Wednesday, 20 August 2014

August Newsletter

1.  Issue 27 of SaMnet’s monthly newsletter 

This month's question:
What strategies do you use when writing for dissemination? This month, the SoTL section of the newsletter is focussed on writing tips – is there anything you can add for the benefit of the community? Reply to SaMnet and you might see your name in the next newsletter!

Last month we congratulated the new OLT National Teaching Fellows who have been a part of SaMnet. We referred to John Willison of the University of Adelaide as “Joe”. We apologise for the mistake.

2.  Conferences & publication

Discipline conferences in September and December. If you are attending, look out for the Education sections and take part and continue to increase the profile of discipline based education research.
Australian Institute of Physics Congress | 7-11 December, Canberra
Royal Australian Chemical Institute National Congress | 7-12 December, Adelaide
The annual conference for the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ComBio2015) | 28 September-2 October, Canberra

3.  Connections/Events

ASELL University & Schools workshops
Edith Cowan University, 9-11 July,

The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) – The University of Sydney and The University of Technology, Sydney. September 29 – October 1, 2014.
The main annual gathering of the SaMnet Australia Community

ASELL Schools Science workshop – Sydney
Arthur Phillip High School, Parramatta NSW – October 3, 2014
Do you know any high school teachers who are keen and interested in improving experiments and lab experiences for their students? Yes- please pass on the flyer.
Online registrations close on 22 September 2014.

4.  SaMnet activity 

Members of the SaMnet project team will be submitting a publication regarding a particular facet of collaboration within the SaMnet project teams by the end of August. Look forward to reading this in the coming months.

ACSME SaMnet gathering details are to follow in September.

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

This month we focus on writing SoTL and tips and tricks to increase your output:
Turbocharge your writing today
Maria Gardner, Hugh Kearns
Although technically targeted at PhD students, this article provides some great suggestions on becoming more efficient at writing papers. The authors dispel some of the myths of academic writing, discuss how to optimise your writing time and propose their top tips for getting out of a writing rut.

Habits of highly productive writers
In this video Jan McLean from UNSW’s Teaching and Learning unit interviews Helen Sword about the findings from her latest research project, a series of interviews with productive academic writers from around the world. Helen is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland with research interests in higher education pedagogy and academic writing.

6.  Leadership insights (Edited by Matt Hill & Will Rifkin, USyd)
Two quick presentations:
7 Leadership Lies You Need to Stop Believing
Mark Sanborn
A worthwhile reality check. Allows for a reflection on one’s frame of reference.

Be a leader people want to work for
Connect: Professional Women’s Network
A series of tips from women in leadership about how to make the transition from being a member of a work group to being a leader of a work group.

7. Initiative in Focus: 2013 OLT National Fellowship Update: Using Cultural Capital to Drive Change
Manju Sharma (The University of Sydney) with Helen Georgiou
As part of this fellowship, focused on surveying and improving the quality of undergraduate lectures in science, several initiatives were enacted. The objectives included
identifying good practices and fostering partnerships amongst academics to share them,
developing strategies to enlist hesitant academics who are open to change, and
supporting policy efforts through advocacy within the local institutions.
The initiatives enacted to achieve these objectives included the observation and characterization of undergraduate lectures to paint a picture of pedagogical approaches utilized across the nation in science courses and the local implementation of a 'Peer Review of Teaching' program to create a culture of discussion around teaching; and an ambitious, collaborative effort to measure student outcomes in a range of undergraduate chemistry and physics lectures across the nation using existing concept inventories/surveys.

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

8.  Classifieds

Survey Participation: Academic Labour and Lifestyles Survey
Researchers from Monash University are conducting an investigation to better understand how academics experience work/life balance in their everyday duties and career paths. In order to explore this better, we are looking for current academics of all ages and stages in their career to take a short 15 minute survey located here. Contact Fabian Cannizzo if you have queries.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

July Newsletter

This month's question:
Do you know what it requires to apply for a grant from the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT)?
Many in the SaMnet community do, and this month we congratulate those recently awarded grants including Peter Adams (UQ), Siggi Schmid (USYD), Adam Bridgeman (USYD), Simon Pike (SaMnet Steering Committee, Adelaide), Madeleine Schultz (QUT), Daniel Southam (Curtin), and Gwen Lawrie (UQ). Want to know more, visit the OLT grants website or talk to these scholars.

Congratulations to those recently announced 2014 OLT National Teaching Fellows, Marina Harvey (MQ), John WIllison (Adelaide), Elizabeth Beckmann (ANU), and Joe Shapter (Flinders).

2.  Conferences & publication

Last month we advertised two discipline conferences in December. Abstract submission has now closed. If you are attending, look out for the Education sections and take part and continue to increase the profile of discipline based education research.
Australian Institute of Physics Congress | 7-11 December, Canberra

3.  Connections/Events  

Past:                 HERDSA Conference 2014: Higher Education in a Globalized World
Hong Kong Baptist University, 7-10 July 2014.

University of Palermo, Italy, 7-12 July 2014.

Edith Cowan University, 9-11 July,

Future:              The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) – The University of Sydney and The University of Technology, Sydney. September 29 – October 1, 2014.
                          The main annual gathering of the SaMnet Australia Community

20-21 August and 22 August 2014, Mercure Hotel, Sydney
A pricey, but valuable opportunity for aspiring female leaders in the SaMnet community.

4.  SaMnet activity 

SaMnet is preparing for a gathering on the discipline day of ACSME, October 1 at the University of Technology, Sydney. Details to follow in the coming months.

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

Bridget O’Brien, Ilene Harris, Thomas Beckman, Darcy Reed and David Cook, Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
Qualitative data, such as student focus groups and open-response questionnaires, are being increasingly used in SoTL projects. Standards exist for reporting quantitative data in peer-reviewed papers but not for qualitative data, which can cause concern for scientists. The authors define and explain a set of standards that authors, editors and reviewers can use to report findings from qualitative research projects.

Bernard S. Chan, Lindi M. Wahl, The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
The authors analyse peer-reviewed journal publications from 2000-2010 from Canadian scholars on Post-Secondary Maths research. They “highlight topics of continual interest, changing trends in time and newly emerging themes”. It offers a benchmark of current scholarship and allows for comparison with the Australian situation.

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

Where do you gain inspiration or wisdom for your leadership? Share your insights with the SaMnet community as a guest editor of the “Leadership Insights” section of the newsletter. Interested? Reply to this email.

Alex Malley, CPA Australia
According to the author, how you perform in meetings appears to be a “proxy for career progression”. Will these five tips help you get the results you want – a valuable read.

Eric J. Romero
The concepts [of leadership] are pretty simple: listen to followers, set an ambitions vision, create a positive work environment, etc. It’s not rocket science…” Why then is the common opinion that “on the whole, managers are terrible”?

7. Initiative in Focus: 2013 OLT National Fellowship Update: Work It Out: Enhancing students’ problem solving skills by modelling how to “Work It Out” in a just-in-time learning environment. Chris Creagh (Murdoch University): 
Chris will be running a workshop related to her fellowship at ACSME 2014 (See Connections/Events). She currently uses three “Inquiry Orientated Learning” activities with the first year Physics & Engineering cohort, one from Les Kirkup and two developed originally.  Students learn lots of different things besides experimental design and such will be the case with the ACSME workshop, which will include pedagogy as well as hands-on practice. – Stay tuned for workshop details.

Next month: Manju Sharma, Active lecture approaches in science and mathematics.

8.  Classifieds

Experienced (and successful) grant writers willing to advise others in the SaMnet community over the next year as they seek wider support for their projects. Reply to this email if willing.

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