Teaching@Sydney

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Leadership in academia is more than management: A seminar by Bruce Macfarlane

Dominant conceptions of leadership in higher education have become synonymous with formally defined senior managerial roles and responsibilities. By contrast, the role of academics as intellectual leaders is comparatively neglected. ‘Hybrid’ roles among senior academics are commonplace but rarely distinguish between the expectations of managerial and more broadly based intellectual leadership. However, intellectual leadership is a tricky concept to define and can sometimes be represented as a contradiction in terms. The caricature of 'the intellectual' - rebellious mavericks, iconoclasts rather than joiners and so on - can appear at odds with conventional definitions of leaders and managers.

The ITL is proud to present a seminar by Dr Bruce Macfarlane (The University of Hong Kong), who will explore the concept of intellectual leadership in higher education with reference to his research on the role and attitudes of ‘full’ university professors (Macfarlane, 2011). A number of dispositions and roles are identified in relation to intellectual leadership which he argues relate to the importance of striking a balance between the privileges of academic freedom and the responsibilities of academic duty.

Dr Macfarlane is a Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy and a member of the Editorial Boards of Teaching in Higher Education and Higher Education Quarterly. His research interests include academic practice, leadership and management, and he has written three single-author books focusing on professional ethics, in addition to numerous articles and book chapters.

Macfarlane, B. (2011) Professors as intellectual leaders: formation, identity and role, Studies in Higher Education, 2011, 36:1, forthcoming.

Date: Tuesday 2 November
Time: 12.30 - 2.00pm (12.30 for lunch, seminar to commence at 1pm)
Location: New Law School, Seminar Room 446
RSVP: Please register for catering purposes[close]

Dominant conceptions of leadership in higher education have become synonymous with formally defined senior managerial roles and responsibilities. By contrast, the role of academi...[more]

Teaching Insight: Connect to students in your class who have a disability

Full up to seven rows back, 9:08 Monday morning, Carslaw. The indecipherable buzz of fellow students settle and you know it should be a good lecture. As she begins, you realise your lecturer holds her head angled down and slightly off to the side, her voice is high, you sit too far back to read her lips easily. Adjusting your hearing aids makes them squeal, and you hope the person next to you doesn’t hear. You are missing such a lot, it turns you off. Eyes glued to lips, it's hard to write your notes, you miss even more…*

ABS figures indicate that one in five Australians has a disability. It's likely that we are teaching students who might have hearing or vision impairments, physical or psychiatric disabilities, chronic medical conditions, specific learning or temporary disabilities, and we may not even notice.

Some students will have identified themselves to the University and registered with disability services who can arrange for the  necessary support and adjustments to minimise the impact of a student’s disability on their studies.

In other cases, students might be more reluctant to disclose their situation. If we think a student’s work is being limited, perhaps by a disability we might consider initiating a discussion, asking the student whether there is anything we can do to ensure they can complete the course.  Putting aside concerns of invading privacy or using the wrong terminology, we need to talk with these students and guide them to the network of support options available. (eg  USyd Student Support Services – Disability Services ).  An extensive resource useful in assisting teachers to better meet the needs of students with disabilities is the Creating Accessible Teaching and Support (CATS) website, funded by the ALTC and DEEWR and hosted by the University of Tasmania.

When initiating discussions with a student, ensure that your time together is free from interruptions and that you can talk privately. Provide the opportunity for students to discuss their learning support needs and do all that you can to make the interaction easy and supportive, most importantly, listen to what they say.  Acknowledge the student’s feelings so they know they are being heard.  Be clear about your limits of responsibility and recognise that you are not expected to counsel (if appropriate refer students to the Counselling Service ). If a student denies they are experiencing problems, explain why you are concerned, for example you might have noticed that their behavior has changed or the quality of their work has fallen. If they don’t want to discuss the matter then there may be little you can do but pass on the information about how to seek help in case they change their mind or want to follow it up independently.

Students with disabilities are not an homogenous group; it is important to recognise their individuality, particular strengths, and aspirations in the same way as we recognise all students as individuals . Inclusive teaching and assessment practices can minimise the need for individual support for students with disabilities while enhancing the learning of all students.

