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?
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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.

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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.


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