Herdsa 2011

HERDSA 2011 program: Concurrent sessions

Evaluating a doctoral skills programme longitudinally

Ian Brailsford, Susan Carter, Stephanie Cook, Frances Kelly, Li Wang

Evaluating the effectiveness of academic development in terms of impact on student experiences and outcomes can be difficult, as outlined in Stefani (2010). This presentation focuses on one attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of a programme for doctoral candidates taught collaboratively by academic developers, librarians and career advisors: the Doctoral Skills Programme (DSP), launched at the University of Auckland in 2007. The DSP has three components: a compulsory Induction Day, a series of core workshops, and additional workshops deemed relevant to some candidates at different phases. Although student evaluations of individual workshops are regularly conducted, there are no data on the overall usefulness of the programme, for instance, whether doctoral candidates perceive the Induction Day or other DSP workshops as having contributed to their doctoral success. Surveying longitudinally seemed crucial for an overview of the overall value of the programme and so a project team was established. This presentation summarises the results of an anonymous survey questionnaire conducted in November 2010 and an analysis of enrolment patterns 2007-2010. Results from this study will be used to inform the future direction of the programme.


A vertically-integrated approach to assessment in the BSc Biomedical Science major

Kay Colthorpe

The newly implemented curriculum for the BSc at UQ is aimed at providing an integrated, inter-disciplinary approach to undergraduate science education. It has involved a redefinition of the majors, a reduction in their number, and a more clearly defined path for the students. In the Biomedical Science major, consideration was given to desirable attributes and skills of graduates of the major, and how each course within it would contribute to their development through activities and assessment. It was considered important that as the students progressed, learning activities and assessment tasks should increase in complexity and standard but should also provide a coherent experience for the student. While the issue of designing learning activities to meet these requirements has been dealt with quite extensively, dealing with the issue of assessment has been more difficult. This showcase reports on a project to map linkages within assessment in the Biomedical Science major, focussing on identifying common themes in the assessment task descriptions and criteria that related to specific skills. Pathways through the course offerings within the Biomedical Science major were identified, and the corresponding assessment tasks were examined for evidence of vertical integration. Preliminary results have shown examples of progressive, vertically integrated assessment currently exist. However, areas were also identified where linkages exist but have not been capitalised upon. As student numbers in undergraduate Science courses increase and the learning objectives of these courses progressively move toward considerations of graduate attributes, there is a need to develop a cohesive, integrated approach to assessment.


Redefining assessment practices in higher education

Geoffrey Crisp

Boud (2007) recently proposed reframing assessment as if learning was its primary purpose; students should be provided with opportunities to make judgements about their own learning and to use those judgements to enable future learning. Knight (2007) introduced the concept of assessing “wicked” competences; competencies that are difficult to measure in a quantitative manner and associated with “soft skills” such as emotional intelligence, group work, listening and assimilating, oral communication, professional subject knowledge, relating to clients, self-management and acting on diagnoses. This paper proposes defining and incorporating the term integrative assessment to specifically describe tasks whose primary purpose is to influence students’ approaches to future learning by defining and tracking strategies that students use to assess their own learning and problem solving abilities, the quality and standards of their responses and how they plan to adapt their learning approaches to future learning opportunities.


Applying theory to practice in an undergraduate public health course

Jon Edwards, Ruth Crowther

Herrington & Herrington (2006) argue that for “authentic learning” to take place, a physical environment is required in which to apply subject knowledge. Teaching staff undertook an initiative to afford such an opportunity. The initiative was based on using “The Island” (www.maths.uq.edu.au/island), a non-immersive self-contained environment populated by virtual humans developed as an educational tool for teaching and learning statistics in large classes (Bulmer & Engstrom, 2005, Bulmer, 2010). The students undertook the compulsory summative assessment task of developing a costed plan for an upgrade to the Island’s health system. Three, one-hour tutorial sessions were allocated in the course timetable. The students, working in groups, visited The Island where they were to undertake a lifecycle of activities relevant to both the subject matter and its real world application, i.e. assessment of health care needs, prioritisation of public health goals and implementation and evaluation of health intervention programs. This involved undertaking specific tasks contained in a student workbook, e.g. an assessment of the Island’s healthcare workforce. There were positive changes in student perception on a five-point scale, with a positive variation in mean values ranging from 0.05 to 0.55. An additional assessment item increased the possibility for students to demonstrate graduate attributes. Course learning objectives guided the development of survey items which were also related directly to the Health Services Planning and Evaluation Lifecycle. Course grades were, on average, higher than both semester and cumulative grade point averages, with individual variances spread across the range of levels of student performance.


