Teaching and Learning Forum 2007 [ Home Page ] [ Contents - All Presentations ]

Student Engagement

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Introducing 'deep learning' concepts to first year university students for integrating teaching of terrestrial ecosystems

Lyn Abbott and Jo McFarlane
School of Earth and Geographical Sciences
Jo Pluske
School of Agricultural and Resource Economics
The University of Western Australia
Email: labbott@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.00]

The overall purpose of this study was to introduce 'deep learning' concepts to first year students within the framework of understanding terrestrial ecosystems. The unit is taught by staff from different disciplines and this had led to discontinuity in presentation of information and explanation of concepts. We introduced the SOLO (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes) Taxonomy developed by Biggs to students at their first lecture. Students were encouraged to interpret the five levels of learning in their own words on several occasions. During the last three weeks of semester, students assessed each other's work and estimated the level of learning shown in the exercise. Most students were able to interpret and describe the meaning of the five SOLO Taxonomy levels at their first attempt. Many students were able to estimate the level of learning exhibited by their peers, and expressed some understanding about how to deepen their learning, but others were not confident about which level they themselves were at. Introducing the SOLO Taxonomy concept confused several students and angered a few others. Concepts of 'deep learning' were integrated moderately successfully but received unexpected and mixed reactions from the students. However, this process was useful for the staff teaching in the unit because it encouraged them to think about the unit as a whole as well and to consider how to better integrate each section to give students the opportunity to learn at different levels.


Use of physical models in teaching Geomechanics at UWA

Hugo E. Acosta-Martinez
School of Civil and Resource Engineering
The University of Western Australia
Email: hugo@civil.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.00]

Classical problems of geotechnical engineering involve complex interactions of multiple factors that frequently cannot be considered simultaneously in theoretical frameworks. Typically, the available solutions used in professional practice are based on oversimplification and simple models. On the other hand, rigorous theoretical methods are available for limited problems under specific boundary conditions, and certainly they are not appropriate for teaching at undergraduate level. To partially overcome the problem, physical models of classical geotechnical problems have been used at UWA with the aim to facilitate comprehensive learning from students through direct observation of mechanisms and governing principles. This project presents a description of the evolution of the use of physical models in teaching Geomechanics at UWA, from traditional simple models to centrifuge applications, and the perception from third and fourth year students of Civil Engineering on the benefits of this learning tool. Although the advantages are obvious from the teachers' point of view, the students frequently overlook the opportunity to work with these models and complain when the data results from the experimental session do not match with predictions made using simplified theoretical approaches, which are covered at undergraduate level. Then, the benefits of this teaching and learning approach seem to be overshadowed by the lack of experience from the students.


Do students prefer online learning module compared with a hard copy version?

Garry T Allison
School of Surgery and Pathology
The University of Western Australia
Email: garry.allison@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.30]

Student feedback on innovation in courses is limited by their experience. Many aspects influence their perception of the quality of the teaching, the content and the environment. Few studies have examined student preference and staff workload running parallel hard copy and online versions of identical course content.

An external unit Masters degree in Physiotherapy was duplicated using WebCT. Students enrolled in the external unit were offered the option of participating in the online version or the hard copy version or a combination. The online version had practice quizzes for immediate feedback on performance (no marks allocated) and then a proportion of online responses which contributed to their semester mark. They then submitted a subsection of essay questions that the hard copy requirements. An independent examiner scored the written answers which were common to both units.

Students had experienced both versions to some extent. They were asked to compare the two systems on the learning experience, workload, convenience and overall preference. Their duration of activity and number of times that they entered each quiz in WebCT was logged. Their overall preferences and workloads were compared to students who used only the hardcopy version. Staff were also asked to compare the workload of both - ignoring set up time. The initial results suggest that the students utilise the online learning model as an additional resource. They use the practice quizzes as an interactive learning experience. This is popular. Yet they prefer to provide extensive answers in the written form to be independently assessed. Flexible delivery options are restricted by inflexible administrative protocols suited to on campus delivery.

The study will be completed by end of semester II 2007 and comparative analyses on learning outcomes and preferences are being collated.


Queer(ing) history: Queer methodologies, pedagogies and interventions in the Discipline of History

Zoe Anderson
Discipline of History
The University of Western Australia
Email: zoeand@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.30] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

Queer theory is an often contested and controversial version of critical theory. Aiming to destabilise normative taxonomies of gendered and sexualised identity, Queer theory has offered enormous potential not only in terms of radicalising and disrupting the now established methodologies of gender and sexuality, but in providing a way of reflecting on the notion of disciplinarity itself and the binaries that continue to exist. In this article I explore the introduction of a module on Queer theory to an Honours history course to interrogate the way in which this theory can effectively 'queer' the discipline itself, opening up the possibility for more self reflective student engagement with these issues and encouraging a more fluid, open ended enquiry into methodologies of history and the place of history itself.


Podcasting in education (Plenary session)

Garner Annett
Apple Australia
Email: gardner@asia.apple.com
[Wednesday 3.30]

Many educators and institutions are already integrating podcasting successfully into their curricula - with great results. Podcasting enables educators to use music and recorded audio to enhance learning. The addition of photos and video to podcasting allows educators to add a wide range of visual content to their teaching and address even more learning styles.

Podcasting is a powerful tool that allows for communication and distribution of educational content - content that can be synced to iPod for learning on the go. Podcasting is also an inexpensive way for schools and higher education institutions to share information.

This presentation will emphasise the following.


Voices in the blogosphere: Computer mediated dialogue on the process of supervision

Michael Azariadis, David Glance, and Robyn Owens
Graduate Research School
The University of Western Australia
Email: Michael.azariadis@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 2.00]

In mid 2006 the Graduate Research School at the University of Western Australia introduced a social software application called myResearchSpace. The broad aim of this initiative was to provide a dedicated web environment where both Higher Degree by Research candidates and academic staff at the University could nurture a vibrant online research community from the 'bottom up'. To encourage this, myResearchSpace incorporates a number of tools for computer mediated communication and interaction, including blogging. Blogs are useful in this regard because they are suited to personal reflection and capture the opinions and experiences of their readers. Increasingly, graduate students and academic staff have been using blogs to engage with each other and share information on a variety of issues relating specifically to research training, one of these being the sometimes prickly topic of supervision. In the belief that blogging should provide an effective way of identifying, investigating and potentially resolving some of the critical debates relating to postgraduate supervision from both student and supervisor perspectives, a regular blog called Dialogues on Thesis Supervision has been set up to encourage graduate students and their supervisors to creatively explore aspects of the supervision process. This paper presents some findings generated from running the blog over a three month period and, in particular, reflects on the potential of this interactive forum to raise the quality of supervisory practice through open and constructive dialogue.


The place of ceremony in postgraduate research student inductions

Michael Azariadis and Robyn Owens
Graduate Research School
The University of Western Australia
Email: Michael.azariadis@uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.00]
The aim of this paper is to explore the debate over symbolic value and practical utility in the context of Higher Degree by Research student inductions. The paper presents an overview of current induction practices for Higher Degree by Research students at twenty two publicly funded Australian universities. The findings are derived from a survey, sent to all Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies in late 2006, which primarily sought to investigate the presence and role of ceremony at postgraduate induction events. Data from the survey clearly indicates that postgraduate student inductions are primarily driven by the perceived need to provide newly enrolled PhD candidates with practical information concerning the University and their degree program. Because students are predominantly being inducted into the rules, regulations, roles and responsibilities of the particular institution - what I call the Four Rs Model of Inductions - the University's administrative and bureaucratic framework provides the principal frame of reference through which we interact with new students. The relative absence of ceremony and ritual at these events, however, means that universities are neglecting to attend to the students' more intimate needs of personal growth, identity formation (as a researcher) and collective belonging (to a community of scholars).


Teaching smarter: Collaborations between content, language and learning experts in engineering education

Siri Barrett-Lennard
Student Services
Brad Stappenbelt
School of Oil and Gas Engineering
The University of Western Australia
Email: siri.barrett-lennard@uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.30]

The professional development component of the engineering degree focuses on preparing students to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams to solve real world problems. The success of these teams depends as much on excellence in communication as it does on skills in technical innovation. Engineering courses such as the ones run at the University of Western Australia have been successful in developing technical expertise and problem solving skills in students. The problematic issue of fostering excellence in communication competence remains. Units such as Introduction to Professional Engineering have been successful in improving the communication skills of the majority of students: those who are Australian born, native English speakers, and products of local, urban high schools. The minority of overseas students who speak English as a second or subsequent language and students from rural or remote schools have, however, been much harder to reach. Equality of input has not necessarily led to equality of outcomes. This paper looks at one way of achieving more equal outcomes for international and equity students through collaboration between content, language and learning experts in Engineering education.


Attitudes of tertiary students towards a group project in a science unit

Emma Bartle
Centre for Forensic Science
Jan Dook
Centre for Learning Technology
The University of Western Australia
Email: ebartle@optusnet.com.au, jdook@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.30]

A key factor sought by industry when hiring scientists is their ability to work as part of a team. It is essential that scientists are able to work in collaboration with a diverse range of people across multidisciplinary fields, both within their organisation and the wider community. Literature indicates that the incorporation of group based assessments within tertiary teaching provides opportunity for the development of interpersonal and communication skills, skills most important to a scientist's employability, productivity and career success.

This study considered the effectiveness of group work based assessments at a tertiary level. Two populations of students enrolled in different units were considered. First year viticulture students enrolled in a chemistry unit were required to produce an information poster on a chosen science topic, demonstrating understanding of the associated chemistry, appropriate use of diagrams and equations, showing links between concepts and ensuring visual appeal. Students enrolled in a science communication unit were required to produce a short iMovie on a chosen science topic, with the emphasis on communicating scientific concepts to a general audience within a given time frame. These are all essential skills for scientists in the workplace.

The students were surveyed to ascertain their feelings about a collaborative learning assessment task. Using a scale of agreement, they were asked to provide information on their level of interest in the project, their thoughts on working within a group, strategies used by their group to complete the task, challenges completing the assignment, information learned through collaborative learning, group dynamics and suggestions for change, and whether they thought overall that additional interpersonal and communication skills learned during the collaborative learning were of use and importance. Focus group interviews were also conducted with selected students. Data collected was analysed to examine the different processes related to group work and draw overall conclusions about the effectiveness of this type of assessment for tertiary students.


