Wednesday 9 March 2016

Issue 1 of the ACDS Teaching and Learning Centre - March Newsletter

Science & Maths TL News: March 2016

This month is the first of our new format with the ACDS TL Centre combining with SaMnet to bring you news, views, events and ideas in one extended package.
The ACDS Teaching and Learning Centre is maintained by the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) to support Science Faculty leaders of learning and teaching. Our website includes updates on activities around Australia, links to other discipline education networks and resources from our projects on the Science Threshold Learning outcomes and more recently Work-Integrated Learning. This year, the ACDS has become the host for the SaMnet newsletter and the ACSME conference.
SaMnet is a national network that brings together university academics to collaborate on national issues in university science and mathematics educations. 

ACDS TL Centre News

Evidence-based practice for teaching and learning
If you haven’t already seen it, take some time out to read a special edition of the journal Nature on ‘Building the 21st century scientist’ (vol 523 pp255-376) published 16 July 2015. Stephen Bradford and colleagues have published a powerful call for evidence-based practice in teaching and learning (pp 282-284). As the authors say, ‘every university now has at its disposal the tools to improve undergraduate STEM teaching, and no defensible reason for not using them.’
ACDS WIL project: Lighthouse projects
Six projects in work-integrated learning for science have been supported through the ACDS WIL in Science project funded through the Office of the Chief Scientist. Projects will report during the year through regional meetings and at a second national WIL in Science workshop in December 2016. The project will add material to the ACDS TL Centre site during the year.
On the ACDS TL centre website
• New ideas in T&L: February draws on the experience of the SaMnet project to reinforce the value of teaching teams that include complementary expertise and can leverage external connections. Thanks again to our resident blogger, Dr Kelly Matthews…
• Presentations from the ACDS FYiSM workshops for first year leaders in science and mathematics are available from our website. Rich feedback from participants is being summarized for circulation shortly
Dates for your diary: ACDS Teaching and Learning conference - July 21-22
The annual ACDS Teaching and Learning Conference for Faculty leaders is back in Sydney this year at the University of Sydney on July 21 and 22. The conference invites Associate Deans Teaching and Learning and nominated leaders to network and explore current issues.
Cheers, Liz
Prof Liz Johnson, Director ACDS TL Centre

SaMnet News and Ideas

This Month’s Question:
Two sides of the coin are being asked in this month’s question.
  1. What opportunities do you see for introducing new teaching initiatives in your classrooms this year?
  2. What challenges will you face this year in implementing your teaching initiatives?
Let SaMnet know what you are doing and how we can support your efforts this year at!
New opportunity!
An exciting PhD opportunity has arisen in science higher education. Check out the classifieds below.

Upcoming Events and Activities

Professor Carl Wieman at Sydney Ideas - A Scientific Approach to Teaching Science and Engineering
4:30pm-6:00pm, University of Sydney, Sydney, 11 March 2016
The focus of the talk will be on setting the stage for a new approach to teaching and learning by combining new and developing research on more effective ways to teach, learn and evaluate teaching with information technology.
Registrations are free; click here to register.
2016 RACI Chemical Educational Division Symposium
Monash University, Melbourne, 31 March-1 April 2016
The symposium will allow participants to discuss and present on four key themes in chemical education.
Registrations for the event are open; click here to register.
The 4th International Conference for Science Educators and Teachers (ISET) 2016
KhonKaen University, Thailand, 3-5 June 2016
The theme for this conference is ‘Bridging the Gap, Moving to the Future’. How do we translate education research to the classroom more effectively?
Call for abstracts: online submission until 5 March 2016.
Early bird registrations now open.
Students Transitions Achievement Retention & Success (STARS) Conference 2016
Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June-2 July 2016
The STARS conference makes its way to Perth in 2016.
Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.
ACER Research Conference 2016
Brisbane Convention and Education Centre, Brisbane, 7-9 August 2016
The theme of this conference is “Improving STEM Learning: What will it take?”
Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.
Preparations for ACSME 2016 are well underway! The theme this year is “What is the place of STEM graduates in the world? How do we prepare them?” At the moment, the keynote speakers lined up for ACMSE 2016 include Toss Gascoigne, Daniel Southam (Curtin), Peter Ellerton (UQ), Ruth Bridgstock (QUT), and Jackie Randles (USYD). The website will be updated with more information, including submission dates and registrations, soon.
The Special Issue of IJISME on Inquiry Oriented Learning edited by Les Kirkup (UTS), Gerry Rayner and Chris Thompson (Monash) was delayed. However, it is due to be published soon, so keep an eye out for the Special Issue when it comes out!
For participants who gave a presentation at ACSME 2015, Alexandra Yeung (Curtin) will soon announce a callout for you to submit full papers based on your presentations at ACSME 2015. The submission timeline is as follows:
Acceptance of invite: Fri 18 March
Paper submission: Fri 13 May
Sent to reviewers: Fri 20 May
Paper reviews completed: Fri 24 June
Authors advised: Fri 8 July
Revised papers due: Fri 29 July
Authors notified and proofs sent: Fri 12 August
Publish: September
Keep an eye on your inbox for the callout by Alex!


Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
Building a Bridge Between Engineering and the Humanities
Julio M. Ottino and Gary Saul Morson for The Chronicle of Higher Education
What is the relationship between STEM and the humanities? A number of our research methods in SoTL come from social sciences and the humanities. How could we do more to bring together the best practices across disciplines to further enhance our research, teaching and learning?
Core values still vital in era of edutech change
Gregor Kennedy in The Australian
Technology has often been used as a vehicle for greater access to material. However, the transformational promise of educational technology, Gregor argues, can only be achieved if “they make possible what would otherwise be impossible.” How do you use technology in your educational approach?
Leadership Insights
Employability: time for higher education sector to step up
Hamish Coates in The Australian (subscription required)
What direction should higher education take in order to address the question of employability? Hamish argues that, rather than rethinking the purposes of higher education, universities should take an active role in helping students get a job before graduation while giving students a broad and liberal education. As active leaders in education and training, how do you think we should approach the question of employability?
How to make an impact with your research in the workplace
Matthew Reisz for Times Higher Education
Research alone will not enact change. Rather, translation, engagement with stakeholders and following up research with a clear strategy are key to transformation. The article outlines a number of strategies that you can undertake to deliver impact in the workplace. What could you add to ensure that your work makes an impact where you are located? Where else could these approaches be applied?


Opportunity for PhD Study in University Science Pedagogy, Assessment, Curriculum Development – University of Queensland
Applications are sought for a full-time PhD student to work in the Faculty of Science and the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, based at the St Lucia campus in the new Learning Innovation Building as part of a team investigating curriculum development innovations in science at the whole of degree program level. The selected applicant will have scope to design their project with the guidance of a small supervisory team led by Dr Kelly Matthews. Applicants who successfully meet entry requirements for PhD and are awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award will also be eligible for annual top-up scholarships valued at $10,000, with opportunities for overseas internships and conference presentations. More information and application details are available here.

A couple of corrections to last month’s SaMnet newsletter:
• The ‘2015 Biomed Forum’ item in Connections/Events should instead read ‘2015 Biosciences Forum’, as it brings CUBEnet and VIBEnet together as the “Biosciences Education Australia Network” (BEAN). More information on the event and the program of the Forum can be foundhere.
• The permanent link to the special issue of IJISME on ‘Assessing Laboratory Learning’ is foundhere.
We apologise for the mistakes.

SaMnet Leaders, Will Rifkin and Manjula Sharma
Newsletter compiled by Emma Yench and Gabriel Nguyen.

Thursday 4 February 2016

February Newsletter

On behalf of SaMnet, happy new year to all of you. We hope you have enjoyed your break, come back refreshed, and ready to face a new year of science and mathematics education.

From next month, the SaMnet newsletter will include the Australian Council of Deans of Science blog as part of the integrated newsletter covering the SaMnet, ACDS, ACSME and IJ-ISME communities! Look out for the new newsletter in March!

This Month’s Question:
As the new year begins, we want to provide you with new opportunities for collaborative teaching and learning projects. Special interest groups within the umbrella of science and mathematics education in Australia – FYiMaths is just one example – develop and flourish because of the hard work of the community involved, including the work of SaMnet scholars.

What special interest groups in science and mathematics education, whether Australian or internationally, are you involved in that you feel the SaMnet community should know about? Please let us know at and we shall highlight them in future editions of the newsletter.

Ireland’s National Teaching & Learning Network, the Network for Advancing Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) was relaunched in 2015. This network is open for international members, so if you are considering travelling to Ireland, keep your eyes on potential opportunities coming from the network!

We would like to draw your attention to two surveys looking at staff and academic perceptions on aspects of student learning and employability:

  • Our colleagues from Monash are exploring science academics' perceptions of employability. Could you please complete their survey at: 
  • Dr Nazim Khan (UWA) has also invited you to participate in a survey on staff attitudes on student class attendance, available here:

2.  Conferences & publication

Call for Abstracts for Oral Presentations and Posters - 2016 RACI Chemical Educational Division Symposium
Monash University, Melbourne, 31 March-1 April, 2016
The symposium is an opportunity for participants to discuss four key themes in chemical education, with each discussion chaired by a leader from the Australian Chemical Education community.
Submissions are open until Monday 8 February; please submit your text-only abstract here.

Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June-2 July 2016
The STARS conference makes its way to Perth in 2016.
Submissions close Monday 8 February; please check here for more details.

Rural education in Australia poses a fascinating set of challenges and provides opportunities for educational innovation.
Interested authors should submit an expression of interest, including a 250-word abstract, to Submissions are open until Friday 27 February 2016.

3.  Connections/Events  

2015 Biomed Forum – Canberra, ACT
FYiMaths NSW Meeting – Sydney, NSW
HAPS Australia Regional Meeting 2015 – Melbourne, VIC

University of Melbourne – 3 February 2016
University of Sydney – 5 February 2016

Monash University, Melbourne, 31 March-1 April, 2016
The symposium will allow participants to discuss and present on four key themes in chemical education.
Registrations for the event are open now; click here to register.

Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June-2 July 2016
The STARS conference makes its way to Perth in 2016.
Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.

Brisbane Convention and Education Centre, Brisbane, 7-9 August 2016
The theme of this conference is “Improving STEM Learning: What will it take?”
Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.

4.  SaMnet activity 

The proceedings from the ACSME 2015 conference on ‘Transforming Practice: Inspiring Innovation’ are now available online; click here for the online proceedings.

Furthermore, the special issue of IJISME on ‘Assessing Laboratory Learning’ is available online. The link to the issue is available here.

We are currently hard at work on the transition to an integrated SaMnet, ACDS T&L, ACSME and IJISME newsletter, delivering news, events and support for practitioners and educational innovators as an arm of the Australian Council of Deans of Science Teaching and Learning Centre. This transition will occur next month; watch this space!

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times
A report by the Higher Education Authority in Ireland has shown concerns about drop-out rates in technology-related courses, with suspicions focused on low maths entry requirements. Concerns about mathematical abilities of students entering university are worldwide; what should Australian universities do about these requirements, as highlighted by recent news from Sydney University?

Trudy W. Banta and Catherine A. Palomba, Chapter 2 in the book Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing and Improving Assessment in Higher Education
What is the purpose behind your assessments? Who are the stakeholders affected? When should assessments be conducted? At a student, faculty and institutional level, well-crafted assessment planning can help engage the goals of the institution for all relevant parties. What is your approach to assessment planning? Have you written down your assessment planning documents?

6.  Leadership Insights

Susanne Morton for the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) blog
Contextualising your institution with respect to the unique local factors of the institution, including its history, provides an important step towards enacting cultural change within an institution. Could this approach extend beyond gender equality, as used by the SAGE project? How would your institution’s history and unique local qualities affect the way you approach institutional change?

Audrey Williams June for The Chronicle of Higher Education
Three perspectives are offered here on how simply hiring people of diverse backgrounds is not enough to entrench diversity. Rather, the environment of the institution, from the leadership team down, must be conducive to supporting diversity policies. What aspects of these perspectives do you observe here within your institutional context and how do they contribute or detract from change?

7. Classifieds

The SMART Directory indexes useful websites relevant to teaching and learning in science and mathematics, with annotated resources and a rating system indicating the usefulness of the resources. The Directory is ready for testing, and the developers welcome feedback and comments on the site, which is available in beta here.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

November Newsletter

1.  Issue 40 of SaMnet’s monthly newsletter 

This Month’s Question:
As we move towards the end of the year, we are reviewing the SaMnet workshops conducted this year. Here is your chance to have your say on future workshops! Suggestions for future workshops have included stronger engagement with STEM education literature, understanding the leadership environment within your university and leading change in your university beyond your unit.

What other elements do you think are vital for SaMnet scholars to experience in future workshops?
Let us know at

The Australian Government has announced the establishment of a new National Institute for Learning and Teaching to begin on 1 July 2016. This will replace the current Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT). This follows a report on the strengths and weaknesses of the current programme, completed after extensive consultation with the higher education sector. The report is available here:

2.  Conferences & publication

Parkroyal Melbourne Airport, Melbourne, 11 December 2015
Science faculties are invited to nominate 2 or 3 leaders responsible for the development and/or delivery of WIL programs in science or mathematics, as delegates to the Forum and members of the new network.
RSVPs are to be sent to with delegate details (name, email, dietary requirements). No registration fee, but numbers are limited.

Along with the launch of the new WIL in Science Network, the Forum will also introduce the WIL in Science Lighthouse Projects, “action-learning projects designed to establish visible WIL organisation and leadership in science-based faculties.” Expressions of interest for projects are now open.
More details on how to submit expressions of interest are available here.

