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.

Subscribe to our RSS feed    

2010 TIP and TIES grants announced

The recipients of the internal University Teaching Grants have been announced. Ten faculties received 13 Teaching Improvement Projects (TIP) grants worth a total of $551,469. View the list of funded projects (PDF).

The projects focus on one or more of the following four themes:

  • Improving teaching, particularly in the areas of student engagement, student inclusion, feedback to students and research-led teaching.
  • Program learning outcomes, including benchmarking and standards-based assessment.
  • Recognising and rewarding good teaching.
  • Global citizenship and on diversity of staff and students.

Fifty nine small Teaching Improvement and Equipment Scheme (TIES) totalling $433,377 were awarded based on faculty endorsement. View the list of funded projects (PDF).[close]

The recipients of the internal University Teaching Grants have been announced. Ten faculties received 13 Teaching Improvement Projects (TIP) grants worth a total of $551,469. Vie...[more]

New Director for the ITL

The ITL welcomes its new Director, Associate Professor Simon Barrie. Simon was previously the Associate Director and brings over 20 years of academic development experience to the new role. Some of Simon’s recent work in Australia and overseas has focused on strategic institutional change to ensure students’ university learning experiences foster the development with graduate attributes. Simon will be well known to many members of the University community through his educational research and his work with faculty colleagues leading collaborative teaching and learning projects.

The ITL also acknowledges the outstanding contribution of  Professor Keith Trigwell, who was the Director of ITL from October 2006 to March 2010. Keith led the ITL through a challenging time of transition, while it was undergoing a major review. Keith established closer working relationships with the Associate Deans (Learning & Teaching), oversaw improvements to ITL programs, appointed two discipline-focused academic developers and achieved improved return rates on the Australian Graduate Survey. Keith will continue to work in the ITL as Professor of Higher Education and is currently on study leave, continuing his research on learning and teaching in higher education.[close]

The ITL welcomes its new Director, Associate Professor Simon Barrie. Simon was previously the Associate Director and brings over 20 years of academic development experience to th...[more]

University of Sydney staff member wins international educator of the year award.

Professor Elias Mpofu was recognised as the 2010 Educator of the Year by the US National Council of Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) at an awards ceremony held in Los Angeles on April 9.

The esteemed award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding ability as a rehabilitation educator. Professor Mpofu was nominated by his peers on the basis of his recent outstanding accomplishments and contribution to knowledge, education, and research in the field of rehabilitation.

In particular he was recognised for his leadership in the development of an international rehabilitation education program at the University of Sydney . As Head of the Discipline for Rehabilitation Counselling at the University of Sydney, he has provided leadership to interface industry partners in charting an innovative developmental trajectory for the rehabilitation counseling in Australasia, including a well-conceived plan to benchmark the Discipline with some of the best programs in the USA and internationally. Professor Mpofu is also visionary in his leadership of the Australian Journal of Rehabilitation Counselling.

The NCRE recounted that Elias’ peers viewed him as, ‘an engaged educator whose impact on rehabilitation education goes far beyond a particular education program.’ Professor Mpofu’s service-learning model is widely used by rehabilitation and health sciences education programs in the USA. His efforts in producing two ground breaking textbooks for publication are described as exemplary of the best scholarship of teaching. The texts are described as having the unique quality of being written with both educators and students in mind.

NCRE President David Strauser suggested that in addition to these achievements, Elias is also known for his enthusiasm, intellect, and warmth. Elias said, ‘I am honored to achieve this award and am thankful to many of you in the audience I have worked with in various capacities to enhance the quality of education and research in the rehabilitation counselling profession. This award would not be possible without your commitment to providing the best education we can to the rehabilitation counseling professionals of today and the future’.[close]

Professor Elias Mpofu was recognised as the 2010 Educator of the Year by the US National Council of Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) at an awards ceremony held in Los Angeles on A...[more]

The Bologna Process: help or hindrance to the development of European higher education?

The next ITL lunchtime seminar will discuss the Bologna process in Europe and summarise the experiences of the first decade of work, with a focus on whether this process has been a help or a hindrance to the development of European higher education. The presentation will highlight the changes made in Sweden and the consequences for academic staff and academic development. So far there are indications that changes have been implemented but mostly on a policy and administrative level and that the involvement of academic staff has not been satisfactory and that mobility among students and staff has not increased as much as expected. For academic staff there are indications that roles are being more differentiated and professionalised and that new and more heterogeneous groups of students are challenging the prevailing approaches to teaching and learning.

The seminar will be of interest to members of the University of Sydney community who are considering large or small scale curriculum changes, those in leadership and academic development roles, and people involved in change management in higher education.

