Herdsa 2010

HERDSA 2010 program: Concurrent session three

The good, the bad and the ugly: Facebook and higher education

Debra Bateman

Deakin University, Australia

The use of Social Networking and Web 2.0 are clearly reshaping the ways in which Higher Education is facilitated and experienced by students. Increasingly, there is a social and cultural expectation that Information Communication Technologies (ICT) should be ubiquitous within peoples’ daily lives. Specifically, through auto-ethnographic methodology, this presentation will showcase the use of Facebook across several units of study. Within these auto-ethnographies are exemplars of collaboration between students, and between students and lecturers. There are also examples which highlight the ways in which the lecturer uses Facebook to inform teaching, and monitor student engagement with ‘real time’ student feedback. Other examples demonstrate the ways in which Facebook is utilised as a mode of representation for student assessment, knowledge production and dissemination. Two examples specifically focus on lecturer responses to student use of Facebook which resulted in infringement of academic conduct. The presenter will draw upon this series of auto-ethnographies to highlight multiple considerations for academia, the institutions in which they work and the development of policy more broadly across Higher Education. This presentation explores the potential capacities, strengths and pitfalls in adopting social technologies. It further highlights the vigilance with which these spaces must be ‘monitored’ in protecting intellectual property, academic integrity and in demonstrating a duty of care for those with whom we interact.

Much ado about the flu: Delivery and evaluation of an e-simulation for a large class

Jane Warland, Colleen Smith and Morgan Smith

University of South Australia, Australia

Online role-play (e-sim) combines the learning experience of role-play with the advantages of the online environment and is recognised as an innovative pedagogy in higher education. This showcase paper will discuss the challenges faced and lessons learnt when conducting and evaluating an online e-simulation for a large class (n=400+) of undergraduate Nursing and Midwifery students. In particular, it will focus on describing the process used and the logistics involved in delivering, assessing and evaluating the e-sim.  The e-sim aimed to provide an experiential learning activity for the students. The e-sim ran for the first time in Oct 2009 and consisted of an asynchronous online discussion (hosted using Moodle) which took place over a period of 10 days. Students played one of a range of key stakeholder nursing and midwifery roles. The learning outcomes were to enable students to demonstrate understanding of the role of the Registered Nurse / Midwife in disease prevention, containment and addressing community concern in the context of a flu pandemic.  After the e-sim two online surveys were administered, one to students the other to staff. Results of these surveys will be given and discussed particularly with reference to what the students learned.  Largely this was a successful enterprise however, in this paper the student evaluation will be outlined and potential pitfalls and logistics involved in conducting an e-sim with a large group of students explored.

The balancing act: How blended learning is enhancing student outcomes in a first year undergraduate program

Sophie Karanicolas, Tracey Winning and Catherine Snelling

The University of Adelaide, Australia

Blended learning, generally considered as the combination of traditional and online teaching methodologies, has experienced dramatic growth in higher education over the past 20 years.  Using this pedagogy, a series of Interactive Online Learning Modules (IOLMs) has been developed in first year Human Biology in the Bachelor of Oral Health at the University of Adelaide. Specific topics, where students have historically struggled to grasp the threshold concepts in a traditional lecture-style format, were selected for this blended learning approach. Up to half of the existing content from PowerPoint lectures is adapted and presented in the IOLMs, then previewed by students several days before the scheduled face-to-face (f2f) session. Lecturers record audio narration in the IOLMs to accompany each slide emphasising key learning issues and clarifying complex terms and concepts. The online format gives students the opportunity to be self-paced, playback and review learning material as needed, and to undertake a series of formative learning assessments known as ‘checkpoints’. Linked to the university LMS, the results of these checkpoints are accessible by teachers, and are used to customise the f2f session to address areas of greatest learning need. Topics in Human Biology where the IOLMs have been implemented have consistently recorded an increase in class average marks in summative assessments over consecutive cohorts. Focus group data indicates high levels of student satisfaction, citing the opportunity to preview complex learning issues and subsequent follow-up in f2f class time, as a major advantage of this blended learning approach.

