Tag Archives: peer feedback

Linking to the recent Sessional Staff Symposium

Connecting Sessional Staff LogoPosted by: Kellyann Geurts, Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching, Design and Social Context College, RMIT University.

The College of Design and Social Context facilitated a Professional Development Symposium for sessional academic and teaching staff on Friday 6 September.

If you missed my last post, the 2013 Connecting Sessional Staff Project aims to:

  • Address individual learning and teaching needs
  • Share, present, discuss and reflect on teaching and learning experiences
  • Support collaboration, peer partnerships and mentoring
  • Connect with other sessional staff and learning networks across the University
  • Link to the online Sessional Modules from the Professional Development for Tertiary Teaching Practice (PDTTP). The Modules are accessible through Blackboard and information is online at: http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/pdttp/sessionals

The symposium workshops were practical and hands-on. They aimed to connect staff with their peers, their curriculum and with their students.

For those who missed the symposium or attended and missed a workshop, here is a brief overview with  the learning outcomes for each.  If you find something  of interest, you can follow the links or even contact the facilitator for more information:

Opening Session

Workshop 1: Technology… you’ve gotta have a Plan B!

Spiros Soulis, Senior Advisor Learning and Teaching, Learning and Teaching Unit

•Design back-up activities to include in lesson plans for when the technology fails
•Know who to call and what to say when you have technical issues in the class
•Identify resources to have on hand to continue to engage your students.

See also:
the teaching tomtom: http://theteachingtomtom.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/technology-you-gotta-love-it-when-it-works/
Teaching with Technology: http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/technology

Workshop 2: Assessment

John Benwell, Principle Learning & Teaching Advisor (Architecture and Design)

•Discuss and know how to use assessment as learning activity and a progress monitor
•Create an assignment in blackboard (with e-submission)
•Discuss and understand academic integrity using Turnitin.

See also:
RMIT University Student Assessment http://www.rmit.edu.au/students/assessment
Center for the Study of Higher Education, Melbourne University http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/resources_teach/assessment/
Turnitin http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/technology/turnitin

Workshop 3: Engaging your students using Inclusive Teaching practices

Andrea Wallace, Educational Developer, DSC

•Identify and discuss challenges in managing a diverse student cohort in your class
•Translate the principles of Inclusive Teaching into your practice
•Design activities that incorporate alternative teaching strategies.

See also:
Inclusive Teaching http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/inclusive

Workshop 4: Teaching in Next Generation Learning Spaces

Thembi Mason, Educational Developer and Jon Hurford, Senior Advisor Learning & Teaching (Art)

•Identify the characteristics of a Next Generation Learning space
•Locate relevant resources and discuss approaches to teaching and the use of technology in these spaces

See also:
Next Generation Learning Spaces http://www.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=xnbgfx4a17h3
Teaching with Technology http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/technology

Workshop 5: Connecting courses to content

Bernadene Sward, Liaison Librarians and Anne Lennox, University Library

•Make the most of library licensed learning and teaching resources, open access and creative commons content.

See also:
Library Learning Repository http://www.rmit.edu.au/library/learningrepository
School Liaison Librarians http://www.rmit.edu.au/library/librarianshttp://www.rmit.edu.au/library/librarians

Workshop 6: Teaching students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds

Barbara Morgan, Study Learning Center

•Discuss the challenges facing students from diverse learning backgrounds
•Identify and integrate teaching strategies that address linguistic and cultural differences in the classroom.

See also:
Study and Learning Centre http://www.rmit.edu.au/studyandlearningcentreFinal Session

Workshop 7: RMIT Peer Partnerships: supported professional development for continuous improvement in teaching

Angela Clarke and Dallas Wingrove, Senior Research Fellows

•Find a focus for the observation of your teaching
•Provide sensitive and constructive feedback for a colleague
•Establish and build networks of professional relationships with DSC sessional teaching staff.

