Thursday, 13 December 2012

December Newsletter


1.  Issue 8 of SaMnet’s monthly newsletter 

~NEW FORMAT~ Newsletter also available in audio as a podcast. Click here to download.
Tell us if you are engaged in -- or formulating a proposal for -- an OLT project or a project funded internally by your university. 
We can help you to make connections or share findings (e.g., selecting advisory panel members or identifying key projects to reference). 
We can arrange for reviews of your draft proposals and reports by people who have received numerous grants. 


2.  Conferences & publication

This special issue will focus on outcomes and insights from your SaMnet projects.
Abstracts are due 18 January 2013. Follow the link for PDF Call for Papers.
Perth Teaching and Learning Forum 2013 – 7-8 February @ Murdoch University
Early Bird registration for this forum closes on December 20.


3.  Connections/Events  


Past:                      VIBEnet / CUBEnet / QS Forum December 10-11, 2012
                                @ U of Sydney
Future:                 Leadership Development Workshops in February 2012
                                February 4 – Melbourne workshop @ La Trobe University
                                February 5 – Adelaide workshop @ Flinders University
                                February 6 – Perth workshop @ Curtin University
                                February 11 -- Sydney workshop @ U of Sydney 
mid-February* -- Brisbane workshop @ Griffith University. *Watch this space!
2nd Australian Tertiary Geosciences Teaching workshop
January 16-17, 2013 @ James Cook University
Match up:           Jessica Vanderlelie* (Griffith) ought to have coffee with Gwen Lawrie* (UQ). You both are investigating the impacts of student videos, and you are both in Brisbane.  Also, reconnect with Karma Pearce of UniSA
(*Recent additions to the SaMnet Scholars network)

4.  SaMnet activity 

Project Updates – Poster & Letter to Your Dean
Members of your action-learning team have received, or will soon receive, a poster we formulated on your SaMnet action-learning project.  It describes the project and outcomes to date. 
We want your input on a draft letter – update and subtle congratulations -- to be sent to your dean. When you ‘look good’, we all ‘look good’.  Any questions? Contact us!
Leadership Development Workshops – February 4, 5 and 6 in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, respectively. Also Sydney (11th) and Brisbane! See you there!

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 

Getting results: small changes, big cohorts and technology - Jacqueline L. Kenney (HERD, 2012).  Kenney found that one can achieve learning gains when ‘constructive alignment’ is specifically fostered by modest online support in the form of voluntary weekly tasks, feedback, lecture participation, and research skill acquisition.
Is prior performance or university experience more influential?

6.  Leadership insights

Highly recommended by SaMnet steering committee member Marjan Zadnik.   The book includes sections on “Making a difference as an effective teacher”, “building an effective research track record” and “Strategic advancement in academic settings”. Personal stocking filler?
What leading with vision really means – Erica Anderson, Fast Company magazine
This article underlines the notion that leading involves articulating a vision clearly so that others can see it.  We introduced that idea in SaMnet's workshops early in 2012.   

7. Team in Focus: Intensive mode delivery vs traditional delivery: Evaluating and implementing change in teaching strategies,

Michelle Power, Marie Herberstein, Marina Harvey, Kelsie Dadd, Macquarie University.
In this project we are evaluating learning and teaching strategies in a biology unit offered as an intensive block over 3 weeks during Macquarie University’s shorter session 3. Evaluation of data from the first offering of the unit has informed some changes in the teaching strategy to overcome limitations associated with time that may be detrimental to the learner experience. This change, the introduction of one day on campus, a month prior to the intensive session, also aims to establish a more collaborative learning environment for online aspects of the unit that occur prior to the intensive. It was clear from the data that the collaborative learning strategy was of benefit to the learner during the intensive session. A second round of data, that includes additional questions, will be gathered in the upcoming session 3 beginning mid December 2012.
A series of department teaching seminars/workshops have been instigated, and talks have been given to the wider university community, including a workshop -- comparing teaching strategies applied in intensive mode teaching -- during Learning and Teaching Week. The aims of these seminars are to promote communication and establish a network of teachers associated with delivery of units in compressed offering. A reflective paper was presented at a teaching conference in Vienna, Austria in February 2012. The team was also awarded a Faculty Learning and Teaching grant to support the SaMnet project. This award enabled employment of Michael Wilson, a program research and development officer, to undertake a literature search to evaluate the extent of intensive mode offerings in the Sciences. We are currently evaluating this literature to compose a literature review. Looking towards 2013, we can expect lots of data analysis and preparation of publications. Members of the group also received L&T awards, including Vice Chancellor’s award for early career teacher, Vice Chancellor citations for mentor programs, and an OLT award for programs that enhance learning and teaching.
Michelle Power – Senior lecturer in the department of Biological Sciences. Research interests are in the area of host-parasite interactions, particularly in examining these relationships to investigate human impacts on fragile ecosystems and endangered wildlife.
Marie Herberstein – Associate Professor and head of the department of Biological Sciences. Research addresses the behavioural ecology of invertebrates, including the study of spiders and insects within an evolutionary framework.
Marina Harvey A lecturer in Academic Development with the Learning and Teaching Centre. Her learning and teaching research interests include leading a national project on sessional staff standards, being a team member on a national project on distributed leadership and several projects that focus on reflection for learning.
Kelsie Dadd – Associate Dean Learning and Teaching, also Associate Dean of International in the Faculty of Science. Research includes the volcanology, geochemistry and tectonics of ancient and modern volcanic rocks in eastern Australia and the surrounding oceans. She is also the recipient of multiple L&T grants and awards.