Associate Professor Elinor Edvardsson Stiwne is the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Linköping University, Sweden. Her research interest is in teaching and learning as change processes within specific organisational contexts. She has finished a longitudinal study of Engineering education and is convenor of a network within European Association of Educational Research with a focus on research in Higher Education. The seminar will be held on Tuesday 18 May from 1.00 – 2.00 in the ITL seminar room Carslaw 354. Register for the seminar.[close]

The next ITL lunchtime seminar will discuss the Bologna process in Europe and summarise the experiences of the first decade of work, with a focus on whether this process has been...[more]

Latest eLearning activities: The new Learning Management System (LMS)

In 2009, students at Sydney engaged in more than 4 million eLearning sessions on the University LMS. To improve their experience of learning by maintaining learning space standards and improving functionalities available to students and teachers on the LMS, the University is upgrading from CE8 to Blackboard 9.1.

These lunchtime presentations will provide an overview of the migration project. The project is occurring from 2010-2011 as we support lecturers migrating more than 4000 unit of study websites from one LMS system to another. The presentations will provide information about the migration process, the timeline for migration and what you’ll need to do to be ready. We’ll also look at the tools, the navigation and introduce a number of key features that enhance the student learning experience.

We invite you to join us at our upcoming lunchtime sessions about this learning and teaching strategic project.

Tuesday 11 May
1.00 – 2.00pm, New Law LT 026

Thursday 13 May
Noon – 1pm, Carlsaw Lecture Theatre 375

Register for a session. For more information, please email Melanie Young (or phone xtn 66214).[close]

In 2009, students at Sydney engaged in more than 4 million eLearning sessions on the University LMS. To improve their experience of learning by maintaining learning space standar...[more]

The 2nd annual Social Inclusion in Education summit

This summit aims to explore equity in education through cross-sector understandings and partnerships. Last year, the Federal Government announced a target of 20% of undergraduate enrolments to come from low socio-economic status backgrounds by 2020. The University of Sydney strongly supports wider participation of students from low socio-economic backgrounds in higher education.

The inaugural 2009 summit highlighted lessons to be learned from overseas and the importance of collaboration between universities and other education sectors in pursuit of social inclusion.

This summit is on 13-14 September 2010 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, Sydney. For more information contact the conference manager Leah Dansie, (phone: 02 9080 4349). Or visit the website.[close]

This summit aims to explore equity in education through cross-sector understandings and partnerships. Last year, the Federal Government announced a target of 20% of undergraduate...[more]

Developing approaches to teaching with eLearning

A course in eLearning design through ITL is being offered for credit or professional development in Semester 2, 2010. It is a series of seven face-to-face tutorials on Friday mornings and seven online sessions that will be held during second semester.

It will be possible to do this course simply to improve your approach to designing learning experiences supported by eLearning or alternatively, for credit towards the Master in Education, or the Master of Learning Science and Technology (in Coco). Places are limited to approximately 17 people. The course has a pre-requisite of the Introductory eLearning Workshop Series or equivalent experience.

If you would like to register your interest for the course beginning on Friday 30th July, 10.00am-12.00pm, please email Melanie Young. If you have any queries about the unit of study, email Jo Lockwood.[close]

A course in eLearning design through ITL is being offered for credit or professional development in Semester 2, 2010. It is a series of seven face-to-face tutorials on Friday mor...[more]

Teaching insight: Student feedback - "Shame, blame, tame or reframe"?

It is often assumed that when teachers receive student feedback on their teaching they react rationally and can use their professional experience to decide how to respond. But receiving feedback from our students is an emotional business. Whenever anyone makes a judgement about our behaviour we experience either positive, negative or mixed feelings; for example, we may feel flattered, disappointed or uncertain. Making sense of students’ feedback ratings or comments can create a variety of emotions that vary in intensity.

Students are less prone to write praise and positive comments, but when they do they usually mean what they say. When the nature of feedback is positive and we feel positive about it (proud) then our practice is affirmed and reinforced; however there is a risk we can become complacent.

Be wary of investing too much significance in any single comment. When the nature of feedback is mostly positive and we still feel negative (guilty) there is a risk that we may focus excessively on minor issues at the expense of reflecting deeply on other areas in our practice (Moore & Kuol, 2005).

When the nature of feedback is negative, our emotional reaction depends on several factors including how we feel at the time (e.g., if we feel unsupported in our departmental role then our reaction may be heightened); the tone of feedback; and the quality of the way(s) in which feedback is collected and presented. Anonymity can tempt some students to write unhelpful comments. Recognise that pressures unrelated to students’ learning experience may also underlie unhelpful comments. Unprofessional comments should be disregarded.

Arthur (2009) believes our reactions to negative feedback can be a mix of at least four main responses. We can feel shame, that it is our fault, and we are powerless to do anything about it (e.g., it’s my personality), or we can blame the students: it is their fault, and there is nothing we can do (e.g., their expectations for the course are unrealistic). We can feel a commitment to tame students, to ‘bring them on board’ (e.g., change their expectations), or we can reframe ourselves, and learn and develop as a teacher (e.g., create new teaching and learning strategies or assessment approaches etc.). Next time you receive negative feedback about your teaching, attend to your feelings and ask yourself, ‘which of these four categories do I mainly fall into’?