See also:
Peer Partnerships http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/peerpartnerships

Workshop 8: Flexible delivery, Blackboard Collaborate & Google Sites

Erika Beljaars-Harris, Howard Errey and Andrea Wallace, Educational Developers, DSC

•Use iPads and other mobile devices for teaching and learning
•Use and manage Blackboard Collaborate
•Setup and manage Google Sites.

See also:
Teaching with Technology http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/technology
DevelopME http://www.rmit.edu.au/staff/professionaldevelopment/training

School workshops: Talking about Learning and Teaching

School Senior Advisors of Learning and Teaching with School Liaison Librarians and School representatives

•Identify issues surrounding learning and teaching practice in your School
•Locate key learning and teaching resources at RMIT
•Discuss ways in which you can contribute and feel included in a collegial and supportive environment.

Final Workshop: CES and feedback

Ruth Moeller, Lecturer in Education and Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching, College of Design and Social Context

The final workshop for the day focused on what academic and teaching staff will be encountering now students have returned for remainder of the year.

See also:
FAQs about CES http://www.rmit.edu.au/ssc/ces/faq

As you can see from the range of what was covered (and with an hour limit for each workshop) the conversations have only just begun.

We have time to prepare well for our end of year symposium, continue constructive conversations in the Schools and time to develop a firm plan for ongoing learning and teaching support for sessional staff beyond this semester.

A few more useful links for Sessional Staff at RMIT University 

Quick guide for sessional staff http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/sessional

Professional Development Calender http://www.rmit.edu.au/staff/professionaldevelopment/calendar

Learning and Teaching Unit http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching

Senior Advisors, Learning and Teaching http://www.rmit.edu.au/dsc/learningteaching

If you have any questions please share them in the comments section or contact me (Kellyann Geurts) or your School’s Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching.

Don’t forget you can subscribe to have the tomtom delivered to your email as soon as it’s published and you can follow us on facebook: www.facebook.com/TeachingTomTom.

RMIT Learning & Teaching Expo 2013

Guest post: Penny Mercer, Project Advisor, Learning and Teaching Unit, RMIT University.

Click to open the RMIT Learning & Teaching Expo 2013 page.

The Learning and Teaching Expo is an opportunity to showcase the excellent work of our dedicated teaching staff. It is a time for all of us to reflect on how we might enhance the student experience, reimagine our teaching and network with colleagues.

This year’s Expo takes the theme of “Inspiring teaching, inspiring learning.” Come along and hear what your colleagues have done to improve student learning outcomes, bring along your own experiences, or questions for discussion time. The Expo eLearning journey will allow all staff to identify a point of interest from which further learning opportunities can be explored.

Come along and hear from our invited keynote speakers about what is happening in the tertiary education sector, hear what your colleagues have done to improve student learning outcomes and bring along your own experiences or questions for discussion time.

Day 1: Tuesday 3 September – 12pm to 4.30pm, with lunch from 1pm to 2pm
Day 2: Wednesday 4 September – 9am to 1pm, with lunch from 1pm to 2pm
Venue: Design Hub, City campus.

Click here (or on the image above) to see the 2013 program and register now to attend (RMIT login required).

We look forward to seeing you there!

2013 RMIT Teaching Awards Reminder!

Posted by: Jon Hurford, Senior Advisor, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University.

photo (1)We break radio silence on the tomtom just to mention that across the DSC, Deans and Chairs L&T are accepting and sorting through nominations for the 2013 RMIT Teaching Awards, so if you were thinking about applying for an award there’s still time to submit the mini-application to your L&T team.

Likewise, in the College of Business their own nomination process is in its final days and the College of Science, Engineering and Health has a cutoff for submissions of 15 July.

And if you’re working on an application, make sure you check out the following links!

Meredith Seaman’s: Teaching Awards – worth the paperwork?
&
Kym Fraser’s: Applying for a teaching award next year? Start collecting your evidence this semester.

These two posts form an excellent knowledge base for RMIT staff who are thinking about applying for an award.