The blending edge: Reporting on a project exploring blended approaches to teaching and learning

Gordon Suddaby and Lynn Jeffrey

Massey University, New Zealand

Keith Comer

Canterbury University, New Zealand

Andrew Higgins

Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

Mark Laws

Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi, New Zealand

John Milne

Massey University, New Zealand

A showcase premised on the literature review by Arbaugh, Godfrey, Johnson, Pollack, Niendorf & Wresch (2009) suggesting that beneficial blends in the delivery of teaching and learningwill become increasingly important. The showcase introduces a toolkit facilitating student engagement through effective blended approaches to teaching and learning. The toolkit provides mechanisms for teachers to use when selecting blended approaches that best help students engage productively in learning. The toolkit includes strategies minimizing barriers to engagement, enhancing the quality of engaged experiences, and engaging/re-engaging those who have either never engaged or have become disengaged. 
The research, incorporating quantitative and qualitative methods, goes beyond the one-cohort one-unit case study approach typical of current literature in this field by focusing on a cohort of four classes and up to a thousand students in each of four New Zealand tertiary institutions. The study identifies strategies enabling teachers to select the appropriate blended approaches to enhancing learner engagement and achievement for their contexts and incorporates these into planning and teaching including the pedagogies that best help students become fully engaged in the learning process. While agreeing with Garrison and Kanuka’s (2004) view that; “At its simplest, blended learning is the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with on-line learning experiences”, the researchers recognise that this statement hides the complexity of the blended learning construct and the showcase aims to explore this perspective in moving towards a shared understanding of the term within the New Zealand (and Australasian) tertiary context.

Kick-starting curriculum change: A collaborative, university-wide initiative

Sara Hammer

University of Southern Queensland, Australia

The showcase draws on three separate but interrelated discussions: about graduate attributes/skills and the relevance of discipline specificity (e.g. Barrie, 2004; Moore, 2004); descriptions of university-wide processes for embedding graduate attributes (Oliver, Jones & Tucker, 2007) and; discussions about the types of leadership required by those charged with managing curriculum change (e.g. Scott, Coates & Anderson, 2008).  It describes a flexible, collaborative curriculum change initiative that occurred as part of a wider curriculum renewal process at a regional university. The initiative was co-facilitated by an academic developer and faculty leaders. The aim of the initiative was to customise and map graduate attributes/skills across fifteen of its most popular programs. The initiative adopted an action-based learning method of planning, action, observation, reflection and improvement, both because of its collaborative aspect and an anticipated need for future refinement. The aim was to evaluate both the support provided to faculty leaders, and their experience and impressions of this initial customisation and mapping process. Interviews of faculty leaders were thematically analysed from a constructivist perspective, which allows the evaluation to target participants’ individual experiences of the initiative. Interview data affirms the effectiveness of support provided to discipline and program leaders. Participants’ reflections about their experiences highlight the positive impact of specific leadership traits on the success of different stages of the process. These include communication, mentoring, modelling and interpersonal skills.  They also highlight the negative impact of uncertainty about participants’ role as program or discipline leaders and a need for greater coherence between conceptual and administrative components of the initiative.

Reshaping large-class teaching: Enactive coherence and enquiry-based blended learning

Stanley Frielick, Deborah Allen, Jane Morgan, Charles Mpofu and Ross Milne

Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

The paper integrates three strands of research in student learning and describes an emerging approach to the reshaping of large-class teaching. Enactive coherence is a concept developed by Stanley Frielick that provides an enactivist understanding of the student learning research paradigm. The concept is informed by ecological understandings of mind and the emerging sciences of complexity, where approaches to learning are emergent properties of a system of information pathways that shares many characteristics with biological systems. It is related to Biggs’ concept of ‘constructive alignment’ but goes beyond this approach in that coherence is more than linear alignment between learning outcomes, assessment, and content. It is a non-linear kind of alignment that is manifest when a group of people or team function as a whole, or when a lecturer or department develops an ecological understanding of the whole set of relationships that constitute the teaching/learning environment. Enquiry-based learning and blended learning are well-described in the literature but little work has been done on applying these approaches to the problems of large-class teaching. This paper integrates the principles of enquiry-based and blended learning with the enactive understanding of the deep / surface student learning perspective to describe a new approach to large-class teaching.  The paper reports on an initiative at AUT University where large courses have been re-designed along the enactive coherence / enquiry-based blended learning model, and continue to be developed with the use of blogs and wikis to promote reflective practice and enhance student engagement.

