Thursday, 4 February 2016

February Newsletter

On behalf of SaMnet, happy new year to all of you. We hope you have enjoyed your break, come back refreshed, and ready to face a new year of science and mathematics education.

From next month, the SaMnet newsletter will include the Australian Council of Deans of Science blog as part of the integrated newsletter covering the SaMnet, ACDS, ACSME and IJ-ISME communities! Look out for the new newsletter in March!

This Month’s Question:
As the new year begins, we want to provide you with new opportunities for collaborative teaching and learning projects. Special interest groups within the umbrella of science and mathematics education in Australia – FYiMaths is just one example – develop and flourish because of the hard work of the community involved, including the work of SaMnet scholars.

What special interest groups in science and mathematics education, whether Australian or internationally, are you involved in that you feel the SaMnet community should know about? Please let us know at and we shall highlight them in future editions of the newsletter.

Ireland’s National Teaching & Learning Network, the Network for Advancing Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) was relaunched in 2015. This network is open for international members, so if you are considering travelling to Ireland, keep your eyes on potential opportunities coming from the network!

We would like to draw your attention to two surveys looking at staff and academic perceptions on aspects of student learning and employability:

  • Our colleagues from Monash are exploring science academics' perceptions of employability. Could you please complete their survey at: 
  • Dr Nazim Khan (UWA) has also invited you to participate in a survey on staff attitudes on student class attendance, available here:

2.  Conferences & publication

Call for Abstracts for Oral Presentations and Posters - 2016 RACI Chemical Educational Division Symposium
Monash University, Melbourne, 31 March-1 April, 2016
The symposium is an opportunity for participants to discuss four key themes in chemical education, with each discussion chaired by a leader from the Australian Chemical Education community.
Submissions are open until Monday 8 February; please submit your text-only abstract here.

Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June-2 July 2016
The STARS conference makes its way to Perth in 2016.
Submissions close Monday 8 February; please check here for more details.

Rural education in Australia poses a fascinating set of challenges and provides opportunities for educational innovation.
Interested authors should submit an expression of interest, including a 250-word abstract, to Submissions are open until Friday 27 February 2016.

3.  Connections/Events  

2015 Biomed Forum – Canberra, ACT
FYiMaths NSW Meeting – Sydney, NSW
HAPS Australia Regional Meeting 2015 – Melbourne, VIC

University of Melbourne – 3 February 2016
University of Sydney – 5 February 2016

Monash University, Melbourne, 31 March-1 April, 2016
The symposium will allow participants to discuss and present on four key themes in chemical education.
Registrations for the event are open now; click here to register.

Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June-2 July 2016
The STARS conference makes its way to Perth in 2016.
Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.

Brisbane Convention and Education Centre, Brisbane, 7-9 August 2016
The theme of this conference is “Improving STEM Learning: What will it take?”
Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.

4.  SaMnet activity 

The proceedings from the ACSME 2015 conference on ‘Transforming Practice: Inspiring Innovation’ are now available online; click here for the online proceedings.

Furthermore, the special issue of IJISME on ‘Assessing Laboratory Learning’ is available online. The link to the issue is available here.

We are currently hard at work on the transition to an integrated SaMnet, ACDS T&L, ACSME and IJISME newsletter, delivering news, events and support for practitioners and educational innovators as an arm of the Australian Council of Deans of Science Teaching and Learning Centre. This transition will occur next month; watch this space!

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times
A report by the Higher Education Authority in Ireland has shown concerns about drop-out rates in technology-related courses, with suspicions focused on low maths entry requirements. Concerns about mathematical abilities of students entering university are worldwide; what should Australian universities do about these requirements, as highlighted by recent news from Sydney University?

Trudy W. Banta and Catherine A. Palomba, Chapter 2 in the book Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing and Improving Assessment in Higher Education
What is the purpose behind your assessments? Who are the stakeholders affected? When should assessments be conducted? At a student, faculty and institutional level, well-crafted assessment planning can help engage the goals of the institution for all relevant parties. What is your approach to assessment planning? Have you written down your assessment planning documents?

6.  Leadership Insights

Susanne Morton for the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) blog
Contextualising your institution with respect to the unique local factors of the institution, including its history, provides an important step towards enacting cultural change within an institution. Could this approach extend beyond gender equality, as used by the SAGE project? How would your institution’s history and unique local qualities affect the way you approach institutional change?

Audrey Williams June for The Chronicle of Higher Education
Three perspectives are offered here on how simply hiring people of diverse backgrounds is not enough to entrench diversity. Rather, the environment of the institution, from the leadership team down, must be conducive to supporting diversity policies. What aspects of these perspectives do you observe here within your institutional context and how do they contribute or detract from change?

7. Classifieds

The SMART Directory indexes useful websites relevant to teaching and learning in science and mathematics, with annotated resources and a rating system indicating the usefulness of the resources. The Directory is ready for testing, and the developers welcome feedback and comments on the site, which is available in beta here.


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