Thursday, 26 June 2014

June Newsletter

This month's question:
Do you spot articles on leadership relevant to science academics in Australia?
How about contributing to the Leadership section of this SaMnet newsletter? 
Join the special editor for our SoTL section, Emma Bartle of UQ. 
Job Description: Send two articles and short blurbs to SaMnet each month.  They will be disseminated to the community.
Inquire at

2.  Conferences & publication

Two discipline conferences are particularly calling for contributions from science education – Abstracts due immediately (June 27)
Australian Institute of Physics Congress | 7-11 December, Canberra

Both have expressed that they want more education submissions. If you are in Physics or Chemistry and have research to share, this is a great way to represent the Science and Maths Education community. SaMnet will be making a submission to the AIP Congress.

3.  Connections/Events  

Hong Kong Baptist University, 7-10 July 2014.
Let SaMnet HQ know if you are attending.  We will connect you with other SaMnet Scholars. 

Edith Cowan University, 9-11 July,
Interested in improving experiments and lab experiences for your students? Know high school teachers who are keen? Registration past due, June 14, but ...

4.  SaMnet activity 

SaMnet HQ is making submissions to ACSME and the AIP congress. We intend to have a network gathering at ACSME on the discipline day (October 1).

SaMnet Scholars are also getting involved. In the last month Emma Bartle has joined the newsletter editing team with contributions to the SoTL section and Nina Fotinatos will also be involved in the near future.

SaMnet steering committee member, Liz Johnson, is helping host the upcoming ACDS Education Conference in Melbourne (June 30 - July 1). SaMnet Scholars in Assoc Dean (and similar) roles will be in attendance.

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) (Edited by - Emma Bartle, UQ)

Bill Cerbin
SoTL is often outcomes-focussed – did my teaching innovation result in better learning than the traditional method I had been using previously? But what does that tell us about how the students did or did not learn? The authors propose the focus of SoTL needs to shift and make the learning process the object of inquiry, exploring how and why students learn.

Elizabeth Marquis, Mick Healey, Michelle Vine
SoTL themes cover multiple disciplines, providing potential for broader collaborations than discipline-based research. The authors describe and evaluate an innovative, international, collaborative writing group that was designed to build SoTL capacity across disciplines and international borders.

6.  Leadership insights (Edited by Matt Hill & Will Rifkin, USyd)

Two articles calling on academic institutions to develop better leadership pathways for women, both which also call on women to be bold in seeking leadership opportunities. Has insights for both male and female readers.

Kelly Ward (Washington State) & Pamela L. Eddy (College of William and Mary)
It is argued that women only make up 29% of full professors (USA) because some women, “lean back from the ladder of academic progress, promotion and leadership because of a perception that advanced positions of leadership are not open to women, and particularly women who hope to make time for a family or life beyond work”. Find out what the authors think about this perception. 

Prof Carol Black (Cambridge) & Aslya Islam (London School of Economics)
The statistics are even worse in the UK with only 20% female professors nationally and just 15.3% at the elite Cambridge. The system is improving, ”but women also have a part to play. They shouldn't walk away when they realise the work that it takes to make it to the top.”

7. Initiative in Focus:  This Month – Digital Explanations: Explaining, Learning and Communicating with Student-created Digital Media | A/Prof Garry Hoban (U of Wollongong)
In the last 12 months, Garry has been promoting science and science teacher education students to engage with science content by creating digital media as innovative assessment tasks to explain Science. His full day workshops at universities in each state have been warmly received by academics and supported by a comprehensive website that provides students with ideas, free instructions and resources for creating digital media available at The web site has had over 9,000 visits by individuals resulting in over 165,000 hits both nationally and internationally.

A culminating activity will be a Science Film Festival (DigiXFest) to be run at the end of first day of the ACSME, Monday 29th September with drinks and food being served at the end of the last session from 5.15-6.15, then a showing of digital media finalists from 6.15-7.15 pm. ACSME participants will vote to allocate $2,000 in cash prizes to students. Deadline for student entries is Monday 15th September – click for film competition details.

8.  Classifieds

Chemical Education Research Associate, University of New South Wales.
An 18 month, full time position is available working in the School of Chemistry to develop, implement and critically evaluate a new model of skills-based assessment in Chemistry Laboratory Classes at UNSW. Contact Prof Scott Kable for more information.
Applications close 4th of July, 2014.

