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.
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