Using holes to create bridges: Developing a model of collaboration and creativity between scientists and teacher educators

Christine Howitt and Elaine Blake

Curtin University of Technology, Australia

The higher education sector is notoriously resistant to change, and has limited ability for different disciplines to successfully work together. Yet creativity is spurred when diverse ideas are brought together, or when creative materials from one domain inspire new thinking in another domain. Based upon a highly successful collaboration project between scientists and teacher educators to develop and implement curriculum and resources in a science methods unit for pre-service early childhood teachers, this paper presents a model for interdisciplinary institutional collaboration. The theoretical framework for this model is based in social networks, social capital, structural holes and knowledge brokerage. As opinion and behaviour is more homogeneous within than between groups, people who connect groups are more familiar with alternative ways of thinking and behaving, are more able to translate information across groups, and have more potential for creativity. Such people are called social brokers. The role of the social broker is integral to the model, being pivotal to both collaboration and creativity. The social broker in this project was the Project Manager. Social brokers should possess vision, wisdom, passion, and legitimate authority. Other factors imbedded in the model that contributed to the successful collaboration were selection of partners, having an immersion period where partners can appreciate each others’ perspective, trust between partners, flexibility, and a strong belief in the purpose of the project. Case studies of how each scientist collaborated with the other partners in the project will be presented to highlight certain characteristic of this collaboration.

Leading research in an evolving world: Implications for higher education development, policy and practice

Shelda Debowski

The University of Western Australia, Australia

In recent years the important work of academic leaders has come under the microscope, particularly through the Australian Learning and Teaching Council’s recognition of learning and teaching leadership. The same cannot be said for research leadership, a largely ill-defined and under-recognised sphere of influence in higher education. This paper reports on a recent study that reviewed the leadership experiences of twenty-four research leaders in a research intensive Australian university.  Drawing on their insights, the broad parameters of research leadership success are identified, highlighting breadth of focus that research leaders must emphasise. The feedback from these leaders illustrates the complexity of their role in continuing to operate as highly productive researchers whilst also promoting effective outcomes for a collective group of protégés. Following the delineation of the research leadership role, some possible institutional strategies to support the development of improved research leadership are examined.  

Tensions between expectations of promotion and expectations of Scholarship in Teaching and Learning

Iris Vardi and Robyn Quin

Curtin University of Technology, Australia

The promotions policies of many universities require evidence of “scholarship” in teaching and learning. But how well do expectations of scholarship match with expectations of promotion right through to the professorial level? This showcase presents research findings into the concepts underlying promotion, how these are influenced by industrial agreements, government agendas and university aspirations, and how these translate into institutional expectations for promotion in teaching and learning at each level. It compares the concepts and expectations underlying promotion in teaching and learning to the varying definitions of “scholarship”, identifying the tensions between the two. It further examines how staff have dealt with these differences in their academic career development and their applications for promotions. The implications of these findings on university promotions systems and university definitions of scholarship are explored.

Determinants of satisfaction of teaching-focused appointees in a research-intensive university

Clair Hughes, Mia O’Brien, Deanne Gannaway and Ann Webster-Wright

The University of Queensland, Australia

A trend in universities in many parts of the world is an intensification of their commitment to excellence in learning and teaching through the formal encouragement and reward of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). In line with this trend, in 2007, a research-intensive Australian university established teaching-focused (TF) positions, an initiative that involved adjustments to appointment and promotion policies and the provision of a raft of support mechanisms including the extension of existing grant schemes and SoTL community-building structures. With the backing of the DVC(Academic), the university educational development unit undertook a project to monitor and investigate the outcomes of this initiative as part of its role in supporting and informing institutional policy. A significant finding of the investigation was that the quality of the individual TF experience varied greatly and that the school in which the appointee was located was the most significant demographic determinant of satisfaction with the decision to take up one of the new TF positions. This showcase reports the diverse experiences of academics appointed to newly-established TF positions and discusses the key factors that determined the quality of this experience. In particular, it highlights the importance of developing a shared understanding of policy intentions among school leaders, particularly Heads of School, in order that academics on non-traditional appointments are provided with the working conditions that enable them to carve out successful careers, to contribute to the practice of their colleagues and to deliver the quality of teaching that best promotes student learning.

Sustaining institutional engagement with excellence in learning and teaching

Christine Brown and Rebecca Albury

University of Wollongong, Australia

Questions of succession and sustainability confront all those working to promote teaching and learning excellence.  This presentation showcases the experience of a group of University of Wollongong academics who, as members of the Excellence, Diversity and Innovation Subcommittee of the University Education Committee (EDITS), have used the key committee tasks of assessing internal grant and award applications and revising those processes and accompanying documentation, to develop a community of practice and make connections across disciplines. Some members have taken formal leadership positions and others are respected mentors in their faculties.  Growing institutional trust for the professional reliability of the committee means that the members have a key role to play in sustaining the gains made during the period of the Promoting Excellence Initiative funding.  The standard of grant and award applications has increased, suggesting that applications to ALTC will be competitive, and members are assuming more responsibility for committee activities that occur between meetings, such as reviewing submissions for the Good Practice database.  The authors will reflect on their experience as members of EDITS from the perspective of key actors in the PEI and as academics experienced in the work of faculties and central units to draw out elements of the successes reported above.  In discussion with those attending they will explore the alternative structures in various institutions and consider an array of practices that lead to similar success in promoting excellence and innovation in teaching and learning.