Friday, 23 May 2014

May Newsletter

1.  Issue 24 of SaMnet’s monthly newsletter 

This month's question:
Have you found a helpful recent article in the area of The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning? For the next few months or so, Emma Bartle will be a guest editor, helping SaMnet to collate and share relevant articles for the community. Send articles to Emma, or SaMnet and they may be shared in an upcoming newsletter.

2.  Conferences & publication

Themes include transformative innovation and change in higher education and the impact of technological developments on learning and teaching.

Australian Conference for Science and Mathematics Education – Share your work with the Science & Maths Education community. 29th of September to 1st of October, 2014. Abstracts, papers and ideas exchange submissions close June 6.

3.  Connections/Events  

Future:                 HERDSA Conference 2014: Higher Education in a Globalized World
Hong Kong Baptist University, 7-10 July 2014. Proposals past due, 7 March 2014.

ASELL University & Schools workshops (9-11 July, Edith Cowan University)
Are you interested in improving science experiments and lab experiences for your students? Maybe you know high school teachers who are also in this category? EOIs for submission of experiments are due 30 May 2014. Registration due June 14.

Match up:           There have been some replies, but we are still looking for experienced SaMnet Scholars willing to support newcomers.
Register your areas of specialty with SaMnet HQ (  Or, request a critical friend – same way – identify the area of focus where you desire support, e.g., second-year tutorials in chemistry. 

4.  SaMnet activity 

The SaMnet community is growing as a true network. We are working with academics by including inviting more contributions to the newsletter from the readers and connecting experienced SaMnet Scholars to emerging SaMnet Scholars.

SaMnet HQ is progressing with disseminating the SaMnet model to a wider audience through publications. We look forward to sharing these with you later this year.

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 

Two articles this month about learning attitudes:
Brief produced by University of Minnesota Office of IT
Intellectual curiosity describes the impulse of a person’s drive to “pursue, enjoy and engage in learning opportunities”. This study reveals how, like cognitive ability and effort, intellectual curiosity positively associates with academic performance.

Rick Reis on a chapter 7 of the book, The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony With Your Brain by Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek.
Your view of yourself as a learner changes how you learn, even how you read this excerpt. How do your students view themselves as learner? What does this mean for how effective your teaching can be received?

6.  Leadership insights

Two articles for you if you lead a team:
Baird Brightman
Do you experience aggressiveness, narcissism, disorganisation, reluctance to change in people you work with? Maybe the words aren’t that strong – but how can you manage people with regards to toxic behaviour.

Judith Sherven
“Isn’t one of the payoffs expected from achieving leadership status the freedom to no longer have to do the ‘daily grind’ work... the ‘tedious phone call’ work?” WHY then do you find it so hard to wean yourself from doing the task yourself?

7. Initiative in Focus:  This month – More active lecture approaches in science and mathematics |Manju Sharma (Contact: Helen Georgiou)
A key paper published in PNAS this week asserts that the evidence for taking Active Learning approaches (rather than ‘traditional’ ones) in science education is so strong, that were it a medical intervention trial, the existing treatment would be stopped.

This fellowship involves the description and development of models in which evidence-based recommendations from research –such as Active Learning approaches –may be more efficiently and successfully implemented to achieve better learning outcomes and experiences.

They key elements constituting the work include the description or showcasing of practices in undergraduate science lectures across the country to highlight innovative techniques, and it also involves the provision of support to evaluate practices for individuals and groups that are enacting change in their institutions. Participating institutions have engaged in the administration of concept surveys in physics and chemistry, mentoring programs and have provided interviews. Additional updates will be provided later in the year.

7b. Project in Focus: National project sets standard for agriculture education
The AgLTAS (Agriculture Learning and Teaching Academic Standards) project began in August, with the aim of developing a learning and teaching academic standards statement - outlining what an agriculture student should know, understand and be able to do upon graduation from a bachelor degree. The national project, OLT funded until mid-2015, is led by the UTAS, with the Uni of Adelaide, UWS and CSU.

Following eight months of an extensive consultation process with academic, students and industry, the project team finalised the Statement on the Nature and Extent of Agriculture and associated TLOs in late March. Project Leader, Dr Tina Acuna says that input from a range of stakeholders was a vital aspect of the project, “it was important for us to engage with a wide audience to ensure we created a document that truly reflected the views of all of our stakeholders”.

In April, the document received the support of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture (ACDA) – see The full version, which includes an introduction, explanatory notes, benchmarking against the AQF and acknowledgements will be submitted to the ACDA at the 2014 spring meeting.