Interactive scenario-based learning on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for first year students in physiology using a smart phone delivery platform

Hardy Ernst, John Harrison

This showcase presents evidence that a new smartphone interface that allows access to existing scenario-based learning activities on the SBLi™ platform (www.sblinteractive.org) promotes deep learning through consolidated understanding and application of physiology, anatomy and pharmacology. The evaluated scenario-based learning activity is on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for second year students in physiology. Comparison of YOY summative assessment results for assessment tasks based on this COPD scenario (computer-based in 2010, smartphone-based in 2011), and comparison of  2011 assessment results between the smartphone-based cohort and the computer-based cohort allow evaluation of the efficacy of this new scenario-based interactive touch screen application on learning. The significance of this project lay in the attempt to create an interactive mobile learning interface that allows the learner to approach a clinical scenario via multiple decision making pathways. The learner is not forced to follow a single, predetermined pathway; the interface will allow individual decisions, and present the learner with the consequences of their actions. Thus, it was intended to create a mobile learning environment that is interactive rather than a static learning resource that can be carried around.


Getting real: How Māori academics are making academic development work for them

Meegan Hall

Existing research suggests that Māori academics continue to face challenges and carry obligations in addition to those of their non-Māori colleagues and that the New Zealand university environment may not be meeting the needs of its Māori academics. This project sought to investigate the experiences, aspirations and academic development needs of Māori academics at New Zealand universities. The ultimate purpose was to use their ‘reality’ to inform academic development practices that promote Māori academic achievement, in ways that are both culturally and professionally appropriate. The project took an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach because of its focus on trying to make sense of life experiences and because of its complementarity with kaupapa Māori (Māori ways of doing, being, and thinking). The emergent and super-ordinate themes resulting from three interview-based case studies will be presented. The Māori academics’ experiences and needs that emerged from the interviews showed that a generic, narrowly defined approach to academic development does not serve them well. Instead, this project suggests a more holistic approach, which factors in not only the broad range of academic functions and expectations but is also cognisant of Māori cultural imperatives and drivers. This project highlighted key challenges for Māori academics who want to advance their careers while maintaining identities that have both cultural integrity and are academically meaningful. This suggests that the viability and effectiveness of Māori academic development programmes is dependent on their ability to resonate with, support and extend Māori academic identities. Ultimately, this project advocates better matching of academic development to the specific contexts of individuals or groups.


Developing novice learners' critical thinking skills in two politics units

Sara Hammer, Phil Griffiths

Critical thinking is a defining feature of university education. Yet the literature emphasises a continued lack of conceptual clarity about how it is defined in different disciplinary contexts and how best to teach it. With universities on the brink of an era of widening participation our capacity to teach critical thinking may be further tested. The presentation describes a curriculum and assessment initiative that took place within one first year and one second year politics unit within the business faculty of an Australian university. Existing unit curricula and assessment were re-designed to develop students’ capacity for ‘proposition-testing’ as a component of essay research. Proposition testing develops students’ critical reading and research skills by asking them to focus on the validity of premises and the relationship between premises and conclusions. The study used a grounded approach: identifying themes and deriving propositions from qualitative data. Second year student results across a range of grades showed improvement against criteria related to critical evaluation, whilst results for the first year unit indicated a more modest improvement, mainly for students attaining lower level grades. Overall, our initial findings suggest that although the majority of students from both units were disciplinary novices, the proposition-testing method was more successful for students in the second year politics unit than for first year students. This showcase will explore some possible explanations for this, including cohort characteristics and overall curriculum design. It will also critically examine the usefulness of the, commonly used, ‘structured argument’ approach to teaching critical thinking as a component of essay writing.


