Teaching@Sydney

Welcome to Teaching@Sydney. Stay informed about teaching and learning news and events with this monthly bulletin produced by the Institute for Teaching and Learning.

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Congratulations to Sydney recipients of 2015 OLT Teaching Excellence Awards

Warm congratulations to Dr Elizabeth New, School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, and the Peer Assisted Learning Programme from the Sydney Medical School, for their successes in the awards given by the Office for Learning and Teaching.  DVCE Professor Pip Pattison welcomed the news of the awards, saying,

I am delighted by this recognition of excellent teaching at the University of Sydney. The excellence and innovation in teaching exemplified by Dr New and the Peer Assisted Learning program provide our students with learning experiences which excite them and prepare them for the future.

Dr Elizabeth New received an Early Career Award for Teaching Excellence.

Dr Elizabeth New is a Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Sydney, with demonstrated excellence in teaching, and a thriving research program into the development of molecular imaging tools for the study of biological systems. Dr New,  an accomplished researcher with a number of research awards, is passionate about sharing and developing a love of chemistry with students by promoting active engagement in the learning process. In particular, her teaching seeks to address rapid changes in the discipline, and the diversity within the student population. Over the past three years, she has made many original and innovative contributions to various aspects of teaching. Most notably, she has led a School-wide redesign of first year teaching, involving the use of weekly video and self-assessment tools and in-class active worksheets, and has significantly redeveloped the second year laboratory curriculum to incorporate a range of research-led investigation exercises. Dr New has led successful applications for a Faculty of Science Learning and Teaching Fellowship, and two University Large Educational Innovation Grants. She is the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Nyholm Youth Lecturer (2014- 2015), and won the University of Sydney Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching (2015).

The Peer Assisted Learning Programme for innovation and flexibility in curricula, learning and teaching, received an Award in the category Programs that Enhance Learning. The team is led by Dr Annette Burgess and includes Associate Professor Kirsten Black, Associate Professor Renata Chapman, Professor Craig Mellis and Associate Professor Chris Roberts.

In 2010, the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) program was established at the Central Clinical School based at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where medical students gain clinical experience. The goal of the PAL program is to develop and sustain medical students' professionalism (knowledge, skills and professional behaviours) through socialising their learning in an authentic, engaging clinical environment. The PAL program consists of four student-centred activities: a teacher training course and innovative peer teaching and assessment opportunities in formative clinical examinations. The activities enable students to take on teaching and assessment roles within the "safety" of their medical school community. Participation has created a dynamic social learning network, engaging hospital clinicians, academics, patients, and all students from Years 1-4. Extensive evaluation and research results published in leading international medical education journals provide evidence of the educational impact of the PAL program. Students feel supported by their medical school community, better prepared for their own summative written and clinical assessments, and better prepared for their future careers as medical practitioners where they will be required to teach and assess their peers. The widening impact of the program is evidenced by the uptake of PAL activities at another five clinical schools and elsewhere.

The recipients received their awards at a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 8 December 2015.

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Warm congratulations to Dr Elizabeth New, School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, and the Peer Assisted Learning Programme from the Sydney Medical School, for their successes in t...[more]

Highlights from the 2015 Sydney Teaching Colloquium

Held on 4th November, over 300 staff and students met to discuss the topic of cultural competence. The day kicked off with a keynote by Dr Tim Soutphommasane (Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner) - see the video here, followed by 25 presentations by university staff and students.

Once again, a highlight was the involvement of six undergraduate Student Ambassadors, who gave a thought-provoking presentation on students' views of cultural competence - check out the video here.

Discussions on Twitter using the hashtag #sydteach15 complemented the face to face conversations, and you can see a summary of the Twitter discussion here.

Participants were invited by the Student Ambassadors to complete an online survey to offer feedback about their experiences at the Colloquium, and 95 responses were received. 85% of the survey respondents agreed that they would aim to implement what they learned at the Colloquium in their teaching; 84% agreed that the Colloquium encouraged collaboration.