Alternatives to the traditional tutorial: A report on workshop based experiential learning in the History Discipline at the University of Western Australia

Cedric Beidatsch
School of Humanities
The University of Western Australia
Email: cedricgb@hotmail.com
[Wednesday 10.05] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

In 2006, small group teaching in early modern history at UWA was conducted according to a workshop model, with the explicit intentions of incorporating experiential learning and higher order learning skills in the taxonomic sense in addition to the normal emphasis on subject content, technical and generic skills. The key finding is that while the introduction of experiential learning was a success, various structural deficiencies prevented other aspects being as successful. It was found that in general students found the experiences worthwhile and appropriate, although a vocal minority did provide a negative response. This report summarises that experience, highlights the successes and shortfalls of the process and makes recommendations for the inclusion of workshops in the teaching and learning repertoire of humanities teachers in future courses that overcome the identified structural problems.


Bridging diversity to achieve engagement: "The Sentence is Right" game show rip off

Jaimie P. Beven
School of Law
Murdoch University
Email: .beven@murdoch.edu.au
[Tuesday 4.00] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

Increased access to higher education for underrepresented groups does not, in itself, constitute educational equity. In addition to increased access, effort needs to be directed toward facilitating the retention and success of these students. Unlike traditional groups of students, equity groups are likely to endure additional difficulties in higher education which impact on the probability of these students being engaged in educational activities. The current paper outlines the use of the popular television genre of 'game shows' to engage a diverse group of first year undergraduates in a sentencing lecture.


Support for a teaching research nexus fosters student engagement in quality writing

Thelma Blackford
Languages and Intercultural Education
Curtin University of Technology
Email: T.Blackford@exchange.curtin.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.30]

Providing a balance between research and teaching is an issue for governance because high quality teaching and research attracts quality academics and quality students. Despite Hattie and March (1996) declaring that a range of research shows tenuous linkages between teaching and research yet Smeby (1998) reports that the nexus is generally considered significant. Perkins and Stehlik (2005) found that academics who were able to integrate research into their teaching reported higher levels of satisfaction. Writers of the Chifley report (2001) claim that for both teaching and research the withdrawal of resources has affected the quality and capacity of tertiary education and that by not investing in knowledge production the government has restricted both its short and long term potential. Much of the recent literature on research output in universities criticises the implications of the overly bureaucratic managerialist practices and increases in student staff ratios. In a report by Hall at Curtin (1999) academics declared that research was difficult to do because of the time constraints and the teaching loads were heavy.

Raising Curtin University's status in an increasingly global and national competitive environment has prompted the need to promote greater evidencing of an increase in research output and the research teaching nexus is considered by Curtin as vital. This is significant for Foundation Studies pathway program at Curtin because an important feature of the teacher research nexus is how lecturers are enabled to apply and approach professional practice from a reflective, critical and evidence based stance rather than from a competence one. Curriculum development is enriched by research benefits lecturers as being participants in the regeneration of the curriculum. This presentation highlights the benefits of the research teacher nexus for student engagement with writing in a Foundation Studies pathway program.


Leadership capacity building at the University of Western Australia

Vivienne Blake
Organisational and Staff Development Services (Human Resources)
The University of Western Australia
Email: vivienne.blake@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 5.00]

Student engagement is one of the many challenges that face university leaders at all levels as they seek to inspire and lead staff in a fast changing environment characterised by scarce resources. UWA has a successful programme of leadership capacity building, which provides academic and general staff leaders with opportunities to enhance leadership abilities. In addition to the traditional leadership courses, it also features an annual retreat for all leaders and vibrant networks which improve communication, learning and influence both vertically and horizontally in the University. With enhanced leadership capabilities comes a greater understanding of and willingness to engage in organisational development activity. In this framework, student engagement is one area of endeavour which could be enhanced in the future. To date, increased leadership capacity has been evidenced by an innovative programme for early career academics and the revitalisation of a university wide performance management system.


An application of learning and teaching styles: A case study of science and engineering seminars

Eloise Brown
School of Plant Biology and School of Environmental Systems Engineering
Jo Pluske
Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
The University of Western Australia
Email: brown@sese.uwa.edu.au, jpluske@are.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.30] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

The ability of students to take in material taught at university level is a function of both their own personal learning style and the teaching style of the professor. The reality of many fields today, particularly in science and engineering, is that the dissemination of information at a professional level is often in the format of a seminar. An individual's ability to rapidly assimilate such information is often the key to success. This preliminary learning style trial aimed to assess students' learning styles using the Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model, to use student responses to evaluate teaching methods, and to identify future research needs within science and engineering seminar style units. Although limited in its scope to one unit at a single university, this preliminary trial can be used in a wider context as an example of how learning styles and strategies can be implemented into a real learning environment with genuine time and resource constraints.


First year Integrated Human Studies: An orientation to learning and a framework for student engagement

Neville Bruce and Brilliana von Katterfeld
School of Anatomy and Human Biology
The University of Western Australia
Email: nbruce@anhb.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 10.05]

"The things taught in colleges and schools are not an education, but the means of education." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) U.S. essayist and poet
This paper contends that "student engagement" has generally declined with recent changes in university missions and strategic plans. Students are lost for three or more years in ever increasing specialities that prepare them for the workforce without fully preparing them for the world. In doing so students are deprived of the chance to fully experience the university environment and participate in an enriching educational experience. The increasing trend for students to disengage from their own education is evidenced by high attrition rates, decreased attendance at lectures, and the belief that time is often better spent on earning an income.

One solution to this problem is to provide units that address student interests. To this extent Integrated Human Studies (IHS) aims to allow students to focus on themselves, their place in the world, and, above all, how they plan to influence the future. The purpose of IHS is to bring together the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities in order to focus on the nature and future of humankind. The more important outcome we hope students will acquire over the course of their studies is an orientation to the learning experience.

IHS, for the most part, is not designed to be something that students learn, it is something that they actively engage in - they integrate human studies. Through introducing IHS at the undergraduate level we aim to stimulate students to think differently about the world and the roles they play in it, and subsequently enrich their educational experience. Here we provide an outline of the first year IHS units proposed to begin at UWA in 2008 and discuss how they will provide an orientation to the university experience and a framework for student engagement.


Workshop (60 minutes)

Preparing new academic staff for teaching

Alison Bunker
Edith Cowan University
Allan Goody
The University of Western Australia
Email: a.bunker@ecu.edu.au,, agoody@admin.uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 2.00]

Programs for the preparation of new academics have been around in various forms in Australian Universities since the mid 1980s . These programs were based largely on similar programs already developed in the UK. Twenty years on, it is worth considering how well these programs address the various stakeholders' needs.

Participants in this activity will develop a better understanding of the various perspectives and concerns in the preparation of new staff. New staff will be more aware of the multiple stakeholders, more experienced staff members will be able to respond to and support new staff more effectively. The workshop will enable better sharing of good practice, and the identification of common areas of concern. Activity leaders will develop a greater understanding of local concerns in the preparation of new academic staff which can inform their own practice.

Participants will work in groups based on their roles and experience in university teaching:. Each group will identify what they think are the key learning outcomes that programs for new academic teaching staff should address.

This interactive workshop is based on a session developed by Dr Kathryn Sutherland at the Victoria University of Wellington, and is conducted with her permission. Participants should note that any data collected as part of the activity may be used in further research in this area, and will be shared with Kathryn Sutherland. If this happens, all participants will remain completely anonymous and unidentifiable.


Development of an advanced immersive learning environment for process engineering

Ian Cameron, Caroline Crosthwaite and Christine Norton
The University of Queensland
Nicoleta Balliu and Moses Tadé
Curtin University of Technology
David Brennan
Monash University
David Shallcross
The University of Melbourne
Geoff Barton
The University of Sydney
Email: n.balliu@curtin.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.00] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

This work presents a new development in process engineering learning environments through the use of spherical photography of real process plant coupled with an interactive user system. The system provides a vehicle for enhanced learning of process engineering principles for students and plant operators at various levels of understanding - from process plant awareness through details of process equipment, control principles and risk management concepts. Assessment techniques for students and operations personnel can be embedded in or linked to the system. The system is constructed around a high resolution QuickTime VR movie that permits a comprehensive walk-through of the process unit being considered. Activities within the system can be conducted at various levels of detail, these being linked to the VR system. Guided tours with full commentary can be taken as well as free ranging tours to investigate aspects of design and operation.

Process engineering principles are presented in a hierarchical and parallel structure that aids extensibility of the system and allows the user to drill down into the environment. Specially built animations give insight into the operations of the unit, subunits and equipment. This will help users to understand process engineering principles such as heat and mass transfer. Unit and equipment dynamic simulations can be linked to the VR system thus aiding users to appreciate dynamics and control aspects of large scale process plant The system is designed for engineering students across the curriculum and can be used by various course coordinators to complement other teaching and learning methods. The current version is under development with further expansion to be undertaken to include a broad range of process operation types.


Serious Games: A problem, a solution or a polariser?

Barnard Clarkson
School of Communications and Contemporary Arts
Chris Brook
School of Education
Edith Cowan University
Email: b.clarkson@ecu.edu.au, c.brook@ecu.edu.au
[Wednesday 10.05] Refereed research. Full text on website.

Computer based games are increasingly being offered as a way to engage students better in their own education. Serious games are a branch of games with a strong educational focus, offered as a way to represent physical systems or fabricated spaces, and teach through immersion and role play. It is well known that games can engender high levels of engagement and build intuitive or sophisticated understandings about scientific or human phenomena. On one hand, serious games might prove to be a strategy that increases student motivation to become active participants in their own learning. On the other hand, despite these apparent advantages, some parents and even governments have, on occasions, successfully banned these games from learning settings (Smith, 2005; Squire, 2006b). The implication of such tensions appears to be that computer games have no serious place in education settings. Arguably any educational value is fortuitous, and simply a consequence of their complexity and potential for flexible usage, not unlike say, Logo. These conflicting views warrant further exploration. This presentation will present (at least) two sides of the argument, propose some criteria for identifying appropriate games and encourage more informed discussion regarding this divisive topic.