Regards,

Jon

Developing Your Teaching

Posted by: Kellyann Geurts, Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching, Design and Social Context College, RMIT University.

logo for Developing Your Teaching DSC opportunitiesThis year, there are three projects that we at the DSC have united under the banner of ‘Developing Your Teaching’. The projects focus on developing teaching practice and providing staff with many opportunities to engage in hands-on, practical professional learning. Schools will also be able to customise sessions to suit their teaching needs. The projects address university strategic directions, namely teaching in new learning spaces, inclusive teaching and particularly support the professional learning of sessional staff in the DSC.

Sessional staff are key players in a productive and engaging learning and teaching environment but many are positioned in uncertainty. This uncertainty is pressured with increased demands on compliance, increased student numbers, changes in accommodation and new educational technologies, shifts in course offerings to accommodate student diversity, student expectations and industry needs. In this demanding environment, accommodating the needs of sessional staff in the teaching and learning space is critical. Connecting with a community of learners to advance practice is a priority to improve both staff and student satisfaction.

1. Connecting Sessional Staff

The Connecting Sessional Staff project will provide paid professional development for sessional academic and teaching staff and is to begin in Semester 2. With staff and School guidance, a symposium and School workshops will be designed to:

  • address individual learning and teaching needs
  • share, present, discuss and reflect on teaching and learning experiences
  • support collaboration, peer partnerships and mentoring
  • connect with learning networks across the University
  • link to the online modules from the Professional Development for Tertiary Teaching Practice (PDTTP) program designed for sessional staff.

2. New Learning Spaces

School-based peer learning networks will be offered in all DSC Schools for all staff teaching in New Learning Spaces in Semester 2 2013. Staff teaching in these spaces will be invited to join a School network that will run regular meetings, facilitated by the Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching. These meetings will include support for staff to trial new ideas and invite expert speakers to talk about their teaching practice. Additionally, staff will have the opportunity to undertake one of four approaches to enhance their professional learning. These include:

  • self-directed study supported by extensive web resourcesProjects3CirclesTEXTSM
  • peer partnership program
  • peer review of teaching
  • a module from the Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education.

3. Inclusive Teaching and Assessment Practices

This project addresses the needs of a diverse student population through an ‘inclusive approach’ to curriculum design, teaching delivery and assessment. The project team will work collaboratively with academic and teaching staff to:

  • design and trial existing and new inclusive teaching approaches, learning activities and assessment tasks
  • produce hands-on teaching resources and assessment materials which support inclusive teaching practice
  • provide and assist with professional development resources and delivery in inclusive teaching.
  • promote the principles for inclusive teaching practice across the university.

The six principles developed are: Design Intentional Curriculum; Offer Flexible Assessment and Delivery; Build a Community of Learners; Teach Explicitly; Develop a ‘Feedback Rich’ Environment; and Practice Reflectively.

What next?

All three projects are in their planning phases and now is a good opportunity to ‘feed forward’ about what areas of learning and teaching most need developing, enhancing or advancing.

1. Connecting Sessional Staff: A Google survey form will be posted from your School’s L&T committees in the next fortnight to gather your ideas. Results from this survey will launch us into arranging schedules, themes and facilitators. We will keep you posted.

2. New Learning Spaces: L&T Committees will soon be advised and Program Managers and staff timetabled into these spaces will receive email notifications early in Semester 2.

3. Inclusive Teaching and Assessment Practices: This project and its website will launch on 7 June. Andrea Wallace will be providing an update in a future post on the tomtom.

If you have any questions please share them in the comments section or contact me (Kellyann Geurts) or your School’s Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching.

***

L&T events coming up in the City and in Bundoora:

If you want to learn more about how to ditch your PowerPoints and teach like a pirate, James Arvanitakis (recipient of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Australian University Teacher of the year) will be sharing his stories and model practices in a series of workshops (11 and 12 June) to coincide with the lunchtime launch of the Inclusive Teaching and Assessment Practices project.