8.  Classifieds 

Seeking volunteers to review OLT proposals before submission. 
A proposal needs to be seen by 10 readers before it is submitted.  These reviews help the writers to address the wide range of perspectives, and questions, that the grant’s assessors might have.  Reviewing others’ proposals helps you to see flaws to avoid and strategies to use in your own proposals. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

November Newsletter

1. Issue 7 of SaMnet's monthly newsletter
~NEW FORMAT~ Newsletter also available in audio as a podcast. Click to listen!

November Question: What is your favourite feature of the SaMnet Newsletter? Click on your answer!
(a) Upcoming events and conferences
(b) SaMnet team in focus
(c) Helpful SoTL and Leadership Articles
(d) The fact that the whole newsletter is available in audio form so you can listen while you work! (See the top of the email for the link).

Congratulations: The prestigious Education Medal of the Australian Institute of Physics has been awarded to Manju Sharma, SaMnet’s Chief Coordinator. The selection committee characterised Manju’s contribution to physics education as “sustained..., creative..., of national importance... and of high quality...”. The Medal winner gives an address to the AIP Congress in December 2012.

2. Conferences & Publication

Call for Papers - IJISME 2013 ‘SaMnet Edition’
The Journal is publishing a special issue that will focus on the outcomes and insights from a range of SaMnet projects. Abstracts are due 18 January 2013. Follow the link for a PDF 'Call for Papers’.

Upcoming conferences and publication opportunities that YOU know about?

3. Connections/Events

ISSOTL conference in Canada, October 2012:
Poster on roles of academic developers in SaMnet’s action-learning teams by Kelly Matthews

VIBEnet / CUBEnet / QS Forum
December 10-11, 2012 @ U of Sydney

2nd Australian Tertiary Geosciences Teaching workshop
January 16-17, 2013 @ James Cook University

Match up:
At the ISSOTL conference last month, Kelly discovered that there is a SaMnet equivalent in Canada. Know anyone in this network? SaMnet will be developing closer links with this community in the near future. Links with other overseas networks, like SaMnet, are sought.

4. SaMnet activity

We are collecting updates on your action-learning projects – Expect a call from your project’s ‘critical friend’ or SaMnet HQ in coming weeks if we have not heard from your Action-Learning Project team at a Skype meeting in the last six months.

Generating project posters for you – Each team will receive a specially designed A3 project poster this month or next. It is for display in your department, school, or university to highlight your team’s efforts and outcomes.

Another letter to your dean from SaMnet – SaMnet HQ will be sending a letter to remind your Dean of your team’s involvement in an Action-Learning Project supported by SaMnet.

5. Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL)

Measuring Teaching Effectiveness: Correspondence Between Students’ Evaluations of Teaching and Different Measures of Student Learning – Sebastian Stehle, Birgit Spinath, Martina Kadmon.
Ever wondered how Student Evaluations of Teaching relate to performance in various measures of student learning, such as practical examinations or multiple choice tests?

Transformational Teaching – George Slavich, Philip Zimbardo
A review article in Educ. Psychol. Rev. (2012) focussed on the theoretical underpinnings, basic principles and core methods of transformational teaching. Zimbardo is a social psychologist famous for his simulated ‘prison’ experiment.

