Teaching and Learning Forum 2012 Home Page

Creating an inclusive learning environment: Engagement, equity, and retention

Proceedings: All presentation abstracts

Presentations are listed in alpha order by first author. Readers are invited to select window width, font and font size to suit their personal preferences for screen reading comfort. For environmental sustainability purposes, we endeavour to make screen only reading as attractive as we can.


The challenge of introducing authentic assessment for engineering students

Bashir Samsam Shariat
The University of Western Australia
Email: bashirs@mech.uwa.edu.au

In order to familiarise the students with mechanical design in real-life engineering practices, a project-based assignment was designed in one of the core units of mechanical engineering. The students were supposed to design the drive shaft of an inclined belt conveyor in groups of 3 to 5. To do that, they needed to acquire relevant data from external resources, i.e. the suppliers of belt conveyor components. They were required to make appropriate decisions about defining unknown parameters and selecting proper accessories. The level of searching for unknown information in this project was higher than those in similar assignments of past years, mirroring more closely their career workplace requirements. But, many students were resistant to take on the task, asking for more information at early stages of the project. Consequently additional information was released gradually during the project period based on students' enquires. As observed, in the subsequent survey, some students thought all the required information should be given at the start of project. The students' expectation for providing the additional data could be minimised by setting ground rules at the first session and clarifying about the existing uncertainties and the challenges that are part of the assignment. Also, the instructor needs to have a realistic view of students' capability and accordingly design the project.


Engaging students with future-oriented thinking

Dawn Bennett & Lisa Tee
Curtin University
Email: d.bennett@curtin.edu.au

Although the aims and expectations of higher education are communicated to students more explicitly than ever before, effectiveness is mediated by students' engagement with, and ownership of, their learning. This presentation draws on the authors' recent experiences across the arts, education and health, in which students were encouraged to engage cognitively and emotionally as active, self-directed learners. With a focus on 'self', the aim in each case was to develop learners who positioned their learning in terms of its contribution to their future. The authors independently developed research tools grounded in emerging research concerning possible selves; a forward-oriented approach toward identifying both desired and feared conceptions of self. This approach aligns with the future orientation of higher education policy towards the employability of graduates and the ability of students to imagine and plan for an unknown future. Preliminary results suggest a number of simple strategies to enhance student engagement without additional time and resources. In this presentation, the authors will share their experiences and invite discussion and further collaboration.
Keywords: identity, engagement, employability


Cross-cultural observations on classroom management: Experiences of German migrant teachers in Australia

Katharina Bense
The University of Western Australia
Email: 20729598@student.uwa.edu.au

Consistent teacher shortages in Australia have led to strategies to fill vacancies with migrant teachers. Research on migrant teachers investigating their experiences in Australian classrooms is limited. The few studies which are available report difficulties with cultural adaptation for these teachers in areas related to pedagogy, language, and classroom management. Effective classroom management is commonly recognised as a pre-requisite to successfully engage students in learning. However, studies in multicultural classrooms report potential cross-cultural issues. Current research on migrant teachers in Australia generally focuses on practitioners from Asian backgrounds. Teachers from western European countries and their experiences in Australian schools have hitherto been under-researched. This qualitative collective case study is using narrative inquiry to explore experiences of migrant teachers with a German background working in Australian secondary schools as German language educators. These teachers' narratives provide a deeper insight into the cultural dimension of classroom management practices and its effects on the individual in multicultural classroom situations. Specific questions posed in this study have identified aspects of classroom management, which these teachers tend to experience as problematic. Data is being collected from participants through an initial questionnaire, interviews, classroom observations, and email contact. This offers a more differentiated view on migrant teachers in Australian classrooms, and will help to retain students and teaching staff in Australian classrooms.
Keywords: classroom management, migrant teachers, Germany, retention


Connecting academic and employability skills and attributes
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Rebecca Blaxell and Catherine Moore
Edith Cowan University
Email: r.blaxell@ecu.edu.au, c.moore@ecu.edu.au

In a competitive, culturally diverse and increasingly internationalised workplace students can no longer assume that possession of a tertiary degree will naturally lead to employment. Employers, who now seek to employ graduates with "employability" skills and attributes in addition to traditional expertise within their discipline (DEST, 2002). At first glance this may place an additional burden on universities in preparing students for the workforce.

This paper discusses the project we embarked upon to compare the skills and attributes that employers consider most desirable with those traditionally required for academic success. We sought to determine to what degree these two skill sets can co-exist in units of study and found that many employability skills are similar to, and have the same underlying principles as, traditional academic skills. Consequently we believe it is possible to design learning experiences that support the development of both sets of skills and to embed such learning experiences in the content and teaching of discipline-specific courses, thus developing employability skills while developing academic skills. This will help students meet the twin goals of obtaining a tertiary degree and maximising their employability potential, but in addition will assist them in articulating their existing skills.
Keywords: employability skills and attributes, academic skills and attributes


Sustaining fieldwork education: Fieldwork risk management underpinned by the pedagogy of work integrated learning

Anna Bosco
Curtin University
Email: A.Bosco@curtin.edu.au, ialit@hotmail.com

Risk management in fieldwork education is complex and more demanding than most other teaching and learning contexts due to multiple stakeholders and that learning takes place off campus. With the increasing spotlight on work-integrated-learning as a means to provide authentic learning experiences for students to develop their graduate capabilities, fieldwork programs are becoming more important within the curriculum and fieldwork programs require academic staff who can lead fieldwork effectively to create stimulating, positive and sustainable learning experiences. This workshop will present a template for an integrated fieldwork risk management plan informed by action learning principles. The template is interdisciplinary in focus reflecting the many types of fieldwork education opportunities and contexts. Emphasising stakeholder engagement this template provides a framework for integrating risk management in fieldwork education, and the tool and subsequent processes have value for any school or faculty which has fieldwork education programs as part of their curriculum. Such a template has particular relevance and application where the introduction of TEQUSA and a greater emphasis on quality assurance has the potential to limit fieldwork education to risk management process thereby reducing the capacity of fieldwork coordinators to be innovative leaders of teaching and learning. This framework, therefore, is underpinned by the pedagogy of work-integrated-learning; risk is managed whilst at the same time sustaining and enabling quality learning experiences for fieldwork students.


How big is too big? Combining large class workshops and lectures in history education

Anja Brok
University of Western Australia
Email: anjabrok@westnet.com.au

As Australian universities face both increased student numbers and budgetary constraints, a move towards exploring alternative teaching methods has become more common. Finding more efficient ways of delivering content while not sacrificing the quality of student learning or a positive student experience, is a powerful driver to trial new, less traditional means of teaching.

This case study evaluates an undergraduate history unit consisting of lectures and workshops conducted within the large-class setting, abolishing small-group tutorials. A survey was designed to evaluate student satisfaction. In addition, standard student unit feedback and academic results were compared with those of the same unit taught three times in previous years, which used a variety of teaching formats. The study demonstrates that there is a strong relationship between hours spent in tutorials and student satisfaction. The association with academic achievement was less straightforward. Student achievements were highest when the unit was taught with double tutorial time. However, the next best results were achieved when the unit was taught excluding tutorials.

The limited scope and small sample of this case study does not allow for generalisations or absolute conclusions. The results, however, may be useful when planning future history teaching methods. Current developments towards increased student numbers and decreased teaching time pose a challenge as students appear to flourish when work in small groups is included. Universities may need to consider the balance between large-class teaching and providing a positive learning experience.


55 Minute Workshop
Sharing UWA staff training for Moodle pre-implementation in 2012

Yvonne Button
The University of Western Australia
Mark Drechsler
NetSpot
Shannon Johnston and members of the CATL eLearning team
The University of Western Australia
Email: yvonne.button@uwa.edu.au, mark@netspot.com.au, shannon.johnston@uwa.edu.au

The University of Western Australia has selected Moodle as its replacement learning management system from 2012 [http://www.catl.uwa.edu.au/elearning/new_lms]. In 2011 a training and support program was developed to help staff prepare to teach in the new environment. We aimed for the 'quick-and-dirty get the Moodle Mindset and know a few things' approach.

This workshop aims to provide a mini-training experience, derived from workshops run from September 2011 to January 2012 for introductory and next steps training for UWA staff in Moodle in preparation for using it as our centrally supported learning management system. We will introduce the thinking that underpins Moodle, demonstrate some early unit designs at UWA, allow you to play a choice of activities as a student, and provide an opportunity to choose to learn a particular tool from one of our UWA Ed Developers or an advanced tool from Mark Drechsler, visiting expert from NetSpot. NetSpot has been contracted by UWA to host the Moodle installation and to partner with UWA to prepare Moodle for implementation, the development of UWA's central support team expertise in Moodle, and migration of WebCT content into Moodle.


55 Minute Workshop
Assessment in the digital age: Touch technology

Alistair Campbell and Julia Wren
Edith Cowan University
Email: a.campbell@ecu.edu.au, j.wren@ecu.edu.au

Future generations will look back at current assessment practices and wonder why it took so long to replace pen and paper assessment with quality digital forms of assessment. Digitisation of the assessment process, from student work to the recording of marks is occurring now but haphazardly and is often only a replication of the paper assessment process. The desired goals and aims of learning have rarely been fully achieved with pen and paper assessment. Could digital forms of assessment finally achieve them?

This workshop begins with a background to the failure of traditional forms of assessment based on pen and paper to assess what counts and then argues through demonstration and hands-on working examples (research findings) that it is time that we (in education) catch up with the rest of society and move into the digital world especially went considering the assessment process. While many parts of education have abandoned the analog world for the digital one, assessment has not been one of them. This lack of digitisation of assessment is holding back what is learnt and taught in all fields of education, as the form of assessment drives what is learnt and taught. Research has shown that high stakes assessment can be successfully digitised from the capturing of authentic student performance, to high stakes comparative pairs marking. Not only have we demonstrated this with current technology but that the reliability, validity, manageability and scalability are as good as or better than current practices.

The workshop provides eight iPad2s with a number of different types of marking keys installed. Each key will be demonstrated and the participants will have time to go through the marking of examples and a discussion after each demonstration. The workshop concludes with an open discussion: Where to from here? Can these examples be applied in your field of teaching?
Keywords: innovative, technology, authentic assessment, performance, digitisation


Feedback on group performance using an iPad app

Alistair Campbell and Julia Wren
Edith Cowan University
Email: a.campbell@ecu.edu.au, j.wren@ecu.edu.au

Assessing students' live performances can be problematic because performances by nature are ephemeral. Consequently, the moderation process requires extensive rigour to ensure that assessment is fair, consistent and valid. This can be an intense and time consuming process for the markers, often causing a delay in giving feedback to students.

Our project sought to develop an assessment App to improve and streamline the assessment of live performances. This two phase, action research project resulted in the development and refinement of a digital, mobile tool that enabled the markers of live performances to focus their attention on the quality of learning, while the technology streamlined and enhanced the assessment process. The markers found that their overall marking took less time, resulted in a process that adhered to assessment principles and that feedback turn-around time was reduced. The students reported that feedback given was easier to access and valid. They reported engaging with their feedback by accessing it on multiple occasions and sharing and discussing it with others.


Striving for definitional clarity: What is service learning?
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Donella Caspersz, Doina Olaru and Leigh Smith
The University of Western Australia
Email: Donella.Caspersz@uwa.edu.au, Doina.Olaru@uwa.edu.au

In this paper we attempt to provide definitional clarity about service learning, by undertaking a content analysis of a random selection of texts (2000-2011) selected from two search engines (JSTOR & Academic Premier), and applying the data mining tool, Leximancer. Our analysis confirms the main components of service-learning as being 'community' and then 'learning' and 'service', appearing in relatively equal representation; the second level components emerging from the analysis are 'sense', 'experiential', 'education', and 'engagement' - again balanced intheir weighting. However, our analysis refines these by identifying key relationships between these, and signifiers that help further specify what service learning is. In addition, by drawing on the analysis we are able to distinguish pathways or the process of service-learning. The new contribution of our analysis is in highlighting the need for urgent attention to be paid to conceptualising the concept of 'reciprocity' or mutual benefit for stakeholders engaged in service-learning. We conclude by describing a future research agenda in this area.
Keywords: service learning, scholarship, civic engagement, Leximancer


85 Minute Symposium
UWA assessment and feedback project: A progress report on a university-wide initiative

Denise Chalmers, Sophie Giles, Sid Nair, Janice Orrell, Lee Partridge, Eileen Thompson, Rashmi Watson, Peter Whipp and Natalie Skead
The University of Western Australia
Email: denise.chalmers@uwa.edu.au

The University of Western Australia had undertaken a project as a way to examine the effectiveness of its teaching and learning assessment policies and practices. In order to engage staff, faculty leaders were appointed from each faculty to drive the project and implement an assessment audit and report. The project has run for one year and has been conducted in concert with a review of the University Assessment Policy and developing institutional wide tools and resources to support continuous improvement and enhancement of student assessment processes and practices.