Tuesday 11 June 10.00-11.30, City Campus 080.02.003
Wednesday 12 June 10.00-11.30 and 1:30-3:00, Bundoora Campus – 205.3.10

Register now with DevelopMe.

2013 RMIT Teaching Awards

Posted by: Jon Hurford, Senior Advisor, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University.

2012 RMIT Teaching Award Winners

Professor Margaret Gardner, AO, Vice-Chancellor and President and the recipients of the RMIT Teaching and Research Awards in 2012. Click here to see a list of past winners.

It’s already March which means there’s a little over two months before nominations open for the 2013 RMIT Teaching Awards. Here at the tomtom we’ve written about the awards in the 2012 posts below:

Meredith Seaman’s: Teaching Awards – worth the paperwork?
and
Kym Fraser’s Applying for a teaching award next year? Start collecting your evidence this semester.

These two posts form an excellent knowledge base for RMIT staff who are thinking about applying for an award.

What comes out clearly in each of the above (and in my conversations with past applicants) is the value most participants felt in the process of reflecting on their practice and the importance of having a narrative to your teaching that is backed up by evidence. To bring it back to what you might be doing this month in your classes, examples of assessments that you have run with actual student outcomes displayed (de-identified and used with their permission) can make powerful examples in the evidence you supply with your application. The use of visuals and materials supplied on DVD is an option applicants are increasingly taking advantage of to display the achievements of teachers and learners.

Importantly, the awards are also open to professional and support staff. We all know those who may not teach but are crucial to the success of our students and Category P7 is especially relevant to those members of staff.

As the DSC’s coordinator for the awards, (click here for the Business and SEH coordinators) I wanted to grab some of the mental real estate that might be available at this time of year to advise staff of some of the key dates, categories and a couple of changes to the process for 2013 through a short series of FAQs:

How do I nominate?

You can nominate a colleague by contacting your college’s coordinator. You can also discuss your own application. In the DSC, these nominations will be forwarded to the Schools’ L&T Directors/Chairs. These nominations open20 May.

I’ve heard there will be peer review of teaching for Teaching Awards?

Yes, but for 2013 this will be a voluntary process. There are workshops being run for interested staff on 18 March and 10 May. As the Learning and Teaching page on the pilot states: “For 2013, review of teaching is being piloted and will be available on a voluntary basis to teachers who plan to apply for an RMIT Teaching Award. On request, two trained reviewers will review the intending applicant’s teaching and provide reports. These reports can then be used as evidence to support a teaching award application.” So you can think of peer review as another piece of evidence, just like your CES data and professional references. For more information, click here.

What are the categories for the awards?

Click on the following links to find out more about a particular category:

  • Category A – Teaching Excellence, Higher Education
    • A1 College of Science, Engineering and Health
    • A2 College of Design and Social Context
    • A3 College of Business
    • A4 Early career academic (Higher Education)
    • A5 Priority area – Teaching a diverse student body
  • Category B – Teaching Excellence, TAFE
    • Category B1 TAFE Outstanding Teacher / Trainer of the Year Award
    • Category B2 Early Career Teacher / Trainer of the Year Award
    • Category B3 Outstanding Training Initiative of the Year Award
  • Category C – Sessional Staff
    • C1 Outstanding Sessional Teaching Award (Higher Education)
    • C2 Outstanding Sessional Teaching Award (TAFE)
  • Category P – Awards for Programs that Enhance Student Learning
    • P1 Widening Participation
    • P2 Educational Partnerships and Collaborations with Other Organisations
    • P3 The First Year Experience
    • P4 Flexible Learning and Teaching
    • P5 Innovation in Curricula, Learning and Teaching
    • P6 Postgraduate Education
    • P7 Services Supporting Student Learning
    • P8 Indigenous Education

What about team applications?

