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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Registration open for the 2014 Sydney Teaching Colloquium

The fourth STC considers how assessment standards can be harnessed for learning. Hosted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Pip Pattison, it addresses the practical and future challenges of assessment, and asks whether our approaches at unit, program, course and university levels are at a standard that supports students to develop as engaged enquirers.

To inspire, engage and challenge us, this year’s Colloquium features two prominent assessment scholars as the keynote speakers: Emeritus Professor David Boud, University of Technology Sydney, and Professor Chris Rust, Oxford Brookes University. Titles and abstracts will be available in the coming weeks.

At this year's event, you can:

  • learn where best to focus your time and effort on assessment and feedback to support learning
  • engage with the latest developments in higher education assessment research
  • interact with staff who are experimenting with innovative and effective assessment practices
  • find out how this year’s Student Ambassadors experience assessment and feedback in their courses
  • ask tough questions about the implementation of the university’s assessment principles and policy

Although the full program won't be available until late August, registrations are now open. Make sure  you get in early because this year's event is shaping up to be topical, relevant and provocative.

You can help us publicise the STC by following along on twitter @SydTeachColloq and #sydteach14, or you can distribute or download the e-poster and share it with colleagues in your Departments and Schools. More information available here.

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The fourth STC considers how assessment standards can be harnessed for learning. Hosted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Pip Pattison, it addresses the practical a...[more]

Upcoming OLT grants

The OLT is currently calling for applications for Commissioned Projects and Extension Grants with information expected soon about the Innovation and Development Grants round.

The first round of 2015 Innovation and Development grants is expected to be announced in August and due in November. Workshops for those interested in applying for this round are planned for Thursday 4th September 10.00am-12.00noon and Friday 26th September 1.00-3.00pm. Enrol for the workshops here. The information from the OTL about the grants round submission dates will be posted as soon as it is available. Attendance at one or more of the workshops is strongly advised for those submitting an application. If you wish for individual assistance with your grant from the ITL it is expected you will first have attended an ITL workshop.

Commissioned Projects

The Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) funds strategic projects commissioned in response to key issues in the Australian higher education sector. Applications are now open for the 2014 Strategic Priority Commissioned projects in the following areas:

  • Developing global perspectives
  • English language support
  • The twenty-first century student experience

These are larger strategic projects of national interest; proposals for funding of $220,000 and beyond are anticipated. The OLT may award one or more grants to address a strategic topic and the project must be completed within eighteen months. Submissions must be made through the university. Advise Sally Paynter of your intention to submit an application by Monday 18 August and contact Alison Kuiper for academic advice. Final applications must be received by the OLT no later than 5pm (AEST) Friday 29 August 2014. More information and application instructions may be found on the OLT website.

Extension Grants

Extension Grants support the continued dissemination and embedding of completed learning and teaching projects. Extension Grants are specifically intended to achieve the following objectives:

  • Raise the profile of the fundamental importance of teaching in higher education institutions and in the general community
  • Develop effective mechanisms for the identification, development, dissemination and embedding of good individual and institutional practice, including addressing particular contextual barriers to taking on the good practice identified.

Funding is in the form of a grant of up to $30,000 provided to disseminate or embed the outcomes of completed learning and teaching projects or fellowships in institutions which were not partners in the original project. Funds may be used to trial resources or curricula, run workshops, present at relevant conferences (including registration, travel, accommodation and incidental expenses) or to establish new websites. The application must come from an institution, and not from an individual or conference. The next closing date is 5 September, 2014. See OLT website.
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The OLT is currently calling for applications for Commissioned Projects and Extension Grants with information expected soon about the Innovation and Development Grants round. T...[more]

Apply for an award for teaching innovation

The Co-op Excellence in Teaching Award is offered annually to promote, recognise and reward the innovative use of academic and support resources in teaching, including technologies, which contribute to an engaged, student-centred learning experience. The innovation may be in the development or use of new resources, or the innovative use of existing resources. The award is given annually to an individual member of the University teaching community who can demonstrate outstanding achievement in student-focused teaching.The award includes a prize of $500 in vouchers and $500 in cash.

Recommendations for the award are made by a panel appointed by The Co-op. The panel will be looking at the degree of innovation and creativity displayed in the teaching methods and the resources used, in conjunction with the demonstrated effectiveness of the innovation. Quantitative and qualitative evidence of student feedback and formal evaluation will also be considered favourably by the panel.

The Award is being offered again this year in conjunction with the Sydney Teaching Colloquium, 29-30 September, where the winner will be announced. The criteria for the award and the application form are available on the ITL website.

