Saturday, 15 September 2012

September Newsletter

~ RSVP by Monday for SaMnet Workshop on 26 Sept. @ ACSME
1.  Issue 5 of SaMnet’s monthly newsletter 
This month's question: What are good ways to link your SaMnet project to the national standards agenda?  
Click here to add your comments, ideas, links.
2.  Conferences & publication 
It is worth repeating...
26 Sept:                 9am-12noon                    Workshops 
                                             12noon-2pm                    SaMnet Scholars meeting 
                                             2pm-5pm                         Discipline Network workshops 
             27-28 Sept:            All day                              Conference  
We look forward to seeing you there.
3.  Connections/Events  
Past:                  SaMnet August Skype meetings:  10 teams from across the country - talked about progress on each project.  
Other topics arising: Research ethics paperwork, Visibility due to support of the associate dean, Rising familiarity among colleagues with threshold learning outcomes (TLOs).
Current:            ACSME – 26-29 Sept: see above.
Match up       Chris Thompson (Chemistry @ Monash) and Stephan Huth (Chemistry @ La Trobe) connected though the August Skype meetings.  They will visit each others’ labs to observe how they work. Check out their projects at
4.  SaMnet activity 
Specific SaMnet activities at ACSME:
Wednesday 26th – SaMnet Workshop 12-2pm
Wednesday 26th – SaMnet Steering Committee meets
Thursday 27th – Discipline Network coordinators breakfast
Also look for posters and talks of SaMnet scholars.
The SaMnet 'new media' community featured in recent gatherings on e-assessments.  Pioneering efforts of 30 Australian science lecturers (including some of you) were highlighted at a conference in Melbourne and an international webinar.
Here is an example: Medical students learned how to do physical examinations more effectively by making videos: eCAPS (ALTC funded, 2011 report).
Share what conferences you have presented at, what responses you received, and what you found interesting.    
5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 
Using time-on-task measurements to understand student performance in a physics class: A four-year study. Stewart, J., Stewart, G. and Taylor J. (2012).  Phys. Rev. ST Physics Ed. Research, Vol. 8, Issue 1. Students’ use of time out-of-class explained variance in test averages and normalised gains for an introductory physics course.
Peer Instruction: From Harvard to the two-year college, Lasry, N., Mazur, E. and Watkins, J. (2008).  American Journal of Physics, Vol. 76, Issue 11, pp.1066-1069. Peer instruction (PI) at a top-tier 4-year research institution and in a 2-year college proves effective.  PI instruction is as effective for students with less background knowledge, and student attrition decreased in introductory physics courses at both four-year and two-year institutions.
6.  Leadership insights 
Redesigning for Collaboration within Higher Education Institutions: An Exploration into the Developmental Process. Kezar, A. (2005).  Research in Higher Education, Vol. 46, Number 7, pp. 831-860.  How institutions can change their culture from supporting individual work to facilitating collaborative work.
Q&A best bits:  How do you promote female leadership in higher education?, Guardian Higher Education Network 24/5/11:  Brief compelling insights from senior women in universities in the UK, Europe, and North America.  
7. Team in Focus: “Science Student Skills Inventory: Zoology students” 
The project addresses the following questions: What do we want our students to know and be capable of, and how do we as educators know that students have acquired the skills our subjects purport to teach? The project will begin to dissect these processes from both the students’ and educators’ perspectives for undergraduates enrolled in the Bachelor of Science who are taking Zoology Majors. This is an important initial study that will have broad implications for evaluation of Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLOs) in various courses across the University of Melbourne. While the project is beginning with Zoology, the aim is to build on this work in other study areas.
Progress to date:
·         The University of Queensland Science Student Skills Inventory has been adapted for use in the University of Melbourne zoology context (see Matthews & Hodgson, 2012).
·         Subject co-ordinators have been contacted and informed about the project.
·         Protocols for interviews have been developed, and interviews will be conducted during October.
·         The student survey questions will be tested with a group of students on Thurs, 13th Sept, and refined before the survey is open to all third year Zoology students.
·         The survey will run in the first two weeks of October. Announcements will be made on subject websites, and students will be contacted by email
·         We expect to analyse our data during Nov and Dec.
·         Matthews and Hodgson (2012). International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 20(1), 24-43. Available at:
Mary Familari – Mary is leading this project and has been lecturing in the Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne since 2002. Currently, she is an OLT Project Leader ‘Strengthening alignment between secondary and tertiary biology education and enhancing student transitions in the sciences (PP10-1816)’.  She is a developmental biologist whose research interests revolve around the question of how does a fertilized egg become a multicellular organism with its incredible diversity of specialized organs. She co-ordinates Biomolecules and Cells, a first-year biology subject and several third-year subjects around the theme of developmental biology. She was Director of First Year Biology (2010-2011) and President of the Victorian Society for Developmental Biology (2008-2011) and has a very strong interest in science education with a particular focus on assessment and evaluation of scientific skills.
Kristine Elliott is Senior Lecturer, Medical Education Unit, University of Melbourne and Coordinator of the Educational Technology Team. She completed a PhD in Plant Bacteriology before pursuing an interest in biomedical education, and has 20 years of experience in educational technology research and development in the health sciences. In 2008, Kristine led an ALTC competitive project titled, Educational technologies: Enhancing the learning of scientific inquiry skills for bioscience students in Australian universities.  The project examined current teaching practice in a range of bioscience disciplines in Australian universities and identified pedagogical approaches that tertiary educators use to teach scientific inquiry. Kristine’s ongoing research focuses on: enhancing the learning of scientific inquiry skills for bioscience students; using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to engage people with healthcare and biomedical information; and the implications of web and mobile technology for clinical education and professional practice.
Deb King is Director of the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Centre, Senior lecturer in the Dept of Mathematics and Statistics, and Assistant Dean (Undergraduate Programs).  Her research interests include combinatorial dynamics, network assignment problems and mathematics education.  She is currently involved in numerous projects, including leading the OLT project “Building Leadership Capacity in University First-Year Learning and Teaching in the Mathematical Sciences”. All of her projects are designed to enhance student learning and outcomes, either for mathematics in particular or for science in general. One project is to reinterpret the Science Threshold Learning Outcomes in the context of Mathematics.
Kelly Matthews – Lecturer in Higher Education, Teaching and Educational Development Institute, University of Queensland.  Kelly’s research involves practical applications into contemporary higher education issues, including undergraduate curriculum reform and evaluation of teaching and learning initiatives. More on Kelly’s research and activities at She is currently leading the ALTC/OLT Quantitative Skills (QS) in Science project; more at
Michelle Livett is Associate Dean (Undergraduate Programs) in the Faculty of Science, and Director of the Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne. She teaches in the School of Physics, with a focus on teaching students whose primary interests are in the life sciences, to foster student interest and understanding of the relevance of physics. Her project involvements over the last twenty years have encompassed the use of technology in physics education, student transition, and communication skills in the sciences.
8.  Classifieds 
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