Mentoring engagement in LAMP: An embedded peer mentoring program for international students

Ruth Hills, Michelle Barker, Peter Woods, Ray Hibbins, Arthur Poropat, Sally Borbasi

Within higher education, peer mentoring has assisted international students’ difficulties with social integration and English. Mentoring engagement is hypothesised as a working alliance between mentor and mentee, incorporating mentoring effectiveness (Muckert, 2002) and contact degree. Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) was conceptualised as an explanation for mentoring engagement within cross-cultural mentoring pairs. An embedded cross-cultural peer mentoring program, the Local Aussie Mentor Project (LAMP), involved mentoring international students. (Hills et al, 2010).Pre- and post-data was collected from 140 mentors, 89 mentees and 67 controls, including cross-ethnic friendships, English fluency, degree of mentoring contact, mentoring importance and effectiveness, and plans to continue meeting.  Qualitative items probed benefits and failures of LAMP. Feedback was also obtained from teaching staff. Mentoring engagement showed hypothesised relationships. Other analyses included correlations, ANOVA, chi-squared, and regression. Evidence of success is shown through comments from mentors, mentees and teachers, degree of mentoring contact, and increased time mentees spent with intercultural friends.

Social identification appeared to facilitate greater mentoring engagement for gender, and international student status, and sharing English as a second language. Mentors born in Australia and those speaking English as a first language had poor mentoring engagement.

Mentees with higher English fluency also attributed greater importance to mentoring measures and rated their mentors as more effective. Outcomes suggest the value of embedding peer mentoring for mentors and for mentees. Mentoring engagement shows promise both theoretically and empirically. Given that social identity may influence mentoring engagement, intercultural skills training may enhance engagement between cross-cultural pairs.


Integrating peer-assisted learning and case-based learning in a professional course

Yvonne Hodgson, Charlotte Brack, Robyn Benson

Peer assisted learning (PAL), where peers teach, learn and construct knowledge from each other, is conceptually supported by social constructivist ideas.  In PAL students test their ideas, assimilate the ideas of others, and build a deeper understanding of what they are learning.  Case-based learning (CBL) requires the learner to grapple with an ‘authentic’ task and is often used in professional courses to provide virtual real life experiences for students. Integrating PAL and CBL offers the potential of combining the benefits of these two approaches to learning. This initiative integrated PAL with CBL for a series of weekly case studies in a second year Biology unit.  A questionnaire was administered to students at the completion of the program and qualitative data was collected from weekly debriefing sessions. Evidence from the study indicated that students enjoyed the PAL/CBL program and learned more deeply because they had to teach their peers.  The inclusion of peer and self assessment as part of the PAL/CBL program had a profound positive effect on the attitudes of the students towards their group work and their interactions as audience members.  Students had a greater sense of involvement and responsibility, listened more attentively during their peers’ tutorials and were more conscientious in contributing to the group. Dominant themes which emerged from the qualitative data showed that students appreciated the opportunity i) to teach to and learn from their peers and ii) to be creative in the design of learning experiences for their peers.


Characteristics of assessment tasks that provide opportunities for student demonstrations of achievement of discipline benchmarking statements