A number of Faculty leaders, from Business, Physical and Health Education, Architecture and Law, will report on their experience with the audit, report, recommendations and implementation from a Faculty point of view. A focus on assessment at The University of Western Australia (UWA) has been identified as a way to address the need to embed comparable and integrated assessment practices across the university. This presentation will outline experiences to date by faculty leaders involved with the project being conducted at UWA and to report on some of the outcomes of the project.

Faculty leaders will provide their experiences within the framework of the following project objectives:

  1. To generate a whole-of-course perspective on student learning achievements,
  2. To generate greater alignment and cohesion between assessment tasks and desired student learning outcomes/graduate attributes,
  3. To create a more manageable workload for staff and students through more effective assessment practices, and
  4. To ensure that, for those courses that are accredited, the ways that assessment links and supports accreditation is clearly articulated


Are higher education teacher preparation programs achieving their goals?

Denise Chalmers
The University of Western Australia
Veronica Goerke and Allan Goody
Curtin University
Sue Stoney
Edith Cowan University
Di Gardiner
The University of Western Australia
Email: denise.chalmers@uwa.edu.au, v.goerke@exchange.curtin.edu.au, A.Goody@curtin.edu.au, s.stoney@ecu.edu.au, di.gardiner@uwa.edu.au

Professional development programs and activities to enhance teaching and learning have been a feature of the academic culture of many higher education institutions throughout the world for more than 40 years. During this time there have been significant changes in the teaching environment in universities. Pedagogical understandings have developed, technology has provided unprecedented opportunities of access and enrichment, academic staff have engaged in dialogue and reflections on their teaching, and ethnic and cultural diversity has demanded new understandings and skills of academic staff. More recently, a growing awareness that university students of the 21st century expect educational experiences which cannot be met by the teaching methods of 45 years ago has motivated higher education institutions to offer teacher development opportunities to raise the quality of teaching, engage students and enhance their learning experience.

Although various types of professional development activities are offered in universities the question of whether they have had an impact on teaching and learning remains largely unanswered. This is in part due to a reliance on the use of the 'happy sheet' for evaluation rather than confronting the challenge of determining what to measure and how to measure it.

This presentation reports on the progress of an ALTC project which has focused on developing a framework to assist academic developers in demonstrating the effectiveness of their teacher preparation programs.


Changing perceptions to feedback

Gemma Clarke, Lisa Paton, Allen Mudford, Renuka Pathmasuntharam, Jocelyn Robinson and Ranjna Kapoor
Curtin College
Email: Clarke@curtincollege.edu.au, lpat@learning.cic.wa.edu.au, allcliff@bigpond.net.au, rpat@learning.cic.wa.edu.au, robi@learning.cic.wa.edu.au, kap@learning.cic.wa.edu.au

Providing effective feedback for students can be a time-consuming and often frustrating experience for both student and teacher. In an attempt to identify a method for providing feedback that is both engaging for students and time-efficient for staff, a preliminary study comparing audio with written feedback was carried out at Curtin College in 2011. Students spread over six Communications Skills classes were asked to write the recommendation section of a report task, and were then given either written or audio feedback. Students were randomly selected from class lists; half the students were provided with standard written feedback whilst the remaining students were provided with audio feedback using Audacity software. Grades for the task were compared to the recommendations section in students' final reports. Analysis of students' results indicates that while different types of feedback did not result in any significant difference in grades, the qualitative evidence indicates an overwhelmingly positive response by both staff and students to audio feedback. Future research will focus on extending the comparative study to three scaffolded tasks leading to a final report, as well as questionnaires unpacking students' and lecturers' perceptions of the two forms of feedback.


A standards framework for work integrated learning

Rick Cummings
Murdoch University
Email: r.cummings@murdoch.edu.au

In the past 3-5 years, universities across Australia have focussed both strategically and operationally on expanding and improving work integrated learning (WIL) in their curriculum. This expansion of WIL in university curriculum has resulted in an increase in the range of different approaches to WIL. It is now widely realised that work placements are very resource intensive and do not suit the needs of all courses, and are unlikely to be available in sufficient numbers to satisfy the increasing demand for WIL in all courses. Therefore, other approaches to WIL have been developed ranging from simulations to project based activities. The broader range of approaches has created a need for a clearer description of what constitutes WIL and, perhaps, standards for good practice.

At Murdoch University, the adoption of a new WIL policy has raised the issue of how to assure the quality of different approaches to WIL and whether all approaches are of is of equal value. To explore this, a standards framework for WIL has been developed and is currently being tested. The framework is designed to assist both unit coordinators to design high quality WIL activities and employers to judge the extent and quality of the student's WIL experiences. The framework looks at factors such as the time spent on WIL activities, the level of industry supervision, and the weighting of the assessment of WIL learning. In addition, standards for the design of the three components of high quality WIL, preparatory, placement and retrospective are examined.

This presentation explains the framework developed at Murdoch and seeks participants' feedback on its validity and suitability for determining the value of different approaches to WIL.


Enhancing sessional staff development through assessment tools

Cathy Cupitt
Curtin University
Email: c.cupitt@curtin.edu.au

This paper focuses on the issue of assessment practice as it relates to sessional staff performance, outlining the strategies incorporated into the first year communication skills unit, Engaging in the Humanities, in order to provide opportunities for sessional staff development as part of the assessment process.

The development of sessional staff's core teaching and learning skills, such as assessment practice, has become increasingly important given the casualisation of the tertiary sector workforce. Three key issues arise in the literature on sessional staff and assessment: that few opportunities for training are available to sessional staff, that sessional markers are often unclear on what skills and values to privilege when marking, and also on how their performance will be measured.

The Engaging in the Humanities team has developed an extended suite of support documents which address some of these issues. The first goal was to simplify marking, in order to make it timely, formative and standardized against the marking criteria. At the same time, the documents are designed to help inexperienced markers develop an understanding of what is valued within the unit, how the pedagogy of the unit informs marking, and how to link formative feedback to the marking criteria. The articulation of this pedagogy, examples of the resources, and resulting marking practices will be reviewed.
Keywords: staff casualisation, professional development, assessment.


Assessment standards and peer learning

Gillian Dale-Jones, Phil Hancock and Eileen Thompson
University of Western Australia
Email: Gillian.dalejones@uwa.edu.au, phil.hancock@uwa.edu.au, eileen.thompson@uwa.edu.au

The aim of this paper is to discuss the use of peer assessment in a unit in the Master of Professional Accounting at the University of Western Australia. Peer assessment will be used for the first time in semester 1, 2012.

The introduction of peer assessment was prompted by a visit by Jude Carroll to UWA in 2011. The literature is rich with examples showing that assessment drives student learning (Ramsden 2003) and that students are keen to understand assessment standards in respect of what they have to do and the level expected. The social constructivist approach involves actively engaging students in formal processes to develop tacit knowledge of standards. The application of peer assessment reported in this paper utilises this approach. Accounting graduates need to develop both technical and non-technical skills as evidenced by current research findings and the publication of the threshold learning outcomes by the ALTC in 2010.

The aim of the peer assessment task is to allow students to exercise their judgment in assessing the written technical communication of their peers and to apply what they have learnt in a self-reflective confirmatory exercise. The task will be assisted by the use of the online tool SPARK (Self and Peer Assessment Resource Kit).
Keywords: self review, peer review, assessment for learning, judgment in accounting


A teaching team: More than the sum of its parts
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Lorraine Day and Derek Hurrell
University of Notre Dame Australia
Email: Lorraine.Day@nd.edu.au, Derek.Hurrell@nd.edu.au

Team teaching is not a new idea with a history spanning more than 40 years. It is an enduring idea yet its practice would not be the norm in most Australian school settings and across most content areas. This paper discusses the experiences of two educators who were given the opportunity to team teach in the area of mathematics education at a tertiary institution. It explores some of the challenges and joys of working in an educational environment which celebrates discourse, questioning and risk taking while modelling a collaborative approach for students.
Keywords: team teaching, professional practice, pedagogy, tertiary teaching, dialogic teaching


Meeting the academic skills needs of first year students through embedding workshops

Carmela De Maio and Sam Fearn
Edith Cowan University
Email: c.demaio@ecu.edu.au, s.fearn@ecu.edu.au

It is widely recognised that most first year students require support to develop the core set of academic skills required for tertiary success. What is more difficult to establish is where this academic skills development is best placed within the first year curriculum. At Edith Cowan University, the Faculty of Business and Law has, over the past two years, developed a separate Academic Skills Centre staffed with Learning Advisors to provide academic skills support in the form of workshops and individual assistance. However despite strong advertising of the service, students are reluctant to attend the classes offered. Also within the Faculty, BES1100 Foundations of Business Knowledge is a compulsory first year unit which deals with business skill development and therefore seems a natural fit for including academic skills development and support as offered by the learning advisors.

In order to introduce academic skills development directly to first year students, two contextualised workshops were conducted by a learning advisor in a class of BES1100 in Semester 2, 2011. They were timed to highlight academic skills that students required for their most current assessment. At the end of the unit, students completed a survey to determine, among other things, if they found the workshops useful. Preliminary findings suggest that there is scope for inclusion of more such academic skills workshops within similar business units.


Developing effective global communicators: Conceptualising emotional intelligence as a graduate attribute

Renae Desai
Murdoch University
Email: r.desai@murdoch.edu.au

The professional communications industries and academia alike have long viewed 'effective interpersonal skills' as essential to the success of graduates in their first few years of employment and beyond. Often they are assumed to be the reason why so many young aspiring professionals are drawn to the bright lights of disciplines such as public relations, marketing and advertising and openly used as essential recruitment criteria for graduate jobs. However, teaching these complex life skills proves to be a challenge for tertiary educators. Identifying exactly what is means to be highly effective and then implementing appropriate strategies in curricula requires further research.

The concept of emotional intelligence (EI), in particular the model posited by Bar-On in 1997, provides a useful framework to identify those particular skills that are required for 'effective communication' as well as point to those traits that make one individual more likely to succeed in complex situations over another. This may provide guidelines for developing specific teaching strategies that engage the student in constant self and peer review from their very first learning experience thus drawing them into their life-long educational journey as communication leaders.

Drawing on the results from a recent study on the internationalisation of the public relations curriculum at Murdoch University, this presentation will analyse and discuss the relevance of EI as a useful concept for understanding and nurturing interpersonal skills such as creativity, curiosity, adaptability and empathy; all essential for success in a global community, both on and off the campus.


Assessment of mechanical engineering final year projects using Fuzzy Multi Attribute Utility theory

Chensong Dong
Curtin University
Email: c.dong@curtin.edu.au

This paper presents an assessment method for the final year project theses of mechanical engineering students using Fuzzy Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (FMAUT). All the staff members' opinions of thesis assessment are utilised to form an expert database. The ratings given by the supervisor and assessor are conveniently converted into the final thesis mark with the aid of the developed approach. The advantages are increased clarities and reduced discrepancies. An example is given to illustrate the approach.
Keywords: final year project, assessment, multi-attribute utility theory, MAUT


Up close and personal: Increasing student engagement and understanding through eyewitness interviews
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Monika Durrer
The University of Western Australia
Email: durrem02@student.uwa.edu.au

This paper evaluates an innovative assessment task designed to engage students by analysing student, staff and community responses. For the past four years German Studies at The University of Western Australia (UWA) has trialled an eyewitness interview project, with the intention of enabling students to connect more personally with their studies. These interviews have allowed students to adopt a thought-provoking hands-on approach, complementary to the lecture material. The task involved students finding an interviewee from the German-speaking community and questioning them on their experiences and perspectives of historical events which the students learnt about in their course. Culminating in a public presentation, this project was well-received by students, staff and the general public, yet the assessment task was not without its problems. Issues which required attention were students' competing commitments and the difficulties these sometimes posed for group-work situations, as well as the sensitive subject-matter for which students may have been unprepared (e.g. eyewitness accounts of World War Two atrocities, stories of rape in the post-war years and political persecution during the subsequent East German dictatorship). Nevertheless, as our evaluation study demonstrates, it enabled students to connect personally and emotionally with the learning material, thus becoming truly engaged. These findings pose the question: Do the eyewitness interviews strike a balance between the educationally beneficial ideals of maximising engagement and the reality of students' time constraints? How can this apparent disjuncture be overcome? The findings will be widely applicable.
Keywords: German studies, eyewitness interviews, oral history, student engagement.


Does focusing on retention make a difference? The impact of Curtin's retention plan
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Jim Elliott
Curtin University
Email: j.elliott@curtin.edu.au

In 2007, the author began facilitating an internal process at Curtin with the intention of creating a Student Retention Plan - with an initial focus on first year student retention. The resulting plan was adopted in June 2008. Since then, Curtin University has implemented many interventions and programs deriving from the resulting Student Retention Implementation Plan. This paper will discuss the multi-pronged approach taken; highlight some of the key achievements; and present data which demonstrate the positive impact of the plan on first year student retention figures.