Measuring student engagement: Using ‘flow’ theory to guide question development

Rodney Carr, Pauline Hagel and Phil Hellier

Deakin University, Australia

In December 2009 the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) issued a discussion paper, ‘An Indicator Framework for Higher Education Performance Funding’ with the purpose of contributing to the development of indicators for guiding ‘compact’ negotiations between Australian universities and the government. The discussion paper makes it clear that ‘student experience’ will be an important part of the indicators and discusses the possibility that the Government will develop a new questionnaire to investigate the engagement and satisfaction of students in their first year of study. This paper contributes ideas to assist the development of such an instrument, particularly for the measurement of student engagement. We discuss problems with the predictive validity of existing instruments and argue that predictive validity may be improved by a focus on highly engaging ‘flow-type’ activities. Specifically, we investigate flow activities in the context of online learning. Our findings suggest that some of the current questions from the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) do appear to capture flow activities. We also identify gaps in the AUSSE. Finally, we make recommendations about the inclusion of additional items that capture highly engaging, flow activities for either the AUSSE or the Government’s proposed new instrument.

An investigation of the factor structure of AUSSE student engagement questionnaire

Susie Macfarlane and Ben Richardson

Deakin University, Australia

Student engagement is defined as students’ participation in activities and conditions that are linked with high-quality learning (Carini, Kuh & Klein, 2006). The Australasian Universities Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) assesses student engagement across 35 Australasian universities using the Student Engagement Questionnaire (SEQ), a survey instrument consisting of six subscales or factors (Coates, 2009). While the AUSSE is an increasingly important national teaching quality indicator, evaluation of its factor structure has not been undertaken. The aim of the paper is to present the findings of a factor analysis of the SEQ instrument of the AUSSE. Factor analysis is used to evaluate the fit of the hypothesised six factor structure of the SEQ and its associated measurement properties. This study analyses 2009 SEQ data from 755 Deakin University undergraduate students. A series of factor analyses are to be conducted to evaluate the degree to which the hypothesised six factor structure differs across different student cohorts. This analysis will result in a number of possible outcomes: (1) the structure is confirmed for all cohorts (2) the structure is confirmed but not for all cohorts (3) different structures are found for different groups (4) the factor structure is not confirmed. The implications of the findings for implementing institutional practices to enhance student engagement will be discussed. An understanding of the factor structure and measurement properties of the SEQ will allow Australian universities to gain precise insight into the relationship of their student engagement data to their specific institutional goals.

First pick: Do academically successful students make good team mates?

Richard Tucker

Deakin University, Australia

This paper considers the relationship between students’ academic records, as measured by Weighted Average Marks (WAM), and their peer ratings for contributions to team assignments, as measured by an on-line Self-and-Peer-Assessment (SAPA) tool. The research was conducted in an Architecture and Construction Management context to determine whether a student’s prior academic achievements could be used as a predictor of how well they might work in teams. The research demonstrates a statistically significant relationship between WAMs and SAPA ratings.  This indicate that academically successful students in this study do make good team-mates. However, the study also highlights that peers are assessing abilities in their team-mates other than overall academic ability and individual design ability.

Teaching in student-centred learning environments

Jo Dane

Woods Bagot, Australia

Student-centred learning has become a familiar supposition in contemporary higher education. Teachers who adopt this approach plan for students to be more active and interactive during class, rather than conduct an instructional mode that leaves students predominantly passive in their classroom learning experience. The term can sometimes imply a lesser role for the teacher as they reduce their dominance in the classroom; however the reality is that teachers remain crucially central to the act of learning. The notion of student-centred learning needs to be clarified as an approach to learning that promotes greater student activity, interaction, collaboration and initiative, but as directed and guided by the teacher. Parallel to this pedagogical shift is the emergence of a new generation of learning environments: classrooms purpose-designed to enable student-centred learning. This paper reports on the role of teachers in the Learning Lab at the University of Melbourne, conducted as part of the author’s PhD research. The Learning Lab was designed for a wide range of teaching and learning activities, within an educational framework of collaborative learning in groups of four or eight students. A series of classroom observations and interviews with tutorial teachers were conducted to reveal the positive and negative consequences of teaching in a new generation learning environment. The issues highlighted warrant further consideration when planning to teach in collaborative learning spaces.

