Thursday, 12 December 2013

December Newsletter

Season’s greetings from the SaMnet HQ Team!

Looking for a keynote or seminar speaker?
Our SaMnet Scholars are fabulous candidates. A select set of abstracts is in the linked document. Share with everyone! Booklet versions will be printed in early 2014.

This month's question:               
What workshop/conference are you most looking forward to in 2014?
Share with SaMnet to share with the network.

2.  Conferences & publication

3rd Australasian Universities Geoscience Educators Network Workshop  - 23rd-24th January 2014, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Registration is Free, but abstract submissions have closed.

Journal of Chemical Education Special Issue: Advanced Placement Chemistry ­– Do you have anything you could publish here? ‘AP’ chemistry is university-level chemistry for high school students in the US.  Manuscripts are due January 6 2014.

Journal of Learning Design Special Issue: Design for Assessment of Learning Outcomes in Undergraduate Science Education. Abstracts due December 20 2013 to SaMnet Scholar,; manuscripts due March 14 2014.

IJISME Special Issue: Inquiry and Problem-Solving in the Undergraduate Science Curriculum. Abstracts due February 28 to -(SaMnet steering committee member); manuscripts due April 14 2014.

3.  Connections/Events  

Past:                      CUBEnet Forum – 12-13 December, 2013, Canberra. 3rd national forum of the Collaborative Universities Biomedical Education network. Discussion of achievements of the network and consideration of future activities.  See the CUBEnet website for specifics.

Future:                 25 February 2014 - SaMnet Leadership-development workshops in Adelaide and Melbourne. Dates for other capital cities to be finalised shortly!

WA Teaching and Learning Forum 2014 – University of Western Australia, 30-31 January 2014. Theme: Transformative, Innovative and Engaging.  SaMnet has a presentation in the program; bring a colleague. 

                                IISME & FY in Maths Event: Assumed knowledge in maths: the impact on student achievement and progression in STEM programs – University of Sydney, 13-14 February, 2014. Participants share experiences and develop strategies for moving the debate forward. Call for presenters: abstracts due January 10 2014.
Match up:           We are matching you up with someone you already know!  Have a colleague whom you think would benefit from SaMnet’s workshop?  Invite them to February 2014 workshops on leadership and SoTL.  They are in the capital cities.  Now is the time put the workshop on your colleague’s ‘radar screen’.  They are welcome to e-mail to register interest. 

4.  SaMnet activity 

Analysis of data and drafting of publications continues at SaMnet HQ.  The Steering Committee is preparing for 2014, with February workshops planned.  We are also publicising select projects/SaMnet scholars as available for speaking arrangements at conferences and workshops.

A snapshot summary of the national SaMnet effort has been prepared. Please share widely this document celebrating our network’s successes.

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 

What is your take on the STEM “crisis”? (We are not offering an opinion, just two relevant articles).
The STEM Crisis Is a Myth Robert Charette, IEEE Spectrum
The STEM Crisis: Reality or Myth Michael Anft, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Each article compares the number of STEM graduates with the number of STEM graduate positions. Is the investment by governments throughout the world in generating more graduates misplaced?

Chad Anderson and David Blair in Diversity and Democracy
The article outlines processes and outcomes that may look familiar to us, as Australian science and mathematics educators.  This ‘global learning rubric’ resembles the Australian ‘standards’ agenda. Worth checking on what those overseas see  as key standards.

6.  Leadership insights

Looking at successful leaders:
Shane Snow, CCO and co-founder of Contently (A highly successful US-based startup)
Seven important things from his experience and the experiences of others. Which one do you need to work on?

Anthony Scaramucci
Do you find inspirational quotes motivating? Need one for a new email footer? Is there something you can take from these quotes from famous “leaders”?

7. Project in Focus: ARC-funded Project - The online future of science and engineering education: the essential elements of laboratory-based learning for remote-access, David Treagust, Euan Lindsay, Anthony Lucey, Mauro Mocerino, Marjan Zadnik (SaMnet Steering Committee), Sven Esche
Laboratory classes are a critical part of science and engineering degree programs, but there has been little research into what actually takes place within them. Remote laboratories, in which students control equipment via the internet, are one potential solution for accommodating rising numbers of students, but the interfaces must be developed to effectively support student learning. This project will investigate how students interact with equipment, each other, and with laboratory demonstrators in order to determine the crucial components of effective laboratory learning experiences. It will identify and characterise the interactions of students in laboratory classes, and develop mechanisms to support these interactions remotely.
Editor’s Note: One reason to highlight this project is to show that your T&L projects can lead to ARC Discovery and Linkage grants. This ARC Discovery grant was the largest grant ($445,000) for the Field of Research 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy. Congratulations to the project team!  

8.  Classifieds

Looking for a project officer? Do you, or someone you know, need to hire an experienced project officer? Contact SaMnet for details of someone who comes highly recommended.