The challenge of experientially teaching the complexity of real-world negotiation

Ray Fells
The University of Western Australia
Email: ray.fells@uwa.edu.au

Central to most courses on negotiation are exercises designed to give students the opportunity to understand and experience key aspects of the negotiation process and to improve their own negotiation skills through practice and reflection. This is particularly so in Masters programs. The value of these exercises, properly managed, is not in question but this paper considers the extent to which in-class exercises reflect the full complexity of negotiation as experienced in the business context. Drawing on a case of an actual inter-company negotiation the paper identifies key aspects of the process, some of which are difficult to replicate in the classroom. Then, using an example of a complex experiential exercise written by the author (and based on another actual negotiation), the paper considers some of the challenges in bringing the real world into the classroom. These include creating realistic intra-team dynamics, integrating changing contexts, providing opportunity for strategic leadership and having realistic walk away options. An additional challenge is in managing these complex scenarios in large classes with space and time constraints. The session will use this example of business negotiation to invite discussion on the broader issue of bringing the real world into the classroom.


A Kimberley virtual hospital: Innovation within the Diploma of Nursing

Jennifer Farrell
University of Notre Dame Australia
Email: jennifer.farrell@nd.edu.au

The Kimberley is spread over 420,000 square kilometres of Western Australia, with a population of about 35,0000 people of which over 47% are Indigenous. The University of Notre Dame, situated in Broome, has the advantage of being a dual sector campus and The School of Nursing offers a number of health related programs as a pathway to the Bachelor of Nursing program.

The School of Nursing has been determined to increase its student body by making its courses more accessible to students of the region. In 2010 students in the Diploma of Nursing were enrolled into the largest nursing toolbox of its kind (an interactive e-learning and assessment resource featuring scenarios, images and activities). This toolbox known as the Maryanne Martin Hospital was developed, within the School of Nursing, by eLearn Australia using Dreamweaver, Flash and animation techniques.

Students navigate through the hospital meeting clients and learning about complex care, medication, chronic and acute illness to name a few areas. There is a study room where students can access their assessments, blog pages and online discussion boards. Many students enrolled in the program live hundreds of kilometres away from Broome and are kept engaged with the learning materials with real time use of a web based classroom called Elluminate live.

The School of Nursing acknowledges the difficulties for students accessing education from a distance and believes that pastoral care and innovation are the key values that have potential to keep students engaged with their studies and able to remain in their communities while they study.


Embedding employability capabilities: The challenges of ensuring equity and access

Sonia Ferns
Curtin University
Email: S.Ferns@curtin.edu.au

Universities are under pressure to ensure university graduates acquire work ready skills through their studies which adequately prepare them for transition to professional life. Embedding work-integrated learning (WIL) activities into the curriculum is seen as a valuable mechanism for nurturing employability capabilities. A work placement is a form of WIL and features in most professional degrees. While the benefits of fieldwork are widely acknowledged, challenges associated with resourcing and managing work placements are extensive.

The Australian Collaborative Educational Network (ACEN) is a national body that promotes work integrated learning as a vehicle for enhancing the student experience through the provision of authentic learning experiences and work-based practice. ACEN offers 3 scholarships annually to provide financial assistance to student who are required to complete a work placement. The intention is to address the equity agenda by providing support for students who experience financial hardship.

This presentation will provide an analysis of the data collected through the 2011 scholarship round. The data provides an evidence base for highlighting the challenges for the sector in addressing the employability agenda. As we transition into a demand driven system with increasing diversity in the student cohort, these challenges will become even greater.


55 Minute Workshop
Engaging microblogging in lectures

Kim Flintoff and Peter Mellow
Curtin University
Email: k.flintoff@curtin.edu.au, peter.mellow@curtin.edu.au

The 'backchannel' has become a popular feature of academic conferences over recent years. The basic structure of the backchannel is a behind the scenes discussion of the presentation by attendees and remote participants who are interested in a topic or speaker. The backchannel has a well-documented, decade-long history and has become a core component of many conferences. The invention of the #hashtag (a form of metadata on live social media) means that conference participants can post and follow discussion points using social media like Twitter.

Some lecturers may be unaware that a backchannel probably already exists in their classroom. Students routinely text and message each other about lectures during lectures, sadly this is often limited to a critique of the lecturer. The use of proprietary and web-based backchannel solutions can begin to engage students more productively in the lecture process and to tap into how well the lecture is addressing student's learning needs.

The Centre for eLearning has recently deployed Hotseat at Curtin. Hotseat, developed by Purdue University, integrates a suite of tools including a web application, Facebook and Twitter that can be accessed via computers, laptops, smart phones and other mobile devices like iPod Touch, iPad, and tablets. Lecturers can set focus questions, assign Twitter #hashtags and control the anonymity of posts in order to draw students more fully into active participation in the lecture.

Participants will have the opportunity to have the approach explained, to trial a microblogging application live in the session and to discuss the approach, Hotseat, and alternative tools. The intended audience includes anyone presenting traditional lectures, or working in large classes, who is interested in novel ways to improve student engagement in lectures, tutorials, workshops or seminars.


Developing interactive tools to augment traditional teaching and learning in land surveying

Elizabeth-Kate Gulland, Ahmed El-Mowafy and Tony Snow
Curtin University
Email: E.Gulland@curtin.edu.au, A.El-Mowafy@curtin.edu.au, T.Snow@curtin.edu.au

It is essential for surveying students to develop skills in the use of surveying equipment, recording and interpretation of results. These have traditionally been taught intensively in face-to-face mode. With large student groups, competition for tutors' attention can cause some students to fall behind their classmates. In addition, students work through practical tasks in groups of four or five, both to work on their teamwork skills and to manage the amount of available equipment. This can lead to stronger or more confident students taking over the task with more reticent students missing out on the teaching and learning experience.

This study presents an interactive, online simulation tool designed to address these problems. It is targeted at undergraduate students to allow them to practice equipment reading, data entry, and calculations for survey levelling. Using this tool before the hands-on practical exercise gives students a chance to discover where they may need help from a tutor. In contrast, before the introduction of the tool students and tutors had to rely on a practical test to discern any gaps in their skills. As this test is run in the final teaching week, feedback from it is summative rather than formative and is therefore far less valuable to students for finding and improving areas of weakness.

Students in first year found the interactive simulation tool most useful, with comments showing that it was successfully used to practice skills both before and after the field exercise with real-world equipment.
Keywords: student engagement, e-learning, surveying, education, online teaching and learning


Marking moderation in land surveying units

Elizabeth-Kate Gulland, Ahmed El-Mowafy and Tony Snow
Curtin University
Email: E.Gulland@curtin.edu.au, A.El-Mowafy@curtin.edu.au, T.Snow@curtin.edu.au

Students studying land surveying units at the tertiary level must develop reliable skills in the use of surveying equipment, calculations and formal recording of results. These skills require hands-on practical exercises and assessments. As there are a large number of students studying surveying units, this results in different tutors demonstrating to, and marking the results from, individual students.

This study presents a marking rubric tool to support more rapid moderated feedback to students on their progress in their fieldwork activities. This tool provides moderation when marking is performed by different tutors. The rubric was designed to be adaptable to multiple surveying units, including those with group assessments. It includes a breakdown of activities with a marking scale for each activity, including descriptions of the performance level for each scale. Activities are grouped into four categories that are consistent between different surveying units: fieldwork, field recording, computation & analysis, and presentation of results.

As well as assisting markers to be consistent in their marks, the tool also informs students beforehand about the mark distribution for each task and for each performance level. The rubric has been incorporated into the teaching of several units over two and a half years. Feedback from surveys showed that students found the marking rubric helpful in assisting their understanding of practical task requirements and how to improve their performance and marks.
Keywords: student engagement, surveying, education, moderation, formative assessment


Development of international student engagement

Kaye Haddrill
The University of Western Australia
Email: kaye.haddrill@uwa.edu.au

This paper presents the outcomes of a survey taken with students who have completed a postgraduate communications unit at the UWA Business School. It sought their opinions regarding how the collaborative environment of the unit assisted their sense of connection, community and personal confidence, and whether through improvements in these factors, they felt more engaged with their course and UWA in general.

When UWA commenced its MPA program in 2009, it developed an integrated enrichment English program which ran within course. Although throughout 2009 and 2010 the enrichment program was seen to work well, in 2011 the Business School replaced the enrichment sessions with a mandatory communications unit. This change has seen all international students studying the MPA now undertaking one semester of English study. Additionally, many international students not studying the MPA are choosing to take the communications unit as an elective. This has seen the unit numbers grow rapidly.

The UWA Business School postgraduate communications unit has a very small class sizes, is very practical in emphasis, and has a less-formal environment. Students are encouraged to see the environment as a learning community where they may raise questions related to any aspect of their study. Thus far, student feedback and satisfaction have been very high.

UWA, like many Australian universities is endeavouring to provide the support services required by international students, and this study assists us to better understand how the learning environment and interactions with staff affect the international student's engagement.


Assessment for learning can be a focus for engagement and retention

Patrick Halloran
Curtin University
Email: Patrick.Halloran@curtin.edu.au

Traditional practices of assessment are being challenged by a number of factors including; the importance of addressing quality teaching and learning practices; development of new learning environments and approaches; the changing nature of students; increasing academic staff workloads; and expectations of enhanced graduate skills and achievements gained within an academic program. The curriculum of a postgraduate Master's program was reviewed as part of Curtin University's comprehensive course review process. The curriculum review strategy not only highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the program for future improvement but more importantly, engenders a team approach to redesigning and embedding "assessment for learning" best practice within the curriculum as one of its main priorities. In addressing some of the comments and feedback gained from stakeholders within the review, we were also able to take a more holistic view of the student experience with complementary strategies targeting student engagement and retention.


Achievement matters: External peer review of accounting learning standards

Phil Hancock
University of Western Australia
Mark Freeman
University of Sydney
Anne Abraham
University of Western Sydney
Paul De Lange
RMIT University
Bryan Howieson
University of Adelaide
Brendan O'Connell
RMIT University
Kim Watty
Deakin University
Email: phil.hancock@uwa.edu.au, Mark.freeman@sydney.edu.au, a.abraham@uws.edu.au, Paul.delange@rmit.edu.au, Bryan.howieson@adelaide.edu.au, Brendan.oconnell@rmit.edu.au, Kim.watty@deakin.edu.au

The aim of this paper is to report on the ALTC funded project Achievement matters: External peer review of accounting learning standards.

Accounting is the first discipline seeking to collaboratively develop and implement a national model of expert peer review for benchmarking learning outcomes against nationally-agreed thresholds developed under the national Learning and Teaching Academic Standards project (2010). It aims to refine a model peer review process that is inclusive, efficient, and supports rich, reliable, valid information that promotes capacity building, guides enhancement decisions and self-regulation. Benchmark evidence will assist quality enhancement initiatives (e.g. curriculum renewal) as well as quality assurance (e.g. TEQSA and AACSB).

The project is a viable alternative to standardised tests for measuring student learning outcomes, thus reducing perverse consequences such as teaching to the test. It also demonstrates to key stakeholders, such as employers and professional bodies who have a stake in the quality of graduates, that Australian accounting providers wish to self-regulate by going beyond current learning and teaching performance indicators and proposed tests of generic outcomes to disciplinary-specific evidence of learning outcomes.

On completion, this project will have achieved the following outcomes: 1) external peer-reviewed evidence of accounting academic standards in all types of higher education providers, benchmarked against the accounting threshold learning outcomes; 2) a model process for obtaining and using blind external peer review evidence that captures inputs (i.e. assessment specifications) as well as outputs (i.e. completed student work); and 3) professional learning and capacity building.
Keywords: accounting, external peer review, learning standards.


Effective strategies to support online learning and student engagement

Allen G. Harbaugh
Murdoch University
Email: allen.harbaugh@murdoch.edu.au

Students enrolled in online and external units are more likely to withdraw from the unit before completion than students enrolled in traditional delivery units. Adult students often desire the freedom provided by external units, but many are not prepared to engage with the unit activities because of a lack of skills in self-regulatory learning. Furthermore, while some students engage in online learning because of the sense of independence (or isolation), many students observe that the lack of interaction with other students alters the learning in less than desirable ways. This research project examines the effectiveness of structured peer assessments and guided discussion activities as a means to increase motivation levels, autonomous learning skills and a sense of connectedness with other students in the unit. A reflective analysis of the assessment and class activities for an external unit in tertiary and adult education was conducted as a pilot study for a larger project exploring effective strategies to support online students and increase retention rates. Preliminary results suggest that innovative uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) can support students by creating a sense of community among the learners and by introducing skills for self-regulated learning. This presentation will discuss these findings, but participants will also be asked to share their experiences-both successful and challenging-with establishing community and student engagement in online or hybrid delivery units.