Prior academic performance as a predictor of exam performance early in an integrated medical curriculum

Kylie Mansfield, Alistair Lethbridge, Peter McLennan, David Mazzocchi-Jones and Lyndal Parker-Newlyn

University of Wollongong, Australia

While prior academic performance is a good indicator for success in traditional curricula, the factors that predict success in an integrated curriculum have yet to be evaluated. Our aim was to determine if performance in the end-of-year-1 examinations correlated with prior academic performance, similar to a traditional curriculum. The end-of-year-1 exam scores for the first three cohorts (2007-2009) of medical students at the University of Wollongong (205 total) were subjected to a hierarchical multiple regression analysis using SPSS 15.0.  Based on our analysis, age and sex were not significant predictors of academic performance in the end-of-year-1 examinations. The average weighted GPA and average total GAMSAT scores were not significantly different in the three cohorts. When the cohorts were examined individually the contributions of weighted GPA and GAMSAT showed variable importance in relation to end-of-year-1 examination performance. In the 2009 cohort both weighted GPA and GAMSAT were strong predictors of performance while this was not the case in the 2007 cohort. Prior degree had some influence on student performance in the end-of-year-1 examinations for all three cohorts. Students from a biological sciences background displayed much higher performance in end-of-year-1 examinations than students from medical sciences or humanities backgrounds. In conclusion, it is interesting to note that although our curriculum is a multi-disciplinary integrated curriculum, prior academic performance is still a strong indicator of end-of-year-1 examination performance and may become a greater indicator as the admission process matures around a stable selection pool.

“Taking your mob with you”: Applying research to reshape support for Indigenous Australian postgraduate students

Katelyn Barney and Monique Proud

The University of Queensland, Australia

Indigenous Australian postgraduate students experience different barriers from non-Indigenous students in the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study. Barriers include disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, lower personal incomes and a lack of family and other networks supportive of engagement with tertiary and especially postgraduate study (Bin-Sallik, 2000; Coolwell, 1993). While there is a growing literature on Indigenous participation in higher education (e.g., Andersen, Bunda, & Walter, 2008; Devlin, 2009; DiGregrio, Farrington, & Page, 2000; Ellis, 2001; Morgan, 2001), with the exception of a few notable examples (e.g., Day, 2007; The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, 1997, Trudgett, 2009; Weir, 2000), there is little known about the effectiveness of support mechanisms and issues for Indigenous students in the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study.  Undertaken as a collaborative project between a non-Indigenous researcher (Barney) and an Indigenous researcher and Student Support Officer (Proud), this research initiative sought to assess the experiences of current and past Indigenous postgraduate students at The University of Queensland. Drawing on individual interviews with current and past Indigenous postgraduate students, this presentation reports on common themes in students experiences and mechanisms identified to improve the retention and graduation rates of Indigenous postgraduates. By knowing and acting upon the kinds of mechanisms that can assist Indigenous postgraduate students, the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student participation in postgraduate study can be addressed.

Reflective practice as a pathway for promoting student engagement: HIV/AIDS case study results

Shane McIver

Deakin University, Australia

This session considers the potential for reflective practice to promote student engagement among a third year Health Sciences cohort. Research pertaining to student engagement is an emerging area, mostly considering first year student experience (McInnes, James, & Hartley, 2000). Therefore, knowledge gaps exist pertaining to the experiences of third (final) year students. Congruent with the notion of student engagement as a ‘metaconstruct’ (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004), delivery of this Unit enlisted multiple strategies to explore ‘ … mutual listening, reciprocity, and dialogue but conducted in a willingness to change’ (Barnett, 2003:253). Whilst drawing on three key antecedents informing student engagement [i.e. quality of effort (Pace, 1979), involvement (Astin, 1979, 1993), and documenting practices (Gamson, 1991)], one of the principle strategies guiding delivery and assessment was an emphasis on reflective practice (Harris & Bretag, 2003), specifically relating to a Unit which considers the role of the media in relation to the delivery of health information (i.e. fact versus fiction), with the ultimate aim to improve the Unit’s capacity for teaching and learning. As such, it was of interest to examine whether reflective practice has the capacity to increase student engagement and if so, how that might manifest.