Applications close the 13th of September.[close]

The Co-op Excellence in Teaching Award is offered annually to promote, recognise and reward the innovative use of academic and support resources in teaching, including technologi...[more]

Supporting sessional staff – an 8 step guide

Sessional staff play an important role in teaching, and need to feel welcome and supported. If you work with sessional staff as a unit coordinator or in another leadership role, then read on for some suggestions and resources. Feedback on this guide is very welcome, please contact Amani Bell.

1. Induction

Local induction is important for new sessional staff as they often aren’t aware of university- or faculty-wide induction programs, or aren’t able to attend. There is a helpful checklist here, along with other induction information. Induction could be completed with the whole teaching team in your initial meeting.

2. Communication

This is the most important aspect of working with sessional staff. You need to have clear, regular channels of communication – which could be a combination of emails, online or face to face team meetings, lesson plans, marking moderation meetings, and inviting sessional staff to observe lectures. Provide sessional staff with clear explanations of their roles and responsibilities, how the unit is taught, and how the assessment works. Communication goes both ways, so make sure sessional staff feel that they can give you feedback on how the unit is going.

3. Mentoring

New sessional teachers often appreciate advice on good teaching e.g. on how to provide useful and timely feedback, clear explanations, and motivate students. This guidance can be given during teaching team meetings, hallway conversations and e-mail correspondence. More experienced sessional teachers may also be able to provide some support and leadership to new sessional teachers. In large units of study, consider setting up a buddy system for sessional teachers. Peer observation of teaching can be a useful way to support teaching, and it can be done by pairs of tutors, or with your involvement.

4. Inclusion

Sessional staff often feel isolated. You can help sessional staff feel welcome by ensuring they have access to the resources and support that they need, and by including them in departmental activities, and on the Faculty email list, and so on.

5. Professional development

After attending a faculty-based introduction to university teaching, sessional teachers may be keen to find other opportunities for professional development. Here are some ideas:

  • Participate in a short, fully online program ‘An Introduction to teaching at Sydney
  • The ITL offers a 2 day program on university learning and teaching , which is free for all University of Sydney staff
  • Attend teaching and learning workshops held in your Department/School/Faculty
  • Explore programs and resources on eLearning.
  • Discover the resources on the ITL website.
  • The National Tertiary Education Union has a comprehensive handbook for casual academics at Sydney.
  • Be on the lookout for other professional development opportunities for your staff e.g. giving a guest lecture.
6. Evaluation of teaching

You may wish to encourage your sessional staff to order a teacher feedback survey . Although the results are confidential, sessional staff may find it helpful to interpret results by sharing them in conversation with a trusted colleague. You may also wish to advise staff about informal ways of seeking student feedback. Consider including staff in the closing the loop email that you send to students after the USE results are released.

7. Rewarding excellent sessional teaching

Many faculties have teaching awards, and sometimes there will be a dedicated category for sessional teachers. Sessional teachers may also be eligible to apply for the University-wide teaching awards - please check the information sheet for each award.

8. Further resources for unit coordinators leading sessional staff

The university’s website for coordinators of first year units has some useful advice on working with sessional staff, relevant for any UG or PG units.

Here are some video triggers that get you thinking about common scenarios when leading sessional staff, and some best practice exemplars from 6 Australian universities across a range of disciplines, from the Coordinators Leading Advancement of Sessional Staff (CLASS) website.

And finally, here are some resources from the ‘Just in time, just for me’ narrative support for unit coordinator’s website.

If you have any comments or questions about supporting sessional staff, please contact Amani Bell.[close]

Sessional staff play an important role in teaching, and need to feel welcome and supported. If you work with sessional staff as a unit coordinator or in another leadership role,...[more]

Discussion papers on university scholarship and learning analytics

The Office for Teaching and Learning has recently released two discussion papers on matters of current importance for universities. Both papers are available on the ITL website.

Why scholarship matters in higher education is the first of three discussion papers resulting from Professor Belinda Probert’s academic secondment to the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT). The paper provides a critical review of the way in which ‘scholarship’ is being interpreted in Australian higher education arguing for a return to Ernest Boyer’s conception of scholarship. This paper is part of a broader examination of the distinctive nature of university teaching, including how to strengthen the professional preparation and development of higher education teachers.

Improving the Quality and Productivity of the Higher Education Sector was authored by George Siemens, Shane Dawson, Grace Lynch and commissioned by the OLT. It presents a case for a national learning analytics policy and strategy to assist education executives and government in making the most of an era of ‘big data’. The paper offers enabling suggestions for guiding future discussion around a coordinated national learning analytics agenda for Australia. Case studies illustrate how universities from around the world have used analytics to improve learning and teaching. It was prepared by the Society for Learning Analytics Research, (SoLAR)2, a not-for-profit organisation of leading international researchers exploring the impact of big data and analytics on the education sector.[close]

The Office for Teaching and Learning has recently released two discussion papers on matters of current importance for universities. Both papers are available on the ITL website....[more]

Learn how to create apps

This workshop is fully booked.