Write an article on leadership? - Want to publish on the leadership aspects of your SaMnet project?  Recount the persuasion strategies that proved to be most effective, for example, or aspects of how your project team worked and overcame hurdles – insights that others can benefit from.  SaMnet HQ will be available to offer assistance.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

November Newsletter

 1.  Issue 19 of SaMnet’s monthly newsletter 

This month's question:
When is the best time of year for writing up publications (especially in SoTL)?
Is November/December a productive time or too busy with other things?

Congratulations to SaMnet Scholars:
Gwen Lawrie - 2013 OLT Award for Teaching and Excellence.
Marjan Zadnik and Shelley Yeo (With Mauro Mocerino) - 2013 OLT Award for Programs that Enhance Learning "Enhancing Students' learning in laboratories through professional development of demonstrators".

2.  Conferences & publication

CUBEnet Forum – 12-13 December, 2013, Canberra. 3rd national forum of the Collaborative Universities Biomedical Education network. Discuss achievements of the network and consider future activities.

International Conference of STEM in Education – July 12-15, 2014, Vancouver, Canada. Proposals due December 9 for papers, poster presentations, panels, workshops, symposia and innovative showcases.

Journal of Learning Design Special Issue: Design for Assessment of Learning Outcomes in Undergraduate Science Education. Abstracts due December 20 to; manuscripts due March 14.

IJISME Special Issue: Inquiry and Problem-Solving in the Undergraduate Science Curriculum. Abstracts due February 28 to; manuscripts due April 14.

3.  Connections/Events

Future:                 February 2014 SaMnet Leadership-development workshops. Register your interest in hosting a workshop with

WA Teaching and Learning Forum 2014 – University of Western Australia, 30-31 January. Theme: Transformative, Innovative and Engaging.

Match up:           You and your associate dean (teaching and learning) or, if you are an ADTL, your dean.  Having someone with potential influence in your network takes maintenance.  Tell them something that makes the faculty look good, “Just thought you might appreciate …” Or ask them about their priorities, which you might be able to address.  All part of ‘distributed leadership’. 

4.  SaMnet activity 

SaMnet HQ and the Steering Committee are continuing in the process of analysing the SaMnet endeavour as a whole.  We are working on publications.  If you have comments to share about your experiences contact

Activity of SaMnet’s action-learning project teams continues as teams are still in the process of gathering and evaluating data.  We see that you are also using results to positively influence the teaching and attitudes of colleagues.  SaMnet HQ is still available to assist.

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 

Conceptual Difficulties Experienced By Trained Engineers Learning Educational Research Methods
Maura Borrego, Journal of Engineering Education
This paper describes the conceptual difficulties of discipline-based academics transitioning to becoming education researchers who are focussing on the disciplines of engineering. Sound like your situation in a science faculty? Conceptual insights offered here may speed  your journey.

Top Professors Named (USA)
Megan Rogers, Inside Higher Ed
“Students in classes taught by the four U.S. professors of the year don’t sit in a lecture hall and take copious notes. They calculate the impact of a zombie infection, virtually tour crèpe restaurants in France, use algebraic equations to program a robot, and connect course concepts to novel ideas.” Need I say more?

6.  Leadership insights

Two articles on the topic of mentoring:
To get promoted, women need champions, not mentors
Vickie Elmer, Quartz
Commenting on the Book Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor by Ann Hewlett, Elmer quotes “Women have twice as many mentors as men, but half as many sponsors”. Do you know the difference? How might actively seeking sponsors boost your career?

9 Lessons From the World’s Best Mentors
Chester Elton, LinkedIn
Three tips each, from three key mentors of Chester Elton, author of “All In” – a NY Times bestseller on management and leadership. A 2-minute read (the article, not the book).

7. Team in Focus: A design-based approach to lab experiments: Investigating students’ ways of active learning, Maria Parappilly, Salim Siddiqui (Curtin University), Lisa Schmidt, Joe Shapter

We implemented inquiry-based activities for non-physics majors in 2012 at both Flinders and Curtin universities. Surveys were distributed at the start of semester to gauge students' knowledge of radiation and radioactivity and, based on results, were asked to choose from a list of laboratory activities. Students are expected to acquire knowledge from textbooks, synthesise the information, and design an experiment incorporating innovative and new techniques. At the end of semester 2 we collected student feedback to check the effectiveness of design-experiments over recipe-based experiments.

We found that student feedback collected over the last two semesters (n=122 + 95) in 2013 at Curtin University is consistent in both semesters.  The feedback indicates that in general student like inquiry-based activities because it involves self-learning and promotes critical thinking and scientific literacy.  However, students are less inclined to write their own procedure for the activity.  It is believed that writing a formal experimental procedure as outlined in a standard laboratory manual is daunting and time consuming. Click Here to view the team’s IJISME publication.

Maria Parappilly is a lecturer in physics involved in teaching and coordinating multiple physics units. Her research interests include both physics education research and various areas regarding quantum chromodynamics.