Interaction in large undergraduate classes: Herding sheep

Hannah Bartholomew, Barbara Kensington-Miller, Jamie Sneddon and Caroline Yoon

The University of Auckland, New Zealand

An ongoing study of social norms in an undergraduate mathematics course sheds light on the role of questions in lectures. Undergraduate students are generally held to be unwilling or unable to interact in large classes. Moreover, students report that they often do not reach understanding in lectures. The unwritten didactic contract between students and lecturers in the course in this study requires students to listen passively, and the lecturer to deliver the expected content. A theoretical framework of the interrelated roles of social norms, student perceptions and the didactic contract is applied to motivate the structure, style and content of questions asked in lectures. The developed framework is supported by qualitative evidence from student and lecturer interviews and quantitative evidence from a large sample questionnaire.

Re-defining academic teaching practice in terms of research apprenticeship

Ursula McGowan

The University of Adelaide, Australia

In the changing context of higher education, which has seen the growth of online technologies and use of the vast resources of the internet, three challenges to academic teaching and assessment practices are identified: information overload, student diversity and student plagiarism. The current literature in higher education tends to address these issues in isolation from each other. A common thread towards embracing the challenges holistically is highlighted by reviewing the concept of academic integrity and specifically its role within the process of research, in order to focus on the underlying purpose of undergraduate education. By drawing on the Boyer Commission’s 1998 manifesto and examples of evidence-based learning and teaching practices derived from the literature, undergraduate education is re-defined in its entirety in terms of an apprenticeship into the culture and practice of research.

Consistency in the application of a reflective tool designed to facilitate scholarly review and development of curricula

Sheila Scutter and Denise Wood

University of South Australia, Australia

Jenny Sim

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia

This paper addresses the need for an objective and accessible system that assists academics in the quality review of their teaching and curricula. This is achieved via the Quality Review Instrument (QRI), which was trialled in a post-graduate research proposal course. The QRI provides a scaffold that can guide academics in the development and redevelopment of their courses, and facilitates reflection in and on the teaching process by teacher, peers and learners. At the same time, the QRI provides a robust and objective approach to evaluation of teaching for quality assurance. The comprehensive approach to review of teaching described in this paper facilitates a process that leads to the reshaping of academic and institutional practice in ways that can support and enhance the quality of teaching, learning and the student experience. The review template was constructed by the instructor and reviews of the course were completed by the instructor and two independent reviewers. Students completed the Student Evaluation of Teaching instrument (SET) and the Course Evaluation Instrument (CEI). Responses from the SET and the CEI were compared with the results of the QRI. The results demonstrated that the QRI has a high degree of reliability, even when used by reviewers with different backgrounds and different levels of experience. The instructor also rated the course in a very similar way to the two independent reviewers. The strong relationship between the student responses and the reviewers lends validity to the QRI..

What makes for a successful mentoring program for academics?

Amani Bell and Lesley Treleaven

The University of Sydney, Australia

The first four years of a Faculty-based mentoring program for academics has led to many positive outcomes for both mentees and mentors. Our paper briefly outlines the program and provides an analysis of participant feedback drawn from 70 reflective statements. We claim that four factors have ensured the program’s success: facilitated mentee choice of pairing, flexibility of mentoring arrangements, financial support that recognises the time invested in the mentoring and the creation of a mentoring community.

Continuing professional development to improve teaching and learning

Iain Doherty and Mark Barrow

The University of Auckland, New Zealand

The focus of this presentation is a faculty initiative to improve the quality of teaching through providing staff with online continuing professional development modules and an ePortfolio for maintaining formative and summative teaching records (http://www.fmhshub.auckland.ac.nz). The modules and the ePortfolio explicitly reference the faculty’s lucid articulation of the university’s teaching performance expectations for the various academic grades e.g. lecturer, senior lecturer and associate professor. This means that staff can plan their continuing professional development around performance expectations for their current grade and/or the requirements for promotion to a higher academic grade. The transparent connection with career progression should provide staff with an incentive to use the modules and the ePortfolio. We will present data from pre-development needs analysis interviews conducted with academic staff and we will show how the design of the modules and ePortfolio developed as a result of those interviews. We will also present and discuss the results of academic staff evaluations of the pre-release version of the modules. We are interested in evaluating how such an initiative might change the status of teaching in (arguably) the most research-intensive faculty in a research-intensive university. We are also potentially interested in how this initiative impacts on student learning. Delegates will be invited to discuss the sorts of measurable markers that might be used to ascertain whether systemic change has occurred.