Are you interested in creating apps to support student learning? In this free workshop, run by Apple and Secret Lab, you will learn how to build a simple app.

With the upcoming release of iOS 8, it's never been a better time to start learning to make apps for iPhone and iPad. This iOS developer workshop introduces Swift, a new programming language for developing apps for iOS and Macs, and covers both the development tools and the design process for apps. Attendees will learn how to use Xcode, how to program using Swift, and how to build a simple app from start to finish. They'll come away knowing the basics of how to design and makes apps, how to use Xcode, what steps to take next to further their iOS development skills, and how to make the best use of Apple developer technologies. This workshop is suitable for anyone who has at least basic programming experience, and is comfortable working with concepts like variables and functions. In addition, attendees should be familiar with how to use iOS devices.[close]

This workshop is fully booked. Are you interested in creating apps to support student learning? In this free workshop, run by Apple and Secret Lab, you will learn how to build...[more]

Applications now open for a postgraduate course in university teaching

The Graduate Certificate in Educational Studies (Higher Education) is a postgraduate award course offered through the Faculty of Education and Social Work and taught by the Institute for Teaching and Learning. It is an advanced program of study building on candidates' university teaching experience.

Research shows that staff who complete the Graduate Certificate have more satisfied students and are more likely to win teaching awards.

Graduates say that the course gives them 'permission' and the 'space' to reflect on and enhance their teaching practice.

The course consists of four core units of study over two semesters. Entry requirements are that all intending participants in the course must:

Course fees for the Graduate Certificate are waived by the University for University of Sydney staff, provided staff have permanent residency/citizenship status. To avoid paying course fees you will need to provide certified copies of evidence of your employment at the University; this can include a copy of your staff ID card or a copy of your pay slip. Please note that there is no mid year intake.

For more information click here, or contact the course coordinator Dr Graham Hendry.

To begin your application to the course, click here.
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The Graduate Certificate in Educational Studies (Higher Education) is a postgraduate award course offered through the Faculty of Education and Social Work and taught by the Insti...[more]

Learning space evaluation in the Charles Perkins Centre

Findings arising from an evaluation of learning in the new Charles Perkins Centre Hub teaching laboratories show that aspects of these innovative spaces foster communication skills and student autonomy in their learning of science. These outcomes form part of a larger ongoing evaluation of new learning spaces, intended for collaborative and transdisciplinary learning and teaching at the University of Sydney.

Learner activity has been observed and documented in the Charles Perkins Centre Hub spaces and compared with observed behaviours in older discipline-specific teaching laboratories to obtain a clearer understanding of any potential benefits associated with design features of the new learning spaces. This particular study focussed on the acquisition of scientific and more generic communication skills through student participation in laboratory-based activities. Communication skills were observed here as the ability to articulate, convey and discuss science concepts in ways that reflect scientific practices.

Three key aspects of the new learning spaces were found to promote students’ communication skills:

  • physical design of spaces that maximises lines of sight between students and instructors, and enables opportunities to reconfigure equipment;
  • design of tasks that utilise tools for communication such as whiteboards and whitewalls, as well as technological innovations afforded by the information and communication technologies in the Charles Perkins Centre Hub; and
  • social design of instruction practices that facilitate student engagement.

Together these design elements work to optimise interaction between students and instructors, increasing engagement in activities, and consequently communication of science processes and concepts as they are learnt.

The full study will be published online in the International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education in October 2014, in conjunction with the 20th Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (Sept 29-30, 2014), to be held at the University of Sydney.

Team members: Dr Tina Hinton, Prof Philip Poronnik, Dr Margot Day (School of Medical Sciences), Dr Scott Byrne (Central Clinical School), Prof Peter Goodyear, Dr Lucila Carvalho, Ms Pippa Yeoman, Mr Martin Parisio (Faculty of Education and Social Work), Dr Amani Bell (ITL), Dr Jane Radford, Prof Peter Tregloan (Charles Perkins Centre), and Ms Kathleen Donohoe (Sydney eLearning).

For more information, please contact Tina Hinton.
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Findings arising from an evaluation of learning in the new Charles Perkins Centre Hub teaching laboratories show that aspects of these innovative spaces foster communication skil...[more]

National Peer Review Network on assessment

The University of Tasmania is leading an OLT Network Grant on the establishment of a national Peer Review Network (PRN) on assessment. The PRN aims to:

  • Provide fora for sharing and disseminating good practice in external peer review of assessment across different contexts;
  • Identify key academics experienced in external peer review of assessment; and
  • Provide professional learning opportunities for academics and benchmarking partners.