8.  Classifieds

Two section sevens? This is because we received a great update from the AgLTAS team. We will continue to share the Fellowship in Focus but if you have other updates to disseminate, continue to send them to

Thursday, 8 May 2014

April Newsletter

This month's question:
Would you like to help produce a section of the monthly SaMnet newsletter?
Provide content for the Leadership or Scholarship of Teaching and Learning sections - e.g., send a link to an article with a one-line blurb on its relevance to the SaMnet community.
Have great resources to share or a knack for identifying the value of an article to the community? Contact us now!

2.  Conferences & publication

“Assumed knowledge in maths: its impact tertiary STEM programs”. Manuscripts for the special issue are due Monday 19th May. For more details, contact

Themes include transformative innovation and change in higher education and the impact of technological developments on learning and teaching.

3.  Connections/Events  

Past:                      February 2014 SaMnet Leadership-development workshops.
·         Adelaide, Tuesday 25th of February, The University of Adelaide
·         Melbourne, Tuesday 25th of February, Monash University
·         Brisbane, Friday 28th of March, Griffith University

Future:                 HERDSA Conference 2014: Higher Education in a Globalized World
Hong Kong Baptist University, 7-10 July 2014. Proposals past due, 7 March 2014.

Australian Conference for Science and Mathematics Education – The key annual gathering of the SaMnet community. 29th of September to 1st of October, 2014. Abstracts, papers and ideas exchange submissions close June 6.

Match up:           Experienced SaMnet Scholars willing to support newcomers?
We have had many academics who are new to the SaMnet network in this year’s workshops, from tutors to seasoned academics.  Volunteer to provide support as a critical friend.  Register your areas of specialty with SaMnet HQ (  Or, request a critical friend – same way – identify the area of focus where you desire support, e.g., second-year tutorials in chemistry. 

4.  SaMnet activity 

The three leadership-development workshops in February and March were well attended. We would like to thank the organisers of each of these events: Amanda Able (U of Adelaide), Lisa Schmidt (Flinders U), Gerry Rayner (Monash U), Sarah-Jane Gregory (Griffith U) for their hard work.

So, the SaMnet community has expanded – adding colleagues who share an interest in innovation in their school, faculty, and discipline.  We are now working to integrate these new members into further SaMnet activities.

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 

Two articles this month with publishing tips:
Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar
How much time do you devote to choosing a title for your SoTL publications? What criteria do you use to assess the quality of your title? A helpful paper to read before publishing.

Richard Van Noorden, Nature: News
Warning - just because a paper is disseminated, in this case in conference proceedings, reliability is not guaranteed. In SoTL, like any science discipline, be discerning about citations and circumspect about material that surfaces even in reputable journals.

6.  Leadership insights

From Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who want to Make a Difference, Susan Komives, Nance Lucas and Timothy McMahon.
Born not made? Hierarchical? Do you need formal status or power? How much charisma do you need? Which myth resonates most in your department?

John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE
A fascinating perspective on leadership, especially on a particular character trait of leadership – a tendency to action. Decide for yourself what to take from this article, which is designed to be inspirational and aspirational rather than prescriptive.

7. Initiative in Focus: 

You will probably be aware of the three OLT national teaching fellowships particularly relevant to the SaMnet community which were awarded to Manju Sharma, Chris Creagh and Garry Hoban. Starting next month we will focus in on one fellowship and get an update on progress and results.

A reminder of the three projects:

A/Prof Manju Sharma (The University of Sydney)
More active lecture approaches in science and mathematics: using expert cultural capital to drive change

Dr Chris Creagh (Murdoch University)
Work It Out: Enhancing students’ problem solving skills

A/Prof Garry Hoban (University of Wollongong)
Explaining and communicating science: partnership with science and science teacher education academics to support implementation of student created digital media assignments.

Next month: Manju Sharma with Active Lecture approaches

8.  Classifieds

SaMnet Scholars willing to act as a critical friend for someone else or some project.  Please send a list of 3-4 special interest areas to  Mentoring someone at another university can be recorded as recognition of leadership in your area of special focus. 

Articles for the SoTL or Leadership sections of this newsletter.  Send them with a one-sentence blurb on their relevance to SaMnet HQ (same e-mail as just above).  Earns you browny points on a national level – ‘contributor to the national publication on leadership in university science teaching’.