The HUB: Building a community of reflective practice

Berni Murphy and Shane McIver

Deakin University, Australia

It is important to note reflective practice is not only beneficial to students, but also to university tutors, lecturers, and course co-ordinators (Clegg, Tan, & Saeidi, 2002; Crow & Smith, 2005; Pedro, 2005; Schon, 1983; Thorpe, 2000). This presentation will report on a project that aims to cultivate and build an ongoing community of academics who choose to explore and develop new approaches to teaching and learning in their relative fields, notably through reflective practice. Academics then provide feedback on their individual efforts and evaluations to a common group (referred to as ‘the HUB’), with the aim to inform future initiatives. The HUB provides a pathway for information sharing, support and ideas-generation. It is hypothesised that staff directly involved in the project will develop a deeper, shared understanding of reflective practice, its processes and impacts. Students are likely to benefit in a range of ways, such as greater authentic engagement and enhanced student experience, deeper rather than surface learning, development of lifelong learning habits, greater engagement in authentic learning contexts within and beyond the classroom, particularly in work-integrated learning (WIL) environments. This presentation will report on the development of this process, six months from its initiation, including discussion of relevant findings. The utility and practicalities of cultivating a community of reflective practice will be discussed, including pertinent information concerning methods of communication within the group, showcasing how such an initiative can address multiple teaching and learning demands in sustainable ways.

Reshaping academic practice with our peers: Experiences of peer review in blended learning environments

Nicola Parker and Jo McKenzie

University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Academic practices have been inevitably reshaped as university teaching has moved towards the use of blended learning environments (BLE). Peer review of teaching (PR) is also becoming more widespread, with peer observation and teaching, or course portfolios being widely used by teachers. Peer review presents particular opportunities and challenges in online and BLEs as they reposition teachers and students in time and place because of both the nature and recording of the interactions taking place. This session showcases some outcomes of a PR project, (ALTC funded), that developed and trialled a framework for peer review in BLEs based on: the promotions criteria; literature review on electronic or BLE, the qualities of scholarly work and the peer observation. Teams across five Australian universities developed, trialled, evaluated and refined a common framework, protocols and resources. A co-productive action research approach was taken with participating academics engaging in reciprocal PR of aspects of their teaching. Case studies of the reviews, institutional case studies and online materials were developed to support formative improvement and ‘reshaping of academic practice’, as well as to enable the use of PR for recognition and reward. Engaging in a process of reflection, formative review and action planning of teaching practice with trusted peers was found to be highly effective and rewarding. A thorough briefing procedure, which included teachers reflecting on the framework criteria before the review was invaluable. The benefit of this type of review in BLE, and adaptation of the resources and materials for different contexts will be discussed as well as implications for university policies and processes.

Hitting the mark: Developing good practice in targeted tutorials

Alice Te Punga Somerville, Jesse Pirini and Meegan Hall

Victorian University of Wellington, New Zealand

Targeted tutorials (small group teaching provided for specific student groups) have been initiated across a range of degree programs at Victoria University of Wellington, generally as an equity-related intervention to meet strategic goals around the retention and achievement of Maori and Pasifika students (Clark, 2006; Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-2015).  This presentation is based on a literature review and five interviews with coordinators and tutors responsible for 12 of the 15 courses that offer these targeted tutorials. Both the literature and interviews suggest that the success of the targeted tutorials depends on a number of factors including, the environment created by the tutors and students, the relevance of the tutorial content, and the tutor’s delivery style, ability to build rapport, provision of pastoral care and setting of high expectations (Airini et al, 2007; Bishop et al, 2002, 2003; Caccioppoli & Cullen, 2006; Hawk et al, 2001; Jones, 1999; Waiti & Hipkins, 2002). When these conditions existed the interviewees reported high Maori and Pasifika student performance. They also identified a range of obstacles, which were reinforced in the literature, that impair the progress of the targeted tutorials, particularly poor tutor selection, student attitude and diversity, access to resources and lack of support from Schools (McKenzie, 2005; May, 2002; Manu’atu, 2000; Reid, 2006). We will suggest that customised training for tutors of targeted tutorials will enable the sharing of existing good practice and support the often isolated tutors. This research is relevant for university teachers or academic developers looking for practical and successful examples of inclusive tutoring and engaging minority and/or Indigenous students.

