Thursday, 23 October 2014

October Newsletter

Last month’s question: Have you had any success introducing undergraduates to discipline based education research?
Answer from The University of Sydney: Four students in 1st year have completed research projects with the Sydney University Physics Education Research Group with Matt Hill (PhD Student, Trainee Supervisor) and Manju Sharma (Trainer). These included projects on teaching diagrams, understanding student responses in an online environment, the ability to use tabular data and learning multiple representations online.
Advantages: Real (publishable) education research has been completed, and 1st year students have been able to experience it themselves and learn from the process.
Difficulties: A high level of understanding was asked of the students in a very short period of time. Limited time for data collection so 3 out of the 4 made use of existing data.
For more information contact

2.  Conferences & publication

The 8th Australian NZ Mathematics Convention – The University of Melbourne. 8-12 December, 2014
The conference is building in a Mathematics Education session and they are looking for a significant group of participants. Talks in the session will be 25 minutes.
Abstracts are due on November 17

Other discipline conferences in September and December:
Australian Institute of Physics Congress | 7-11 December, Canberra

3.  Connections/Events  

Past:                      The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME)
                                The main annual gathering of the SaMnet Australia Community.

Future:                 SaMnet Leadership Development Workshops – February 2015

4.  SaMnet activity 

SaMnet HQ is preparing for the 2015 SaMnet Leadership Development to be held in capital cities in February. Leaders from amongst the community are being contacted to take on the role of hosting a workshop. Should you wish to assist in the co-ordination of a 2015 SaMnet Leadership Development Workshop, please contact

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) (Edited by - Emma Bartle, UQ & Matt Hill, USYD)

Susan Rowland and Paula Myatt
“In this article we provide a guide intended to help natural-science faculty initiate SoTL projects while they negotiate the mechanics and politics of developing and maintaining a SoTL research program in a science department”

Compiled by the Research & Evaluation Team, the University of Minnesota
A two page “brief” summarising the paper “Active learning not associate with student learning in a random sample of college biology courses” (2011). Make sure you read until the end for the implications!

6.  Leadership insights (Edited by Matt Hill & Will Rifkin, USyd)
Bernard Marr
Finding the end of the teaching year stressful? Do you know how to manage emotions in times of stress to “remain cool, calm, and able to do what needs to be done”?

Phillip Brown
What would you expect the most common answer to be to the following question: What are the qualities, skills and competencies you want in your leaders? What are people looking to you for? (How to actually develop this trait – now that’s for another time)!

7. Initiative in Focus:
Report on Chris Creagh’s (OLT National Teaching Fellow) ACSME Discipline Day Workshop
During the workshop Chris led the participants through two engaging tutorials designed to support student learning of diagrams and formulas. These tutorials (designed for university physics students) were highly interactive and included a range of learning experiences including discussion and teamwork, hands on exercises around the room and multimedia presentations. You can see two of the videos yourself here and here. And for more information contact

8.  Classifieds

Soon SaMnet will be sending out a survey constructed by Beth Beckmann (ANU) to continue to investigate the impact of the SaMnet community on you and your work. Look for this in your inbox later this year!