Salim Siddiqui is a Senior Lecturer within the Department of Imaging and Applied Physics at Curtin University.  He holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics.  His research interest include, medical physics, radiation safety and physics education research.

Lisa Schmidt is a senior lecturer in higher education with the centre for university teaching. Her background is in theoretical physics, applied mathematics and biology and her PhD was in cancer research. Her research now involves assessment, curriculum and internalization, especially in the sciences.

Joe Shapter is the Dean of Chemical and Physical Sciences. Research interests include Macromolecular and materials chemistry, nanotechnology and physical chemistry but is also invested in teaching.

8.  Classifieds

The ACDS Teaching and Learning Centre has received financial support for 2014 from the Australian Council of Deans of Science.
Visit the website, and sign up to the newsletter. Contact Liz Johnson for details or to receive the newsletter.

Monday, 28 October 2013

October Newsletter

This month's question:

Feedback for the newsletter – What advice would you give to the next newsletter? Favourite section? Section could do without? Reply to

2.  Conferences & publication

EduRe ’14 – The International Virtual Conference on Education, Social and Technological Sciences will be held on March 13-14, 2014. No need to travel as collaboration and sharing will occur online. Abstracts due December 10.  All papers accepted for the conference will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

WA Teaching and Learning Forum 2014 – University of Western Australia, 30-31 January. The theme is Transformative, Innovative and Engaging. Submission deadline for refereed papers just closed 24 Oct.  Abstracts and workshop proposals welcome until 14 November.

3.  Connections/Events  

Future:                 February 2014 SaMnet Leadership-development workshops. Host one -register your interest -

Match up:           Interested in using videos on the learning process in physics (or another science)?  Contact Chris Creah.  See a description of her Fellowship effort below – on just-in-time teaching and peer learning. 

4.  SaMnet activity 

The SaMnet HQ team has been completing the final report for the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. We detail development of the SaMnet community and achievements of the 28 project teams. We will share the link in the newsletter once the report is approved and on the OLT website.

Action-learning project teams are still gathering and evaluating data and using their / your results to influence the attitudes and teaching of colleagues. Assistance is still available from SaMnet HQ, critical friends, and your peers.

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 

Sam Wineburg, The Conversation
Do you spend most of your time writing scholarly work or publications for wider audiences? Which would you prefer to spend your time on? Where does your university’s administration see your impact? A tricky balance – no doubt.

Emily Atterberry, USA Today
The new poster-boy of teaching – flipped classrooms – is being assessed for effectiveness. The results are only preliminary, but one study has so far found no difference on learning! Read for yourself.

6.  Leadership insights

Two from a LinkedIn newsletter:
Joel Peterson, Chairman, JetBlue Airways. Stanford Business School
Anxious about any of the following? (1) Work, (2) Companionship or (3) Balance between work and family? Advice from the reflections of business school graduates 40 years down the track.

Deep Nishar
Do you see compassion as an important quality of a leader? Nishar argues for it and tells you where to learn it!

7. Project in Focus: 2013 OLT National Fellowship: 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)

An OLT Fellowship can take a winding path from first inspiration to final report, and I know for sure that my path was not mapped out at the start. I had a teaching strategy in mind, as I had been thinking about the importance of diagrams and formula in facilitating communication and understanding in physics. The six-step strategy I am developing encourages peer learning and just-in-time teaching. It leans heavily on Vygotsky’s ‘zone of proximal development’ to promote effective learning between peers and a master-apprentice approach to develop a deeper understanding of content.
Problematically, there are many apprentices / novices and not many available masters / experts. So, videos were created in which the student audience eavesdrops on the discussion of experts, i.e., me and my tutors, discussing the “thing” that I want to get across to the students.
The two new videos constitute a 5 – 7 minute impetus for tutorials, which have associated pre, during and post video and concluding activities. Once everything is released on my Fellowship website, they will be open educational resources. Some academics have already suggested that the videos might be useful for tutor training!

A Toolbox of Diagrams – get some diagrams and stick them in your toolbox so that you can pull them out and modify them as you need, to help in communicating ideas. 

Interrogating Formulas – ask them questions to help you understand the underlying physics.

Chris Creagh – Dr. Chris Creagh is a senior lecturer in Physics and has a Grad. Dip in Secondary Education. She has received two Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching / Enhancing Learning as well as a Carrick (Australian Learning and Teaching Council) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. At the moment, she is an OLT National Teaching Fellow trying to find a way to assist first-year university students kick-start / bootstrap their own learning.

8.  Classifieds – So far same as last time...

As the end of session is approaching, and you will be looking forward to time to write, we will repeat our offer from last month.  Publish on aspects of your SaMnet project – on the learning innovation or a case study of your efforts to drive change.  Let us know in SaMnet HQ what you are aiming to publish and what data that we have been gathering from your project, and others (permission needed), that might be helpful.  Your write up might be suitable for IJISME or another journal we can identify.