55 Minute Workshop
Mainstreaming mobile learning in higher education: Capabilities and strategies for teachers

Jan Herrington
Murdoch University
Anthony Herrington
Curtin University
Ian Olney
University of Western Sydney
Email: j.herrington@murdoch.edu.au, a.herrington@curtin.edu.au, i.olney@uws.edu.au

As more and more students bring mobile devices (such as mobile phones and tablets/iPads) into classes, teachers in higher education need strategies for dealing with them. Telling students to turn off their devices no longer works, and failing to utilise these powerful devices in learning activities is an opportunity missed. How can teachers make the most of student owned mobile phones and other devices? In this workshop, strategies for mobile learning in university classes will be explored across experiences in three universities (Murdoch, University of Western Sydney, and Curtin). This session will demonstrate a now completed ALTC project entitled 'New technologies, new pedagogies', together with successful pedagogies developed in teacher education and applicable across a range of discipline areas. The session will include demonstrations of the use of mobile devices as cognitive tools at Murdoch, Curtin and UWS. Participants will brainstorm and analyse strategies for using mobile learning in their teaching.

Resources and links for mobile learning will also be shared through the recent development of a mobile learning website and community of practice (funded by an ALTC 2011-12 extension of the original project). Products from the original project include the website, http://mlearning.uow.edu.au/, an edited refereed book (downloadable): [http://ro.uow.edu.au/newtech/], and papers at ascilite Conferences [including http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/melbourne08/procs/herrington-j.pdf]
Keywords: mobile learning, cognitive tools, mobile phones, iPads


Re-thinking the box: Negotiating curricula and finding critical spaces in English
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Siobhan Hodge
The University of Western Australia
Email: siobhan.hodge@uwa.edu.au

Critical thinking is an important skill, necessary for upper-level university study, but is not always easy to introduce in lower-level units without detracting from other outcomes and teaching criteria. By manipulating existing curricula content and creating critical thinking exercises, in which students can use their own knowledge and skills, gained from the unit, to assess and reflect on unfamiliar materials, critical thinking skills can be developed. In this example, a class of English students responded positively to a comparative translation exercise, featuring unfamiliar texts but unit-related ideologies, in which they could apply taught information and critique the current unit outcomes. This style of critical exercise can potentially be extended to a broader range of disciplines, within and beyond the Humanities, to give lower-level students more chances to engage in higher order critical thinking and negotiate their curriculums at earlier stages in their studies. This would then facilitate student transitions from lower to upper-level study, exercising their critical and reflective skills, while not impinging on other important unit outcomes, or detracting from assessable content.


Work integrated learning in reverse: Case study of the Murdoch Business School

David Holloway
Murdoch University
Donell Holloway
Edith Cowan University
Email: D.Holloway@murdoch.edu.au, donell.holloway@ecu.edu.au

This paper introduces a new form of work integrated learning (WIL), one where students' previous experiences in the workplace are used as a basis for the integration of further conceptual and theoretical learnings. At a university level, WIL usually refers to practicums, internships and placements which enable students to develop work based skills, integrate theory with workplace practice, apply theoretically learned problem solving skills in the 'real world' and effectively become exposed to, and socialised into, the practices and expectations of the profession in which they are studying.

The case study of the Murdoch Business School applied this concept in reverse. Students were required to use their existing work-based experiences to question the applicability of the University learning they had undertaken in business-related topic areas. Learning outcomes were focussed on students evaluating and reflecting on the 'authenticity' and relevance of their University-based learning when mapped against their current 'real world' work experiences. The students were asked to assess, question and integrate their individual (and collective) work-based experiences and acquired real-life knowledge with their business-based university learning.

The students reported a universally positive assessment of the unit. They concluded that the learning topics within the unit had provided them with critical and personally useful insights into their own and the wider work environment. It also led to a deeper questioning of the university learning that they had received within their Business majors.

A final question remains unresolved: does such a unit fit legitimately within the taxonomy of acceptable WIL definitions?
Keywords: work integrated learning; student centred learning; reverse mapping; integration of learning and practice


55 Minute Workshop
Social networking for engaging students in learning beyond mainstream university experience

Shannon Johnston
The University of Western Australia
Email: shannon.johnston@uwa.edu.au

Blogs and wikis are known powers in online collaborative learning; Twitter is a known power of social networking, but is often feared or even treated dubiously as a power in educating. All three are sometimes feared by university teachers lacking experience or understanding of the tools in themselves, or the tools for educating. All three are potentially powerful tools that can be interconnected in a powerful, vibrant learning network.

This workshop will explore the use of these three social networking tools for student engagement in learning beyond the classroom. We will use Twitter, blogs, and wikis to explore the tools, the genre of text and potential place in learning engagement, and ways to integrate each into a concept of a learning network. The workshop activities will integrate face-to-face with online interaction in the triumvirate of tools.


Moving to Moodle: Organisational knowledge and community building at UWA

Shannon Johnston and Yvonne Button
The University of Western Australia
Mark Drechsler
NetSpot
Email: Shannon.johnston@uwa.edu.au, Yvonne.button@uwa.edu.au, mark@netspot.com.au

In 2011 UWA implemented Moodle as the institution's centrally-supported learning management system. A critical focus of this implementation was knowledge building within the academic and support teams to ensure a smooth transition, and one which would encourage the use of Moodle to improve teaching and learning within the university. The knowledge development process involved the eLearning team in the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at UWA, implementation partner and vendor (NetSpot), the UWA academic community and the broader Moodle community within the sector and around the world. This presentation reflects on the process used, the successes and challenges, and the path ahead.


Assessment driven awareness of scientific inquiry and the use of animals in research

Megan Jones, Kathy Sanders & Jan Meyer
The University of Western Australia
Email: megan.jones@uwa.edu.au, kathy.sanders@uwa.edu.au, jan.meyer@uwa.edu.au

Scientific inquiry refers to the utilisation of methods and activities through which scientific knowledge is developed. It can be divided into; project design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and scientific writing. Biological experiments routinely use animal-based research for data collection. Although many aspects of scientific inquiry are practiced during undergraduate studies, they are often exercised in a dissociated manner rather than as an integrated whole. Thus, students nearing the completion of their undergraduate degree often do not fully appreciate what the 'research process' encompasses, nor are they aware of the necessity and value of animal-based research.

The current study utilized authentic scientific inquiry as a pedagogical tool to encourage a) a deeper understanding of the research process and b) student awareness and appreciation for the use of animals in biological science research. This was achieved by implementing an assessment which was designed such that students were required to practice all aspects of scientific inquiry, in contrast to previous years where only data collection was performed.

The effectiveness of this assessment was evaluated by administering a questionnaire to students targeting perceived engagement, use of animals, and motivation to continue research after the completion of their degree. Results collectively demonstrated that the assessment was very well received, with >80% of students in agreement with statements relating to perceived engagement, consequential understanding of the research process, and the ethical use of animals. However, this assignment did little to motivate students to consider a future in scientific research.


Engaging fieldwork coordinators: Academic leadership development for work integrated learning

Sue Jones and Rick Ladyshewsky
Curtin University
Megan Smith and Franziska Trede
Charles Sturt University
Helen Flavell
Curtin University
Email: sue.jones@curtin.edu.au, r.ladyshewsky@curtin.edu.au, m.smith@csu.edu.au, f.trede@csu.edu.au, h.flavell@curtin.edu.au

Fieldwork coordinators (FCs) rarely have a formally recognised role description, are often not seen as leaders; and have few professional development opportunities tailored to their unique and demanding role. Increased emphasis on graduate employability and work-integrated-learning (WIL) within curricula means that FCs are under growing pressure to demonstrate leadership in learning and teaching for WIL, and deliver optimal placement opportunities in a highly competitive environment. A leadership development program for FCs was designed and piloted at Curtin and Charles Sturt Universities. Structured around the six roles within the Integrated Competing Values Framework (ICVF) the program was designed to enhance leadership capabilities of FCs, strengthen peer and industry partnerships, improve WIL pedagogy, reduce risk for all parties and ultimately improve the student learning experience in higher education. Qualitative and quantitative feedback from the 25 FCs who participated was excellent with greater than 80% agreement that modules were coherent, well presented, allowed time for discussion and met their needs. Participants completed an action learning project (ALP) which related to the broker and innovator roles, which are highly relevant for leadership, and were least developed. These projects developed the participants' leadership capabilities and improved aspects of their FC role, which will improve outcomes for students in the fieldwork setting. The impact of the program was evident through developing a supportive community of practice amongst participants. Eighty five percent of participants 'strongly agreed' the program changed their views of FC leadership. Resources and findings associated with this project will be of benefit to those interested in WIL and the FC role.
Keywords: leadership; fieldwork; innovation; work-integrated learning.


Engagement, equity and retention in Indigenous culture and health

Marion Kickett and Julie Hoffman
Curtin University
Email: J.Hoffman@curtin.edu.au

Teaching Indigenous Cultures and Health 130 as part of the First Year Interprofessional Common Core Curriculum in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University requires an integrated approach that conforms to academic process as well as demonstrates Aboriginal worldviews and ways of working. This approach has proven to be effective in engaging and retaining both students and tutors in an interactive environment whilst providing a solid foundation of learning about Indigenous cultures, and health outcomes for Indigenous people. Demographically and statistically, Indigenous peoples experience unacceptable health outcomes in comparison to non-Indigenous counterparts which can be attributed to social determinants of health as well as inequitable health service provision. As future health professionals this unit prepares students for their journey towards cultural awareness, cultural safety and cultural security. Students are provided with an essential "dillybag" of tools that can be used to enhance health professional practice which benefits health outcomes for Indigenous individuals, families and communities. Overall, 2000 First Year Students per year from 19 Schools within the Faculty of Health Sciences are required to complete the core unit Indigenous Culture and Health 130. In addition, interprofessional education provides an opportunity for future health professionals to learn at an early stage the advantages of working collaboratively with other health professionals, including Aboriginal colleagues, and Indigenous clients. The success of this unit is interdependent on providing students with an enriched learning environment as well as developing and retaining a cohesive and collaborative Indigenous and non-Indigenous teaching team.


Room for improvement? Reviewing graduate perceptions of design studio teaching at UWA

Simon Kilbane
The University of Western Australia
Email: 19416451@student.uwa.edu.au

At UWA, the 'backbone' of the Landscape Architecture Major is the Design Studio. The studio environment and the projects undertaken enable students to develop essential skills in design and the articulation of their concepts. This paper outlines a project where UWA graduates were asked their impressions of the adequacy of this design studio education. Perspectives were sought of five key areas of competency, taken from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) education accreditation standards. These standards are currently used to assess the UWA course.

An anonymous online survey of approximately 200 graduates recorded responses, demographic information and also allowed for additional (optional) feedback. Of the 42 responses received, graduates generally perceived that competency standards were met. However, three standards scored poorly: 'Sustainable community design'; 'The design, planning and management of rural, regional, remote landscapes'; and 'Problem solving and critical thinking'. Furthermore, written comments received expressed a significant degree of dissatisfaction across a range of issues from workload to teacher organisation.

Recommendations that could improve the delivery of design education and the Landscape Architecture Major at UWA were revealed through this survey of graduates. These include a re-examination of curriculum, guidelines for selection of studio design projects and possible improvements to teaching methods.
Keywords: landscape architecture, design education, design studio, graduate perspectives.


Roles of active learning and tutor input in students' perception of learning
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Su-Ann Koh, Kathy Sanders and Jan Meyer
The University of Western Australia
Email: su-ann.koh@uwa.edu.au, kathy.sanders@uwa.edu.au, jan.meyer@uwa.edu.au

Research suggests that high student engagement is associated with increased learning. Student engagement generally arises as a result of active learning accompanied by good teaching. An effective classroom resource should therefore incorporate these factors in order to maximise student learning.

Three resources relating to learning about human embryonic development were evaluated in a first-year Human Biology unit at The University of Western Australia, in terms of the extent to which they engaged students and assisted their understanding of embryology. The extent to which these effects were dependent on the presence of a tutor was also investigated. Resources were classified two ways: 1) 'active' vs 'passive' and 2) 'tutor-supported' vs 'student-directed' based on the level of student interaction and tutor involvement with the resource respectively. Two hundred and forty-five students completed a questionnaire which evaluated their perceptions of the individual resources. The questionnaire included questions relating to student interest and improvements in understanding and confidence as a result of interaction with the resource.

Student engagement, using interest as a proxy, was not associated with a self-perceived improvement in understanding. However, tutors significantly influenced student responses in terms of interest and self-reported improvement in understanding of embryology. The study demonstrates that student engagement is not always associated with increased self-perceived student learning, but it is likely to be moderated by the effectiveness of the tutor. It indicates that even with the use of self-directed resources in the classroom, the input of tutors plays a significant role in successful implementation.
Keywords: student engagement, active learning, tutor influence, human biology resources


Integrating practice with theory through student engagement in local community events
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

David Lamb
Edith Cowan University
Email: d.lamb@ecu.edu.au

This paper is based on the premise that in order to provide students of event management with the skills and knowledge to run events, they must firstly experience organising and managing an 'actual' event. Balancing the theoretical input with the practical aspects of events in tertiary degree courses in event management will enable such students to become multitasking and as a result gain highly portable skills that will help them succeed in securing employment in event management and many other, associated professions. One of the most important challenges facing higher education institutions in the future will be to equip students with the skills necessary to secure professional employment, such as in event management. Indeed, in a survey involving 1100 employers in Australia, Neilsen (2000) reported that the five most important skills needed for graduate employment were oral business communication skills, creativity, problem-solving skills, independent and critical thinking skills, and flexibility. Furthermore, Greenan et al (1997) reported similar findings in the UK, as did Braxton et al (1996) in the United States. Experiential learning approaches are a valuable tool to overcome the knowledge- practice gap recognised in many vocationally orientated disciplines (Kennedy, Lawton & Walker, 2001) In this study, an experiential learning model and rationale was put into practice with undergraduate students in an Introduction to Events (Recreation 212) module/unit, in partnership with Sport Canterbury (one of 17 regional Sports Trusts, throughout New Zealand). Students enrolled on this module/unit were made responsible for every aspect of managing the annual Rebel Kiwi Sport Challenge (a series of recreation based half to full day events for Primary schoolchildren based in the Canterbury region). During the module/unit students explored the creation and manipulation of an event experience and gained real life, hands on experience and in this process, acquired skills and knowledge that helped them plan, implement, and evaluate an event.