A new(er) dimension to online learning communities: Using web tools to engage students

Lisa Cluett and Judy Skene
Student Services
The University of Western Australia
Email: lcluett@admin.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 4.00] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

Gen Y students (born 1982-2000) are an increasing proportion of student populations. Their familiarity with Information and Communication Tools (ICT) is claimed by generational researchers to influence their approaches to learning and their expectations of university IT capabilities (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; Jeffries, 2003; Prensky, 2001). Universities are challenged to attract and retain these students who increasingly face competing demands on their time and expect institutions to respond with flexible services. This paper details the response in one university to the challenge of using the web tools that Gen Y students themselves adopt to enhance communication. It is from the perspective of a central unit charged with communicating with, and providing services to, the entire student body in a multitude of contexts. The applicability, usefulness, obstacles and associated pedagogical principles of ICT are explored and reported in this pilot project.


Workshop (90 minutes)

Catching up with our students: Using web tools to create communities

Lisa Cluett, Josh Hogan and Judy Skene
Student Services
The University of Western Australia
Email: lcluett@admin.uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 2.00]

This workshop builds on the experience of the Student Services team at UWA to generate a discussion about using web tools to communicate with students and build online communities. The session aims to briefly explain some of the tools available as well as to explore the potential for using them to build student communities.

'Web tools' is a name for a group of technologies that are commonly used in a range of online environments (a range of other terms is also used including Information and Communication tools; or ICT). The tools include blogs, wikis, podcasts and discussion boards and they are commonly used by individuals and groups across the world to communicate, share information and distribute media with varying degrees of formality. Such tools are increasingly being used by business, schools and more recently churches, charities and community groups.

The University sector in Australia has been slower to adopt these tools and this reluctance may be well founded. It is important that the tools are used as part of a broader educational framework and not because they are the latest fad to hit the Net Generation. At the same time, we also need to trial and evaluate available technologies as alternative means of communication, as they may be the preferred medium used by our students to communicate for good reasons.

Participants in this workshop will

There is an increasing focus in the media and at some educational conferences on the characteristics of the Net Generation or Gen Y, the students who are our school leaver cohort. These 17-24 year old students have grown up with technology and it is claimed that their exposure influences the way they in which learn and communicate (Richardson 2006). It has also shaped their expectations of their ideal learning environment, which, if not met to some degree, can result in low satisfaction (Hartman, Moskal & Dziuban, 2005).

Universities are keen to attract and retain students and so the quality of the student experience is a focus of most strategic plans. The challenge to engage students must be addressed in the classroom and in the broader university community. Here, Student Services has a role to play in connecting with students and facilitating their access to services that complement the learning achieved in classrooms.

Characteristics of the Net Generation to consider are that they value personal interaction and do not want that replaced, but rather enhanced, by the use of technology. They expect and appreciate flexibility and prompt responses and want information that will help them form conclusions, rather than being told the decision (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). Their peers exert a strong influence. Strategies for promotion of services should take these characteristics into consideration and adopt those tools that are effective in particular applications.

This session is not intended to serve as a lecture on ICT but rather will provide a forum where participants can interact, discuss and learn about issues relevant to them, their specific interests and appropriate to their institution. This workshop is suitable for the complete novice through to the ICT expert and for teaching, technical and professional staff. Ideas and discussion generated during the workshop will be written up and distributed to participants.


Exploring the role of unit coordinators in universities

Lynne Cohen
School of Psychology
Alison Bunker and Rod Ellis
Teaching and Learning Development
Edith Cowan University
Email: a.bunker@ecu.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.30]

Whilst the positions of course coordinators have been recognised and explored as roles requiring leadership abilities, unit coordinators could also be identified as leaders as they are responsible for coordinating and managing a subject within a university course. However, a search of the literature found little research exploring the role of the unit coordinator in the university setting. Yet this role would seem critical in ensuring student engagement. Unit coordinators are the key academic staff at the interface between students' learning experiences and the curriculum and university processes for managing teaching and learning. Their role typically involves curriculum design, managing sessional and other staff in the delivery, quality assurance of the teaching and learning in the unit, handling student enquires and utilising university systems to support teaching and learning.

This paper reports on the preliminary, exploratory stages of a study to explore the role of unit coordinators. This will enable us to develop a greater understanding of the unit coordinators' experience of their role as they perceive it. In particular we sought to investigate what the experience of unit coordination was like and what some of the challenges to effective unit coordination. Our analysis of themes emerging from these interviews interview will inform the design of a questionnaire for a large scale survey for phase two of the project.

Participants were recruited from randomly selected schools within the faculties of Edith Cowan University. The initial phase of the study, which this paper reports on, limited the interviews to staff who coordinate large units. This was defined as being taught by three or more staff and /or having more than 75 students. The data for Phase One of the study has been gathered through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with each unit coordinator . The interviews were tape recorded and analysed for thematic content. This paper presents an early analysis of the findings.


Developing clinical decision making skills: A collaborative, evidence based project for integrating diagnostic imaging into the clinical work-up

Jeffrey R. Cooley and Bruce F. Walker
Murdoch University
Email: J.Cooley@murdoch.edu.au
[Tuesday 4.30]

The need to transition students from an academic mindset towards an evidence based approach to the clinical work-up of their client/patient is an important component of the training of chiropractic students. Within the broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures students must become familiar with, imaging is an important tool in their decision making armament. With increasing awareness of the need to apply evidence based practice to this decision making process, the concept of "just do as you were taught" is slowly disappearing from the chiropractic practice ethos. Consequently, as teachers of clinical practice we must begin to place more onus on the students to find and use the best evidence before they "leave the educational nest". To move towards this outcome, we have implemented a unit in the first trimester of our Year 5 chiropractic course in which the students engage in their own, and each others, learning by becoming the principle teachers. Small groups of 4-5 students actively work-up all aspects of a clinical case from its initial presentation, learning how to grapple with clinical uncertainty and seek out the best evidence to support their next step in the diagnostic work-up. Students then present a full case to the class and ultimately develop the notes for the unit and their future clinical practice. This presentation will focus on the thought process underpinning the development of the unit, its basic design and operation, and the role of technology. A brief overview of the outcomes of a post unit survey will be offered. Overall, the students found the concepts and activities of the unit to be of great value in helping them understand how to find and apply new evidence to clinical practice. They felt that having the responsibility of developing the lectures and learning materials for the unit improved their learning experience.

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Student engagement of preservice secondary science and mathematics teachers

Vaille Dawson
School of Education
Edith Cowan University
Email: v.dawson@ecu.edu.au
[Tuesday 2.00]

Recent reports from the Australian Council of Deans of Science and the Science Teachers' Association of Western Australia predict an increasing shortage of qualified mathematics and science teachers. This in turn will impact negatively on the opportunity of secondary students to further their studies in mathematics and science. With an attrition rate of 25% in the first two years of teaching, it is essential that we engage and enthuse future science and mathematics teachers who are currently studying in our universities. This presentation reports on a written survey of undergraduate students (n=41) enrolled at Edith Cowan University in a double degree with a major in science or mathematics and education (BSc and BA Ed) and graduate diploma in secondary education students (n=16) with a major in science or mathematics. Students were asked why they had decided to study science or mathematics and teaching and what they perceived would be the biggest challenges when they commenced teaching. It was found that the two groups of students were motivated by different factors. Undergraduate students were motivated primarily by a love of maths and science, exposure to exemplary science and mathematics teaching at high school and a 'calling' to the profession, while graduate diploma students chose science and maths teaching for employment related reasons (e.g., flexibility, holidays), previous success in science and mathematics and an interest in science. Undergraduate students were concerned about confidence, time and behaviour management while graduate diploma students were primarily concerned about resources and content. We can better engage students by taking account of their reasons for selecting science and mathematics teaching as a profession and attempting to allay their primary concerns about teaching.


A new cohort of refugee students in Perth: Challenges for students and educators

Jaya Earnest, Tambri Housen and Sue Gillieatt
Centre for International Health
Curtin University of Technology
Email: j.earnest@curtin.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.00] Refereed research. Full text on website.

Today's migration patterns have shifted in ways that bring new challenges to educators. New refugee arrivals in developed countries are an extremely diverse group. As a result, multiple approaches must be developed addressing the needs of diverse, multicultural and multilingual refugee and migrant populations. It has been clearly demonstrated that refugee children and adolescents are vulnerable to the effects of pre-migration, most notably exposure to trauma. In educational settings refugee students bring new challenges; many experienced educators are facing for the first time.

The main aims of the project were to investigate and explore ways in which refugee adolescent youth perceive their experience of transition and resettlement into Australia and to examine the challenges faced by adolescent refugees in acquiring an Australian education.

The research used a case study approach within a qualitative framework based on focus group interviews with 45 young refugees, school visits, in-depth key informant interviews and accumulation of documentary data. The research approach interwove migration, resettlement and identity formation into an understanding of psychosocial wellbeing and educational experiences of adolescent refugees in Western Australia.

This study has attempted to argue that government departments (health, education and community development), need to work together to create a supportive and enabling environment to improve the wellbeing of refugee adolescents and has provided preliminary recommendations for further research into strategies that will improve educational and mental health outcomes for these young people.


Academic practitioner alliances: Embedding cultural diversity in the curriculum

Malcolm Fialho
Equity and Diversity Office
The University of Western Australia
Email: mfialho@admin.uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 5.00]

Internationalisation has required universities to find new ways of revitalising the student experience to ensure graduate attributes are aligned with the dual requirements of dynamic employment markets and social responsibility. The development of 'cultural competence' is critical in the mix of graduate attributes required to function effectively in a professional context across the globe A developed understanding cultural diversity is a key attribute both in obtaining a competitive employment edge and creating a socially aware profession.

Presently the issues surrounding 'cultural competence' do not appear to be explored in a holistic manner within higher educational practice. UWA has identified this issue as a gap in educational practice for some time and the Equity and Diversity Office recently implemented a Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) funded non curricular antiracism Project 'Citizens of the Globe: In Tune With Difference'. The Project, carried out across six sites in Semester 1, used experiential and values based exercises within a critical cultural diversity framework to promote a deeper engagement with the issues of racism and community harmony.

This session will scope the 'white privilege' theoretical framework underpinning the 'Citizens of the Globe' Project, share insights gained and assist in continuing the dialogue across the broader teaching and learning community. It is anticipated that this 'conversation' will assist in promoting a more active and sustained engagement with the issues of cultural diversity, racism and community harmony within the teaching and learning environment.