For those keen to explore further practical and theoretical resources on teaching cultural competence, have a look at the new online program and join the Cultural Competence and Inclusive Teaching network.
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Held on 4th November, over 300 staff and students met to discuss the topic of cultural competence. The day kicked off with a keynote by Dr Tim Soutphommasane (Australia's Race...[more]

First-in-family learners and higher education participation - workshop 17th February 2016

Are you interested in exploring ways to support, engage and retain students who are the first in their families to come to university? If so, please register for this workshop in February.

Presenter: Dr Sarah O’Shea, Australian Learning & Teaching Fellow, University of Wollongong 

This presentation reports on research conducted with students who are first in their family (FiF) to attend university. Through interviews and surveys with both learners and their families, a richly descriptive insight into the university experience will be provided. First-in-family learners are characterised by substantially poorer educational outcomes and are at greater risk of attrition than their second or third generation counterparts (ABS, 2013; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2014; Coates & Ransom, 2011; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2012).

Drawing on a range of research studies including an OLT funded multi-institutional study of FiF students (O’Shea, May, Stone & Delahunty, 2015), this presentation will focus on the ways in which these learners navigated their higher education journey and enacted success within the higher education environment. There will be opportunity for discussion and reflection particularly as this relates to how institutions can: a) respond more effectively to student diversity; b) implement targeted support strategies that account for the learning contexts of this cohort; and c) explore strategies for connecting with families and community of FiF learners.

Program

10.15 – 10.30:   Registration (Tea and Coffee)

10.30 – 10.40:   Acknowledgement of Country; Welcome

10.40 – 11.10:   Background to the research: Who are first-in-family students?

11.10 – 11.30:   Reflections and refreshments (with questions to ponder!)

11.30 – 12.15:   Who or what helps/supports first-in-family students to succeed? What role does ‘family’ play?

12.15 – 12.45:   Strategies / approaches to supporting this cohort (Group work)

12.45 – 1.30:     Lunch and Networking

About Sarah:

In 2015, Sarah was awarded an OLT National Teaching Fellowship to support her work with students who are first in their families to attend university. Broadly, Sarah’s research focuses on student access and participation within the university sector, with particular reference to students from identified equity groups including those from low-SES backgrounds, Indigenous students, mature aged students as well as first-in-family learners.

Registration:

Date: Wednesday 17 February 2016
Time: 10.15am-1.30pm
Venue: University of Sydney, Learning & Teaching Meeting Room 218, Education Portfolio, Level 2, Fisher Library

Register here

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Are you interested in exploring ways to support, engage and retain students who are the first in their families to come to university? If so, please register for this workshop in F...[more]

Learning Centre Summer Program

The Learning Centre's Summer School Program is now available. During January and February, there is a range of workshops on offer for students. A selection of these include:

  • Foundations of Grammar
  • Clearer Writing
  • Writing a critical review
  • Writing in an academic style
  • Procrastination and managing time
  • Managing literature for coursework

Students can enrol from Monday 4 January. Please do all you can to point your students towards the program. For further information about the full program, visit the website.

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The Learning Centre's Summer School Program is now available. During January and February, there is a range of workshops on offer for students. A selection of these include:...[more]

Applying for a Teaching Award in 2016

If you are considering applying for a Vice-Chancellor’s or OLT award for teaching, or student learning next year, now is a good time to check what’s involved and think about your application. Both schemes will run in the first semester next year. Watch for the announcement of dates in February’s Teaching@Sydney. Closing dates for 2016 are likely to be similar to those available for each award in 2015. See the information sheets for each award for the 2015 dates.

Awards are worth $10,000 and provide recognition of the excellence of your teaching or other activities that support student learning. Many of the awards encourage applications from groups. Is there, for example, a curriculum initiative in your area that deserves recognition?

Meanwhile check out the awards and the requirements for each, as well as the resources. You can find examples of successful past applications by asking at the ITL, Level 2 South, Fisher Library. These can prompt you to think about what’s special about your teaching and how to provide evidence of this. Talking with colleagues and mentors or previous award winners is useful, as well as asking for their assistance in critiquing your draft application.

