September 2012


Festival of Teaching 2012
SCU Small Grant report available
New teaching and learning research grants
Division of Teaching and Learning welcomes new staff for SAF Projects
Teaching Quality Processes Project
Report from HERDSA 2012
Research into teaching
School Focus: Southern Cross Business School

Festival of Teaching 2012

Festival of Teaching 2012

The 2012 Festival of Teaching has the theme Celebrating our communities. Our Communities are many and varied and can include: communities of students, collegial communities, disciplinary communities, communities with employers, or local communities. This year take the opportunity to celebrate the communities of which you are a member, and join us for some exciting and thought provoking presentations and workshops.

On the program so far are keynote presenters:

Professor Jan (Erik) Meyer Threshold concepts in the disciplines
Monday 22 October 11:00am - Noon AEDST

Dr David Robinson Empowering a community
Wednesday 24 October 11:30am - 12:30pm AEDST

Professor Beverley Oliver Improving graduate employability
Thursday 25 October 10am - 11am AEDST

All keynote presentations will be videolinked between Lismore P1.58, Gold Coast A2.04, and Coffs Harbour MLG.13.

The Festival will also include staff and student panel discussions Spotlight on employability and Spotlight on teamwork; staff presentations on case studies; grant funded projects; and research into teaching; and everyone's favourite Back to School forums.

Program details are available from the Festival website:

New teaching and learning research grants


Keri Moore, Sandra Grace, Paul Orrock, Raymond Blaich and Rosanne Coutts from the School of Health and Human Sciences have been awarded funding of $20,000 from the Australian Osteopathic Association for "Benchmarking assessment across the clinical years of the osteopathic curriculum at Australian and New Zealand undergraduate and master's level programs." The team will work with colleagues from Victoria University and Unitec (NZ) to undertake a desk top benchmarking process focused on assessment of clinical diagnosis and the related management plan.

Dianne Dredge from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management is part of a successful Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) project addressing academic integrity. The $130,000 project, entitled "Working from the Centre: supporting unit/course coordinators to implement academic integrity policies, resources and scholarship," is being led by Victoria University with additional project partners from RMIT, UQ, UniSA, and UCanberra. As the title suggests, the project focuses on the ways and means that course co-ordinators and unit assessors can be best assisted to ensure that academic integrity policies are properly and comprehensively adhered to. As well, the project seeks to equip course co-ordinators and unit assessors with the perspective and enthusiasm to actively participate in the scholarship of academic integrity.

SCU Small Grant report available

The project report for Dr Tania von der Heidt and Dr Geoffrey Lamberton (Southern Cross Business School) and Dr Erica Wilson (School of Tourism and Hospitality Management) is now available. This project, funded by a SCU teaching and learning small grant, explored the extent to which sustainability was embedded in the Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Business (Tourism Management) first year curriculum. The researchers undertook an audit and evaluation of the units through a content analysis of leaning materials and interviews with staff. Their report presents five recommendations to support their finding that curriculum design lags staff aspirations in sustainability education.

The project report is available at:

Division of Teaching and Learning welcomes new staff

Div T&L new Staff for SAF ProjectsFrom L to R: Dr Lisa Milne, Dr Lachlan Forsyth, Mr Jonathan Purdy, PVC(A) Professor Andrew McAuley, Ms Christine Jones, Dr Deborah Breen

As part of the University's successful Structural Adjustment Fund (SAF) bid, the Division of Teaching and Learning welcomes five new staff.

Dr Deborah Breen has been appointed as Senior Lecturer (Teaching and Curriculum) for a period of three years. She has recently returned from over a decade of working in higher education in the United States. Deborah is based at the Gold Coast campus and will be working on teaching and learning issues associated with SCU College's Associate degree programs, and as a teaching and learning adviser to the School of Law.

Four people - Jonathan Purdy, Christine Jones, Dr Lachlan Forsyth and Dr Lisa Milne - have been appointed as Unit and Teaching Development Officers for a period of 18 months.

Jonathan Purdy (Gold Coast) has lectured in Education and Arts faculties, with particular interest in new-media and the use of educational technologies. He most recently worked in the Teaching Teachers for the Future project, in an ICT pedagogy role.

Christine Jones (Lismore) has worked in learning design in higher education, TAFE, primary education and the private sector for the last 15 years. She is particularly experienced with the use of multi-media and games for education.

Dr Lachlan Forsyth (Lismore) has come to SCU from the Federal Department of Human Services where he provided pedagogical and technological support to staff in a range of areas including the integration of new technologies into teaching and learning.

Dr Lisa Milne (Coffs Harbour) is relocating from Melbourne where she undertook a variety of roles in teaching and learning with Victoria University. She will be commencing her role in early October.