As long as all members are eligible, team applications are encouraged in categories A, B, C and P. Last year in the DSC, teams from the Schools of Art, Education and GUSS won awards.

Will I have to make a full application to the College?

No, in the DSC you will only have to address one criteria in your initial application. If you are selected as the College’s nominee you will be supported in writing the full application. There are also workshops scheduled for June to assist you in writing your application.

Okay, I’m interested or I know someone who would make a good nominee. What should I do next?

I’d love to hear from you. Getting an early start on the process can make it a lot more enjoyable. We can discuss what category might be appropriate for your nomination and I can put you in touch with past winners of the awards. Contact me to discuss the best use of your time in the upcoming months!

Do you have thoughts on the process of applying for a teaching award? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

Peer and self-assessment

Students in discussion at RMIT.

Copyright © RMIT University. Photographer: Margund Sallowsky.

Posted by: Dr Alex Radloff, Higher Education Consultant.

Peer and self-assessment use has been growing in Higher Education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as has the use of technology to support these forms of assessment. Peer-assessment refers to the process of assessing the quality of the products or outcomes of the learning of peers. Self-assessment refers to the process of assessing the quality of the products or outcomes of learning, or the act of learning, by the learner. Both kinds of assessment can be used as part of formative and summative assessment, either as ‘stand alone’, or in conjunction with teacher generated assessment. Academic staff who have used peer and self assessment report that:

  • The skills are a requirement of many professions/jobs and are valued by potential employers.
  • Using peer and/or self assessment skills demystifies the assessment process and makes it more accessible to learners.
  • Students are provided with more frequent and detailed/richer feedback from more sources.
  • Students develop analytical and critical skills needed to identify and use criteria and standards relevant to work in their discipline/profession. Learners engage more deeply /thoughtfully in learning and assessment tasks.
  • The skills help students to increase their metacognitive awareness and control of learning including planning, monitoring and evaluating learning.

Academic staff who have used peer and self assessment also report:

  • Resistance by students. Resistance is generally based on a lack of trust in the validity (does the assessment assess the stated or intended outcome?) and fairness of peer or self-assessment; a view that assessment is the responsibility of teachers and should only be undertaken by teachers, not learners; concerns about the capacity of learners to assess accurately; and concerns about possible accreditation requirements.
  • Quality issues related to the reliability of the assessment (how consistent assessment outcomes are over time) when based on the judgments of learners and their ability to interpret and apply criteria and standards appropriately.
  • Over-reliance on peer and/or self-assessment, especially for summative assessment purposes, to the exclusion of other forms of assessment can be an issue.
  • Learners need training/support to understand and use peer and self-assessment effectively.
  • The implementation of peer and/or self-assessment especially for large groups of learners, may require access to and the management of, specific technology and software.

Careful design of peer and self-assessment can address the problems and issues identified above. The steps in designing peer and self-assessment follow the typical assessment cycle, namely Purpose of assessment; Selection of assessment tasks; Setting criteria; Administering assessment; Scoring the assessment; Grading the assessment; and Feedback. To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of peer and self-assessment:

  • Make clear the rationale, purpose and expectations of the planned approach with students and colleagues. Address common concerns concerning validity, reliability, fairness and trust.
  • Involve students in developing the assessment criteria. Consider involving students in the design of the assessment activities as well, if appropriate.
  • Make clear how peer and/or self-assessment will be used in conjunction with teacher-assessment, if it is to contribute to a final grade.
  • Provide systematic training and practice for students in using the assessment criteria and standards with examples of products representing different levels of performance.
  • Give students clear, written instructions and guidelines on the assessment process including timelines, deadlines, and any consequences (rewards and/or penalties) associated with the process.
  • If using technology for assessment, ensure that it works and that students know how to access and use it and what to do if they need help.
  • Check how the assessment process is working and intervene if needed to provide feedback and coaching.
  • Keep records of assessment outcomes and monitor how peer and self-assessment compares to teacher assessment over time.
  • Review the outcomes in terms of learning, performance and satisfaction from both the students’ and the teacher’s perspectives, and revise design and implementation if needed.
  • Collaborate with colleagues to discuss different strategies and to share experiences.