One of the advantages of starting early is that you have time to reflect, to gather extra evidence such as organising peer reviews of your teaching, and checking with referees well in advance whether they are able to support your application. The rewards in writing an application lie not only in the career boost that comes with a successful application but in the purposeful reflection on your teaching, the ideas that occur to you of things to try, and the satisfaction of recording what you have achieved.[close]

If you are considering applying for a Vice-Chancellor’s or OLT award for teaching, or student learning next year, now is a good time to check what’s involved and think...[more]

Preventing plagiarism

The University is committed to engendering a culture of academic integrity among our students, and educating students about academic honesty. Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. Knowing more about students’ reasons for plagiarising can help you to develop and use teaching strategies to prevent students plagiarising in the first place.

Students may plagiarise because they:

  • Do not think it is dishonest to paraphrase a person’s work and present it as their own without acknowledgement (Franklyn-Stokes & Newstead, 1995);
  • Do not know how to reference appropriately in the relevant discipline (Wilhoit, 1994; Owens & White, 2013);
  • Have not developed sufficient skills in reading and taking notes from sources to be able to effectively compose their own academic writing (Wilhoit, 1994);
  • Have not developed sufficient skills in academic writing, and specifically, using an ‘original voice’ and ‘authorial identity’ (Owens & White, 2013)
  • Lack confidence in their ability to express an argument using an ‘original voice’;
  • Are anxious and under stress because of study workload and/or financial pressures, and feel they must plagiarise to succeed in their studies (Ashworth, Bannister & Thorne, 1997; Zobel & Hamilton, 2002);
  • Are seeking ways to expend the least amount of effort in obtaining high grades in assessment tasks (Wilhoit, 1994);
  • Perceive that the assessment task is trivial and/or irrelevant and so is not worth their genuine effort, and does not require ‘original thought’ or an original voice (Ashworth, Bannister & Thorne, 1997); and/or
  • Perceive that academic dishonesty by other students is condoned by staff, and there are no consequences in their unit of study or course if they cheat or plagiarise (McCabe, Trevino & Butterfield, 2001).

Adapted from The Institute for Interactive Media & Learning, University of Technology Sydney.

Many of the reasons why students plagiarise are related to their skills and their confidence in their ability as academic writers. For a range of other reasons see Zobel and Hamilton (2002).

The design of assessment in your course context also plays an important role in preventing students from plagiarising (Macdonald & Carroll, 2006; Ward & Trigwell, 2015).

Click here for a list of practical assessment strategies that you can use to prevent students from plagiarising.

References

Ashworth, P., Bannister, P., & Thorne, P. (1997). Guilty in whose eyes? University students' perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in academic work and assessment. Studies in Higher Education, 22(2), 187-203.

Franklyn-Stokes, A., & Newstead, S. E. (1995). Undergraduate cheating: Who does what and why? Studies in Higher Education, 20(2), 159-172.

Macdonald, R., & Carroll, J. (2006). Plagiarism - a complex issue requiring a holistic institutional approach. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(2), 233-245.

McCabe, D. L., Treviño, L. K., & Butterfield, K. D. (2001). Cheating in academic institutions: A decade of research. Ethics & Behavior, 11(3), 219-232.

Owens, C., & White, F. A. (2013). A 5-year systematic strategy to reduce plagiarism among first-year psychology university students. Australian Journal of Psychology, 65, 14-21.

Ward, M-H., & Trigwell, K. (2015). Literature review on academic misconduct and plagiarism. DVC Education Portfolio, June.

Wilhoit, S. (1994). Helping students avoid plagiarism. College Teaching, 42(4), 161-164.

Zobel, J., & Hamilton, M. (2002). Managing student plagiarism in large academic departments. Australian Universities Review, 45(2), 23-30.

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The University is committed to engendering a culture of academic integrity among our students, and educating students about academic honesty. Plagiarism is a form of academic disho...[more]

Strategies for encouraging students to read

We noted with interest this advice from Bridget Middlemas at the University of Roehampton:

One of the most effective ways to encourage students to read is to make the readings part of your unit of study formal assessment process, by the judicious use of a Reflective Reading Log. This task encourages students to read between 5-10 articles over a period of 5-10 weeks, and to make brief notes about each article as they do so. Ideally this task should be linked to the next upcoming assessment task, so that the work students do helps prepare them for and is relevant to this next task (e.g., essay, report). Students can be asked to reflect on topics such as:

  • How does this article/chapter relate to my future professional practice?
  • Could it be used as a source in my upcoming essay/assignment/mid-semester exam etc.?
  • What would be a useful quotation, and why?
  • Is there anything more that I could find out about this topic?
  • Which two other authors have also discussed this topic?