Clair Hughes, Anne Bennison

Projects in many parts of the world have developed descriptions of common frameworks such as subject benchmarking statements that provide points of reference for curriculum design and facilitate comparisons of student outcomes across educational contexts (e.g. Tuning Project 2004: The UK QAA: Lumina Foundation 2009). Similar projects in Australia include the ALTC Learning and Teaching Academic Standards project (ALTC 2010) and an earlier project that produced a set of archaeology benchmarking statements (Beck and Clarke 2008). Take up of the archaeology benchmarking statements by The University of Queensland involved incorporation into informational material developed for students, curriculum mapping, student surveys and course revision. This paper addresses one specific aspect of an evaluation study undertaken to determine implementation effectiveness and to inform future planning. It provides an analysis of assessment tasks nominated by course coordinators as most likely to provide students with opportunities to demonstrate the benchmarking statements and also reports student perceptions of the benchmarking statements demonstrated with reference to completed work they had brought to interview. Task characteristics were analysed using a grid based on an Assessment Task Design (ATD) framework (Hughes 2009) which incorporated task elements such as purpose, text type, medium and audience. The ‘signature assessments’ (Bond 2007) of this discipline were found to provide rich opportunities for students to demonstrate benchmarking statements and, in identifying characteristics that contributed to their effectiveness, the study supports applications beyond the discipline (archaeology) and country (Australia) in which it was undertaken.


Enabling distributed leadership for learning and teaching: The Self Enabling Reflective Tool (ASERT)

Sandra Jones, Marina Harvey, Geraldine Lefoe, Kevin Ryland, Annette Schneider

The challenges facing Higher Education (HE) require a distinct leadership approach that recognises both change required to meet the demands of complex, ambiguous environments and the diversity of disciplinary approaches that contribute to a university (Becher 1987, 1989).  While multiple theories abound about leadership outside HE, it is claimed that academic leadership is different as it exists in a highly specialised and professional, non hierarchical environment.  This has led to much discussion about what constitutes leadership in Higher Education and how to build systematic, multi-facetted collaborative leadership capacity (Marshal 2006).  This session will introduce an Action Self Enabling Reflective Tool (ASERT) that has been developed from the experience of four institutions in projects funded by the ALTC to built leadership capacity in learning and teaching using a distributed leadership approach.  This empirical experience has been combined with the literature upon distributed leadership that is emerging from the UK and USA to develop a useful tool for further development.  The ASERT is a holistic tool includes both a Self Evaluative grid and Self Reflective prompts to assist Institutions to build upon and develop leadership capacity through distributed leadership across the university.  The session will be facilitated by the ALTC Project leader and designed as an interactive opportunity to explore the applicability of the ASERT in assisting HE Institutions to use a distributed leadership approach to build leadership capacity.


Does relocating to university have adverse health effects for country kids?

Sharron King, Robyne Garrett, Alison Wrench

The shift from school to university is a significant transition for young people that to date is under-researched and theorised. Little is known about the impact of this transition on student’s physical and mental health and well-being, particularly for rural and regional students.  Recent research has shown increasing trends in poor health behaviour and heightened psychological distress amongst university students in comparison to people of the same age in the workforce.  A recent pilot study at a large Australian university of first year student’s health and well-being has shown that students who relocated to attend university experienced significant and negative changes to their physical and mental well-being. These relocating students had less healthy diets, eating more takeaway meals as opportunities to cook for themselves were reduced.  They also exercised less than previously and engaged more readily in risky behaviours such as increased alcohol consumption and smoking.  In addition, the relocating students were more likely to report a decline in their mental health than students who did not have to relocate. The main issues identified for these students were loneliness and increased stress and anxiety.  Independent living has been shown to negatively impact the health behaviour of young adults and for rural and regional students it appears that the loss of social support from friends and family, together with often inadequate financial support, exacerbates the difficulties of transitioning to university. Given that well-being is important for learning challenges exist for the university sector to better support students through this transition process.


Showcasing Teaching Excellence: What can we learn from top commerce teachers?

Vicky Mabin, James Richard, Heike Schaenzel, Marina Dobrovolskaya

A problem we share with universities worldwide is that very few of our lecturers have been trained as teachers (Banta, 2008).  Bain (2004), Ramsden (2003) and Angelo & Cross (1993) provide pointers and examples for improving teaching practice, and a good proportion of our colleagues have taken part in HE certificate programmes and short courses, but there are many who have not done so, often due to time pressures. Teachers are increasingly looking to readily-available web-based resources, such as YouTube, for knowledge and inspiration. While there are many memorable examples for science and geography teachers, there is little that directly relates to business/commerce subjects. 