Examining the role of exams in student perceptions of learning

Christopher Lin
The University of Western Australia
Email: christopher.lin@uwa.edu.au

This paper examines students' perceptions of exams as an assessment item and its role in student learning. While current undergraduate teaching in English and Cultural Studies at The University of Western Australia allow students to voice their perceptions of teaching via the SPOT surveys, this system does not have a means of evaluating student perceptions of assessments. Taking exams as a case study, this project interrogates students' opinions regarding the usefulness and suitability of exams in supporting student learning, with a view towards altering the current design and practice of exams within the discipline.

To engage these perceptions, a survey is administered to a small cohort of first-year students, inviting them to offer their views on the efficacy of exams as an assessment form that enhances student learning. While the majority of feedback agree that exams remain an essential and useful method of assessment, a significant portion of responses call for a system that enables a more organised and methodical approach to exam preparation for students, as well as a form of feedback that incorporates comments in addition to marks that will allow students to evaluate their work.

The value of this project is two fold: it both lends a forum to evaluate student perceptions of assessments, something that is currently non-existent within the discipline, as well as permitting us to rethink strategies to improve exam administration in a way that optimises student learning.


Learning in the transition year: Bridging the move from institution into a community of practice

Marina Lommerse, Priya Metcalfe and Michelle Doray
Curtin University
Email: m.lommerse@curtin.edu.au, p.metcalfe@curtin.edu.au, M.B.A.Doray@curtin.edu.au

In the final year of professional programs such as interior architecture there is a need to facilitate a transition in students' focus from four years of tertiary education on to their future career paths. Prior research into the BA (Interior Architecture) indicates that students face significant challenges translating theoretical knowledge into practice. Therefore in two new units in their final semester we focus on teaching pedagogy - in particular the learning frameworks and strategies that enable independent and interdependent learning and student ownership of their learning environment. Within these units we attempt to build a learning environment that bridges the gap between theory and practice and pave the transition from formal learning into their professional self-directed careers.

The research draws on literature on theories of learning and learning styles. The primary research investigates the teaching and learning framework of two advanced theory units, External Forces 422 and Internal Forces 422. A student conceived and managed conference event for each unit is a core aspect we investigated - as the students appeared to be using it as a platform to develop their desired learning environment. A qualitative methodology was used for the research and data was collected from Evaluate (Curtin's teaching and learning evaluation system), focus groups consisting of enrolled students and reflections from staff (participant-observers).

We present the outcomes of the research, for example how and when the students became active learners by taking responsibility for their learning; the impact of the new teaching and learning strategies have had on the final semester of the degree and speculate on what impact they may have on graduate attributes and outcomes.


55 Minute Workshop
Terminating the termination cycle: A pilot intervention for students re-entering university after termination

Jane Mangano
University of Notre Dame Australia
Email: Jane.Mangano@nd.edu.au

This interactive workshop encourages participants to think about the moral and ethical issues associated with readmitting students who have previously been terminated on academic grounds. Participants will be guided through the 'Success Plan' developed and piloted at The University of Notre Dame's Academic Enabling and Support Centre (AESC) in 2011. The pilot project and associated solution focused approach provide a model that other academic support centres may be able to utilise in supporting students.

Group sharing: The session will begin with small group sharing about what participants' universities are doing to support re-entry and at risk students. Who delivers the support? How are at risk students identified? Is participation in support recommended or compulsory? Is it working?

Presentation of the pilot solution focused intervention to support re-entry students: In response to concerns about the poor progress being made by students who had been terminated on academic grounds and readmitted to their course, the University of Notre Dame investigated options to improve these students' outcomes on re-entry. The intervention designed and piloted by the AESC will be described. This intervention is based on a solution focused approach, which encourages students to identify strategies which have proven effective in the past. The Success Plan that was developed to lead re-entry students through this process of identifying productive strategies to facilitate change will be shared.

Interactive activity - The Success Plan: Jane will guide participants through the delivery of the Success Plan. Working in pairs, participants will experience the process from both sides: as advisor and as student.

Group discussion: In light of this pilot intervention, participants will engage in discussion about interventions to support re-entry and at risk students. Do we want to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, collecting casualties and administering emergency first aid? Do we want to be the Sherpa, guiding students all the way from the base of the mountain, to the highest peak, and then back down the other side? Or do we want to equip our students with their own GPS, so that they can negotiate the terrain independently with the support of the equipment supplied by us? How might each of these practices look?

Discussion and wrap up: Unexpected outcomes that enhanced the university experience for the students involved in the pilot project will be put forward for discussion. How can we justify success or worth of a pilot project when significant positive outcomes are not represented in statistics, graphs, tables or university income?


Trialling the use of a mathematics diagnostic assessment task
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Keith McNaught
University of Notre Dame Australia
Email: keith.mcnaught@nd.edu.au

Mathematics units often present the greatest difficulty for enabling pathway ('bridging course') students for a wide range of reasons. Many of these students have limited prior mathematics content knowledge, and report, like much of the general population, of feeling phobic towards mathematics and lacking confidence. At the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA), Fremantle campus, a student's final mark in their mathematics enabling unit often results in failing to meet the institutionally required benchmarks to move into undergraduate study. As staff experimented with a diagnostic mathematics assessment for teaching and learning purposes, a new proposition emerged: Could diagnostic assessment be used to help students make an informed decision about their choice of enabling program, and select a less intense course, without mathematics in the first semester? The benefits in having a student in the 'right course' should improve retention, and increase the number of students successfully transitioning to undergraduate study. UNDA is piloting the use of the diagnostic mathematics assessment to help students select the specific enabling program (either the "Tertiary Enabling Program" (TEP) or "Foundation Year" program) best suited to their background and experience.


Practice makes perfect: Improving private practice among music aural students

Eva-Marie Middleton
The University of Western Australia
Email: eva-marie.middleton@uwa.edu.au

While music students eagerly devote themselves to hours of daily practice on their primary instrument, the same enthusiasm is rarely seen for complementary skills such as aural. To address this issue, research was conducted with both first and second year music students to see how often students practised their aural skills, what methods they used and how confident they felt practising each component of the aural programme. The survey found that despite their widespread availability, the majority of students did not make use of aural textbooks or web-based resources. Many students also reported that they did not follow any clear structure when practising and sometimes could not tell if skills were being practised correctly.

The survey information was then used to develop an aural practice resource pack, a collection of aural resources as well as tips on effective practice methods. The pack emphasized using the many freely available web-based resources, alongside books and an iPhone app. In order to encourage students to structure their practice sessions, resources were categorized by skill, with clear instructions on how to use each resource to best effect. A small group of first year students participated in a 4-week trial of the resource pack, followed by a survey investigating how it may have affected their practice. This research provides a case study not only in music pedagogy, but for any discipline wishing to improve student practice between contact hours, or seeking to encourage and facilitate the use of web-based resources.
Keywords: aural, music, practice, web resources.


55 Minute Workshop
Meeting student needs through the synchronised development of academic and employability skills

Catherine Moore and Rebecca Blaxell
Edith Cowan University
Email: c.moore@ecu.edu.au, r.blaxell@ecu.edu.au

This workshop aims to help participants understand more clearly the link between academic and employability skills, recognise which skills are currently being developed in their units/courses, and reflect upon potential opportunities for greater skill development in their unit/course. The workshop will open with a discussion about the typical undergraduate student. Participants will be asked to consider what these students need to be successful within their discipline. They will be provided with Post-It notes and will arrange these on a figure representing the student, clustered around the head, heart and hands.

Question: Here is a typical undergrad student. What can this student do/be that will make him/her successful in your discipline at uni?

The focus will then shift to what is currently taking place in units and what practice is being undertaken by staff. Teaching and learning strategies currently used by staff will be clustered on a second figure.

Questions: What do we already do to help students achieve academic success? What other activities could we easily incorporate?

Participants will then consider the clustered skills and attributes in relation to employability. Question: What about after uni? Work, learning and life.

Workshop leaders will reference the Graduate Employability Skills (2006) and DEST framework (2002), making links between these and the academic skills already discussed. This is followed by the final section of the workshop, focusing on assessment tasks.

Question: What evidence do we need to support our claim that academic and employability skills are developed in our unit?

Participants will be given some examples of tasks that assess both academic and employability skills. They will then be asked to consider their own assessment tasks, and to share ideas with the group.


Missing in action? A philosophy of plagiarism and implications for learners and teachers

Angus Morrison-Saunders
Murdoch University and North West University, South Africa
Email: a.morrison-saunders@murdoch.edu.au

Plagiarism in simple terms is intellectual theft which universities typically frame in terms of rules or procedures to be followed (e.g. students should appropriately acknowledge or cite all ideas or work drawn from other sources in their writing). Philosophically I argue that plagiarism is the absence of self; the non-engagement or non-investment of the writer. Writing is creative and individual; a student who plagiarises (e.g. 'copying and pasting') is refusing to involve or embed themselves in their writing. Similarly use of software such as 'turnitin' arguably substitutes a machine for teacher engagement. Solutions to plagiarism must involve teaching writing skills to students so as to inspire and empower them to engage in the writing process. Both parties need to invest energy in the writing process; one as the writer and the other as teacher (instruction, role-modelling, motivating/inspiring) and reader of the written work (grading, feedback). When I grade writing that is clearly plagiarised, the non-engagement on behalf of the writer equates to a score of zero. Not all students of course will immediately understand plagiarism rules nor necessarily be motivated to engage deeply in their learning/writing activities. However teachers have a responsibility to include appropriate material in courses and invest appropriate energy in addressing quality writing if progress with this interminable issue is to be achieved. Without engagement in the writing process both learners and teachers may end up 'missing in action'. This presentation invites discussion on this engagement philosophy of plagiarism and the implications for learners and teachers alike.
Keywords: plagiarism, writing skills, academic integrity


The journal article incubator approach to teaching writing skills and enhancing research outputs
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Angus Morrison-Saunders
Murdoch University and North West University, South Africa
Richard Bell
Murdoch University
Francois Retief
North West University, South Africa
Email: a.morrison-saunders@murdoch.edu.au, r.bell@murdoch.edu.au, Francois.Retief@nwu.ac.za

The journal article incubator approach to teaching writing skills to researchers and academics involves a series of engaging and inclusive workshops in which best practice writing, reviewing and rewriting skills are modelled by the presenters and practiced by the participants. This paper describes the design and operation of two incubator workshops conducted recently in Australia and South Africa as well as some earlier workshops in Thailand and Vietnam. These are set in the context of a review of literature drawn principally from published journal articles on writing for peer-reviewed journals. There are three stages to the incubator process, learning about journal article writing and publishing, critiquing the writing of previously published works including critiquing the draft manuscripts of workshop participants, and having participants write their own complete journal article manuscript. Each stage is described and evaluated in detail with the discussion providing the feedback from participants in the incubator workshops carried out by the authors to date. Overall there are many benefits to the incubator approach for teaching writing skills including developing collegiality and relationship building within faculties, increasing exposure of individuals to the research work of others, developing confidence and writing skills for less experienced authors and academics, inspiring academic researchers to be more creative in their writing, and modelling and prioritising effective writing practices as an academic activity. Finally the incubator approach enhances research outputs with respect to publishing whilst at the same time being an effective teaching and learning approach for enhancing academic writing skills.
Keywords: teaching writing skills, writing journal articles, publishing, journal writing incubator, modelling good practice


55 Minute Workshop
Experiential learning via the Google Online Marketing Challenge

Jamie Murphy
Murdoch University
Email: jamie.murphy@murdoch.edu.au

The workshop introduces an award winning in-class exercise and competition based on experiential learning. The Google Online Marketing Challenge [http://www.google.com/onlinechallenge/] won the 2011 American Marketing Association award for Innovation in Marketing Education. The Challenge provides a data set and research publications for those studying experiential learning, particularly cross-cultural aspects. On an applied level, the Challenge fits many disciplines such as creative writing, computer science, strategic management, marketing, information technology, communication, advertising, public relations and e-commerce.