Student perceptions of teaching and learning in archaeology

Kelly Fleming
Archaeology
The University of Western Australia
Email: flemik01@student.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 10.05]

My project was inspired by a recent volume of Australian Archaeology (Vol 61, December 2005) which contained articles discussing teaching and learning in Australian archaeology. Some of the issues raised in this volume included recent archaeology graduate knowledge/training, fieldwork and field school participation, and the direction of contemporary archaeology and implications for teaching and learning. Gibbs, Roe and Gojak concluded (2005: 30) it was essential that skills, needed by both graduates and continuing archaeologists, were recognised by all stakeholders including students, and that the thresholds of responsibility for training and learning were clear not only to universities but also to industry professionals and the students and graduates themselves (Gibbs, Roe & Gojak 2005: 30). A brief survey was distributed amongst UWA archaeology students. This survey was designed to understand archaeology students' expectations of teaching, the level of responsibility they expect to take for their own learning, and their awareness of the skills needed to successfully pursue a career in archaeology. Although the response rate was limited (30 surveys were returned and 75 were distributed) some general observations can be made. First, some of the skills needed to work as an archaeologist in the future are not recognised by current students and graduates. Second, students understand that they are in part responsible for their own learning/training in archaeology. Finally the majority of respondents intend to work as archaeologists in the future but some students nearing the end of their degree still feel unprepared to do so. This paper further explores the results of this survey.


Engaging students through CMO: Electronic reserves and student learning

Stacey Fox
Discipline of English and Cultural Studies
Sarah Brown
Discipline of History
The University of Western Australia
Email: foxs02@student.uwa.edu.au, sabrown@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 3.00] Refereed professional practiceresearch. Full text on website.

With the increased emphasis that tertiary institutions are placing on online learning, there is an ongoing need to increase our understanding of how students perceive and use available resources and the effectiveness of such learning resources. The objective of this paper is to evaluate student perceptions and uses of one of the recent developments in online learning: Course Materials Online (CMO), an electronic reserve system developed for the University of Western Australia (UWA) Library. At its most basic level, CMO is an online document management system used by the UWA library to support the online provision of course reading materials. Because CMO offers greater accessibility and flexibility, there appears an assumption that student reaction to electronic reserves would naturally be favourable, and that greater access would translate into improved use of library resources. We decided, however, that more quantitative inquiry would be beneficial. The paper is concerned with how CMO is influencing students' research practices and attitudes, and with the practical issues that have shaped students uptake and use of CMO.


Engaging first year science students through reflective practice

Jane Grellier
Faculty of Media, Society and Culture
Curtin University of Technology
Email: J.Grellier@curtin.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.00]

In 2004 a core unit was introduced into first year science courses at Curtin designed to give students a brief 'taste' of a broad range of scientific topics, while developing their research, writing and oral presentation skills. The unit was based on an interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists, who gave lectures and tutorials on science content, and Humanities staff, who conducted communication skills workshops in the context of the science lectures. A significant element of reflective writing was added to the unit in 2006, in order to deepen the students' engagement with the lectures, and to instil in them habits of reflective practice that would be valuable for their future academic and professional lives. While the communication skills staff coordinated the reflective writing, both groups of teachers assessed it. This paper will outline reflective practice theory, and present results of qualitative and quantitative research undertaken by the communication skills academics to examine the students' responses to the reflective practice component of the unit.


Reflections of a UWA engineering Postgraduate Teaching Intern

Andrew L. Guzzomi
School of Mechanical Engineering
The University of Western Australia
Email: aguzzomi@mech.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.00] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

In this paper the first UWA Postgraduate Teaching Intern from the School of Mechanical Engineering reports on various aspects of the Postgraduate Teaching Internship Scheme offered at the University of Western Australia. The paper initially presents a brief overview of the program and then looks more specifically at the teaching aspects and the results from various surveys of both students and staff. The lecture delivery techniques primarily used were "live" board writing and the visualiser and these were supplemented with overheads and computer animation. The intern reports on different mechanisms of feedback such as: critical friend, mentor, student feedback, and self assessment from video footage. At such an early stage in an academic career feedback was used effectively to make changes to the techniques used and increase student engagement. It was found that compared to "live" board writing the use of visualiser created less stress before lecture delivery and was much less draining both physically and mentally. The usage of the visualiser and recorded lectures within the School is investigated and the results presented.


Student engagement: An experiential, creative, collaborative approach to primary school music teaching

Jan Gwatkin
School of Music
The University of Western Australia
Email: jacrian@bigpond.net.au
[Wednesday 2.30] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

Preparing to teach music in a primary school can be a daunting task. Teachers are faced with children who range from the disinterested to those who have received private instrumental tuition on a variety of instruments. In order to cope with such a variety of skill levels and interests, teachers need to be flexible, have a wide variety of teaching tactics and repertoire, and be able to engage all students, regardless of their ability, in both group and individual learning and performance situations. As part of the UWA Introduction to University Teaching Program in 2006, a four week program was designed for 3rd year music education students preparing for practicum teaching in West Australian Primary Schools. Students were given the opportunity to engage in active learning and teaching styles through a variety of individual and group settings. The main focus was to give students a variety of teaching skills through which appropriate repertoire could be taught to primary students to reinforce musical skills i.e. moving, singing, playing, listening and creating (improvising) at different levels simultaneously. In addition consideration was given to the Education Department music curriculum, children's general cognitive and developmental capabilities, and known musical preferences. Initial feedback at the end of the program was incredibly positive with undergraduates preferring the workshop approach to learning and teaching to more formal scenarios. Further feedback from both students and their practicum teachers reinforced the positive teaching style and preparation of the program for real life experience.


Knowing their stuff: The mathematical competence of preservice primary teachers

Brenda Hamlett
Mathematics Education
Edith Cowan University
Email: b.hamlett@ecu.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.00]

One version of the job description for a teacher includes the following:

Teachers must know their stuff
They must know the students they intend to stuff
Above all, they must stuff them artistically
In order to be an effective teacher of mathematics in primary schools, preservice teachers not only need to be competent in the relevant curriculum content, but able to understand and explain the underlying concepts. Unfortunately, many of them enter university education degree courses with relatively low level mathematical skills. This paper examines the extent to which first year preservice teachers enrolled in BEd courses in Primary and Early Childhood Education "know their stuff" (or can be considered as mathematically literate) when it comes to teaching the content of the WA primary mathematics curriculum.

As part of a core first year unit entitled Becoming Multiliterate, students complete a diagnostic assessment task based on Level Four outcomes of the WA Outcomes and Standards Framework - Mathematics. They are also asked to indicate how confident they feel about having answered each question correctly. When results are given to students, an emphasis is placed on identifying individual strengths and weaknesses, so that skills that are already at an appropriate level are acknowledged and areas for improvement targeted. This reflects a CRC approach - first "Commend" what is being done well, then "Recommend" strategies for improvement and subsequently "Commend" successful achievements. Students then complete activities designed to engage and motivate them and ensure that both confidence and competence are considered in skill development. At the end of the unit, results in the exit assessment indicate that students display higher skill levels and feel more positive about their mathematical ability. This means that subsequent mathematics education units can concentrate on developing deeper understanding of concepts as well as appropriate primary classroom pedagogies.


Facilitating international research students' transition at UWA: Moving beyond an apprenticeship model of supervision

Krystyna Haq
Graduate Research School
The University of Western Australia
Email: krys.haq@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.30]

Attracting growing numbers of international research students is important to UWA' s strategic objective of internationalising its research. We have anecdotal evidence that "word of mouth" recommendations and personal contact through international research collaborations are important factors in attracting high calibre international research students. It seems likely therefore that a positive experience of research training by international students at UWA, will help foster the ongoing international research linkages we seek.

Positive outcomes and satisfaction with research training are commonly associated with "good" supervision. However supervision needs to be conceptualised beyond an apprenticeship model, to include the total environment within which research training is experienced. At UWA students are supervised within Schools located in Faculties, but are enrolled through the Graduate Research School (GRS) whose role includes facilitating research training and progress through candidature. Furthermore, student support services and other useful resources that contribute to the total research training environment are provided by units outside the Faculty.

To ensure that all international PhD and Masters by research students become aware of and make better use of resources available across the University, we at the GRS, in collaboration with a number of others, have developed a protocol called FIRSTatUWA, that also aims to facilitate transition through key stages of candidature. We have sought to develop and implement a protocol that is inexpensive in time and resources, yet allows us to communicate with each of these students in a way that is supported by and supportive of supervisors. While our efforts are concentrated on international students, we anticipate flow on benefits for all research students.

The FIRSTatUWA protocol was developed during 2005, has been implemented since March 2006 and contains embedded processes to gauge its effectiveness. This paper will outline the development of FIRSTatUWA, discuss its implementation and effects to date.


Project management in a PhD: Taking account of the emotional aspects of candidature

Krystyna Haq
Graduate Research School
The University of Western Australia
Email: krys.haq@uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.30]

While a PhD incorporates many of the common elements of any large complex project so that training in project management techniques will benefit PhD students, it also has unique features. The need to make an original and significant contribution to knowledge can engender a high degree of uncertainty in the direction of the project. It also means that project management processes must allow for creativity in approach and for changes in direction as understanding evolves. Furthermore, emotional qualities such as perseverance, courage, resilience and passion play a crucial role in successful completion of a PhD but are not usually considered in project management training. These emotional factors need to be taken into account as resources are developed to facilitate management of PhD projects.

Developing and delivering generic skills programs to Research Higher Degree students at UWA is a key responsibility of the two Graduate Education Officers employed by The Graduate Research School. In order to take better account of the emotional aspects of candidature in the programs we offer, we are currently developing and delivering workshops to facilitate ongoing progress in a group of students who have identified themselves as "Self Sabotagers". This group of students attended an initial workshop entitled "Self Sabotage: Why we do it and what you can do about it" given by Hugh Kearns, an experienced guest presenter on this subject, from Flinders University. This paper will describe how we have continued working with this group of students to develop our own workshops, discuss themes and principles that have emerged as important when dealing with issues these students raise and discuss preliminary findings on the effectiveness of these workshops in changing their behaviour. At this stage we are finding the literature on implementation intentions to be particularly useful.


Teaching and learning skills: Increasing a sense of law school belongingness

Jill Howieson and William Ford
Faculty of Law
The University of Western Australia
Email: jill.howieson@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 4.30] Refereed professional research. Full text on website.

