Congratulations to our 2011 ALTC citations for outstanding contributions to learning
ALTC Citations recognise and acknowledge all the people who have made a difference to student learning, whether they are academic or professional staff. The following teams and individuals from SCU were recognized as having made an outstanding contribution:
Dr David Lloyd and Dr Kristin den Exter, School of Environmental Science and Management: For sustained innovative approaches to authentic learning in support of a trans-disciplinary discourse in environmental science and management
Dr Kathryn Taffs, School of Environmental Science and Management: For creating a pathway to a profession; using community engagement to motivate, inspire and prepare students for careers in environmental science
Women in Technology (WIT) Program (Raina Mason, Tim Comber and Joanne Phythian), Southern Cross Business School: For successfully reaching out and empowering current and future female students to pursue Information Technology studies
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Team (Andrea Boyle, Julia Caldicott, Joanne Cooper, Vashti Stival, Maree Walo, Leanne Baker, Sarah Biersteker, Rebecca Brown, Sharen Nisbet, Matthew Lamont), School of Tourism and Hospitality Management: For pioneering and sustaining student-centred, transformative, work-enriched experiential learning opportunities in tourism and hospitality management.
Download full text of applications [staff only]
ALTC Transition to DEEWR Update
Despite the ALTC closing its doors at the end of 2011 their activities will continue. A new branch of DEEWR, headed up by Suzie Hewlett, will be taking over the bulk of their activities from 1 January 2012. In particular the Awards and Grants programs have funding guaranteed for the next three years.
Carol Nicolls, the current CEO of ALTC, reports that the transition is moving very smoothly with DEEWR staff attending and observing key points in the grants and awards processes. Furthermore, 10 ALTC staff will be moving over to the new DEEWR branch to ensure the ALTC experience is not lost in the transition.
In 2012 the awards and grants program will definitely be running. Those who are commencing application preparations now are advised to refer to the 2011 Guidelines as only minor changes are expected for 2012. The updated Guidelines will not be available until 2012 when DEEWR commences operations.
SCU staff information
New staff member joins Teaching and Learning Centre
The Teaching and Learning Centre is delighted to welcome Cathryn McCormack as Lecturer (Teaching and Learning), based on the Lismore campus.
Cathryn will build on the work of Adele Wessell through the ALTC funded Promoting Excellence project. Her immediate activities will be to coordinate the VC Citations and Teaching and Learning Small Grant Program, and organise the Festival of Teaching (October 24-28). She will be coordinating the support programs for staff developing an award or grant application, so you can look forward to updated web resources, new workshops and a focus on working in small peer groups. Cathryn has come to SCU from the University of New England, Armidale, where following five years in Evaluation she spent the last two years working on their Promoting Excellence project.
Her research interests focus on adult education and its application to staff development in higher education, and in particular how to build support structures for staff without the formal framework of a unit or course of study. Through her PhD she is investigating the use of video to enhance the development of higher order thinking skills.
Cathryn is new to Lismore and Southern Cross University and is keen to get to know as many staff as possible. She'd welcome invitations for informal meetings over coffee or to visit your School or Campus to discuss awards, grants or teaching excellence.
Cathryn can be contacted on (02) 6620 3886 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cathryn's staff directory listing
Visiting Scholar Ann Austin
Professor Ann Austin
Dr. Ann E. Austin is a Professor of Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University where she held the inaugural Dr. Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education from 2005 through 2008. She also is active in leading, facilitating, and participating in various higher education-focused international endeavors.
SCU was enriched by her contributions on Friday 1 July where she gave a presentation, met with university leaders, and was available for a question and answer session with Directors of Teaching and Learning, Research and Human Resources.
Professor Austin's presentation, Rethinking Academic Work: The Roles of Academic Staff in Changing Times, reflected her research interests in faculty careers, roles, and professional development, the academic workplace, organisational change and transformation in higher education, reform in doctoral education, and the improvement of teaching and learning processes in higher education.