Associate Professor Mark Freeman, University of Sydney, is a member of the project team.

Colleagues are invited to register for a free Peer Review Network workshop being held on 18th September at the University of Western Sydney. To register please contact Sara.Booth@utas.edu.au. Lunch will be catered for and invitations will be sent out once registrations have been finalised, including the program and venue.

There will also be a National Peer Review Network Forum on 12th November, Park Royal Hotel, Melbourne Airport. Contact Karen@hes.edu.au for further information.[close]

The University of Tasmania is leading an OLT Network Grant on the establishment of a national Peer Review Network (PRN) on assessment. The PRN aims to: Provide fora for shar...[more]

A snapshot of Higher Education Conferences: mid-year roundup

For many staff interested in higher education research and practice, the June-July period is filled with a dazzling array of choices about conferences to attend, which ones to pay attention to, and which twitter hashtag to follow. For those unable to participate, below is a round-up, summary, set of insights, from a number of Sydney staff who attended five conferences:

  • Hosted by the School of Education, University of Newcastle in early June, the Psy-Interrupted: critical interrogations of the psy-disciplines in education took its inspiration and politics from historian Michel Foucault. The symposium featured a range of scholars whose education context ranged from pre-school and early childhood to teacher education in universities. If ever you wanted a taste of how the ‘psy-disciplines’ continue to dominate contemporary understandings of learning, education and subject formation, this is definitely the gathering to look out for again in the future.
     
  • International Consortium of Educational Development (ICED) Conference, held in Stockholm this year, brought together educational and academic developers from around the globe concerned with learning, teaching and research development in higher education. The conference attracts a diverse crowd: everyone from Deputy Vice-Chancellors, and Heads of School, to professional staff in instructional design roles. The presentations often reflect that diversity too - large scale evaluations, institutional case studies, individual practices, and conceptual pieces too. If you’ve never been before, this is the conference that will help grow your understanding about what’s happening in educational development space in both the developed and developing worlds. It's an open and friendly conference. The website contains the proceedings, keynotes, and you can get a feel for the conference at #iced2014
     
  • With a conference theme ‘Screaming in a 20-mile zone’: the fourth Academic Identities conference in Durham surveyed the changing nature of academic work, as well as the debates surrounding those changes. Keynotes Pat Thompson (@patter) – drew attention to her work in galleries/museums as a creative counternarrative to managerialism, and Mike Neary (@mikeneary) made the case for alternative social forms of the university via revolutionary social science and academic non-identity. The conference tends to be small, intimate and boutique -- and great for long chats in between presentations. The twitter feed at #ACIDC2014 gives a good account of the feel and scale.
     
  • The First Year Experience conference held in Darwin this year included keynotes, masterclasses, practice reports, parallel sessions and a yarning circle. Several presentations were made by academic and professional staff from the University of Sydney. Keynotes drew attention to the inherent racism of our education system and called for awareness and change in a positive and proactive way from all higher education staff, both academic and professional. Also addressed was the disconnect between the marketing of the University experience and the reality facing first years once they arrive. And a big announcement was made regarding the future direction of the conference. After 17 highly successful years, the conference will be expanded to include the whole university experience from pre-enrolment to alumni (STARS – Students Transition, Achievement, Retention & Success). This will allow for a much greater scope for research and sharing of best practice. Hopefully it will retain the friendly, sharing, community vibe that has continued to be present at this conference each year.
     
  • Hong Kong hosted this year’s Higher Education Research and Development Society Australasia (HERDSA) Conference. Its theme was higher education in a globalised world, and keynote presenters challenged attendees to consider the impact of technology, international students and university ranking systems on the direction of higher education and the learning that can be facilitated in the classroom. A plenary session on defining and supporting “Chinese learners” presented student and executive perspectives on the assumptions that are made about students of an Asian heritage. Take a look at the twitter hashtag #HERDSA2014 for insider perspectives.
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For many staff interested in higher education research and practice, the June-July period is filled with a dazzling array of choices about conferences to attend, which ones to pa...[more]

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Current Events & Registration

register Sign up for Teaching@Sydney

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2014
register Inclusive teaching for health 26 August
register OLT Grant applicants workshop 4 September
closed Learn how to create apps with Apple and Secret Lab 5 September
register OLT Grant applicants workshop 26 September
register Sydney Teaching Colloquium 2014 29 - 30 September
register Principles & Practice of University Teaching & Learning

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2 - 3 October

closed Foundations of Research Supervision Forum 19 August

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