6. Leadership insights

Three Leadership Traits that Never Go Out of Style – Vineet Nayar, Harvard Business Review Blog Network. Are these what you were expecting?

Upward influence in academic organizations: a behavioural style perspective – Debbie McAlister and John Darling, Leadership & Organization Development Journal. Manju attended a workshop on “Negotiating & Influencing Skills” and insists that insights from this paper are invaluable, a must to share with the community. You might look out for these types of workshops in your institution?

7. Team in Focus: Re-engaging Second Year Students through Active Engagement of Teaching Staff, Sarah-Jane Gregory, Glenn Harrison, Jason Lodge and Wendy Loughlin, Griffith University.

This SaMnet project involves the development and establishment of a Community of Practice (CoP) focussed on Second Year Student Experience of the Biosciences. It is supported by a university T&L grant characterising the effects of the “Sophomore Slump” phenomenon in Bioscience students. The project is designed to support students through the transition in and out of second year at university. In 2012, a variety of data has been collected that has been analysed and compared with data from the USA. The evidence suggests that our students are at equal risk of experiencing “Sophomore Slump” and that there are simple ways in which we can identify those students. This data has provided important evidence for the SaMnet project that has gained local buy-in with staff. The effort is also supported by the Associate Dean, who is raising the importance of the project around the university. The team presented at ACSME with an abstract and poster entitled “Building a supportive learning and teaching culture for science academics”.

Sarah-Jane Gregory – Associate Lecturer in the School of Biomolecular and Physical Sciences. Her primary focus as a teaching-focused academic is second year biosciences at Griffith University. Research focuses on the second year student experience with involvement in a variety of projects related to enhancing student experiences of both curriculum and university life in the biosciences.

Glenn Harrison – He recently served as Senior Lecturer in physiology at Griffith University and is now academic developer in TLD at JCU. Glenn’s experience in teaching large classes in first and second year has seen him investigating first-second year student transition issues and assistance strategies. His other research interests include cardiac energetics and effect of dietary oils and exercise on heart structure & function.

Jason Lodge – Student Experience Coordinator in the Griffith Institute for Higher Education. Jason teaches as a part of the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and runs staff development workshops. Research concentrates on the psychology of learning and the cognitive and emotional factors that are involved and how to address these factors in higher education policy and practice.

Wendy Loughlin – Dean, Teaching and Learning. Research interests include small molecule inhibitors of Glycogen Phosphorylase, an enzyme implicated in Type-2 diabetes, and the development of new chemotherapeutic compounds for Leishmaniasis.

SaMnet Button Logo

8. Classifieds

Deb King is advertising a position for a Project Officer, based in Melbourne, part-time for about 18 months. Details from the following link:

Pass it on to good people you know.

Friday, 19 October 2012

October Newsletter

1. Issue 6 of SaMnet's monthly newsletter

Podcast version!Listen to this newsletter.

This month's question: What is a good discussion question for the SaMnet newsletter?
Click here to add your ideas, links.

Congratulations: To SaMnet Scholars who received OLT Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning – Cristina Varsavsky (Monash), Jessica Vanderlelie (Griffith), and Siggi Schmid (USyd).

2. Conferences & publication

Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME)
Teaching and Learning Standards - What does a standard mean to you?
20 of the 37 presentations at the conference were on efforts that included SaMnet Scholars. 19 of the 31 posters related to a SaMnet action-learning project!
More information on SaMnet’s activity at ACSME in point 4 (below).

Enhancing Learning in Science through Inquiry and Technology
Organised by OLT Fellow, Assoc Prof Les Kirkup @ UTS, 25/9/12
Keynotes: Prof Gabriella Weaver (US) and Prof Mick Healey (UK)
Presentations by SaMnet Scholars – Gwen Lawrie (scenario inquiry in chemistry), Liz Johnson (scientific inquiry online), Simon Pyke (iPads in FY science literacy), and Margaret Wegener (heat physics lab for biologists)

3. Connections/Events

Past: Skype teleconferences in August; notes sent to participants; look for
more SaMnet Skypes on interests that you share in coming months.

Future: VIBEnet / CUBEnet / QS Forum December 10-11, 2012
@ U of Sydney

ISSOTL conference in Canada, October 2012:
poster on formation of SaMnet’s action-learning teams by Kelly Matthews

Match up: Brisbane-based SaMnet Scholars – [Sarah-Jane Gregory, Gillian Isoardi, Louise Kuchel, Gwen Lawrie, Peter Adams, Jessica Vanderlelie, Michael Bulmer, Kelly Matthews, Madeleine Schultz, Susan Savage, Glenn Harrison, Jason Lodge, Wendy Loughlin, Emma Bartle] – for revitalisation of the Brisbane University Network of Science Educators (BUNSE).