Keeping her focus clearly on academic staff as the "heart" of universities, her presentation summarized the challenges we face as staff. Some take home messages were that the issues we face here at SCU are shared with academics not only within Australia but internationally and that the nature of our work is changing and will continue to change. She laid out the key factors affecting academic work and the implications for academic staff and university leaders.
Her subsequent meeting with university leaders focused on the future directions that encompass these changes.
Professor Ann Austin information
Festival of Teaching
The 2011 Festival of Teaching has the theme Celebrating Learning. The Festival consists of a week of stimulating, rewarding and entertaining discussion and activities running 24-28 October.
On Monday 24 October at 10am the Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Lee will formally open the Festival and present the VC Citations for 2011. This will be followed by morning tea. From 11am winners of ALTC Citations, VC Citations and Small Grants will briefly answer the question 'What have I done to deserve this?'
Two keynote speakers will enrich the week: Professor Peter Goodyear from the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition, University of Sydney will speak about Learning Design , and Professor Jan Orell who is working on SCU's Excellence in Assessment Project will present on Assessment. As well as a formal presentation from each, Peter will participate in an extended discussion session and run workshops at Lismore and Gold Coast on effective learning design, and Jan will hold an assessment clinic.
You can also look forward to collegial presentations showcasing Examples of Good Practice, a panel discussion of Critical Issues Facing SCU in the Next Three Years, and some stimulating sessions in Second Life and Elluminate. The popular Back to School sessions will be on again, organised by School Directors of T&L.
On a lighter tone you can look forward to a debate on The Lecture is Dead and a Spicks and Specks style game show.
Festival of Teaching website
Highlights from HERDSA
Highlights from HERDSA - Professor Janet Taylor, Director Teaching and Learning with Professor Ann Austin at HERDSA
The HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia) conference is one of the highlights of the higher education calendar. Professor Bill MacGillivray introduced the opening keynote, Ann Austin, ensuring that SCU had a strong presence at the conference. The conference was well attended by SCU staff. T&LM asked some SCU participants about their HERDSA experience.
Tanya von der Heidt from the Southern Cross Business School (a 2010 Small Grant holder) presented a Showcase Paper on her marketing education research on an intensive session for Chinese students in China. The work involved comparing concept maps produced by the students before and after the session. The change in the maps clearly showed the development of students' learning.
She chose to present this work at HERDSA in the first instance because 'the timing was right – HERDSA abstracts were due right about the time I finished the first round of data analysis and had something to report.' By presenting a Showcase paper of only 2 pages she now has the opportunity to develop her writing and prepare it for presentation either in a journal, such as the Journal of Marketing Education, or at a Marketing Education conference.
Tanya reported the experience was definitely worthwhile. It 'helped me gain a greater appreciation for issues in the sector, and how many of our local teaching issues are shared across the sector.
Erica Wilson, from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management said 'This was my first HERSDA, so for me it was a new and exciting opportunity to network with other academics and professionals interested in the scholarship and governance of higher education, teaching and learning.' While Erica did not present, she was impressed by the quality of papers, workshops and speakers. Her highlight was a paper session on critical thinking and reflection in higher education. The studies were based on empirical, on-the-ground research from the 'classroom', delivered by teachers who were clearly passionate and committed to developing critical thinking skills in their students.
Andrea Boyle, from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management went searching for presentations related to Work Integrated Learning and found four! She was impressed with the way the presenters had 'developed practical tools for WIL such as peer and self assessment and critical reflection, and then collected evidence to demonstrate their effectiveness.' A highlight was seeing the international collaborations in WIL presented by Deborah Peach and Judy Matthews from the 'Work integrated learning: a national framework for initiatives to support best practice' ALTC Grant Project.
The Panel Session: Critical Issues facing Higher Education in the next three years was a highlight for many SCU attendees.
Panel members included a keynote speaker, Paul Trowler, a Deputy Vice Chancellor, senior TAFE representative, a student, an indigenous academic, and the CEO of the Office of Higher Education.
Delegates reported that the power of this session was in the variety of viewpoints put forward in response to the same question.