Despite a relatively hostile environment of budget constraints, staff development, historical conservatism, and professional territorialism, the Law School at the University of Western Australia has taken a slow, yet systematic and structured approach to its introduction of lawyering skills into the curriculum. It has done so in recognition that core skills such as negotiation, dispute resolution and communication skills are essential requirements in the modern law graduate's toolkit and has done so in the face of budget and staffing restrictions. If at any stage, those at the Law School were wondering if this has been a thankless task, or indeed a worthless exercise, the present study confirms that this is not the case. The study reveals that the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) unit, which teaches skills in negotiating, resolving disputes and communication, increases the students' sense of belonging to the Law School. The study further shows that although 27% of the students surveyed are not intending to practice as lawyers, their sense of belonging to the Law School is enhanced by participation in the ADR unit.


Engaging the student writer in university assessment: Case study - The Response

Alison Jaquet
English and Cultural Studies
The University of Western Australia
Email: jaquea01@student.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.30] Refereed research. Full text on website.

This paper will evaluate The Response form of assessment, which has been used in the Discipline of English and Cultural Studies at The University of Western Australia for the past two years. The Response is a form of essay or extended prose that aims to stimulate self reflexivity and originality by encouraging students to incorporate more personal responses to texts in their writing. In this research The Response was evaluated in terms of whether it was aligned with the unit learning outcomes. The perceived value of The Response in comparison to other forms of assessment was also evaluated. Sixty six students completed a short questionnaire. In addition, two optional short answer questions attempted to elicit personal comments about The Response. Teaching staff were also informally surveyed for their impressions of The Response. In general, students viewed The Response form of assessment favourably. Further analysis of the student data revealed that even those who had reservations about The Response, nevertheless acknowledged its benefits in stimulating ideas and critical thinking. Tutors reported mixed feelings about the value of The Response, but benefits of the form were implicit in their responses. Suggestions for how to minimise both student and teacher concerns about The Response include increased discussion of assessment in central forums such as lectures. Overall, the findings suggest that The Response facilitates increased student engagement with assessment, with their tutors and peers.


Enhancing course coordinators' leadership and management for increased student engagement

Sue Jones, Sue Bolton, Rick Ladyshewsky, Beverley Oliver and Bruce Shortland-Jones
Curtin University of Technology
Email: sue.jones@curtin.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.00]

In 2006, Curtin University was awarded a Carrick Grant to develop an academic leadership course for course coordinators. A survey was emailed to 179 course coordinators at Curtin to specify their development needs. Course coordinators (CCs) were asked to indicate which of 12 identified areas they would most like the program to focus on, with responses ranging from high priority to low priority on a five point scale. Twenty five percent of CCs responded. High priority areas were: creating a positive and supportive environment for the teaching team (77%); quality of assessment practices within a course (75%); aligning assessment with learning outcomes (68%); developing a high performance culture in the teaching team (66%); student management issues (66%); understanding of the role and responsibilities of the course coordinator (64%); course review and quality management (57%); appropriate and consistent application of outcomes focused education (57%); and online teaching and learning technologies (50%).

Course coordinators with two or more years of experience leaned towards developing leadership capabilities, specifically: fostering a high performance team culture; providing a supportive team environment; course review and student management issues.

Almost all respondents identified challenges they face in their role as CCs through additional qualitative feedback. Emerging themes were: maintaining and improving course quality; clarity about the course coordinator role; lack of teaching space; acquiring the expertise to manage various student issues; strategies to improve student recruitment; supporting teaching staff and time management.

This presentation will provide a closer analysis of the data, and how the feedback from potential participants will be used to develop the program which will include peer coaching and flexible delivery.


Student learning outcomes and assessment

Lee-Von Kim
English and Cultural Studies
The University of Western Australia
Email: leevon@student.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.00]

In 2001 the University of Western Australia Academic Council resolved to endorse the introduction of outcomes based education throughout the University. Since 2006, the term "outcomes based education" has been replaced by the term "student learning outcomes" at the University of Western Australia. As its name suggests, a student learning outcomes approach is centred upon student learning and is part of a broader educational shift in which learning is privileged over teaching. This paper investigates what effects a student learning outcomes approach (formerly outcomes based education) has had on student assessments in undergraduate units in English and Cultural Studies and Communication Studies (ECS & CS) at the University of Western Australia. The focus of this paper is how the implementation of a student learning outcomes approach has impacted on how teachers design and grade student assessments.


Collaborative learning in the online environment: Fostering student engagement

Ernest Koh
Asian Studies
Bonnie Thomas
European Languages and Studies (French Studies)
The University of Western Australia
Email: tsenre@student.uwa.edu.au, bonnieth@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.00]

In 2001 the SmARTS program was established in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences as an innovative way to engage talented year 11 students in university life. SmARTS is a 7 month program in which approximately 80 students from across the metropolitan area come together to produce a high quality research project and presentation. Students work in small groups throughout the program and are encouraged to develop skills in analytical writing, research, oral communication and independent study. A significant component of SmARTS is run online, both in tutor led sessions and in independent tutorials. A custom designed website enables students to post ideas on their group projects on discussion boards throughout the year and a SmARTS chatroom enables them to develop their thoughts in weekly tutorial sessions. The SmARTS website also constitutes an important source of information for students with detailed reading lists, a calendar of events and a regularly updated "latest news" section. Despite the success of the program and the high quality results showcased at the final presentation night, there is room for improvement in ensuring the online and collaborative learning that occurs in smarts is more effective. This paper will explore the challenges of collaborative learning in an online environment and will look at ways of maximising student engagement in this forum.


The Health Science Professional Practice Tool Box

Justine Leavy
School of Population Health
The University of Western Australia
Email: justine.leavy@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 5.00]

Students are often required to be involved in group projects which are time consuming, resource intensive and often may reduce student morale. The Health Science Professional Practice 'Tool Box' aims to provide students with a comprehensive resource for project management to help Health Science Students, Health Science practicum students and potentially students from other UWA faculties deliver projects efficiently and competently.

The Tool Box project involved consultation with key stakeholders in Health Science curriculum delivery; consultation with past students who have completed the Health Science Professional Practice unit, and consultation with Health Science practicum industry representatives. The 'Tool Box' includes written resources and e-templates of each of these resources. Whilst some of the resources already exist and are readily available this 'Tool Box' has created a coherent, orderly approach to the unit materials as the resources will be located in the one place for consistency. The comments and feedback have been very encouraging and the findings and future recommendations will be presented.


Network technology education: A novel pedagogical model for novices and practicing professionals

Stanislaw Paul Maj and Bao Tran
School of Computer and Information Science
Edith Cowan University
Email: p.maj@ecu.edu.au
[Tuesday 5.00] Refereed research. Full text on website.

There are different, but equally valid approaches to teaching network technology. One active learning approach, the Cisco Network Academy Program (CNAP), is based on employer expectations and hence teaches students to design and configure networks. A network typically consists of different technologies each running a number of different protocols. An extensive analysis of the CNAP curriculum found that it lacked a coherent pedagogical model of devices and protocols. Without such a model students will typically develop their own model which is likely to be incomplete, inconsistentand incorrect. In an attempt to address this problem State Model Diagrams were developed. State Model Diagrams allow networking concepts and device configuration to be taught using a single common template. This is important because students do not have to learn a new model for each network device and associated protocols. In effect new knowledge reinforces existing knowledge. State Model Diagrams have been successfully used as the pedagogical foundation of network curriculum and the results evaluated. One objective of education is to prepare students for employment. In this context employer expectations are that students can be immediately effective. This paper evaluates State Model Diagrams as a method of teaching the higher order learning levels associated with practicing professionals.


Students' perceptions via the Flexible Learning Environment Questionnaire: Comparison of three online cohorts

Dorit Maor
School of Education
Murdoch University
Email: d.maor@murdoch.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.30]

As many universities are increasingly adopting e-learning strategies, the challenge remains to improve the student experience through design and delivery of quality e-learning units. To meet this challenge, it is imperative that as a reflective practitioner, I assess students' perceptions. This action learning project investigates student perceptions of factors that enhance or inhibit effective learning online. The Flexible Learning Environment Questionnaire (FLEQ) was used to assess the quality of the learning experience and the perceptions of online teaching in a unit at Murdoch University. The use of the FLEQ for assessment will be extended to other universities with similar constructivist online teaching pedagogies and the results of the FLEQ will be used for improving the design of the environment, online teaching and facilitation and for further evaluative research.

This questionnaire has evolved from learning environment research that was developed two decades ago and more recently FLEQ is an adaptation of the Constructivist On Line Learning Environment Survey developed by Taylor & Maor (2000). Perceptions of three cohorts (2004-2006) are compared in relation to interaction online, peer support, teacher support, communicative strategies, social presence, professional relevance and students' confidence, interest and motivation. The results show that students are highly positive in relation to professional relevance and teacher support. Although the unit was highly interactive and underpinned by social constructivist framework, the students were not so positive on social presence and peer support. The results, and in particular the differences in perceptions between the three cohorts, will be discussed in light of the theoretical framework and pedagogies implemented in this unit.


Time to teach it well: Improving the teaching of the topic of time across the primary school year levels

Linda Marshall, Paul Swan and Maria Northcote
School of Education
Edith Cowan University
Email: l.marshall@ecu.edu.au
[Tuesday 2.30]

As lecturers in the K - 7 Bachelor of Education Degree, we were regularly besieged by students around the time of their practicums with questions about how to teach various topics in mathematics. The topics they were frequently asked to teach centred on measurement (volume and capacity, mass and time), as well as particular aspects of number such as fractions, decimals and percentage. This workshop focuses on a project undertaken to respond to these needs. The first stage of this project focused on the development of paper based and electronic resources to assist in the teaching of all aspects of Time in K-7 classrooms. An analysis of the students' questions revealed a need to design and provide a set of easily accessible resources that could enhance the students' key mathematical content and pedagogical knowledge. The premise was that students who received this information would offer feedback on its use on their practicum.

The topic of time is one that some of our students struggle with. Many believe that it only involves teaching how to tell the time using worksheets of clock faces, or models using paper plates. When a breakdown of the topic is presented, they realise that there are an enormous number of interesting and challenging activities that can be introduced. These include: sequence of time (dates, events, calendar work, BC and AD, seasons, planetary motion and geographical position); duration of time as well as clock reading (with analogue and digital clocks, 12 and 24 hour time).