Students participating in the Challenge experience running online advertising campaigns for real clients, discussing online marketing and testing creative writing as well as structured learning materials and often online advertising work afterwards. Academics get structured learning materials and an exciting group project. The university gets outreach opportunities. The client businesses get $250 in real advertising complemented by reasoned suggestions for their online marketing.

The workshop includes an introductory outline, small group discussions and finally, a general discussion. Participants first review online advertising, particularly Google AdWords and AdSense, via live demonstrations. Next, participants review the pedagogical materials for the Google Online Marketing Challenge, followed by discussions of the Challenge. The workshop introduces published research and data related to experiential learning. Interested attendees could have a US$50 voucher to test drive Google advertising before or after the workshop. Finally, the workshop introduces a Challenge data set and research publications. Participants are encouraged to use these academic resources for research of experiential learning.

A working list of publications and presentations related to the Challenge is at http://www.google.com/onlinechallenge/research_full.html


Expanding horizons: Fostering and retaining regional student engagement in higher education

Renee Parnell and Michele Doray
Curtin University
Email: r.parnell@curtin.edu.au, M.B.A.Doray@curtin.edu.au

As a component of the non-traditional tertiary student sector, regional students are often assigned to the 'local' student classification without specific support available for their significant financial and cultural transition upon commencing higher education. Prof. Keithia Wilson's research from Griffith University indicates that non-traditional students are found to have specific support requirements to enable optimum learning engagement, which if accessed, will see them equal or surpass the academic success of their traditional counterparts.

This study, conducted through a series of regional student interviews and focus groups within the high stakes programs of Architecture and Interior Architecture at Curtin University, surmises student identified issues and proposes solutions for enhancing regional student engagement and retention, supported by research from others in the higher education sector pertaining to non-traditional student efficacy.

This presentation in particular aims to raise awareness of the specific challenges faced by the regional component of our local student cohort as we endeavour to raise rural and remote student aspirations and suggest provisions for assisting their transition to higher education. This is considered alongside the recommendations of the Review of Australian Higher Education (Bradley, 2008) and alongside Tinto's view that 'Access without support is not opportunity.' (Tinto, 2008).
Keywords: remote regional non-traditional student engagement retention fostering success support, high stakes programs


Navigating the unexpected: Regional community engagement with authentic learning outcomes

Renee Parnell and Dianne Smith
Curtin University
Email: r.parnell@curtin.edu.au, dianne.smith@curtin.edu.au

Navigating authentic learning involves risk. Staff, who adopt such strategies to engage students and foster deep learning, are confronted by the ambiguity and fluidity inherent in learning environments that enable students to be independent, responsible learners and which invite other stakeholders into the mix in real time. Such settings involve both trust and an ability to embrace circumstances as-they-unfold rather than as initially structured.

Through this presentation a community based project, held in and with a culturally diverse rural Western Australian community, is described through the experiences of the four interior architecture staff- both full time and sessional, juxtaposed with the views of external stake holders and the students' reflections to inform the analysis. The experiences are captured through both personal narratives and collective discussions as the project unfolded, with some authentic learning engagement and some unanticipated learning outcomes.

The aim of this presentation is to share the experience of running an intensive regional field trip with a large student group, to assist other academics to navigate the complexity of authentic and/or community based projects and to encourage others to embrace the risk embedded in such situations.
Keywords: risk, authentic learning, transformation, navigation, community engagement


55 Minute Workshop
Obstacles and barriers to effective progress in educational development for early career academics

Lee Partridge
The University of Western Australia
Email: lee.partridge@uwa.edu.au

In 2002 one of the facilitators of this workshop delivered a paper at The International Consortium for Educational Development (ICED) meeting in Perth entitled "Are teaching workshops worthwhile?" in which some of the barriers to effective transfer of learning in academic development were articulated and recommendations for improvement offered (Jacob & Goody, 2002). Ten years on, has anything changed? Those working in the field would likely argue - not much! A number of the same questions remain: What is the reason for the phenomenon? Does the stone-walling of innovative teaching happen more in particular types of universities or disciplines? Are there strategies that academic staff, academic developers and administrators can use to address this problem? What effect does this have on early career academics and is there anything they can do about it? This workshop will attempt to collaboratively address and answer these questions.

While this issue is not novel, a new imperative has arisen with a growing international interest in the impact and effectiveness of programs and activities that prepare academics to teach in higher education. This workshop, designed to reinvigorate debate around the issue, is particularly timely in the current context of a larger international focus on quality assurance in higher education teaching and learning. Participants will be given, and contribute to, a contemporary view of the issues. An overview of recent research into the phenomenon will be provided followed by an exploration of the key questions:

The workshop is suited to a range of academics, from sessional tutors to DVCs (Education). However academic developers and people in teaching and learning leadership roles such as Deans, Heads of School and Unit Coordinators may benefit specifically from this session.

Spafford Jacob, H. & Goody, A. (2002). Are teaching workshops worthwhile? In A. Goody & D. Ingram (Eds.), Spheres of influence: Ventures and visions in educational development. Perth: The University of Western Australia. http://www.csd.uwa.edu.au/ICED2002/publication/
The University of Western Australia (2011). Identification and implementation of indicators and measures of impact on teaching preparation programs in Higher Education: Literature review. http://www.catl.uwa.edu.au/projects/tpp_impact/Literature_Review


Mission impossible: Select entry degrees and equity

Lee Partridge, Sally Sandover and Jenna Mead
The University of Western Australia
Email: Lee.Partridge@uwa.edu.au, Sally.Sandover@uwa.edu.au, jenna.mead@uwa.edu.au

Select-entry degrees, like the BPhil (Hons), raise the question of how requirements for "equity and diversity" can be satisfied. ANU's PhB Co-ordinator, Paula Newitt, comments that "[t]he issue of equity and relativity of assessment across a wide range of research experiences is non-trivial." UWA's BPhil engages with "equity" in the Admissions Policy for the degree by designating 10 "equity and diversity places" as sub-quotas alongside the 30 mainstream intake into the degree. These are two different understandings of "equity" with two different points of application.

Our argument is that while entry requirements can (and should) be sufficiently flexible to recognise different but comparable cohorts and that assessment processes can be managed to enable inequities to be accommodated, the design of a pedagogical model for collaborative undergraduate research training offers significant opportunities for implementing "[e]quity and merit as the fundamental principles for the achievement of the full potential of all staff and students" as articulated in the Charter of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

This paper is speculative and we aim to investigate the potential strengths and limitations of an undergraduate research-training model, such as ULTRIS, the demands of an innovative program with new cohort and values around equity.
Keywords equity, select-entry degree, collaborative learning


Supporting unit coordinators: Just in time, just for me

Coral Pepper
Edith Cowan University, SW Campus
Susan Roberts
Murdoch University
Email: c.pepper@ecu.edu.au, s.roberts@murdoch.edu.au

With ALTC funding we are investigating the leadership experience of Unit Coordinators in a selection of Australian universities. In this presentation we report on the first phase of the project which was to craft narratives from 60 interviews conducted with unit coordinators employed across Australia. Our semi-structured interviews were designed to gather information about participants': job satisfaction; perceptions of leading learning and; perceptions of professional support. Narrative accounts were used to present our data as they permit descriptions of 'the lived experience' of our participants. Narratives also enable participants' stories and descriptions of experience to be honoured while also supporting the criteria for 'good educational research' as they contribute to peoples' well being.

After interrogating our data we found nine themes regularly occurring across the narratives. These themes are; teaching and assessment, starting out, managing workloads and complexity, maintaining and improving unit quality, administering and complying with policy, leading learning, working with sessional staff, the research/teaching dilemma and, feeling isolated. Our first finding is that for some participants leading learning is challenging and for others leadership was not viewed as their responsibility. Our second finding is that few unit coordinators describe strong institutional support for their role and that instead they rely on their colleagues and their own resilience to complete their work responsibilities. Despite these findings, in the main, participants enjoy their work.

In the second phase of the project our narrative accounts and resources linked to the themes identified in them will be uploaded to a purpose build website.


Using the 4MAT model to engage nursing students in the classroom

Maryanne Pestell, Prue Andrus and Paul Morrison
Murdoch University
Email: m.pestell@murdoch.edu.au, p.andrus@murdoch.edu.au, p.morrison@murdoch.edu.au

Engaging students with diverse backgrounds and abilities continues to be a challenge for new and experienced lecturers alike. Lack of engagement is evidenced by non attendance at lectures, attending but not participating in tutorials, a lack of preparation, and distraction by use of social media resulting in some cases withdrawing from the unit. Students who display this behaviour tend to achieve the bare minimum to pass. As part of our professional development program we attended an in-service on the teaching model known as 4MAT which aims to create an inclusive learning environment. We then applied this teaching model to a unit for final semester Bachelor of Nursing students in 2011.

The 4MAT cycle is a holistic pedagogy founded on experiential learning theory (ref). The model also draws on the influential works of Dewey, Kolb, Jung and others. The 4MAT cycle acknowledges that individuals learn in different but identifiable ways and these different learning styles are linked to motivation and performance in the classroom. The model highlights four learning styles which teachers must address in order to create an equitable and engaging learning environment. This approach informed the development of weekly lesson plans and assessment instruments across the semester.

Noticeable changes in the levels of active engagement were observed in students (and tutors) in the classroom. Moreover the end of semester student evaluations indicated that students enjoyed the inclusive learning environment. This was supported by the tutors reflections and review of the semester. We plan to explore the potential of 4MAT into the future.
Keywords: inclusive learning environment, engagement, 4MAT, experience


Learning analytics and study behaviour: A pilot study

Rob Phillips, Dorit Maor, Wendy Cumming-Potvin, Pauline Roberts and Jan Herrington
Murdoch University
Greg Preston
The University of Newcastle
Email: r.phillips@murdoch.edu.au

Increasing flexibility in higher education is being provided to meet the needs of a diverse student body. Technologies such as lecture-capture systems, e.g. Lectopia, have been employed by many universities to provide flexibility through on-demand access to recorded lectures. The analysis of student access to these systems is a growing area of interest for teachers in higher education wishing to improve the student learning experience.

This presentation reports on the development of a learning analytic tool to examine Lectopia usage logs to identify usage patterns among students. It then describes a case study conducted as part of a wider multi-university study which offers a detailed snapshot of four students whose access to Lectopia recordings were tracked and analysed. These students were subsequently interviewed to confirm or disconfirm assumptions made about their study methods from the analysis. The data suggest that patterns of use of Lectopia vary greatly across the student cohorts studied. The analysis also revealed that a surface analysis using learning analytics was largely insufficient to determine student study characteristics, but qualitative data provided rich information to supplement that analysis. Suggestions are made for further research into how this emerging methodology can be further developed and strengthened.


55 Minute Workshop
Engaging students in a new media assessment

Will Rifkin
University of Sydney
Daniel Southam
Curtin University
Email: willrifkinphd@gmail.com, d.southam@curtin.edu.au

Could your students make a wiki to compile information on a key topic or record a podcast to explain an important concept? Composing in such media may be the next graduate attribute. Professionals, like ourselves, are increasingly represented and engaged on the web.

'New media' assignments are not about the technology. Many students can, after all, create their own Facebook page or record video on their mobile phone. New media assignments are about:

In this workshop, you will learn how to create and assess a 'new media' assignment. You will hear about examples of assignments now in use, and you will work with others to outline your own assignment. 'New media' assignments are being used increasingly by some of the most innovative and effective lecturers around the country. That is what we found in our two-year, ALTC-funded, New Media for Science project. Assignments to produce a video or contribute to a blog, for example, have been developed for service subjects, where student engagement is an issue. They engage because they are perceived as forms of authentic assessment. Students can address real audiences within and beyond the class employing media and forms of composition that they encounter in their lives outside university. Their application clearly reaches beyond science.

Theory and an increasing volume of data suggest that students develop not only graduate attributes - communication, teamwork, critical thinking, ethics - but greater understanding of content. Examples illustrate how issues of access to and familiarity with new technologies for both student and lecturer are being addressed successfully. These assignments are providing practical solutions to challenging problems, such as a decrease in funding for laboratory exercises. Challenges remain, with 'early adopters' asking about criteria for assessment. Some fear an overemphasis by students on making their submission look nice, spending too much time on special effects and not enough time on content. Pioneers wonder how their colleagues will scaffold student development in this domain. These challenges cannot be ignored, either in class or in the professional world.

