Using Cultural Capital to Drive Change

The University of Sydney, Australia

Manjula SHARMA
The University of Sydney, Australia

The University of Sydney, Australia


As part of an Australian National Teaching Fellowship focused on surveying and improving the quality of undergraduate lectures in science, several initiatives were enacted. The objectives of the Fellowship included identifying good practices and fostering partnerships amongst academics to share them, developing strategies to enlist hesitant academics who are open to change, and supporting policy efforts through advocacy within the local institutions. The initiatives enacted to achieve these objectives included; The observation and characterization of undergraduate lectures to paint a picture of pedagogical approaches utilized across the nation in science courses; the local implementation of a 'Peer Review of Teaching' program to create a culture of discussion around teaching; and an ambitious, collaborative effort to measure student outcomes in a range of undergraduate chemistry and physics lectures across the nation using existing concept inventories/surveys.

The broad results from this project indicate that innovative, evidence-based and technologically robust practices are occurring in the majority of first year science lectures, however, lecturers reveal that there are obstacles to conducting evaluations of these programs -for various reasons -and in getting colleagues on board. Lecture strategies such as clickers, the use of iPads or lap tops, adaptations of the flipped lecture approach, mastery learning approaches and blended learning environments for lectures are amongst some of the approaches used. Evaluation, and subsequent communication and dissemination of successful practices are vital if local success is to be converted into widespread improvements in lectures. Details of a model of how this might occur will be discussed.

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