More than the sum of the parts: Counter-intuitive implications from a collaboration between academic developers and physicists

Katrina Waite, Jenny Pizzica and Les Kirkup

University of Technology Sydney, Australia

This session will present findings from a component of an ALTC project on the development of physics experiments for non-physics majors (NPM’s). The presenters collaborated with a physics discipline specialist, Les Kirkup, to run focus groups on student and demonstrator’s responses to a pilot experiment. In response to feedback from NPM’s on the lack of perceived relevance of physics laboratory work to their course of study, this experiment had been designed to be highly relevant to NPM’s, many of whom studied bio-medical sciences. While the initial academic developer involvement was intended to be of a limited scale, and to help answer specific questions on issues such as ease of set-up, implementation, and student satisfaction, the academic developers offered to broaden the scope of the analysis. From a detailed content analysis of the focus group transcripts, a number of surprising findings emerged, which have important implications for laboratory facilitation, and the professional development of physics laboratory demonstrators. In this presentation we will provide examples of differences in demonstrators' and students' attitudes to enquiry-based physics laboratories, and highlight how demonstrator disciplinary bias, and high levels of disciplinary expertise may subvert the laboratory learning experience for NPM’s. We will also suggest implications for the professional development of physics demonstrators. The findings from this analysis have informed further research on physics laboratory learning, and the role of demonstrators in laboratories.

Do collectivist cultures prepare students for teamwork?

Bernice Kotey

University of New England, Australia

The study investigates differences between Australian and Chinese students on the attributes of teamwork in an entrepreneurship class. Questionnaires on teamwork were administered to students at the end of a semester during which they completed various team projects. Their responses were analysed by Chi-square and Spearman correlation tests. The findings revealed that Chinese students had greater appreciation of teamwork than Australian students, although Chinese students rated lower on the attributes of teamwork compared to Australian students. The findings also indicated that Australian students developed more of the attributes of teamwork the more collaboration required to complete the task while Chinese students gained from teamwork where the contribution from each member was assessed. The implications are that cultural dimensions must be considered in designing and implementing teamwork in cross-cultural classes.


Generic skills: Do capstone courses deliver?

Susan Keller, Caroline Chan and Craig Parker

Deakin University, Australia

Generic skills are increasingly the focus of universities worldwide and are often developed in professional practice courses.  This paper presents qualitative findings from students regarding their perceptions of the generic skills they developed during a capstone course in an Information Systems program.  The study found that the capstone course improved their collaborative team-work, presentation skills and ability to apply skills/knowledge to new situations. The paper also demonstrates that students’ perceptions of generic skills were more closely tied to the discipline than university-wide generic skills. This lends support for generic skills policy/practice to be driven bottom-up rather than top-down.

Measuring graduate attributes

Gery Karantzas, Susie Macfarlane, Greg Tooley and Alex Mussap

Deakin University, Australia

The skills of critical analysis and problem-solving, and understanding the moral and ethical issues associated with one’s profession, are increasingly articulated as the hallmarks of high quality university graduates by the tertiary sector and industry. Despite the emphasis of these graduate attributes by professional bodies and academic institutions, there exists no psychometrically validated measure of graduate attributes. Thus, determining the progress of students in developing these graduate capabilities has been difficult to assess. To fill this gap, the aim of this study was to develop and validate a self-report measure of graduate attributes that could be widely used by higher education institutions to assess the development of graduate attributes in students. Drawing on the descriptions of graduate attributes articulated by Deakin University and other universities, the Graduate Attributes Questionnaire (GAQ) was developed and administered to 184 third year undergraduate students. In this presentation, the development and measurement properties of the GAQ will be outlined and the measure will be discussed with audience members. Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the GAQ revealed that the model of best fit was a reliable two factor solution comprising of the graduate attribute dimensions of critical analysis and professional practice. The two factor GAQ model was of excellent fit to the data. This measure has the potential to be widely used in the higher education sector to reliably measure and track the students’ development of graduate attributes. Furthermore, the measure can be adapted for use by industry to assess the attributes of graduate employees.

An investigation into unit design for developing undergraduate independent learning abilities

Matthew Mitchell, Samar Zutshi and Debbi Weaver

Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Many universities aspire to produce graduates who are independent learners. This paper describes explorations into what independent learning means and how it can be developed in practice within the typical resources of a standard undergraduate unit. The paper proposes techniques for advancing students along the path to independent learning and describes how these techniques have been applied in practice, including pragmatic observations on the techniques. Given the absence of clear methods for assessing independent learning, qualitative focus groups were conducted based around questions related to student perceptions of their learning and experience. These perceptions are being explored in an ongoing research investigation into a hybrid content-based/project-based final year undergraduate unit, designed to improve the development of students' independent learning. Some initial evaluation outcomes are presented and discussed, along with lessons learned in relation to conducting the focus groups. One interesting finding is that students were positive about their learning experience despite the unfamiliar class structure and their recognition of challenging material and strict marking. We conclude by describing how we are approaching our on-going investigation along with some possibilities for future research.