Attend our workshop to 'get your feet wet'. Join a growing community of practice on new media assessment. See http://newmediaforscience-research.wikispaces.com


Can standards drop? Social inclusion agenda and academic standards
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Mahsood Shah
RMIT University
Chenicheri Sid. Nair
The University of Western Australia
Email: mahsood.shah@rmit.edu.au, sid.nair@uwa.edu.au

The social inclusion policies are implemented in the higher education sector to provide access and opportunity for all groups of people irrespective of their social class to participate in higher education. Such policies ensure that every citizen has access to elite education which enables them to succeed and improve their life chances. The renewal of quality assurance in Australian higher education with focus on academic standards and government's aspiration to increase the proportion of disadvantaged students by 2020 in tertiary education raises the question on the extent to which social inclusion policies could lower academic standards. This paper argues that contemporary trends such as increased student diversity; changing pattern of student participation in higher education; preparedness of many students for tertiary education; and new modes of learning will continue to grow and it is not necessary that such changes will lower academic standards. The authors provide a case of an Australian university with success in the social inclusion agenda with positive outcomes with access and participation and comparable academic outcomes.
Keywords: academic standards, social inclusion


Designing an authentic blend: Development of a 'real-life' learning environment for higher education
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Tara Smith and Jenni Parker
Edith Cowan University
Email: Tara.smith@ecu.edu.au, jenni.parker@ecu.edu.au

Increasing student enrolments in higher education have created new challenges for universities to address, if they are to provide quality learning experiences for all students. One key challenge is identifying how to construct more flexible, interactive and engaging student-centred environments that can support students' transition to the workplace. A partial educational design research approach was employed to investigate how an authentic, blended learning environment could be designed to offer students real-life learning experiences supported by new technologies. Educational design research consists of four connected phases: analysis, development of solutions, iterative cycles of testing and refining solutions and reflection and production of design principles (Reeves, 2006). This paper discusses the first two phases of the research study. It identifies the aim of the study then describes the course context, the reengineered teaching and learning processes, the development of the learning and assessment tasks and the implementation of the first iteration of the course. The course is still in progress, therefore, subsequent phases; data collection and analysis methods, results and recommendations will be described in a future paper.
Keywords: real life tasks, blended learning, higher education


Students' learning experience with learning management systems: A UWA case study

Xingchen (Chase) Song
The University of Western Australia
Email: songx02@student.uwa.edu.au

Learning management systems (LMS) are widely adopted in Australia and worldwide. It is believed that LMS can support various teaching and learning activities, and deliver great benefits to teachers and students. However, previous research into LMS often focused on its technical or administrative aspects, but neglected its pedagogical influences. Based on the DeLone and McLean Information System (IS) Success Model, this study explored students' experiences of using LMS through interviews with eleven postgraduate students from the University of Western Australia (UWA) Business School. It contributes to the understanding of the pedagogical impacts of LMS from the students' perspective. Findings included students' experiences and perceptions regarding information, system and service quality of LMS; their use of LMS and satisfaction; as well as their intellectual, practical and emotional benefits received from using the system. These findings indicated that information quality was an important motivation for students to use LMS, but technical problems with the system were obstacles. Moreover, teachers' use of LMS was found to be influential on students' use of the system and the learning benefits they received. Based on the findings, a revised DeLone and McLean IS success model in LMS context was proposed- a "LMS Success Model". Finally, suggestions on future research are made to further validate the revised model.
Keywords: Learning management system, student experience, pedagogical impacts, IS success


55 Minute Workshop
Well-being and student placements: An experiential exploration for educators

Katrina Stratton and Susan Bailey
The University of Western Australia
Email: Katrina.Stratton@uwa.edu.au, Susan.Bailey@uwa.edu.au

Assessed placements are a core educational component and requirement of many professional courses in the tertiary setting. Disciplines as diverse as social work, nursing, education, medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and business, require students to undertake assessed placements. The educational, role, and time demands of placement mean students are at risk of experiencing stress and vulnerability. These stresses and vulnerabilities are compounded for students who are from low socio-economic status backgrounds, living with a disability, International students, students from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, students with caring responsibilities and those already living with a mental health condition. All universities have a duty of care to ensure that students' mental health well-being is not compromised by placement requirements.

In recognition of these challenges, staff and students from the Discipline of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Western Australia undertook research which then informed the development of a series of Mental Health Well-Being seminars for students undertaking their first assessed placement. These seminars provided students with the opportunity to learn about well-being theories, develop an individual well-being plan, then reflect upon and enact this plan. Initial evaluations indicate that these seminars have contributed to students valuing and prioritising well-being practices.

This workshop, which will be facilitated by educators with a combined 20 years of placement teaching experience, will provide participants with the opportunity to explore and develop an understanding of mental health well-being in the placement setting. It will include a summary of informing theories, introduce strategies and techniques for responding to discipline-specific well-being needs on placements, and finally participants will develop their own well-being plan in an experiential activity.
Keywords: placement, field education, mental health, inclusion, well-being, mental health well-being, diversity.


The iPad and pre-service teachers: Revolutionary learning tool or fancy entertainment device?

Michelle Striepe, Christine Howitt and Mark Pegrum
The University of Western Australia
Email: michelle.striepe@uwa.edu.au, christine.howitt@uwa.edu.au, mark.pegrum@uwa.edu.au

Given the rapid spread of mobile handheld devices within education, empirical research on how they can be utilised to improve student learning is limited. The iPad is one example of a mobile device which is increasingly being adopted by different educational sectors, but there is currently little empirical evidence on whether, or how, it improves or supports student learning. This paper reports on the initial findings of a research project which aims to uncover how the iPad can contribute to the learning of pre-service teachers. Case studies of eight purposively selected pre-service teachers were developed from semi-structured interviews to illustrate how the iPads were being used. Data was also collected from questionnaires and a focus group interview to develop insights into how the students' use of the iPad assisted their learning and understanding of the content in their teaching course, and how they used the iPad in their own teaching. It was found that the extent to which the iPad facilitated participants' learning was influenced by four key factors: how the device was utilised by their lecturers, the pre-service teachers' own attitudes towards the iPad, their understanding of the iPad's capabilities, and their past experience with and knowledge of technology. On the basis of these findings, recommendations will be made for developing pedagogical best practice for the use of iPads in teacher education courses.


Perceptions of learning and assessment in beginners and intermediate level Italian Studies
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Rebekah Sturniolo-Baker and Rocco Loiacono
The University of Western Australia
Email: sturnr01@student.uwa.edu.au, loiacr01@student.uwa.edu.au

Much research has been conducted into devising assessment that is FOR learning, rather than OF learning. Such research suggests this can be best achieved by giving students regular, low-stakes assessment, which aids both the student and teacher in measuring progress and gives an opportunity for more feedback to be provided to the student, thereby creating a more inclusive learning environment. In our discipline, Italian Studies, there have been attempts to give practical application to this research by giving students assessment on a more regular basis. It was decided, therefore, to assign students regular in-class tests of 20 to 30 minutes duration.

In taking this step, it was believed that regular in-class testing can provide students with smaller milestones to work towards, as well as giving teachers a clearer idea as to student progress, so any weaknesses can be identified and worked on. While regarded in the literature as best practice, we wanted to determine both staff and, more importantly, student perceptions as to whether they believed it creates a more inclusive environment which is conducive to learning for all students. Our study suggests that students (as well as staff) very strongly believe that their needs are better served by having regular, low-stakes in-class assessment. This result lends ongoing support to the ideal of assessment FOR learning across disciplines.


Benefits and risks of using blogs in university teaching

Miriam Sullivan and Nancy Longnecker
The University of Western Australia
Email: Miriam.sullivan@uwa.edu.au, nancy.longnecker@uwa.edu.au

Internet blogging has become popular as an educational tool for university teaching. Blogging is known to have many benefits for students, including enhancing writing skills, increasing interaction between students and encouraging cumulative learning across the semester. However, most research has so far looked at individual blogs, which create a large marking load for teaching staff. The alternative is class blogs, which encourage greater interaction between students.

We used surveys, student feedback and website metrics to evaluate four class blogs run in different science communication units with total of 122 students. Students agreed that blogging improved their writing skills and increased intellectual exchange. On average, each student post was commented on by at least four other students and knowing that their peers read their work was a significant source of motivation. Students were less motivated by knowing the blog could be read by the general public, although most agreed that it should be freely available on the internet. Although the blogs only ran for the three months of semester, all received over 2000 views and continue to attract readers despite no new content being added.

Class blogs can be a useful learning tool and create opportunities for community amongst students. However, course co-coordinators should consider how well the assignment integrates with the rest of their unit and be aware of the risks involved with making student work available to the public.
Keywords: blogging, motivation, assignment design


Embedding innovative assessment practices: Developing students' critical appraisal skills
Refereed Professional Practice paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Susan Teather and Catherine Moore
Edith Cowan University
Email: s.teather@ecu.edu.au, c.moore@ecu.edu.au

There is a growing imperative in tertiary education (nationally and internationally) to produce graduates who can work collaboratively to assess and improve their own work and that of others (Bologna Process, 2010: Boud & Falchikov, 2006; Oliver, 2011). At ECU our new undergraduate curriculum framework titled Curriculum 2012: Enabling the learning journey promotes assessment for learning. This develops both the capacity to learn and the ability to direct learning. In order to successfully direct their own learning beyond university, students need to be able to identify the standard of performance to which they should aspire as a result of that learning, accurately locate where they are in relation to the standard, and then develop pathways to bridge the gap. In other words they need to engage in formative assessment.

This paper reveals how one lecturer introduced innovative practices in teaching and assessment in order to enhance her students' ability to direct their own learning, to increase the value students place on their feedback, to ensure their active engagement with feedback, and ultimately to develop students' ability to calibrate their own judgement about their learning. The innovation was designed to increase student understanding of what constitutes academic rigour within the discipline as well as the standards required for success in real world endeavours.
Keywords: critical appraisal, assessment, feedback, formative, academic rigour, lifelong learning


University students' perceptions of peer assessment in Health and Physical Education

Greg Thompson and Ross Williams
Murdoch University
Email: Greg.Thompson@murdoch.edu.au, r.j.williams@murdoch.edu.au

There has been much written about assessment of student learning in Health and Physical Education (HPE). Traditionally, HPE has been seen as a subject where skill acquisition has been the main focus of assessment. Recent research has suggested that this model is not inclusive of student abilities and privileges certain styles of learning over others. Within the HPE Learning Area there has been a call for more inclusive methods of assessment (Hay, 2009; Glasby, 2006). The idea of the 'good' HPE student as one who excels in the physical domain is at odds with a curriculum that prioritises the affective domain. Subsequent research has suggested that there has been little change in HPE assessment practices in the school. This presentation reports on preliminary findings gathered from a study that explores HPE student-teacher's perspectives and opinions regarding one of these alternative strategies - peer assessment. Data was collected during a second year University HPE unit, where peer assessment was a central and required assessment task. Students were asked to report on their current perceptions, thoughts, opinions and experiences with peer assessment. Participant responses have provided valuable information about the experience of peer assessment in modifying perceptions of peer assessment in the HPE context. Participants have made explicit the reasons why peer assessment could be valuable in a HPE class. This research contributes to the discussion around inclusive assessment strategies and how these may be used productively and effectively in schools.


Engaging students in discussion board participation: Strategies for online teaching and learning

Raelene Tifflin and Dimity Wehr
Curtin University
Email: R.Tifflin@curtin.edu.au, D.Wehr@curtin.edu.au

The growth in the online delivery of coursework has seen many academics debating the approaches and strategies that can be used to engage and support their students. Encouraging students to participate in discussion forums can be a challenge in an online learning environment and the merits of graded vs ungraded student discussion board participation emerges as a topic that occupies many academics involved in online delivery. Balancing the formative and summative elements of assessment and providing meaningful opportunities for active learning necessitates students' involvement with activities under conditions that predispose quality learning. Possible strategies for engaging students and improving participation in online discussion board forums are suggested, and include: design and development of rubrics that provide students with clear guidelines around their contribution (whether graded or ungraded); creation of explicit links between discussion board participation and weighted assessment tasks; and, opportunities for students to construct their own meaningful learning tasks. These are all considered to be critical in successfully engaging students in discussion board activities.
Keywords: online discussion engagement student strategies participation rubric forum learning


Does international clinical fieldwork experience improve the employability of students?

Kristy Tomlinson, B-K Tan and Helen Flavell
Curtin University
Email: bk.tan@curtin.edu.au

Aside from anecdotal evidence, very little research has been conducted into whether international fieldwork experiences in the area of Health Sciences increase a student's employability. Curtin University's Go Global program was launched in 2001 as the School of Occupational Therapy Study Abroad program, known as "OT Abroad". As the program's popularity grew, it evolved into the current Go Global program, which offers cross cultural inter-professional clinical placement opportunities for final year students from various disciplines across the Faculty of Health Sciences. The practicum involves students working in an interprofessional team with students from a range of disciplines including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, pharmacy, nursing and dietetics to plan, deliver and evaluate quality and sustainable community healthcare services. These international clinical placements create an opportunity for students to develop skills and apply knowledge in a service-learning context, while improving health standards and building health care capacity in other countries. Whilst students' reflective journals suggest they appreciate the value of the placement on their ability to develop key professional competencies, the extent to which Curtin University's Go Global program contributes to students attaining the desired University graduate attributes has not been systematically determined. This presentation aims to present the proposed evaluation plan to investigate the impact of Go Global on the attainment of graduate attributes through self (graduate), teaching team and employer assessment.