4. SaMnet activity

On Wednesday of ACSME week in late September, there was a 2-hour workshop of SaMnet Scholars. A filled room discussed the big picture of standards, improving teaching, and who among us feels that we can provide leadership individually at a university level and collectively at a national level.

The 11-member, SaMnet steering committee met that evening to discuss progress and the future. The following morning, heads of the science discipline networks gathered over breakfast to discuss, with OLT Fellow Liz Johnson, the formation of a national teaching and learning centre supported by the Australian Council of Deans of Science.
SaMnet hosted 2 x 20-minute ‘Ideas Exchange’ sessions during the conference. There was eager interest; “How can I get involved?”, “How can the T&L group in my faculty benefit?”

SaMnet SoTL and Leadership workshops – round 2 – February 2013 in your capital city.

5. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

The benefit of making it Harder to Learn – An interesting article in The Chronicle of Higher Education discussing the implications of cognitive disfluency. Definitely worth a read for all involved in teaching.

Why SoTL is valid scholarly research! Click here to find quality criteria to measure research by.

6. Leadership insights

Part of leadership involves taking on big issues – like the balance of attention in universities between research and teaching. That is what former UNSW PVC, Emeritus Prof Adrian Lee, has done in publishing a version of the following article in The Conversation: “When rankings and research rules, students come last

Persuasion, influence … there must be a textbook on the stuff somewhere. Highly recommended is Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Harvard Business Review’s blog states: “Cialdini's classic on the core principles of persuasion is a sterling example of the cross application of psychological principles to [organizational] life. Based on his personal experiences and interviews … Cialdini's book is riveting and, yes, persuasive.”

The University of Adelaide
7. Team in Focus: POGIL-Style Learning in Large Chemistry Lecture Classes, University of Adelaide, Natalie Williamson, Greg Metha, John Willison and Simon Pyke.

Workshops (focus groups) have been held to assess and develop POGIL activities for use in lectures. November 2011 workshop - 5 students gave 100% agreement that the lecture system and POGIL activities were valuable. Open-ended responses elicited supportive comments: "You test the knowledge ... that’s where the real learning happens". Feedback from this workshop resulted in reduction of the information in the POGIL activities, and this information was delivered in traditional lectures instead. April 2012 workshop - 5 attendees, including postgraduate students. Again, there was a universally positive response to questions in the workshop survey, including an added question on the inquiry-based nature of the activities. Results were presented at ACSME 2012 in a talk.

Conclusion - Workshops (student focus groups) were very helpful and important for development of POGIL activities.

Natalie Williamson – First-year director for Chemistry. Teaching interests include organic, spectroscopic, analytical and practical chemistry. Research interests include synthetic organic chemistry, red wine pigments, and chemical education. Recipient of an ALTC Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2010.
Greg Metha – Head of Chemistry. Has been at the University of Adelaide since 1997 and has been awarded prizes, including the Stephen Cole the Elder Prize for Excellence in Teaching – first 5 years of teaching (2006). Research includes laser ionisation spectroscopy of metal-carbide and bi-metallic clusters in the gas phase and synchrotron characterisation of metal-carbide nanoparticles.
John Willison – Senior Lecturer in Higher Education with the School of Education. Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in HE. Research interests include the academic conceptualisation and implementation of the explicit development of students’ research skills in content-rich courses as well as broader Research Skill Development (RSD).
Simon Pyke – Associate Dean (Learning & Quality) in the Faculty of Sciences. Recipient of the Stephen Cole the Elder Award for Excellence in Teaching (2010) and other awards. Teaching interests include curriculum design, development of skills, and classroom practice. He has led an ALTC-funded project in skill development. Research interests include medicinal chemistry of small bioactive molecules and their interactions with protein targets, bio-organic chemistry & molecular toxicology of highly reactive aldehydes and natural products chemistry. Simon is also a member of the SaMnet steering committee.

SaMnet Button Logo

8. Classifieds

Give away: Add SaMnet’s QR code to your poster.

SaMnet QR Code
What is a QR code? How do you use it? Click here.


Send to for inclusion here in future newsletters.

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 
Any requests or notices?
Send them to and we will include them in future newsletters.