*Author's first hand experiences as a hearing impaired student and academic[close]

Full up to seven rows back, 9:08 Monday morning, Carslaw. The indecipherable buzz of fellow students settle and you know it should be a good lecture. As she begins, you realise y...[more]

Lessons from around the world for engaging students in Research Enriched Learning and Teaching

The ITL recently hosted a visit by Professor Mick Healey from the UK who led three workshops for University staff on strategies for engaging students in Research Enriched Learning and Teaching (RELT). RELT is one of the signature learning experiences identified in the White Paper and these workshops were the first of several activities planned for the coming months to support the university community in further enhancing this aspect of teaching at Sydney.

Two of the workshops were specifically for curriculum leaders from the large generalist faculties of Science and Arts. Participants valued the wealth of knowledge and examples that Mick was able to share, drawing on case studies from all over the world, particularly the US and UK, where undergraduate research has emerged as key element of many curricula in the Arts and Sciences. Participants engaged in lively discussions around the definition of research, the variations in discipline knowledge, the challenges of building connections across programs to progressively develop capability over a degree, and challenges specific to large classes. They also used this opportunity to share ideas with colleagues. Many staff realised they were already using RELT strategies, (but they may not have articulated them as such). From the first year essay on a ‘hot topic’ in the field, to second year students developing their own research proposal, and third year students volunteering as RAs in staff projects; there was a recognition that many current initiatives can be further developed and expanded to other disciplines. See a list of great suggestions here.

If other faculties are interested in hosting similar workshops for curriculum teams in their area the ITL would be very happy to arrange this.

A seminar on leading RELT change in the faculties was also held for the Associate Deans (L&T) group. One of the outputs from this was an impressive list of ‘innovative and feasible’ RELT initiatives. The participants were inspired by the creativity of many of the suggestions. They will provide a valuable basis for further discussion and development in meetings of the ITL Associate Deans (L&T) Group in coming months.

The presentation used in the seminars can be downloaded here and resources are available from RELT site. If you would like to learn more about RELT or would like to arrange for a RELT seminar in your Faculty or School please contact the ITL.[close]

The ITL recently hosted a visit by Professor Mick Healey from the UK who led three workshops for University staff on strategies for engaging students in Research Enriched Learnin...[more]

Student feedback by Nick Malpas, Arts Faculty Representative

Quality teaching involves a dialogue with students about good teaching and learning, of which surveys, including the opportunities for ‘closing the loop’ are one part. However, survey results should only be interpreted based on an understanding of students and the interaction between students and teachers.

This understanding can be gained by being attentive to students’ responses in classes and discussing teaching with them. In large courses where lecturers do not take tutorials, it is difficult for lecturers to discuss their teaching with students. One solution to this is for lecturers to encourage comments from tutors who have more opportunity to discuss the course with students.

Surveys provide the perspective of individual students, who rarely have the opportunity to discuss the quality of teaching collectively. Students may respond to the surveys in terms of how the teaching meets subjective desires and interests, rather than reflect on what good teaching (and learning) should be and whether their experience meets those standards. In smaller classes, it is possible for teachers to engage with the class as a group. For larger groups, sessions in which students can discuss teaching with staff may be useful. In this spirit, the Faculty of Arts held a feedback forum this week for staff and students to discuss the 2009 SCEQ results.

Student from the Faculty also created a blog to discuss teaching and learning issues. In August, the ITL invited student reps from across the university to attend one of two sessions held to discuss surveys and student feedback. Following this meeting some of the comments on the arts student blog were about the USE, the timing of surveys, and the importance of transparency and actually using student feedback. Students clearly wanted to see UoS coordinators engage in serious interpretation and use of feedback, particularly when issues are relevant to the whole school or Faculty.

Please contact the ITL to explore how your faculty is responding to feedback or discuss strategies for seeking student feedback.[close]

Quality teaching involves a dialogue with students about good teaching and learning, of which surveys, including the opportunities for ‘closing the loop’ are one part...[more]

Faculty of Economics and Business Learning and Teaching Forum

The Faculty of Economics and Business is organising a Business Learning Forum on ‘Assessment for Learning’ 4-5 November. It is an opportunity to learn with and from colleagues about assessments that enhance students’ learning and motivation.

The sessions include showcases from Faculty of Economics and Business academics as well as exceptional teachers from other Universities. The master class session will be led by Tom Angelo (LaTrobe) on Assessment by Design.