Want to know more?

Past posts on peer assessment and peer learning can be accessed by clicking here or on the tags to the right. The following is a short survey of the academic literature relevant to the topic:

Bell, A., Mladenovic, R., & Price, M. (2012). Students’ perceptions of the usefulness of marking guides, grade descriptors and annotated exemplars. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, DOI:10.1080/02602938.2012.714738

Examines students’ views of the usefulness of exemplars, grade descriptors and marking criteria for reflection and learning, or for understanding the assessment task.

O’Donovan, B., Price, M., & Rust, C. (2008). Developing student understanding of assessment standards: A nested hierarchy of approaches. Teaching in Higher Education, 13, 205–217.

Discusses the importance of involving students in the assessment process and describes different ways to help students understand assessment requirements.

Higher Education Academy. Self and peer assessment. Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Development.http://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/cpd/pgcpd/assessment_and_giving_feedback/self_and_peer_assessment/assessment_issues.html

What are your views on peer assessment and peer learning? Share them in the comments section below!

Writing critical thinking learning outcomes

Posted by: Associate Professor Kym Fraser, L&T Group, Design and Social Context College, RMIT.

A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinker, Rodin (cc) Wikimedia Commons. Photographer: Andrew Horne

Building on Helen McLean’s post Bloom ‘n’ Biggs and John Benwell’s post Course guides: Bloomin’ verbs, this post provides ideas for writing critical thinking learning outcomes. Critical thinking is one of the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) cognitive skills requirements that all programs will need to demonstrate from 2015.

Critical thinking is a complex process that requires the use of the higher level cognitive skills in Bloom’s taxonomy: analysis; synthesis; and evaluation (Bloom et al, 1956). We may expect students to demonstrate that they are thinking critically in many different ways, including: raising vital questions and formulating them clearly; gathering and assessing relevant information; using abstract ideas; and thinking open-mindedly. We also may expect our students to consider the context, justify their answers and analyse their own thinking in terms of clarity, accuracy, relevance, logic and fairness. Some theorists suggest that critical thinking is social in nature and therefore requires reflection followed by communication (Choy and Cheah, 2008: 199).

We can make our critical thinking skills development explicit for AQF requirements through the writing of our course guide learning outcomes. Through these we alert students to the focus of the course in terms of both the discipline content and the skills. We also help staff teaching courses in later semesters to see the outcomes students have achieved in our course and how they might build upon those achievements. Outcomes let students know some of the specific ways in which you expect them to develop and demonstrate their critical thinking skills in your course (how to think like a journalist/teacher/engineer). They also help students to better understand the language of the discipline and ways of thinking, which can often be quite discipline specific.

Writing critical thinking learning outcomes that are useful to students can be challenging. Table 1 provides a list of verbs that can be used in the formulation of outcomes. They should also aid you in aligning the learning experiences and assessment tasks that lead to those outcomes.

Table 1.  Useful terminology for writing critical thinking learning outcomes*

Analysis Synthesis Evaluation
Analyse Argue Assess
Apply Categorise Appraise
Break down Combine Challenge
Compare and contrast Compile Compare and contrast
Deconstruct Create Conclude
Determine Devise/develop Criticise/critique
Discuss Design Defend
Describe Explain Discriminate
Differentiate Generate Evaluate/judge
Discriminate Modify Explain
Distinguish Organize Interpret
Identify Plan Justify
Illustrate Prioritise Recognise
Infer Rearrange, reconstruct Relate
Manage Reorganise Review
Outline Relate Select
Relate Revise Summarise
Review Rewrite Support
Select Summarise
Separate

* Adapted from Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, 1956. (At our institution ‘outcomes’ rather then ‘objectives’ are used in course guides.)