Three resource packages, for years K - 3, 4 - 5 and 6 - 7, were created. Each resource includes: (1) the analysis of specific mathematics learning outcomes; (2) specific language to use; (3) focus questions; (4) focus ideas and skills; (5) suggested materials; (6) explicit teaching points associated with those outcomes; and (7) well aligned assessment practices. Input to these resources involved accessing curriculum documents from the Curriculum Council, the Department of Education and Training and First Steps, as well as the 1989 Learning Mathematics Pre-Primary to Stage 7 Syllabus. Further modification and development of the resource will incorporate the students' feedback and their own lesson plans.

As a result of the implementation of this project, the researchers anticipate that the preservice teachers involved in this project will become better at planning mathematics lessons and assessing the outcomes of these lessons. This paper reports on the initial stages of the project and includes suggestions on assisting preservice teachers in their transition into the teaching profession.


"I'm now aware of it all the time": Developing an online resource to engage students in issues of academic conduct

Beverley McNamara
School of Social and Cultural Studies
Lee Partridge
Graduate School of Education
The University of Western Australia
Email: bevmc@cyllene.uwa.edu.au, lee.partridge@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.00]

This paper outlines the process undertaken to inform new entry tertiary students of a recently developed institutional policy on academic conduct. Following cross-faculty consultations, a WebCT online resource was developed for use amongst new entry students. In addition to informing students of the policy's existence, the module developed served a number of other purposes including the introduction to general issues of ethical scholarship and ways it may impact on both the students' academic and future careers. It stated the University's expectations of their students with respect to ethical scholarship, informing them of the likely consequences that might result from instances of academic misconduct and providing them with advice and sources of assistance in matters concerning correct academic conduct. In so doing it sought to be both supportive and clear about student responsibility. Students' response to the initial implementation of the module was surveyed, assessing its success in addressing the relevance to new entry tertiary students.


Student engagement in Human Biology practical sessions

Kasie Mearns, Jan Meyer and Avinash Bharadwaj
School of Anatomy and Human Biology
The University of Western Australia
Email: kmearns@anhb.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.30] Refereed research. Full text on website.

Student engagement in their studies is a crucial influence on their academic achievement. When a unit is restructured, opportunities for this engagement may be lost. Human Structure and Development 2212 was created in 2004, an amalgamation of two smaller units. It is heavily practically based and it was determined that formal feedback was needed, in the form of questionnaires, to determine whether practical components of this unit were reaching their targets. It was discovered in this study that the students' perception of their tutors approachability and sensitivity, along with their perception of class organisation, was vital to their participation in the sessions. It was also found that the time of day or week that the survey was implemented had significant effects on student attitudes. Findings from this study have important implications both on the future direction of this unit and on the future implementation of Student Perception of Teaching (SPOT) surveys conducted in universities.


Expectation, achievement and paid employment amongst first year human biology students

Jan Meyer, Kayty Plastow, Kathy Sanders and Julie Hill
Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia
Mel Ziman
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University
Georgina Fyfe
School of Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University of Technology
Sue Fyfe
School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology
Email: Jan.Meyer@uwa.edu.au, kjplastow@anhb.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.30]

There has been a rapid rise in recent years in both the rate and extent of first year student participation in external paid employment in Australia and New Zealand, from 47% to 55% in the decade between 1994 and 2004 (Krause et al, 2005) to near 80% in mid 2006 (Applegate; Burgio). As well as raising challenges in relation to course delivery, this trend puts obvious pressure upon students' engagement with their studies as the focus of activities moves off campus. As part of a project designed to deliver effective online feedback we examined the relationships between engagement in paid work, expectations and achievements in a group of 1099 first year Human Biology students from three West Australian Universities. Seventy percent of the students surveyed were in paid employment, working an average of 12.7 hours per week. Ninety seven percent of workers classified themselves as full time students. There was no difference in the proportions of employment amongst full and part time students, but part time students did work longer hours. A higher proportion of females were employed, but males worked more hours. Fewer students speaking a LOTE at home worked, and those who did worked fewer hours. Expectations of success in Human Biology varied inversely with the number of hours worked, and the test scores of those claiming to have achieved at their level of expectation were lower. The range of uses to which feedback could be seen to be put also declined as paid workload increased. Working students were significantly more likely to feel that test scores did not accurately reflect their understanding of the subject. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Support for this (report/publication/activity) has been provided by The Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Ltd, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training. The views expressed in this (report/publication/activity) do not necessarily reflect the views of The Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.


Workshop (60 minutes)

Whiteboarding strategies for active and collaborative learning

Karen Murcia and Coral Pepper
School of Education
Murdoch University
Email: K.Murcia@murdoch.edu.au, coral.pepper@murdoch.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.00]

This is a workshop activity in which participants will have 'hands on' and 'minds on' engagement with whiteboarding strategies.

Our aim is to use modelling techniques to engage participants in active and collaborative learning about student engagement, through the use of dry erase whiteboards. Group reflection on the whiteboarding strategy will generate discussion not just on the concept of engagement but also the process for learning itself.

Four participants per group will be seated around a small dry erase whiteboard. Each participant in a group will have a different coloured marker. The group will then work together to construct a concept map of the key words identified in the whole group brainstorm. Here the participants will be encouraged to discuss and negotiate the connections between key words. They will be encouraged to try out arrangements and make changes as the group engages in discussion. The group members will work together in the presentation. They will hold up and discuss the concept map and why they connected ideas in the manner they did. The presenters will encourage and value the process that the groups used, not just the outcome.

Participants will reflect on the process of whiteboarding. The advantages and disadvantages of this teaching and learning strategy for encouraging active and collaborative learning will be discussed. This discussion will be supported by the presenters with feedback from initial teacher education students who experienced whiteboarding strategies in their science education workshops.


Using podcasts to enhance student reflection, involvement and engagement: Purposes, pedagogy, pitfalls, practicalities, progress and potential

Maria Northcote, Linda Marshall, Eva Dobozy, Paul Swan and Paula Mildenhall
School of Education
Edith Cowan University
Email: m.northcote@ecu.edu.au
[Tuesday 4.30]

Podcasting is a new form of online technology that allows for sound, graphic and video files to be regularly broadcast via the internet. Although this technology is frequently used for recreational use, educators also use this technology for teaching and learning purposes (Meng, 2005; Pownell, 2006). This technology is beneficial due to its widespread accessibility and replayability via desktop computers and mobile playback devices, as well as its capacity to enable users to subscribe to electronic audio and visual files (Cebeci & Tekdal, 2006; Leaver, 2006). The early use of podcast technology frequently involved the delivery of information to students, primarily from experts and teachers. However, more recent use of this technology has seen some teachers and students adopting a more democratic, student centred approach by exploring how podcasts can be used to encourage students' reflection about their learning (McLoughlin, Lee & Chan, 2006; Windham, 2005) and how students can be involved in accessing and creating podcasts themselves (Burrell, Griffin & Olivieri, 2006).

In order to encourage students to be more reflective practitioners and more engaged and involved in their learning, podcasts were created and broadcast to a group of on campus undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Education (Kindergarten through Primary) course at Edith Cowan University. These podcasts were created so that students could review their course material and become involved in contributing to and creating electronic course resources.

This paper reports on the initial stages of this project and focuses upon the pedagogical decisions behind the practicalities of how podcasts were used to enhance students' reflection and learning practices. The problems and successes experienced by both the lecturers and students associated with getting the project started are presented alongside some practical suggestions for those educators who are interested in using podcasting technology in their own teaching. To evaluate the pilot stage of the project and to inform the project's future, data were collected about the students' understanding of podcasts, their familiarity with podcasting software and hardware, their patterns of using podcasts and their preferences for using podcasts in the future. Findings from these data and their implications will be provided during the conference presentation.


Preparing to engage the graduate of 2015: Where in the world is the undergraduate curriculum heading?

Beverley Oliver, Sue Jones and Sonia Ferns
Curtin University of Technology
Email: B.Oliver@curtin.edu.au
[Wednesday 10.05]

What will the graduating class of 2015 need and want from the Bachelor's degree to be equipped for professional and personal fulfilment, and how do we start preparing now? This presentation will summarise current research on global trends and outline the impact they are already having on the Australian higher education sector. Participants will engage in discussion on the characteristics of the 2015 curriculum, and consider how we can begin to reshape what we currently offer in an innovative curriculum with learning experiences which will successfully engage future students who are at present enjoying childhood.

Curricula will need to successfully engage the learner of 2015 who is technologically savvy, classed as Generation Y, works 30 hrs/wk through university whilst studying full time, multi-tasks and an accomplished consumer. Alternatively, learners may have advanced skills with diploma qualifications which they have obtained through work based learning and articulating with higher education. Consideration of how the learner of the future's needs will be met and the teaching and learning environment required to ensure student engagement and satisfaction with their higher education experience will be discussed.


Using technology supported inquiry learning to engage first year students in large classes

Ron Oliver
School of Communications and Contemporary Arts
Edith Cowan University
Email: r.oliver@ecu.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.00] Refereed research. Full text on website.

This paper describes a study that explored the promotion of learner engagement among first year students through a technology facilitated inquiry learning approach. Students were given a series of authentic inquiry tasks supported by a raft of learning scaffolds. The technology facilitated system supported timely feedback and support and administrative efficiencies for the tutors and teacher. The study explored the forms of engagement that the Web supported inquiry based learning approach was able to engender among the students and the factors that were found to influence students' levels of engagement and achievement. Recommendations were drawn from the study for further instantiations of the approach with appropriate revisions and changes.


Of course, it should be compulsory: Dilemmas in the implementation of an online academic conduct module designed to initiate new students

Lee Partridge
Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning
Beverley McNamara
School of Social and Cultural Studies
The University of Western Australia
Email: lee.partridge@uwa.edu.au, bevmc@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.00]

This paper documents the process of taking an online module, which had been designed, trialled and received a consensus of praise and approval from faculty, through the surprising and unexpectedly problematic path to implementation. The journey, which took more than a year to negotiate, presented a raft of ethical, pedagogical and administrative dilemmas that had not been anticipated. Consultations resulted in compromises and concessions that eventually delivered a model satisfying the majority of concerns of most stakeholders. This paper details the process, the barriers encountered, the final product and the lessons learnt.


