Thursday, 25 June 2015

June Newsletter
This Month’s Question:
With the fifth SaMnet Leadership-Development Workshop taking place earlier this month, we will be reviewing our workshops for future years. Here is a chance to have your say! What elements would make the workshop worthwhile for you to come along again? What elements would you suggest are vital for those new to SaMnet, or SoTL and Leadership in the STEM disciplines? Let us know at

2.  Conferences & publication
Monash University, 25-27 November, 2015
Universities are invited to send two person teams to showcase a laboratory experiment for improvement. Due date for EOI for experiments to be evaluated at the workshop: 17 August

Flinders University, Adelaide, 28 September – 1 October, 2015
Call for abstracts for presentations in the Maths Education Special Sessions close on the 30th of June. Please note that the dates clash with ACSME (see below), but the conference organisers have offered to try and schedule talks of ACSME participants on the first two days so you can get to Perth for ACSME.

Perth, 30 September – 2 October, 2015
The theme is Transforming practice: Inspiring innovation.
Early bird registrations close August 6th.

3.  Connections/Events  
QLD/NT SaMnet Leadership-Development Workshop – Brisbane, June 9

The University of Melbourne, 6-7 July, 2015
An annual workshop providing an opportunity for mathematicians, statisticians and mathematics educators to meet. Unfortunately/excitingly the venue is fully booked so registrations will be placed on a wait list.

Perth, 30 September – 2 October, 2015
This is the main gathering and sharing event on the SaMnet calendar each year.

Melbourne, 1-4 July, 2015
Registrations are closed, but look out for other SaMnet scholars at this event.

4.  SaMnet activity 
This month we held our 5th SaMnet Leadership-Development Workshop for 2015. This workshop was held in Brisbane and hosted by SaMnet Scholar, Sarah-Jane Gregory.

24 people attended the workshop and cited that one of the most useful aspects included a presentation from OLT National Teaching Fellow, Prof Pauline Ross on Career progression: Understanding the System. Participants also found sharing experiences and hearing from others, and looking at effective change frameworks as some of the most useful parts of the workshop.

Thank you to all involved, especially Sarah-Jane as host. If you are interested in hosting a workshop at your institution please send an email to

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

From the book, A Concise Guide to Improving Student Learning: Six Evidence-Based Principles and How to Apply Them, by Diane Cummings Persellin and Mary Blythe Daniels. Featured in Tomorrow’s Professor Blog.
This is an overview of several studies on “desirable difficulties”. This work seems to align with interest in “constructive failure” or “productive failure”. That is, give students practice in something that is particularly challenging to do. Then, when they are examined on similar problems, they will actually perform better.
Meg Bernhard in The Chronicle of Higher Education discussing a recent paper of Carl Wieman
How do you evaluate your teaching? Wieman argues that “The ultimate measure of teaching quality... is the extent to which professors use practices associated with better student outcomes”. Over the last two years the SaMnet Action-Learning project teams have been evaluating their teaching to this measure. How can you do this over the coming semester?

6.  Leadership insights

Jay Schalin and Jenna Ashley Robinson in The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
In the student transition from “learning for learning’s sake” to more practical outcomes such as employment and vocational pursuits at university, how can academic institutions respond? How can academia instil lifelong-learning practices in an era where access and “opportunities abound for life-long learning”?

Dan Berrett in The Chronicle of Higher Education
Harvard University and the University of Michigan announced in 2012 $40 and $25 million dollars in funding respectively to encourage faculty members to “experiment in the service of learning”. The question arises, what can happen when so much money is offered to projects? Will the money spark change when other attempts have failed?

7. Classifieds

This is a teaching-focussed role; the Department is undertaking a major, multi-year revision of its undergraduate pedagogy and curriculum with the goal of producing a truly superb undergraduate experience in physics. They are looking for candidates with a strong background in university teaching who are familiar with current developments in physics education research.