We know from extensive research that teachers feel most able to respond to student feedback and influence their students’ learning experience when they discuss their feedback with a close colleague or advisor. Start by asking a colleague about how they may have tackled a concern that you have identified. When you feel comfortable, seek advice from a discipline-specific educational consultant or a staff member from the ITL about how to respond to your feedback.

Moore, S. & Kuol, N. (2005). Students evaluating teachers: Exploring the importance of faculty reaction to feedback on teaching. Teaching in Higher Education, 10(1), 57-73.

Arthur, L. (2009). From performativity to professionalism: Lecturers’ responses to student feedback. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(4), 441-454.[close]

It is often assumed that when teachers receive student feedback on their teaching they react rationally and can use their professional experience to decide how to respond. But re...[more]

Principles and Practice of University Teaching and Learning

Places are still available for the June Principles and Practice Program on 9th– 10th June (the study vacation week). The program provides new University staff with an introduction to teaching at Sydney and is a confirmation requirement for most new academic appointments. The core of the program runs for two days and gives participants an introduction to university teaching and learning principles as well as an introduction to some of the University’s key teaching and learning policies. The program also covers practical topics such as writing learning outcomes, designing teaching strategies to engage students in different sorts of classroom settings, effective assessment processes and how to evaluate your teaching when the time comes to apply for promotion. The program is followed by Faculty-based activities. The participants in the recent April program found the program to be valuable with 88% agreeing that what they had learnt in the program would be useful for their work.

The programs are a good opportunity to learn about teaching at Sydney and to meet colleagues from outside your own faculty or department. The course is open to all interested staff at the university, regardless of level and prior experience and is usually run four times a year. More information and registration for the June or November 2010 programs.[close]

Places are still available for the June Principles and Practice Program on 9th– 10th June (the study vacation week). The program provides new University staff with an intro...[more]

Learning theories

This website is a repository-style site listing more than 300 links in 22 areas of learning theories. This site is sourced from a US parent site by EmTech (short for emerging technologies) targeting teachers and students. The Learning Theories webpage is a good one-stop site for a quick search of resources in this area. Prominent theorists featured include Dewey, Gagne and Piaget and the links navigate you to summaries in areas such as situated learning and cognitive dissonance. Some links are inevitably broken, but most are useful for some quick information on learning theories. The site is especially useful to bookmark and then refer to when reading in the educational research area to check on a concept presented. Visit the website.[close]

This website is a repository-style site listing more than 300 links in 22 areas of learning theories. This site is sourced from a US parent site by EmTech (short for emerging tec...[more]

Journal article: Reviewing research on formative feedback

In this article Valerie Shute reviews a large number of empirical studies that were designed to investigate the effect of feedback on student learning. A key emphasis in the review is on feedback that is focused on the task rather than the person. Guidelines of ‘things to do’ and ‘things to avoid’ in giving feedback to enhance learning are given in useful tables towards the end of the article.

One particularly useful idea arising from the review is goal-orientation feedback. This is feedback that directs students to focus on learning (or mastery) rather than on performance by highlighting that: a) ability and skill can be developed (that they are not fixed); b) effort is critical to increasing skill; and c) mistakes are part of the learning process.

Another way of structuring feedback within the learning activities students undertake is through scaffolding. Scaffolding is providing students with extra assistance to complete difficult tasks they could not independently. As students gain experience, these scaffolding structures are reduced and eventually removed. For example, this may involve providing strategies for tackling the task, helping to break it down to achievable sub-tasks, helping the student to keep a focus on the end point, and assisting in self-assessment against the required standards.

Scaffolding of a task that a student finds personally motivating, and links specifically with their goals, is a potentially powerful approach to teaching.

Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153-189.[close]

In this article Valerie Shute reviews a large number of empirical studies that were designed to investigate the effect of feedback on student learning. A key emphasis in the revi...[more]

show all


Current Events & Registration

register Sign up for Teaching@Sydney

details

2014
register OLT Grant applicants workshop 4 September
closed Learn how to create apps with Apple and Secret Lab 5 September
register Inclusive Teaching Workshop presented by Professor Andrew Gonczi 9 September
register Inclusive Teaching Workshop presented by Professor Andrew Gonczi 11 September
register Workshop for Small and Large Educational Innovation Grants - Workshop Two 19 September
register OLT Grant applicants workshop 26 September
register Sydney Teaching Colloquium 2014 29 - 30 September
register Principles & Practice of University Teaching & Learning

details

2 - 3 October

closed Inclusive teaching for health 26 August
closed Foundations of Research Supervision Forum 19 August

August 14
July 14
June 14
May 14
April 14
March 14
February 14
December 13
November 13
October 13
September 13