Figure 1 below provides examples of critical thinking learning outcomes. As you will see, some of these incorporate all three of Bloom’s higher order cognitive skills (analysis, synthesis and evaluation) while others reflect just the one skill.  I hope that you find these useful when thinking about your course planning.

Figure 1. Critical thinking learning outcome examples

  1. select, analyse, interpret and evaluate a range of source materials.
  2. describe patterns or relationships in large amounts of written and/or visual information.
  3. evaluate available written and/or visual information, evidence and argument for reliability and authority/usefulness (e.g.; observation, testimony, measurement, experiment).
  4. look for, recognise, articulate and challenge assumptions and presuppositions, gaps/silences, suppressed/overlooked evidence in their own, peer and professional opinions.
  5. identify and manage the risks associated with making and implementing decisions.
  6. make a reasoned argument
  7. analyse and assess the strength of an argument and the implications for a course of action that follows from it.
  8. access or generate alternatives and select the most appropriate.
  9. develop a well-supported, clearly articulated argument to support a view and use it to justify one or more conclusions.
  10. prioritise tasks according to their own or other considerations.
  11. apply systematic research processes.
  12. develop industry/professional standards that may affect their decision making.
  13. develop a clearly articulated argument to support a view and use it to justify one or more conclusions.
  14. select and discuss written and/or visual information to produce a comprehensive picture for different ways of viewing a problem.
  15. determine the component parts of a problem/issue, their relationships to each other and to the issue/problem as a whole.
  16. identify and explain/rectify logical and/or other errors in an argument.
  17. assess the strength of an argument and the implications for a course of action that follows from it.
  18. develop a rationale for performing a character in a particular way.
  19. compare and contrast (eg documents, accounts, arguments, different styles of presenting a performance, the rights of individuals in different regional contexts).
  20. judge the validity of a group’s right to self determination.
  21. analyse a conflict and draw relationships with historical examples.
  22. generate critical questions about historical examples.
  23. reflect on the strength and weaknesses of yourself and your team members and suggest ways in which you and others could improve the work of the team in the future.

Resources

Griffith University Critical Evaluation Toolkit (accessed November 9, 2012 at http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/290659/Critical-evaluation-skills.pdf)

This toolkit was developed by Griffith University and is intended for use by academics. The toolkit identifies principles of critical thinking and analysis, elaborates on employer and graduate needs with respect to critical thinking and includes information on designing learning activities and assessing critical thinking.

Oliver, B. Assuring Graduate Attributes. (accessed November 9, 2012at http://boliver.ning.com/)

This is a site to which individuals can subscribe. Once subscribed, go to the ‘Set Standards’ section and in the right hand column you will see examples of standards in different disciplines. Some of those examples include detailed standards for critical thinking.

Bibliography

Bloom, S., Engelhart, M. Furst, E., Hill, W. and Krathwohl, D. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. David McKay Company, Inc: New York.

Choy, S.  and Cheah, P. (2008). Teacher Perceptions of Critical Thinking Among Students and its Influence on Higher Education. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 20 (2), 198 – 206.

Facione, P. A. (2009) Critical thinking: what it is and why it counts. Online at http://www.insightassessment.com/pdf_files/what&why2006.pdf (accessed August 18, 2009).

Fagin, B., Harper, J. Baird, L., Hadfield, S. & Sward, R., (2006). Critical thinking and computer science: implicit and explicit connections. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 21(4), 171-177.

Jones, A. (1997), Multiplicities or manna from heaven? Critical thinking and the disciplinary context. Australian Journal of Education, 51(1), 84-103

Jones, A. (2004). Teaching critical thinking: an investigation of a task in introductory macroeconomics. Higher Education Research & Development. 23 (2): 167 – 182.

Moore, T. (2004). The critical thinking debate: how general are general thinking skills? Higher Education Research & Development,23(1), 3-18.

Sharma, P. & Hannafin, M. (2004). Scaffolding critical thinking in an online course: An exploratory study, Journal of Educational Computing Research, 31(2), 181-208.