By the forum’s end, participants can expect to have:

  • Identified at least three methods they will be able to implement in providing meaningful feedback to large student cohorts.
  • Planned at least one quick and simple change aimed at optimising assessment practice
  • Begun planning at least one more substantive change aimed at optimising assessment/feedback practice
  • Thought through systematically the potential costs and benefits of that substantive change
  • Identify qualities of assessment students associate with effective learning;
  • Identified one or more colleagues with whom they might collaborate to improve assessment/feedback practices and/or systems.

Forum Details
Date: Thursday 4 and Friday 5 November 
Time: 9am - 5pm
Venue: Law School Foyer
Contact: For registration and updated information on the program visit the website or send an email.

The event is free and lunch will be provided[close]

The Faculty of Economics and Business is organising a Business Learning Forum on ‘Assessment for Learning’ 4-5 November. It is an opportunity to learn with and from c...[more]

Policy Snapshot: Clinical Supervisor Support Program

Tim Payne, Director Policy Analysis & Communication

The 2008 National Partnership Agreement on Hospital and Health Workforce Reform included a specific element to expand capacity and competence of clinical training supervision. In July 2010, Health Workforce Australian (HWA) released a discussion paper "Clinical Supervisor Support Program" (CSSP) about the future of clinical supervision in Australia across professions and the education continuum. The paper sought feedback on ten specific policy reform proposals and related questions. Further information about this process can be found here. Feedback from stakeholders was requested and Sydney University submitted a co-ordinated response including individual responses from all seven of its faculties and schools which provide courses leading to registration in health professions covered by the CSSP. Together, the University of Sydney’s schools of Medicine and Nursing and our faculties of Science, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health Sciences and Education & Social Work contribute approximately 30% of NSW’s health workforce graduates annually across most health professions. The University as a whole strongly supports HWA’s plans to raise the quality, quantity and prominence of clinical supervision in Australia. The University’s submission and individual faculty and school submissions raised many issues relevant to the development and implementation of the reforms proposed by HWA. Key among these was the need to achieve recognition of supervision in the workloads of health professionals as a matter of priority. The University’s submissions and summary documents outlining each faculty or school’s individual response can be found here.

Over 2010 the ITL has hosted discussions with the A/Deans (L&T) in the Health faculties to support the development of a more coherent institutional approach to support and development for Clinical Supervisors.  The Health Workforce Australia paper provides a blueprint for future work in this area.[close]

Tim Payne, Director Policy Analysis & Communication The 2008 National Partnership Agreement on Hospital and Health Workforce Reform included a specific element to expand ca...[more]

Vice-Chancellor's Awards recipients' strategies for giving personalised feedback

Continuing our series of profiles of the 2010 VC’s award recipients, we spoke with Associate Professor Adam Bridgeman, who together with Dr Peter Rutledge, received a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Support of the Student Experience for "Delivering High Quality and Rapid Feedback for Large Classes" (Faculty of Science).

Adam saw a strong need for improved feedback to students in first year chemistry: “I taught at Cambridge where there were two students per tutor, and the students received feedback at every tutorial. Here we have big classes and the two things that hit me when I arrived in 2006 were the lack of personal engagement with the students and the lack of feedback – the scores were just put up on a noticeboard outside the lab. I wanted to address these issues in a way that we could afford and that was effective.”

First year chemistry has roughly 2000 students per semester, spread across eight units. The students complete quizzes on scannable forms, and there are ten versions of each quiz to help deter plagiarism. Adam wrote a program to provide individualised, detailed feedback to each student on each quiz. Students receive an email with information on their marks, how they did on the hard and easy questions, detailed feedback on each question and a link to further resources.

As Adam explains, “The feedback helps the student build a picture as to why he or she got a particular answer wrong. Emails are sent within 1 to 24 hours of the students completing the quiz. I find that if you leave it a week, the students aren’t interested. The quicker the turnaround, the better for their learning.”

Students do three quizzes per semester and by the third quiz the system can detect if grades are going up or down and offer congratulations or an encouraging note to work harder. Students appreciate knowing that someone has noticed and is concerned about their progress.

