of the University of Melbourne.

Damian graduated through publication, and we congratulate Damian on his fantastic achievement.

Damian is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University and works as a paediatric anaesthetist at Monash Children’s Hospital. Damian is a full-time clinician with an interest in medical education and research. Damian’s research is focused on training in procedural skills, curriculum development, feedback, and workplace-based assessment.

We asked Damian to describe the focus of his thesis and provide some reflections and highlights of his study experience.

My thesis explored supervisors’ and trainees’ difficulties in implementing ‘assessment for learning’ in postgraduate anaesthesia specialty training. Supervisors found balancing coaching and judging roles challenging and used informal ‘shadow systems’ for decision-making rather than portfolios. Trainee use of assessments for learning was predicated on their trust in supervisors, which depended upon how benevolently supervisors exerted power in the relationship.

I made many connections during my candidature, some of which persisted while others passed. I moved through two doctoral groups as I switched universities, which exposed me to many different students doing many different things and enriched my PhD experience. I enjoyed the PhD student role, which gives you an excuse to read widely and experiment with your views. I have developed so much as a researcher over my PhD journey.

I presented parts of my thesis at multiple conferences, including ANZAHPE and AMEE. I recorded a podcast for Medical Education, which was a new experience for me. I was also honoured to be jointly awarded the AMEE 2023 Doctoral Report Award.


  • Castanelli, D. J., Weller, J. M., Chander, A. R., Molloy, E. K., & Bearman, M. L. (2019). A balancing act: The Supervisor of Training role in anaesthesia education. Anaesthesia Intensive Care, 47(4), 349-356.
  • Castanelli, D. J., Weller, J. M., Molloy, E., & Bearman, M. (2020). Shadow systems in assessment: how supervisors make progress decisions in practice. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 25, 131-147.
  • Castanelli, D. J., Weller, J. M., Molloy, E., & Bearman, M. (2022). How Trainees Come to Trust Supervisors in Workplace-Based Assessment: A Grounded Theory Study. Academic Medicine, 97(5), 704-710.
  • Castanelli, D. J., Weller, J. M., Molloy, E., & Bearman, M. (2022). Trust, power, and learning in workplace-based assessment: the trainee perspective. Medical Education, 56(3), 280–291.

Where to from here?

Since graduating, I have been enjoying not having to meet deadlines so much. I am continuing to collaborate with colleagues on research in workplace-based assessment and feedback. Not to mention attending conferences and working full time of course!

Contact Damian

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