Herdsa 2011

HERDSA 2011 program: Concurrent sessions

Shifting identities: International staff negotiating new academic identities

Valerie Clifford, Juliet Henderson

International staff now form a substantial part of our academic populations (26% UK HESA, 2008) and are making an important contribution to our academic environments, to student learning and to research cultures, yet we pay little attention to them and the changes they may be bringing to our higher education sector. A research project, at a post 1992 university in the UK, sought to bring together international and local staff to create a space to discuss curriculum and pedagogy and to learn from each other. Participants were invited to three ‘dialogue’ meetings followed by individual interviews and a final full-day workshop. The data from the dialogue meetings and interviews contributed little to new ideas of pedagogy and curricula but exemplified how international members of staff came to understand the complexities of their new, foreign educational context and to develop their sense of themselves as academics in their new environment. Many of the international staff identified themselves as ‘local staff with international experience’. They appeared to actively manage a new fluid academic identity, adjusting their responses to ‘fit in’ with their new institutional and disciplinary environment.

The casual approach to university teaching; Time for a rethink?

Robyn May, Kaye Broadbent, Glenda Strachan, David Peetz

The majority of undergraduate teaching at Australian universities is performed by casual, hourly paid, staff. This was not always the case.  The casualisation of academic teaching that has occurred over the last two to three decades underscores a fundamental change in the nature of academic work and the structure of the academic labour market.    At the same time, a sense of crisis is building around shortages for academic staff, with the majority of tenured academics aged over 50 and moving toward retirement.  The traditional academic career path appears to be under reconstruction, and, what might be thought of as the career entry point is concentrated with insecure employment.  For those casual staff seeking an academic career it is unclear how time spent as a casual assists in that search, or whether working as a casual makes the transition to more secure employment more difficult. Women are entering academia in ever greater numbers and whilst on one hand are proffered as the solution to the workforce renewal crisis, on the other hand women are also more likely to be employed on a casual basis. The research forms part of a wider ARC project: Gender and Employment Equity: Strategies for Advancement in Australian Universities. Using new data from the universities superannuation fund Unisuper, obtained as part of this research project, a more thorough analysis of the casual teaching academic workforce is undertaken.

Transferring knowledge through peer-reviewed assessment: The creation of a community of practice and the threats to its survival

Sue Taylor

While it is generally accepted in the learning and teaching literature that assessment is the single biggest influence on how students approach their learning, assessment methods within higher education are generally conservative and inflexible. Constrained by policy and accreditation requirements and the need for the explicit articulation of assessment standards for public accountability purposes, assessment tasks can fail to engage students or reflect the tasks students will face in the world of practice.
Innovative assessment design can simultaneously deliver program objectives and active learning through a knowledge transfer process which increases student participation. This social constructivist view highlights that acquiring an understanding of assessment processes, criteria and standards needs active student participation.
Within this context, a peer-assessed, weekly, assessment task was introduced in the first “serious” accounting subject offered as part of an undergraduate degree. The positive outcomes of this assessment innovation was that student failure rates declined 15%, tutorial participation increased fourfold, tutorial engagement increased six-fold and there was a 100% approval rating for the retention of the assessment task.

In contributing to the core conference theme of “seismic” shifts within higher education, in stark contrast to the positive student response, staff-related issues of assessment conservatism and the necessity of meeting increasing research commitments, threatened the assessment task’s survival.  These opposing forces to change have the potential to weaken the ability of higher education assessment arrangements to adequately serve either a new generation of students or the sector's community stakeholders.

Psychometric analysis of lecturers’ self-efficacy instrument

Jeya Velu, Mohamad Sahari Nordin

The Lecturers’ Self-Efficacy instrument was administered to 106 lecturers in a Teacher Education Institute. About 36.8% of the respondents are male and 63.2% are female. The aim of this study is to test the psychometric properties of Lecturers’ Self-Efficacy instrument (LSE). The LSE with 80 items measures self-efficacy and it uses anchors of ‘not confident at all’ and ‘very confident’ on a 7-point scale. The data derived from a teacher training institution were subjected to Principal Component Analysis with Varimax rotation. The analysis extracted three distinct factors: (1) teaching, (2) research and (3) service. These three factors explained most of the variance (69.39%). The reliability coefficient was determined using Cronbach Alpha that showed the coefficient is .98. The results clearly documented that LSE has adequate convergent validity and discriminant validity as well as high level of construct reliability. Practical implications and direction for future research using the LSE for lecturers are also discussed.


*Please note that this program is indicative only and subject to change. Pre-conference workshops incur additional fees and require registration. If you have already registered to attend the conference and would now like to register to attend pre-conference workshops please download and complete the pre-conference workshop registration form.

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