Student evaluations of the system have been positive: “The USE scores showed an immediate and significant improvement, and the students made specific and positive mentions of the system. Given their feedback we really had to use the system in the second year, where the same students would be continuing on. My colleague Peter Rutledge adapted the system for second year chemistry and now has refined it so that a single administrator runs the whole process.”

The feedback system has been running for three years in first year chemistry and for two years in second year chemistry. There has been interest from other disciplines, including biology and pharmacy. The system can be used for multiple choice quizzes in any discipline. Adam is keen for others to use the system, so please contact him for a chat. You can also find out more in the latest issue of Synergy.[close]

Continuing our series of profiles of the 2010 VC’s award recipients, we spoke with Associate Professor Adam Bridgeman, who together with Dr Peter Rutledge, received a Vice-...[more]

Invitation: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project presentations

Would you like to hear about some of the interesting scholarly projects your colleagues are engaged in? Please join us from 1:30-4:30pm on Friday 15 October for presentations by staff from across the University on projects exploring initiatives in curriculum, assessment and evaluation.

Staff will showcase the group inquiry projects which they are completing as part of the Graduate Certificate in Educational Studies (Higher Education). Topic areas include connecting to students who have a disability; designing research-enriched assessment; and delivering visually effective presentations. Showcases run for 15 minutes (including time for audience participation) and offer opportunities to learn how to apply similar initiatives in your context. We hope you can come along and hear about your colleagues' fantastic work.

Date: Friday 15 October
Time: 1.30pm - 4.30pm
Location: New Law School Building, Seminar Room 020 and 022[close]

Would you like to hear about some of the interesting scholarly projects your colleagues are engaged in? Please join us from 1:30-4:30pm on Friday 15 October for presentations by...[more]

Latest eLearning activities: Staff registrations now available on LMS

A new series of general workshops on the University’s new learning management system (LMS), Blackboard Learn, are available to staff during October and November.

These workshops are an introduction to the new LMS for users with previous experience in developing and teaching in an online environment. The workshop series consists of two 2 hour sessions and is aimed towards those LMS users not attending specialised training being organised by your faculty during Semester 2. To register and view dates, please visit the Sydney eLearning website.

For more information, please email Rick Connor or phone x66203.[close]

A new series of general workshops on the University’s new learning management system (LMS), Blackboard Learn, are available to staff during October and November. These wo...[more]

Strategies for improving student self-efficacy – narrative-centred learning and creative problem solving

Self-efficacy, a persons belief in their ability to do a certain thing is important to us as university teachers as it influences students’ cognitive (thinking), motivational, affective (emotional), and selection processes (Bandura, 1993). Self-efficacy also proves to be an important predictor of student achievement in a wide range of studies throughout a variety of educational levels, including here at the University of Sydney (Bartimote-Aufflick et al., 2009).

Self-efficacy may be influenced by four factors (Bandura, 1977; Zimmerman, 2000). In order of importance, these are:

  1. Enactive experiences – the outcomes of an individual student’s personal experience.
  2. Vicarious experiences – by observing the outcomes attained by a model (e.g. a teacher, a student peer).
  3. Verbal persuasion – potential outcomes are described to the student, but they haven’t (yet) experienced or observed them personally.
  4. Physiological reactions – emotions and physiological states such as fatigue, stress, etc.

Two teaching and learning strategies that have proven to be successful in improving student self-efficacy are described below and might be usefully adapted to your own setting.

McGuiggan, Rowe, Lee, & Lester (2008) describe how an interactive narrative-centred program was developed to supplement a microbiology curriculum.  In the program, students played the role of protagonist, trying to discover the cause and source of an unidentified disease which had broken out on a recently discovered island.  When students were given a more in-depth narrative, including character back-stories and personalities, and a poisoning story-line, their sense of presence increased, i.e. their feeling they were actually there on the island solving the mystery, as did their self-efficacy. 

Within a creativity subject for students from a variety of disciplines, a series of activities were designed specifically to increase participants’ creative self-efficacy in problem solving (Mathisen & Bronnick, 2009). Included were: direct instruction of techniques with modelled examples; verbal persuasion through introductory lecture(s) and feedback on attempts; guided use of techniques on well-defined problems; and, supervised use of techniques on self-generated problems.[close]

Self-efficacy, a persons belief in their ability to do a certain thing is important to us as university teachers as it influences students’ cognitive (thinking), motivation...[more]

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