The special issue invites papers from education, neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology and computer science researchers on the topic of “Brain, mind and education: Understanding learning in digital environments.”
Manuscript submissions are due by 29 January 2016, check here for submission details.

Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June -2 July 2016
The STARS conference makes its way to Perth in 2016.
Submissions are open now; please check here for more details.

3.  Connections/Events  

National ASELL Science Workshop – Melbourne, VIC

LaTrobe University, Melbourne, 4-5 December, 2015
This is the inaugural Australian regional conference of HAPS, the largest society of human physiology and anatomy teaching professionals.
Online registrations close today!

Shine Dome, Canberra, 8-10 December 2015
This forum will see the launch of the Bioscience Education Australia Network (BEAN), the new umbrella network combining CUBEnet and VIBEnet; as well as hosting the Mathbench Symposium, which will launch and demonstrate the Mathbench-Australia website.

Parkroyal Melbourne Airport, Melbourne, 11 December 2015
Join discipline leaders and TL champions from across Australia at this inaugural national forum to launch the new WIL in Science Network.

University of Technology Sydney, 11 December 2015
This is an all day workshop; registrations are free and limited, so get in quick here.

4.  SaMnet activity 

As we approach the end of the calendar year, SaMnet is interested in what you have achieved this year and what you have planned for next year.

Do you have an initiative, project or interest to chare with the community that you would like feedback on? Do you have any publications that you wish to disseminate to the wider SaMnet community? Please contact us at

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Carl Wieman for Change Magazine
"Current methods of evaluating teaching at colleges and universities fail to encourage, guide, or document teaching that leads to improved student learning outcomes." Carl proposes the Teaching Practices Inventory, an evaluation approach which monitors the extent to which academics employ teaching practices that are known to work. Would this be an effective mechanism of promoting change in teaching practices amongst academics within your institution?

Mark Francek, Professor of Geography at Central Michigan University
Mark outlines three key elements that he considers to necessary for good teaching: building a sense of community within the classroom, holding students accountable for their learning and relevance to student perspectives. Are these elements embedded within your teaching practices? What other elements do you think are essential to teaching?

6.  Leadership Insights

Philip Shapira, reviewing Designing the New American University by Michael M. Crow and William B. Dabars
Aligning your initiatives with the goals of those higher up within your institution is one means of driving change in the institution. The article highlights some of the pressures and trends in the American system that allowed for a new cultural environment within Arizona State University. Are these trends evident in the Australian system? How could you combine those with external cultural shifts outside the classroom to effect change in your instutition?

Ellen Harries, Rachel Wharton and Rob Abercrombie, supported by LankellyChase Foundation
SaMnet aims to foster 'distributed leadership'.  That is part of a strategy touted in this report on how to change complex social systems - like your department, faculty, university, or discipline.  This report provides a nice, reasonably succinct, conceptual overview of how different disciplines and professions have defined systems and how they can change.  It also outlines principles about pursuing 'system change'.  

7. Classifieds

The SMART Directory indexes useful websites relevant to teaching and learning in science and mathematics, with annotated resources and a rating system indicating the usefulness of the resources. The Directory is ready for testing, and the developers welcome feedback and comments on the site, which is available in beta here.

The Department of Mathematics at The University of Auckland is advertising for a Professional Teaching Fellow in Mathematics. This is a teaching-focussed role; the position is intended for candidates with a PhD in Mathematics, or a closely related discipline, who demonstrate a strong commitment to excellence in the teaching of Mathematics at the undergraduate level. Applications close Sunday 13 December 2015.

The School of Mathematics and Physics is advertising for a Learning Designer. The successful appointee will work on a University of Queensland Technology-Enhanced Learning project to develop dynamic, interactive simulations to enhance student learning. Candidates should possess qualifications in a relevant discipline such as mathematics, physics, engineering or similar and be comfortable with web-based technologies and programming. Applications should be sent to A/Prof Tim McIntyre either via mail or emailed to Applications close Monday 14 December 2015.

The School of Mathematical Sciences is advertising for a Research Fellow in Mathematical Sciences. The successful applicant will conduct independent and joint research in areas related to financial mathematics; they will also be expected to teach financial mathematics at a Master’s degree level. The position is intended for candidates with a PhD in a relevant discipline, strong knowledge in the area of financial mathematics and the ability to teach it at a Master’s degree level. Applications close Sunday 10 January 2016.

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is aiming to substantially increase the number of top female faculty members by offering high-profile, tenure-track positions to top female scientists in research fields in which TU Delft is active. You will be offered the unique chance to establish your own research programme of international repute. More details on the Fellowship and how to apply are available here. Applications close 8 January 2016.