Other highlights reported by attending staff included:
- The quality of the keynote speakers: Ann Austin, Paul Trowler, and Carol Nicoll
- A presentation on sessional employment where data were presented showing 53% of classes are taught by sessional staff. It was reported that sessionals do a job of at least the same quality as permanent staff, yet in many instances were poorly supported.
- A roundtable session 'Is content a dirty word?' which pushed participants to think about how they could engage staff more effectively by helping them locate their own experiences within educational theory.
- A presentation on a unit called 'Digital Maori Mapping' (from New Zealand) which was designed to engage at risk Maori students.
HERDSA will publish the conference proceedings on their website www.herdsa.org.au in due course.
SCHOOL FOCUS: Environmental Science and Management
Dr Kathryn Taffs, School Director of Teaching and Learning
With five ALTC Citation winners in the past three years, the School of Environmental Science and Management has plenty of examples of teaching excellence. T&LM talked with the School's Director of Teaching and Learning, Kathryn Taffs, to find out if it is all just coincidence or whether there are specific factors at work. Here's what she had to say:
It certainly is not just coincidence! Within the School, staff as individuals, and the school as a whole strive to make student learning experiences exciting, challenging and fulfilling.
Staff working in Environmental Science and Management are very passionate about their discipline. We all recognize the importance of our work for the long term sustainability of our natural areas and therefore the overall quality of life for everyone. And of course our students choose the subject because they have an interest in the environment to begin with. As teachers in the discipline, our challenge is to use that interest to develop the knowledge and skills required to work in the area, and to nurture students' interest into a deep level of passion for the environment.
The discipline does have some natural advantages in terms of engaging students, such as lending itself to field work opportunities that link to real world problems. This allows us to use the triple nexus of teaching, research and community linked professional practice to empower students to reach their learning goals while achieving a positive community experience. Students can develop and reflect on practical environmental management issues, building higher order skills in the process.
Our location helps us in this regard: firstly, because Southern Cross University is located close to a large number of field sites ideal for environmental science study, it makes it relatively easy for us to offer a large variety of valuable field learning experiences; and secondly, there are large numbers of community organizations keen to work with our students.
Of course these natural advantages aren't enough, we have to work hard individually and as a School to continually reflect and improve on the delivered curriculum. We put in place programs to support new staff in their teaching, develop the skills of existing staff, build relationships with our community partners, and set a tone in the School that good teaching is valued.
In terms of the delivered curriculum for example, we strive to improve quality by reflecting upon the success of past deliveries and ensuring we include cutting edge technological advances each session. We also reflect and improve upon the manner in which curriculum is presented to students and ensure alignment of the curriculum with graduate attributes. To ensure our graduates are well equipped for their professional careers, an essential part of this is to include a strong focus on community partner relationships.
With the move to converged delivery, many staff are actively engaged with exploring new technologies. Their purpose is to communicate with students more readily, to actively engage students in the curriculum and enable their learning to be more flexible. Our School had strong representation on the TLC-led Converged Delivery project, and the success of the pilot units is now being filtered into other units.
Finally, our School aims to develop a culture of quality teaching. One way we achieve this is the allocation of new staff to large first year units where they work with an experienced Unit Assessor. The net result is an informal mentoring program which has proved to be very successful. We also encourage the sharing of ideas and celebrating teaching and learning success, and our current and past Heads of School have actively supported innovative approaches to teaching.
It would great to say that all student learning experiences in the School are of the highest quality, but there are plenty of areas where more work needs to be done. In particular, the main challenge for staff is finding the right balance in the new converged delivery model between the needs of campus based and distance students in a way that ensures staff don't end up replicating tasks. I am, however, confident that SCU will continue to offer high quality degrees to students in Environmental Science and Management because of the School's culture of continual improvement and the valuing of teaching and learning.
Download full text of applications [staff only]
Those from the School of Environmental Science and Management demonstrate the successful application of the teaching, research, and community linked professional practice nexus.