Teaching and cultural diversity

Kathryn Trees
Murdoch University
Email: K.Trees@murdoch.edu.au

Teachers and students are challenged by cultural diversity in the classroom. International and local students come to class with different expectations of unit content, levels of participation, reading and writing skills, language abilities and more. This paper discusses strategies employed in teaching a combination of international and local Australian students. It reports on changes to teaching strategies, from one year to the next, as a response to reflecting on interactions between a previous group of students. The strategies are designed to: achieve successful learning interactions between students; have international students fully participating in class discussions; have all students draw on and share information from their national/ cultural knowledge to inform the unit content; have all students appreciate that the Australian context and local students' knowledge is an example to draw on, in the same way that international students' background is, it is not the norm. In doing this, the paper discusses the difficulties that local students may have adapting to large numbers of International students in the class because of the necessary changes to the way classes operate. The paper explores the successes and failings of these strategies with a view to opening up discussions between teachers and developing further approaches that are inclusive of all students.
Keywords: teaching, cultural diversity, international and local students, reflexive practice.


Critical incidents in tertiary teacher development

David Tripp
Murdoch University
Email: tripp@skymesh.com.au

Critical incident analysis is principally an engaging and effective way to learn from both theory and practice. It can also provide evaluative data, and is a powerful tool for inductive research on practice. In the paper David will outline some key features of the method.


Student retention and co-teaching: Utilising expert staff and educational theory to promote motivation

Kent Turkich, Shane Greive and Paul Cozens
Curtin University
Email: S.Greive@exchange.curtin.edu.au, insectsurf@bigpond.com, p.cozens@curtin.edu.au

Reducing student dropout rates among first years is a fairly common concern and challenge, and for Curtin University in 2012, it has been identified as an explicit goal. This research reports on an initiative which reduced drop-out rates by using theories from education psychology to enhance the learning experience and motivation of diverse students. Targeting 1st year Urban and Regional Planning students, a range of mostly student-centred theories were placed up-front in the lesson planning process. Based on student feedback and retention, we highlight those theories which were most readily and effectively diffused in this educational context, arriving at a simple model of university lesson planning which sits comfortably with the discipline being taught. Further, the research suggests a mechanism of teaching and learning development, whereby a teacher knowledgeable in educational theory acts to disperse that knowledge in situ, leading to a teaching and learning culture. Aside from enhancing student retention, other benefits were forthcoming. Importantly for staff, lesson planning was rendered easier and more purposeful; potentially providing more time for academic output and "fitting it all in". In the midst of a chronic staff shortage on the one hand, and increasing student numbers on the other, large classes were made manageable. Never-the-less, some stumbling blocks to the implementation of this initiative were encountered.


Developing a research design for comparative evaluation of marking and feedback support systems
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

John R. Venable, Ashley Aitken, Vanessa Chang, Heinz Dreher, Tomayess Issa, Brian von Konsky and Lincoln Wood
Curtin University
Email: J.Venable@curtin.edu.au, A.Aitken@curtin.edu.au, V.S.Chang@curtin.edu.au, H.Dreher@curtin.edu.au, T.Issa@curtin.edu.au, B.vonKonsky@curtin.edu.au, L.Wood@curtin.edu.au

Marking and provision of formative feedback on student assessment items are essential but onerous and potentially error prone activities in teaching and learning. Marking and Feedback Support Systems (MFSS) aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of human (not automated) marking and provision of feedback, resulting in reduced marking time, improved accuracy of marks, improved student satisfaction with feedback, and improved student learning.

This paper highlights issues in rigorous evaluation of MFSS, including potential confounding variables as well as ethical issues relating to fairness of actual student assessments during evaluation. To address these issues the paper proposes an evaluation research approach, which combines artificial evaluation in the form of a controlled field experiment with naturalistic evaluation in the form of a field study, with the evaluation to be conducted through the live application of the MFSS being evaluated on a variety of units, assessment items, and marking schemes. The controlled field experiment approach requires the assessment item for each student to be marked once each using each MFSS together with a manual (non-MFSS) marking control method. It also requires markers to use all the MFSS as well as the manual method.

Through such a design, the results of the comparative evaluation will facilitate design-based education research to further develop MFSS with the overall goal of more efficient and effective assessment and feedback systems and practices to enhance teaching and learning.
Keywords: marking and feedback support system, teaching technology evaluation, research design


Utilising scenarios to reinforce clinical skills in second year undergraduate nursing students

Peter Wall, Prue Andrus and Paul Morrison
Murdoch University
Email: P.Wall@murdoch.edu.au, P.Andrus@murdoch.edu.au, P.Morrison@murdoch.edu.au

At Murdoch University's Peel Campus our undergraduate nurses receive theory in the form of both lectures and tutorials; they then apply these skills during their clinical practicum. Bridging this theory - practice gap is a challenge for many nursing programs. One of the strategies to address this is to utilise scenarios to engage the students and turn theory into reality.

The aim was to engage the 2nd year students by using a low-fidelity simulation incorporating many of the skills they had learnt during the semester. These included medical surgical interventions to prepare the student for their next clinical practicum. The scenario focused on a slowly deteriorating patient. 5 students participated and a team leader was nominated. A manikin in our simulated medical-surgical ward was used with the tutor dictating changes in the "patient's" condition. This included deteriorating observations, changes in laboratory results and altered patient behaviours; requiring the students to assess, formulate a plan, implement it and evaluate the outcome. Some of the interventions included commencing a blood transfusion, inserting an indwelling catheter, upgrading the oxygen supply device, initiating analgesia and contacting medical staff.

This presentation reports on the planning and organisation of the scenarios, as well as identifying areas requiring further development.


Staff engagement with support mechanisms that promote and improve teaching practices: Perceptions of lecturers

Rashmi Watson
The University of Western Australia
Email: rashmi.watson@uwa.edu.au

A variety of scholarly support mechanisms for academic teaching staff exist through a variety of formats including: resources, programs, events and funds. The level of individual staff engagement with each varies and is dependent on numerous variables. The perceptions of lecturers will be reported in relation to engagement factors that afford or inhibit access, application and sustainability to the variety of teaching and learning support that is available.

Secondly, this study further examine these factors that engage staff and whether these have led to long-term outcomes such as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), one of the major initiatives to increase both the status of teaching in higher education and the student experience in the past 20 years. This paper will report specifically on the findings from a recent review of one of the support mechanisms offered by a university through the provision of minor grants for teaching and learning related semester-long projects. The review was applied through an online survey and focus groups exploring staff perceptions around factors that enabled them to become engaged with teaching and learning and the related factors.

In summary, the paper offers recommendations and a framework which outline elements that support staff engagement to access, apply, and sustain the current support mechanisms to improve and promote teaching practices.


The demise of upper schooling for university bound students: Challenging the policy drivers in Western Australia

Don Watts and Keith McNaught
The University of Notre Dame Australia
Email: dwatts@nd.edu.au, keith.mcnaught@nd.edu.au

The majority of 2011 Western Australian school leavers, bound for university in 2012, will have completed four examinable subjects, with the only compulsory requirement being an English course. Over a relatively short period of time, the state's expectations for upper secondary schooling, for university bound students, changed dramatically. Whilst many of the changes were designed to better cater for less academic students, the negative impact on academically capable students is apparent as these students transition into higher education. Until the early 1980's in Western Australia, students intending to study at university completed a comparatively rigorous academic preparation path. Most studied seven examinable subjects, and those subjects were chosen from 'lists' which ensured English, Mathematics, Sciences and Humanities were part of a balanced upper secondary education. In addition to the seven exams, students also completed a 'scaling test', a tool used in the moderation of marks. Subjects of a less academic nature were counted partially, not fully, towards the final tertiary entrance score awarded. Policies and practices which have allowed the intellectual rigour of upper secondary 'university bound' pathways to be significantly reduced are identified, and challenged in an examination of accountability mechanisms and processes. The impact of the changing policies has included a stratification between independent and government school sectors, which is examined through publically available data showing the undesirable discrepancies which exist, creating a new inequity which needs to be addressed.


55 Minute Panel Discussion
Being on common ground: Facilitating increased cross-cultural interactions in diverse learning contexts

Craig Whitsed, Ingrid Richardson, Jan Gothard, Julia Hobson, Helen Middleton & Megan Paull
Murdoch University
Email: C.Whitsed@murdoch.edu.au

Increasingly in the internationalisation of the curriculum discourse, domestic and international student cross-cultural interaction is identified as a critical and challenging priority across the university sector nationally and internationally. Domestic and international research suggests both international and local students exhibit high degrees of reluctance towards mixing in and outside of learning contexts. Therefore, it is increasingly seen as being important to place an emphasis on engineering cross-cultural interactions in learning contexts, though this is not without its challenges for both academic staff and students.

Building on the ALTC project Finding common ground: Enhancing interaction between domestic and international students [http://www.altc.edu.au/resource-finding-common-ground-enhancing-interaction-between-domestic-and-international-students-fin] five academics from across Murdoch University employed the Interaction for Learning Framework to facilitate increased opportunities for students to interact outside their cultural groups while engaging in authentic learning tasks and contexts.

The units used to implement the framework included: a part-one service-teaching unit Introduction to Statistics, a history unit Australia and its Asian Context, a general elective unit From University to Work Place, a business postgraduate coursework unit Organisational Behaviour and a Mass-communication and Media unit Children and the Media.

The original project identified several potential benefits linked to increased interactions for learning across linguistic and cultural groups, such as, increased awareness of different perspectives and better preparation for employment. The study also identified impediments from both the teaching and learning perspectives. From the perspective of academic staff, challenges included perceptions concerning the time required to facilitate increased interactions in 'crowded' and 'heavy' curricula. From the student perspective challenges identified included perceived levels of English proficiency, limited time spent on campus, and different academic priorities. The study concluded that in spite of the challenges, if interactions across linguistic and cultural groups are encouraged and supported, there are gains to be made for academic staff and students [http://www.altc.edu.au/resource-finding-common-ground-enhancing-interaction-between-domestic-and-international-students-fin].

In this presentation each academic involved in the project at Murdoch University will report on how they implemented the Framework in their particular unit, their observations, the challenges and future directions. All experienced levels of success in increasing student interaction and cross-cultural mixing in these diverse learning contexts. A significant and surprising outcome of the project was the degree to which the participating academics, through their regular interactions, found they had 'common ground'.

Key learnings arising out of this project are: facilitating increased cross-cultural interactions does not require a significant re-writing of unit content, students may grumble about mixing but they acknowledge it is a required workplace competency, and a focus on process rather than content can lead students to increased intercultural awareness and understandings. Facilitating opportunities for academic staff to share and collaborate outside of their discipline context can, as in the case of this project, produce a community of practice who then champion internationalisation of the curriculum across the broader university community.


Simsoft: A game for teaching project risk management
Refereed Research paper. Full text on website [PDF] [HTML]

Jianhong (Cecilia) Xia
Curtin University
Craig Caulfield
Edith Cowan University
David Baccarini and Shelley Yeo
Curtin University
Email: c.xia@curtin.edu.au, ccaulfie@our.ecu.edu.au, D.Baccarini@curtin.edu.au, s.yeo@curtin.edu.au

Risks are part of every project and no amount of planning can anticipate every contingency. Risk management, a major component in any project management education program, is the systematic identification, monitoring and mitigation of risks so that projects have the best chance of success. Risk management education has traditionally been taught in a classroom setting, but this method can be expensive, slow and rigid. Business games - interactive learning environments in which players explore all the components of a complex situation - are a simple and efficacious alternative.
Keywords: game, project risk management, Simsoft


Get your colleagues to teach better

Marjan G Zadnik
Curtin University
Will Rifkin
University of Sydney
Email: m.zadnik@curtin.edu.au, willrifkinphd@gmail.com

You have developed some effective teaching strategies, according to student performance and feedback. Despite the positive data, your colleagues fail to follow your lead. How can you change the way that others in your discipline teach?

This presentation is a mini-workshop on how to transform yourself from being an excellent teacher into a teaching leader. In other words, it is an introduction to ways of getting colleagues to start employing teaching strategies that you know are effective. Come to this session with your approach for engaging students, assessing them, or some other way of enabling them to learn more effectively. We will support you to work briefly in pairs to begin to reframe what you are pursuing. You will recast what is good for the students in terms of what is good for your Dean, Head of School, and colleagues.

Strategies for leadership, innovation, and organisational change are at the core of an ALTC-funded Leadership project, the Science and Mathematics network of Australian university educators: SaMnet (www.samnet.edu.au). The project was instigated to address the slow take-up in science of effective teaching strategies. Numerous studies - and over 70 funded projects in Australia alone- suggest that even compelling data is insufficient to convince science lecturers to shift away from content-heavy, didactic teaching. Perhaps, your colleagues are similarly stubborn. Get a foot in the door by understanding how to reframe what you are doing in terms of what they value.

Please cite as: TL Forum (2012). Creating an inclusive learning environment: Engagement, equity, and retention. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-3 February 2012. Perth: Murdoch University. http://otl.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2012/contents-all.html

© 2012 Murdoch University. Copyrights in the individual articles in the Proceedings reside with the authors as noted in each article's footer lines.


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