The log can be given a grade on its own (e.g., weighted 10%), or later handed in as an appendix to the main assignment. Anecdotal evidence indicates that it is a friendly and non-threatening way to encourage students' reading on unfamiliar topics. Students can also bring their logs to class, to work on them in class and/or discuss in a peer group.

To read more about reflective reading logs and other innovative types of assessment, see this short booklet (p18 for reflective reading logs).

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We noted with interest this advice from Bridget Middlemas at the University of Roehampton: One of the most effective ways to encourage students to read is to make the readings par...[more]

Deadlines are looming for 2016 HE conferences: Get your proposal in

2016 hosts a number of interesting higher education conferences. Here's our list of some of the interesting ones:

  • Quality in Postgraduate Research (QPR) conference: 20-22 April 2016, Adelaide
    Theme: Society, Economy and Communities: 21st century innovations in doctoral education
    Although the deadline for abstracts has already closed, you can still get along to the conference to hear about the latest research in the policy and pedagogy space related to research education. Visit the website.
  • 6th Biennial Threshold concepts conference: 15-17 June, Halifax Canada
    Theme: Thresholds on the edge. Submissions close on 4 January 2016. Visit the website.
  • 5th International Academic Identities Conference: 29 June-1 July, Sydney
    Theme: Academic life in the measured university: pleasures, paradoxes and politics
    The Education Portfolio is hosting the conference which will be held at the University of Sydney Law School. Submissions close on 15 January 2016. Visit the website.
  • Students Transitions Achievement Retention and Success (STARS) conference: 29 June-2 July, Perth
    Submissions close on 1 February 2016. Visit the website.
  • Higher Education Research and Development Society Australasia (HERDSA) conference: 4-7 July, Perth
    Theme: The shape of higher education. Submissions close on 5 February 2016. Visit the website.
  • Higher Education Close-Up 8 conference: 18-20 July, Lancaster UK
    Theme: Locating social justice in close-up research in higher education. Submissions close on 15 February 2016. Visit the website.
  • International Consortium for Educational Development (ICED) conference: 22-25 November, Cape Town
    Theme: Ethics, care and quality in educational development. Submissions close 30 May 2016 (round 2). Visit the website.
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2016 hosts a number of interesting higher education conferences. Here's our list of some of the interesting ones: Quality in Postgraduate Research (QPR) conference: 20-22 Ap...[more]

53 Powerful Ideas All Teachers Should Know About

In idea number 34, Graham Gibbs describes the challenges involved in Courses working as Integrated Systems. While Biggs's notion of constructive alignment has become key to coherent course design (the learning outcomes are reinforced by the teaching and learning activities, and assessment), Gibbs reminds us that students need an idea of the overall direction but also, guidance about what to focus their efforts on.

Graham Gibbs is one of the UKs most well known advocates of improving university learning and teaching. With his colleagues (Habeshaw & Habeshaw), he was responsible for the very popular '53 Interesting Ideas' books series that have supported countless teachers (new and experienced) navigate their way through tricky classroom and curriculum dilemmas. Gibbs's new blog 53 Powerful Ideas all Teachers Should Know About offers a research summary of key issues.[close]

In idea number 34, Graham Gibbs describes the challenges involved in Courses working as Integrated Systems. While Biggs's notion of constructive alignment has become key to coh...[more]

Season's greetings

As 2015 draws to a close, we would like to thank you for your interest in and involvement with education initiatives over the past year. We wish everyone a happy and relaxing summer break, and look forward to exciting collaborations in the new year.

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As 2015 draws to a close, we would like to thank you for your interest in and involvement with education initiatives over the past year. We wish everyone a happy and relaxing summe...[more]

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Current Events & Registration

register Sign up for Teaching@Sydney details 2014
register First-in-family learners and higher education participation: Dr Sarah O'Shea Workshop details 17 February
register Principles & Practice of University Teaching & Learning details 18 - 19 February

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