So where could we find useful examples? As it happens, in our faculty, we are fortunate to have many talented teachers as demonstrated by excellent student evaluations. This project was set up to find out what these teachers did that makes their teaching so good.  In particular, what explicit actions/techniques as well as what implicit values and attitudes led to such high student evaluations.  This showcase will present the outputs and dissemination strategies include: a web-based resource addressing common issues raised by staff, such as teaching large classes, teaching theory, teamwork, and how to improve students’ reading and writing  (each is printable as a 2-page leaflet);  video clips from actual classroom interactions; and links to useful references, resources, documents and materials. 


PASS provides holistic support through pro-active personal tutoring, pastoral safety net and mentoring for success

Susan Robbins

There is persuasive evidence that building working relationships between academics and students is fundamental for students developing a sense of belonging at their university.  A key way to bring staff and students together is through personal tutoring.  PASS, the Personal and Academic Support System in Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes, uses pro-active personal tutoring as part of an integrated support model.  Tutees are allocated to Personal Tutors strictly in line with staff academic disciplines, making relationship building easier as staff and students have common academic interests.  Tutors hold group tutorials with their first year tutees 4-5 times each semester, delivering academic study and scientific writing skills training to new students, facilitating the academic transition from learning in school to more advanced study at university. 

Improved contact between staff and students gives students confidence to approach staff with non-academic problems that affect their ability to study.  Underpinning PASS tutorials is a pastoral safety net, PASS Referral, where a trained academic acts as a triage, working with students to determine a way forward, providing a link to Student Services and referral to counselling where appropriate. 

PASS Intervention provides individual mentoring for students who performed particularly badly in their first semester.  They are interviewed to determine reasons behind poor performance and supported throughout their second semester through monthly mentoring sessions.  PASS Intervention has been particularly effective in turning around disengaged students.  Individual cases of student success will be described in the presentation.

An improvement in student retention of 9% is being maintained.


Making ALTC’s Learning and Teaching Academic Standards work for the discipline of biochemistry

Susan Rowland, Eileen Yeo Chung, Christopher Smith, Elizabeth Gillam

The ALTC’s Learning and Teaching Academic Standards (LTAS) Project released a draft Science Standards Statement Consultation Paper (SSSCP) (LTAS, 2010) proposing four primary Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLOs) for science bachelor’s degree graduates. TLO 1 encompasses “Ways of Scientific Thinking” and TLO 1.2 indicates that students should be able to demonstrate “knowledge of the principles and concepts underlying at least one disciplinary area”. Now clear definitions for these key principles and concepts for each discipline and methods for making them explicit in the curriculum are required.

Our project aims to define the key concepts in biochemistry and develop mechanisms to integrate them into introductory undergraduate biochemistry curricula. The project was prompted by content-overload problems we encountered in teaching generalist undergraduate biochemistry to a mixed-interest second-year cohort at the University of Queensland. The mass of new data emanating from “’omics” research means we can no longer “teach everything”. Instead, we now aim to build a big picture for our students by presenting content using a framework of big ideas, and explicitly assessing students’ comprehension of phenomena in terms of these big ideas. Our biochemistry project is a case study in how to define LTAS TLO 1.2 in functional, usable terms, for a discipline.

TLO usefulness is not guaranteed – indeed, attempts to reform curricula around generic graduate attributes have suffered from patchy uptake (Drummond, 1998), and there is a real danger that generic TLOs can become “motherhood statements” that are too generic to support action. This project helps draw a roadmap for how the LTAS TLO 1.2 can be defined for a discipline and put into practice during lesson design, in the classroom, and during assessment.