Teaching Quality Processes Project

Amanda ScottAmanda Scott, Project Manager/Business Analyst

The Teaching Quality Processes Project will be reviewing student evaluation of units and teaching and associated reporting. This project will be led by the Division of Teaching and Learning and conducted in conjunction with the Office of Planning, Quality and Review and Technology Services under the sponsorship of the PVC(A), Professor Andrew McAuley. Funding comes from the successful SAF bid and provides the project with an experienced Project Manager/Business Analyst, Amanda Scott. Cathryn McCormack will also be working on the project as Academic Project Coordinator.

In recognition of the importance of student feedback to a wide range of stakeholders, the project will include extensive consultation with students and staff from a range of appointment types, disciplines and teaching modes. Feedback from the consultation process will inform questionnaire design, interfaces, processes, reports and policy. Consultation will include forums, focus groups and a written submission process. Details of the consultation process are yet to be finalized and announcement will be made in due course to ensure everyone has the opportunity to comment.

Any questions about the project can be directed to the Project Manager/Business Analyst, Amanda Scott.

Report from HERDSA 2012

Two SCU staff members, Dr Annie Mitchell from the School of Arts and Social Sciences and Cathryn McCormack from the Division of Teaching and Learning, braved the cold to attend HERDSA 2012 in Hobart. Both found the presentations interesting, but more importantly valued the opportunity to network with disciplinary colleagues to discuss teaching and learning. A highlight for both was the reception at Government House where, following a performance by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, they could continue collegial discussions in beautiful surroundings.

Annie attended HERDSA 2011 and found the opportunities to engage with teaching and learning at an international forum so valuable she decided to attend again in 2012. Cathryn attended HERDSA for the first time in 2012 and reported two highlights. The first was the workshop led by Dr Iris Vardi, Curtin University on feedback, saying "Iris led us down paths where we thought deeply about feedback, and kept us engaged with anecdotes from her own experiences both as a student and teacher. I rushed out afterwards to buy her new HERDSA Guide on feedback." The second highlight was when Cathryn's poster won the HERDSA Prize for People's Choice of Poster.

HERDSA 2013 will be held in Auckland with the theme "The place of learning and teaching".

HERDSA Guides are available from:

Research into teaching

Games/Blocks 250x250

Mathematics is a topic which makes many students anxious, creating challenges for those teaching the subject. In the discipline of education, where students not only have to learn mathematics but become adept at teaching it themselves, the challenge is even greater. Alan Foster, Jubilee Smith and Wendy Boyd from the School of Education have undertaken action research in this area, investigating student anxiety and implementing teaching approaches to address it. They have now been joined by Lachlan Yee from the School of Environment and Engineering to broaden the work into first year chemistry.

The education team investigated the characteristics of pre-service primary and early childhood teachers that made them more likely to experience anxiety about mathematics and from that identified the most appropriate methods for ameliorating their concerns. Students were surveyed about their past experiences of mathematics and their attitude to the future teaching of mathematics. Comments and ratings helped the team understand the level of concern and associated attitudes and beliefs of students and allowed them to implement a variety of strategies to address these during the teaching session. A follow up survey at the end of the session showed a reduced level of anxiety.

This year Lachlan Yee is broadening the work and applying the tools and approaches in his first year chemistry unit. Lachlan said "Students cannot be successful in chemistry or any other science without mathematics skills, but many of my students are not confident and anxious about mathematical practices. The addressing anxiety approach looks like something that could work just as well in chemistry as it did in education."

Results of the team's work will be published later this year.

School Focus: Southern Cross Business School

Dr Peter VitartasDr Peter Vitartas, Director of Teaching and Learning for SCBS

This issue Dr Peter Vitartas, Director of Teaching and Learning, gives us the inside news on teaching and learning in SCBS.

Change is happening in the School. Peter said, "we are moving away from the old focus on content to a new focus on learning experiences. This means we need to be dynamic, adopting more engaging ways of teaching, and using new technologies where appropriate. We are being driven by the need to improve the quality of delivery, and to assure the learning that takes place. While this is partly in response to external accreditation requirements, it also has significant benefits for our students, academic staff as teachers, and the reputation of the School in the wider community."

Peter brings his personal experience and his research interest in teaching with technology to this challenge. SCBS was one of the first to widely adopt Blackboard Collaborate (then Elluminate Live!) to address the student need for interactive experiences whatever their mode of study or campus. With assistance from the Division of Teaching and Learning, Peter has led a series of online new unit development workshops for staff. Peter describes these workshops as designed to reflect staff understanding about teaching technologies and to mentor people to develop engaged learning experiences for their students. As Peter said, "improvement has been ongoing for sometime, but recent program reviews have resulted in some specific goals, notably the need to develop new capstone units." He added, "by applying principles of constructive alignment so the learning outcomes are clearly defined, and assessment and learning activities focus on measuring and teaching to these learning outcomes, we can be sure our graduates have had an integrated and well designed learning experience."

As with any change, it is important to have staff on board. Peter said "it is essential to get the right balance between staff pursuing research and creating effective learning experiences. As well, we need to ensure all our casual staff are appropriately supported in their work. I believe all these can be achieved so students can benefit, but it does require ongoing discussion with all staff."

Updated: 16 December 2014