Workshop (90 minutes)

The purpose of lectures: Changing implications for student engagement

Lee Partridge, The University of Western Australia
Eileen Thompson, The University of Western Australia
Rob Phillips, Murdoch University
Ron Oliver, Edith Cowan University
Mike Fardon, The University of Western Australia
Enrico Burgio, State President NUS
John McGeachie, The University of Western Australia
Alison Bunker, Edith Cowan University
Email: lee.partridge@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 4.00]

The changes apparent in the tertiary environment are numerous, driven by social, economic, pedagogical, technological and geographic factors. Over the past 10 years particularly, the university campus as a focus for advanced study and a place to share ideas and resources has altered dramatically. The demographic of the student body, their requirements and the global education market have all influenced the manner in which content is delivered to students. The changing nature and role of the lecture within this context is being questioned. Are these changes for the best or are they an inevitable response to external pressures? Do the changes represent good pedagogy or are they merely satisfying a commercial demand? Does the lecture as a time honoured method of delivering content, and inspiring and engaging students still hold a central place in the educational process? It is timely that consideration be given to these questions. This workshop will involve what is likely to be spirited panel and audience discussion on the priorities of the various influences impacting the delivery of tertiary education.

This workshop provides the opportunity to broaden the debate on what, to some, seems a predetermined and unalterable path of pedagogical change in the tertiary environment. Strong divisions exist between the traditionalists and the innovators in course delivery. Central to the debate should be a determination of what represents the best outcomes for students. What constitutes the outcomes then becomes the crucial question. What is it that students should gain from their university experience?


Student participation in developing outcomes: A survey of students majoring in European languages

Barbara Pauk
Social and Cultural Studies and Humanities
The University of Western Australia
Email: paukfb01@student.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.30] Refereed research. Full text on website.

Outcomes based education aims to position students at the centre of all learning and teaching activities and to give them an active and responsible role in their learning. In tertiary education various strategies have been put in place to allow students to organise their learning independently and according to their needs. They are also given opportunities to influence content and delivery through feedback. Yet student participation in the elaboration of outcomes is not current practice and is not advocated in outcomes literature. This study proposes the implication of students in the elaboration of outcomes. Therefore its focus is on the question: What do students think they should be able to do when they graduate? To investigate this question, a survey of students majoring in European Languages was conducted. Students had to indicate how important they consider a certain number of specific outcomes to be. The survey presented three major results: Firstly, the students considered a high level of language competency as by far the most important outcome of their studies. The understanding of societies and cultures where the language is used was given less importance, but was considered an important part of language learning. Secondly, interpretation and translation had a high priority for students. Finally, research skills were considered least important. These results do not correspond to current outcomes and to the University's mission statement. Thus, this investigation raises not only important questions about desirable outcomes in European Languages but demonstrates the importance of students' participation in the elaboration of outcomes.


The influence of caffeine ingestion on perceived mood states, concentration and arousal levels during a 75 minute university lecture

Peter Peeling
Human Movement and Exercise Science
The University of Western Australia
Email: peelip01@student.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.30]

Purpose. This investigation aimed to assess the effect of a caffeine supplement on perceived mood state, concentration and arousal during a 75 min university lecture.
Methods. This randomised, blind, crossover design investigation ran over a course of two consecutive weeks. During week one, nine third year Human Movement and Exercise Science students were assigned to a caffeine (CAF) or a placebo (PLA) supplemented group, and were subsequently required to attend a 75 min exercise rehabilitation lecture. Seven days later, the students were assigned to the opposite supplementation group before attending a second, follow on lecture, equal in duration to that of week one. At the conclusion of each lecture, students were required to complete a mood perception questionnaire to assess the perceived level of mood state, concentration and arousal during the lecture.
Results. The results show that after caffeine consumption, students perceived themselves to be significantly more awake, clear minded, energetic, alert and anxious (p<0.05). Additionally the students also felt they were better able to concentrate, and had a greater level of arousal than when the placebo was consumed (p<0.05).
Conclusion. The results of this investigation show that university students report enhanced perceptual feelings of behaviour and mood state when a low dose of caffeine is consumed 60 min prior to a 75 min academic lecture.


Student perceptions of web based lecture recording technologies

Rob Phillips
Murdoch University
Maree Gosper, Margot McNeill and Karen Woo
Macquarie University
David Green
Flinders University
Greg Preston and Charmian Eckersley
University of Newcastle
Email: r.phillips@murdoch.edu.au
[Tuesday 2.30]

Four IRUA universities - Macquarie University, Murdoch University, Flinders University and the University of Newcastle - have been collaborating on a project funded by the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. This project investigates the impact of web based lecture recording technologies on current and future practice in learning and teaching.

The project aims are to identify:

  1. how web based lecture recording technology is being integrated into the curriculum, and its role and relationship with other elements within the curriculum;
  2. how the technology can effectively support learning and teaching in different contexts, taking into account disciplinary differences, student diversity, specific teaching aims and learning outcomes; and
  3. the educational implications of its use for:
A multi-level research program is underway to investigate these questions, initially surveying students on their experiences in the use of web based lecture technologies. Subsequent stages will involve a staff survey, follow up interviews with students, the development of vignettes with staff about concerns they may have, and several case studies developing innovative ways of using these technologies.

This presentation focuses on the first stage of this project, a student survey focussing on pedagogical rather than technical aspects of web based lecture technology use. Preliminary results of the student survey, involving more than 750 responses from students in four universities, will be presented in this session.


Student experiences of a collaborative learning project in Veterinary Physiology

Sharanne Raidal
Veterinary Physiology
Charles Sturt University
Email: sraidal@csu.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.00]

Veterinary science students at Charles Sturt University (CSU) are selected on the basis of a rural background, high academic achievement and an interview selection process. In this respect, entry to the veterinary course at CSU is different to entry to other veterinary schools in Australia, which is based largely on academic merit. Clinical case based learning has been used in teaching veterinary physiology to Second Year veterinary students at both CSU and Murdoch University to allow students to:

  1. engage in collaborative work;
  2. develop skills in self and peer assessment;
  3. engage in self directed learning and problem solving;
  4. relate pre-clinical subjects to veterinary cases and foster intrinsic motivation for learning.
The scholarly evaluation of student engagement with this learning activity at both universities allows us to evaluate a number of important questions which may increase our understanding of teaching and learning, and hence help us to better facilitate student development and the transition to clinical practice. By virtue of the continuing collaboration between physiology and education staff at CSU and MU, comparison of the responses of students at each campus will permit us to ascertain whether there are differences in approach to learning, motivation or learning outcomes during this activity, which will be delivered simultaneously on both campuses. This presentation will present preliminary findings from these studies, specifically: The results of this study will be integrated with ongoing observation, reflection and evaluation of these students as they move into subsequent years of the veterinary programme on each campus and subsequently into practice.
Acknowledgements: the contributions of Professors Simone Volet and John Bolton (Murdoch University) and Dr Stephanie Knott (Charles Sturt University) are gratefully acknowledged.


Can you bridge graduates from a variety of backgrounds half way into a six year undergraduate medical degree?

Sally Sandover
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
The University of Western Australia
Email: sally.sandover@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.00]

In May 2005, graduate students commenced studying in a 26 week bridging course in the Graduate Entry Medical Program (GEMP) at the University of Western Australia. The course bridged years one and two of the undergraduate course. It allowed students from science and non science disciplines to advance into year three of the six year undergraduate medical course. This study looks at the course evaluation, student learning and staff evaluation as the students progressed through the intensive, integrated and problem based course. Student and staff perceptions of learning were compared with assessment results in the bridging course. GEMP students were evaluated as they progressed through year three of the undergraduate course.

The results indicated that despite the short length of the GEMP course, the students perceived improvements in knowledge and skills as they progressed, not just at completion. The improvements correlated with assessment results. The results indicated that background discipline was not a hindrance to learning and success in the course. GEMP students were well prepared for entry into the undergraduate course. Components of the course structure and skills in bridging that assisted student learning were identified. Student factors and approaches to learning that assisted in successful completion of the intensive course will be discussed.


Workshop (90 minutes)

An introduction to problem based learning

Sally Sandover
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
The University of Western Australia
Email: sally.sandover@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 2.00]

Problem based learning (PBL) was first introduced into medical schools in Canada in the 1960s. Since then, many medical schools and tertiary institutions around the world have implemented PBL representing a major change in educational practice. Much has been written in the literature about the advantages and disadvantages of PBL but it is still an evolving process.

There are many definitions of PBL but they all use as a starting point a 'problem' to be solved by the learner. The problem becomes the stimulus for student activity and drives the activities.

PBL is both a curriculum and a process. The curriculum consists of carefully selected and designed problems that demand from the learner acquisition of critical knowledge, problem solving proficiency, self directed learning strategies and team participation skills. The process replicates the commonly used systemic approach to resolving problems or meeting challenges that are encountered in life and career (Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980)

PBL uses a collection of carefully constructed problems that are usually presented to small groups of students. It is the students' role to work through the problem as a team. The students must identify what they know, what they don't know and how they are going to find out what they need to know. After allocation of learning tasks the students have time to research their topics and then return to apply the information to the problem. It is essential to this method of learning that the problem is designed so that the students' prior knowledge is insufficient for them to understand the depth of the problem. If this is the case, independent learning of a wide range of topics will be covered. With a well written problem in a well constructed curriculum, the learning tasks the students identify will be the core curriculum outcome.

In this workshop you will discuss the basic principles of PBL. Discussions will include advantages and disadvantages of PBL and some areas of curriculum development, problem writing and tutor training. At the end of the workshop you should be able to


English communication proficiency of international engineering students

Brad Stappenbelt
School of Oil and Gas Engineering
Siri Barrett-Lennard
Student Services
The University of Western Australia
Email: brad.stappenbelt@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 4.30]

International students appear to outperform their Australian counterparts in the engineering field at Australian universities when considering the results of prior student progress unit studies. It has been proposed that international students are highly motivated to pass units due to the higher penalty of failure in light of the additional burdens they face (e.g. upfront fees, re-location, economic and social pressures etc), resulting in better relative international student pass rates. The higher international student progression rate is therefore not overly surprising in the technical component of the engineering degree, as this does not rely heavily on English language ability. It is the professional development component of the engineering degree, which requires the student to possess the ability to effectively communicate both verbally and in written English, which raises some cause for concern. The question of the relative performance of international students in the professional development component of the engineering degree was studied by examination of the students enrolled in the Introduction to Professional Engineering unit at the University of Western Australia over the past five years. The study methodology consisted of the analysis of student results, comparing international and Australian student performance. In addition, a comparison of international student success and university English competency avenue through which the student was granted university entrance was also conducted. Further explanatory information was collected through the administration of surveys and interviews of international students enrolled over the past two years.