Undergraduate awareness, experiences and perceptions of research in a southern New Zealand university

Rachel Spronken-Smith, Martine Darrou, Romain Mirosa

New Zealand has unique legislation that requires teaching and research to be closely interdependent, as well as the promotion of a research culture for undergraduates. But how are New Zealand universities delivering on this imperative?  Are undergraduates experiencing a research culture within university? This study used a survey to explore undergraduate’s awareness, experiences and perceptions of research at the University of Otago – a research-intensive institution. The survey was administered online to 4482 undergraduate and honours students in 2009, with a response rate of 28.5%.  Data were analysed through descriptive statistics and coding of freeform comments, using an inductive approach. Survey results for final year students at Otago showed that undergraduate awareness, experiences and perceptions of research compared very favourably to UK and Canadian research intensive universities, and indeed Otago students reported higher ratings for some measures. When comparing responses across the cohorts, it was clear there was increased awareness and experience of research as students’ progressed through years of study. Although encouraged by the results, there is much room for improvement. First year students have a much lower level of awareness of the research culture, and few opportunities to engage in research. Current initiatives (a Special Interest Group, summer research studentships and an Undergraduate Research Colloquium) are underway to raise the profile of undergraduate research and inquiry, and it is hoped that surveys in future years will demonstrate an improvement in student realisation of the research culture within which they study.


Challenges of a collaborative writing assessment

Theda Thomas

Collaborative writing helps students to develop their reading and writing strategies while also allowing them to learn how to evaluate and edit the work of others.  Writing as a team is not easy and students report on free riders, students taking over the project and writing for everyone or each of the students writing a piece of the task and then putting it together at the end with little collaboration taking place.   This showcase explores the students’ perceptions and experiences of writing collaboratively in diverse teams.  The team process used for the assessment was scaffolded in a number of ways to help the students understand how to function well as a team.  The lecturer borrowed ideas from team-based learning and allowed time in class for teams to meet.  Qualitative data was collected through the semester using student feedback and reflections.  The results were mixed. Nineteen of the twenty students (who filled in that particular question) thought that it was a good idea to have them undertake their reading and preparation at home in order to have time to work on the team assignment in class.  Students said that the team-building exercises were helpful in making them feel like a team and in getting to know one another.  The students’ advice to future students was particularly insightful.  The Showcase will open the forum up to discussion as to how the issues identified by some of the students could be overcome.


Peer Mentoring for indigenous staff at the University of Auckland

Matiu Tai Ratima, Barbara Kensington-Miller

Although peer mentoring is a relatively recent term, there is a significant and growing body of literature which refers to this less tradition and non-hierarchial model of mentoring. Very little has been written about how indigenous peoples might benefit from participating in programmes based on the peer mentoring concept. Literature in Māori education offers some promising theoretical associations with concepts such as tuakana/teina (older sibling younger sibling mentoring). This paper reports on a pilot peer mentoring initiative run for 3 months with a cohort of Māori academic and general staff at the University of Auckland. The programme objective was to use a peer mentoring model to help staff plan, set goals and work towards achieving them. A cornerstone of our methodology was to run the programme in accordance with tikanga Māori (Māori customs) and this required facilitators with Māori cultural knowledge. We learnt three valuable lessons: first, all facilitators need a basic grounding in Māori cultural knowledge in order to function effectively; second, Māori respond positively to opportunities for development mediated by their own culture and language; third, a more effective criteria for the selection of peer mentors may be the compatibility of goals rather than having some demographic commonality.


International students’ expectations and experiences over one semester of English language enhancement

Ian Walkinshaw, Ben Fenton-Smith, Rowan Michael, Pamela Humphries, Michael Haugh, Ana Lobo

This presentation will provide a descriptive outline of the Griffith English Language Enhancement Strategy (GELES), which was developed by Griffith University in response to the Good Practice Principles propounded by DEEWR to address the language concerns of international students in Australian tertiary institutions. GELES comprises five strands.  Four of these are optional: UniPrep (a three-week university preparation course); English HELP (offering students academic and English language support); Student Linx (a social activity resource); and IELTS4Grads (discounted IELTS testing for graduating students).  The fifth strand is the English Language Enhancement Courses (ELEC) program for undergraduate students in four faculties: Business and Commerce; Arts and Social Sciences; Health; and Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology.  ELEC courses are credit-bearing courses lasting one semester and are highly tailored to each discipline.  They are compulsory for international students (given certain criteria). Evaluation of international students’ expectations and experiences of GELES was conducted through the collection of focus-group data at three points during the semester and through analysis of Griffith University’s Student Evaluation of Courses (SEC) data.  This research is focused on four main themes:

  1. The challenges international students encountered in language learning and use at university and how they overcame them;
  2. Students’ perceptions as to their own responsibility and that of the institution with regard to language enhancement and ongoing proficiency development during their degree program;
  3. Students’ opinions about the effectiveness of ELEC and which components required modification;
  4. Students’ impressions of the effectiveness of the GELES resources.

Implementing a mentoring programme in a New Zealand polytechnic environment

Janet Walke, Lesley Petersen

The implications of mentoring as a professional development mechanism to support the academic practices of teachers informed a pilot study funded by Ako Aotearoa, the New Zealand Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence at the Universal College of Learning (UCOL), Palmerston North, a New Zealand polytechnic. The study involved implementing a formal mentoring programme positioned within a six step model which encompassed mentor and mentee selection, mentoring training, establishment of the mentoring partnership, mentor and mentee communities of practice, evaluation of mentoring effectiveness and a process for celebrating success. Twenty-six teachers representative of a cross-section of gender, age and teaching disciplines across the three separate UCOL campuses engaged in dyad mentoring partnerships over a period of six months. At the conclusion of the programme, summative interviews were conducted with the individual participants resulting in several key findings such as the integration of community of practice meetings as a support mechanism for mentoring participants. Changes in learner-centred teaching approaches, increased reflective practice and the development of a leadership capability framework for UCOL indicated that mentoring is a practice that supports teacher professional development. The findings have highlighted how the six step model helped to determine essential programme components and provided a framework in which to situate mentoring as an organisational support mechanism for teachers. In this presentation, the model will be described, providing the audience with an opportunity to consider how they could contextualise the model in their own institution, with a specific focus on the implementation of an institute-wide mentoring programme.


Student experiences of critical thinking development

Rob Wass, Tony Harland

Despite critical thinking being an avowed aim of higher education, we currently have little understanding of how higher education experiences contribute to critical thinking development in students. This showcase reports on a longitudinal qualitative research project of how undergraduate Zoology students changed as learners over their three-year degree. We were particularly interested in; how students developed critical thinking, how this was socially constructed and what the implications are for teaching practice. The students involved in this study reported an enhanced ability to think critically as they developed the ability to evaluate research literature, design their own research projects, and question their own assumptions and those of others. The data emphasises how important formal and informal interactions with peers and teaching staff are in this development. Students noted that relationships changed over time as they felt they became more valued by both other students and their teachers. As students became comfortable with the curriculum content, they grew in confidence (which was reflected in their written and oral ability). When students interacted with staff and peers in later years, they reported a change in their ideas about knowledge. Knowledge was no longer seen as an absolute, but rather contestable and uncertain. We argue that for critical thinking development to occur, teachers should not lose sight of the importance of the social context in which this development takes place. A genuine, deep understanding of student development, and how students change as learners, can inform the choices that teachers make in their courses.


Authentic Assessment: a Framework for Contrasting Assessment Performance Requirements with Engineering Practice

Karen Whelan

Creating authentic assessment tasks suggests the need to design opportunities for learners to undertake tasks that are similar in nature to those that are part of professional work (James, McInnis and Devlin, 2002). Building from the assessment design framework developed by Hughes (2009), this paper present a framework for comparison between the assessment task design in engineering courses and the practice of professional engineers. Trevelyan (2010) has suggested that “social interactions lie at the core of engineering practice” but the question of whether the successful achievement of these practices is required by current assessment practices is unclear. By analysing assessment tasks and professional practices according to the roles and responsibilities required of learners and professionals, the modes and media of communication and the criteria for grading and critical success factors for practice, assessment task design can be refined to ensure that authenticity can be achieved.



*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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