The present study showed that over the last five years, international students have scored significantly lower in the professional development component of the engineering degree, relative to the Australian students. They also display significantly lower pass rates. The primary reason identified for this difference is the level of English language competency at commencement of the degree. A large number of the international students consulted did not believe their English was at an adequate level to pass the introductory professional development unit nor did they believe sufficient assistance with language difficulties was available throughout their studies in this unit. The locally run entry foundation program courses (utilised by many students in favour of internationally recognised tests such as the TOEFL and IELTS) were identified as very poor indicators of a student's English language and their ability to cope with the demands of the professional development component of the engineering degree. In this sense, the institution is not meeting the student expectation that being granted admission ensures that their English ability is sufficient. The present paper discusses potential solutions to this problem from both the admissions and classroom perspectives.


Educating for life: Perceptions of the implementation of a social, emotional and physical health framework across an undergraduate teaching program

Joan Strikwerda-Brown
Faculty of Regional Professional Studies
SW Campus, Edith Cowan University
Email: j.strikwerda@ecu.edu.au
[Tuesday 3.00] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

In an ever changing, demanding and complex world, social, health and wellbeing issues together with the impact of technologies, highlight the need for a holistic approach to teaching and learning - educating the 'whole person'. A Social, Emotional and Physical Health (SEPH) Framework was designed to supplement the preservice curriculum in a Bachelor of Education Program at a regional university in Western Australia. Planned SEPH activities were implemented to varying degrees in all eight first year units of the Bachelor of Education degree in 2005. This paper analyses staff and student responses to a study of perceptions of the purpose, scope and benefits of the SEPH framework. The discussion focuses on the range of SEPH activities experienced by staff and students, a clarification of SEPH's purpose and scope, the perceived benefits and the development of a SEPH resource kit.


Reading the classroom, reading power: Thoughts about the impact of seating plans on class dynamics

Sophie Sunderland
Discipline of English and Cultural Studies
The University of Western Australia
Email: sundes01@student.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 12.00]

By deciding to become students, individuals choose to immerse themselves in situations and experiences that require a certain level of subjugation to authority, whether this is, in the most immediate sense, to the authority of the state, the institution, academic and administrative staff, and/or peers. That is, the student role is intrinsically related to issues concerning power. In this paper, I will suggest that students' engagement with discussion based tutorial sessions can be increasingly satisfactory for both teachers and students when power relations are considered in the seating arrangements of tutorials. I will examine the pedagogical literature that offers various seating plans for a range of desired effects, which include undermining hierarchical structures in classrooms and enhancing teacher student and/or peer group interaction. I will suggest that seating plans need to be considered and evaluated reflectively on a case by case basis that takes into account the identity positions and personalities of the individuals involved. Sometimes, this can mean the imposition of a more 'traditional' structure; depending on the dynamics of the tutorial. By referring to comments collated from students, I will discuss how thinking about power relations and the contexts of their production functions as an heuristic device with which to make decisions about seating arrangements. This works in the service of further addressing and reinforcing ethical codes of practice. Recognising and understanding power dynamics through reflexivity and communication enables teachers to ensure that students are aware of the importance of tutorial dynamics, as well as the parameters of the student and teacher roles. I argue that this constitutes ethical praxis.


Professional development for tutors: A strategic initiative to enhance student engagement

Eileen Thompson, Phil Hancock and Michael Sutherland
UWA Business School
The University of Western Australia
Email: eileen.thompson@uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.00]

Tutorials are an integral component of most undergraduate programs in the UWA Business School and occupy 1 - 2 hours of class teaching time per unit in a standard week of semester. There are hundreds of tutorials each week involving approximately 80 casual tutors. Many tutors lack any formal teacher training and have largely been recruited from either previous graduates who excelled in their studies and are now working in related professional roles, or are recruited from the current group of honours/ postgraduate students. This paper reports on the experience of an in-house tutor training initiative trialed in 2006. Tutors new to the role were invited to attend a two hour workshop in the first week of semester. The broad aim of the workshop was to provide a number of strategies and techniques for the tutors to draw upon to engage students in the learning process. The workshop was also designed to improve their classroom management skills and inform them of the elements of best practice in teaching. A follow up mid semester discussion forumfocused on common problems tutors faced and suggestions for addressing these issues. Feedback from tutors was very positive, particularly in regard to ideas on how to engage students and overcome problems. The paper will elaborate on these aspects and explain the changes proposed for 2007, including the development of online training resources and discipline specific workshops.


When is a foetus a baby? Evaluating the application of feminist history research to undergraduate science teaching and learning

Susannah Thompson
Discipline of History
The University of Western Australia
Email: sthomp@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 4.00] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

Although interdisciplinary studies have been steadily gaining popularity in recent years, crossing the humanities and science divide is still seen by many as a near impossible task. The entrenched perception of the apparent contradiction between rationality and relativism, coupled with differences in methodologies is often viewed as too incongruous for successful collaboration. In 2006, the author - a postgraduate feminist historian - was invited to guest lecture in an undergraduate human biology unit. Whilst the seminar sessions were less interdisciplinary and more a bridge building' exercise between disciplines, they provided both the students and the lecturer with an introduction to the ways in which discipline specific research can be shared and accessed in order to gain a more holistic body of knowledge. For the students involved, their understanding of human reproduction was enlarged by appreciating the historical and social contexts which have shaped contemporary notions of pregnancy and the foetus, as well as current attitudes towards perinatal death. For the presenter, the seminars provided a unique opportunity to test the practical relevance of recent doctoral research, as well as providing a sense of inclusion into the wider academic community.


Teaching and course experience assessment instrument: An alternative SURF questionnaire

Sabbia Tilli and James Trevelyan
School of Mechanical Engineering
The University of Western Australia
Email: abbia@mech.uwa.edu.au
[Wednesday 11.30]

The SURF questionnaire is designed to give a very broad view of student perceptions about studying a unit. While the questionnaire is useful as a snapshot of general student views, it does not inform teaching staff about issues students face while undertaking a unit, and so is of little help for staff attempting to change a unit to improve the educational experience for students and to improve the SURF score. For 18 months the School of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Western Australia has been using a qualitative research to extract from students detailed information about their educational experiences in a unit and provide staff with a new way to evaluate and improve their teaching techniques, unit organisation and course material selection.


The academic as caregiver: Academic and psychological engagement in higher education

Rose van Son
Curtin Business School
Curtin University of Technology
Email: rose.vanson@cbs.curtin.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.30]

The role of the academic is a complex one. The relationship educators build with students is often one dimensional and does not allow for social interaction when teaching: the academic, focussing more on co-ordination and teaching principles. However, some students, for contextual reasons, need more than academic teaching principles from educators; they also need social connection or mentoring through the transition period, sometimes extending from one to one consultation to ongoing consultation. Relationship building is important to students who expect a total package of engagement from the university as a whole or from educators in particular. Meeting psychological needs or expectations from the student perspectives is imperative for some students and essential in order for them to feel confident enough to excel in their studies. The pressure is on educators to find the balance between academic teaching and learning and psychological support within their own role as educators, co-ordinators and mediators, in order to give students the engagement they expect within a balanced framework of academic and psychological learning. Transitionary students are often in that in between space, not independent and yet not dependent on educators for direction and support; eager for engagement yet uncertain about asking for extra help. A paradoxical space exists between educators and their students that places the student in a psychological predicament, keen to be autonomous individuals yet not having total confidence for self direction. This uncertainty impacts on the student's sense of self and impacts on younger students as well as mature age students who must re-assess their value and position within the university and community culture. Educators, too, must re-assess their value and position as caregivers or mentors within the scope of psychological engagement and teaching to meet student needs.


Engaging students in a rewarding educational experience through rural clinical placements

Tania Wiley and Angela Durey
Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health
The University of Western Australia
Email: taniaw@cucrh.uwa.edu.au, AngelaD@cucrh.uwa.edu.au
[Tuesday 12.30] Refereed professional practice. Full text on website.

This paper examines how rural clinical placements engage students in a rich and varied learning experience on several levels. Such placements offer students opportunities to deepen their understanding of issues related to rural health in clinical, professional, social and community contexts. In 2005, students across health disciplines from five Western Australian universities participated in rural placements lasting from two weeks to several months. All students responded to a survey about their experiences. Findings showed that contextualised learning engaged students on many levels and deepened their understanding of rural communities and issues related to rural health. Ninety five percent of students experienced rural clinical placements as a positive learning experience.


Student optimism and appreciation of feedback

Mel Ziman
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University
Jan Meyer
School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia
Kayty Plastow
Carrick Institute Grant, The University of Western Australia
Georgina Fyfe
School of Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University of Technology
Sue Fyfe
School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology
Kathy Sanders
School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia
Julie Hill
School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia
Richard Brightwell
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University
Email: m.ziman@ecu.edu.au
[Wednesday 2.00] Refereed research. Full text on website.

Optimism and self confidence are important factors in learning outcome and key determinants in student success at a tertiary institution. One factor that contributes to reduced success of students with lower confidence levels is the impact of feedback on their learning, and in turn this affects its value for these students. In addition large classes are a challenge for students with low self confidence and online feedback may offer a less confrontational strategy. In this study we investigate student response to feedback, in particular students' perceptions of the value of online feedback, relative to their self confidence as indicated by self predictions of grades. The student cohort is a large and diverse group of undergraduate students studying first year human biology in three Western Australian universities.

Results show that self confidence, sex, age and previous experience of feedback influence the way in which students value and use the feedback they receive. Optimistic students with confidence in their learning see many ways in which feedback can be useful to their learning. These students also tend to use feedback more constructively to improve learning outcomes. Students with little confidence in their learning ability are negatively affected by some forms of feedback and see fewer benefits in the feedback they receive. These results suggest that students with lower self confidence would benefit from more opportunities, at an earlier stage of their studies, to learn to reflect on feedback and build skills to use feedback constructively. The authors of this paper propose strategies to implement this support in large first year classes, using online assessment.

Please cite as: TL Forum (2007). Student Engagement. Proceedings of the 16th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 30-31 January 2007. Perth: The University of Western Australia. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2007/abstracts.html


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