Tapper, J. (2004). Student perceptions of how critical thinking is embedded in a degree program.  Higher Education Research & Development. 23 (2): 199 – 222.

Thomas, T., Davis, T. & Kazlauskas, A. (2007) Embedding critical thinking in IS curricula. Journal of Information Technology Education, 6(1), 327-346

Share your thoughts about critical thinking learning outcomes (or critical thinking skills in general) in the comments! 

A scientific take on teaching improvement

Guest Post by Dr Kylie Murphy, Academic Development Group, College of Science Engineering and Health.

A group of students dissect a fish.

©2012 RMIT. All rights reserved.

As the College of Science, Engineering and Health’s new Inclusive Teaching and Assessment specialist, it’s perhaps fitting that I lean towards science-based teaching and learning advice; that is, advice based on experimentally derived empirical evidence. This post is not a lesson in scientific method and I am not arguing that scientifically validated knowledge is the only valuable type of knowledge. I would however like to highlight a few practices that the best available empirical research in education has shown, repeatedly and consistently, improves student achievement — including in mathematics and the sciences. Drawing heavily on Professor John Hattie’s (2009) meta-analytic work, I’m offering only the bare bones here. If your interest is piqued, you’ll need to pursue the fleshy details for yourself!

Not wanting to get bogged down in statistical jargon, it’s worth noting that to be deemed a large ‘effect size’, the improvement in student achievement needs to be greater than the effect of ‘typical teacher’ practice. Large effect sizes usually indicate that, compared to the norm, a greater proportion of students progressed and they progressed considerably.  Now, the bony synopsis…

Classroom climate

In the category of classroom environment, the largest positive ‘effect’ on student achievement comes from environments that are welcoming of students and their errors. This is presumably because emotionally safe climates promote effort and risk-taking.

Curriculum design

On the matter of curriculum design, the findings are very consistent and transcend subject boundaries. The most important attribute is ‘balance’ between learning objectives that focus on increasing ‘surface knowledge’ (e.g., memorisable definitions and facts) and those concerned with ‘deep understanding’ (e.g., where the focus is on finding relationships between concepts, inferring hypotheses, identifying patterns and themes, generating arguments, and exploring useful applications). Not surprisingly, focusing too much on one and too little on the other has a minimal effect on student learning.

Students in an RMIT lab

©2012 RMIT. All rights reserved.

Specific teacher practices

There are many practices known to increase student achievement. These include having high expectations (i.e., not prejudging students), building and maintaining positive teacher-student relationships, undertaking regular professional development, paying genuine attention to learning objectives, formulating clear success criteria, setting challenging tasks, providing clear explanations and examples, providing opportunities for guided practice followed by constructive feedback, and continually seeking feedback from students as to the effectiveness of one’s teaching.

The biggest contributing factor is…

The biggest contributors to greater achievement appear to be not what the teacher does but what they get their students to do. For example, in more effective mathematics classes students are encouraged to be active in exploring potential solutions for most of the time (with as much or as little teacher assistance as is necessary), to go beyond the successful solution to the problem to include the interpretation of the solution, and to be diligent in frequently checking the quality of their work.

Students measuring water quality

©2012 RMIT. All rights reserved.

You may be wondering what measures of achievement were used in the 800 meta-analyses (i.e., thousands of individual studies) on which the above generalisations are based. You may wonder how the ‘effect sizes’ were calculated. You may have any number of bones to pick! For the answers, and a few concessions, grab yourself a copy of Hattie’s (2009) ‘Visible Learning’ published by Routledge, and read Chapter 2.

In conclusion

What’s important to know is that a great many studies converge to support the above principles of effective teaching. While even more effective strategies may be yet to be scientifically studied, and more scientific research on effective teaching is sorely needed, it is noteworthy that teaching practices with the largest effect sizes in individual studies tend to be similarly effective across studies involving different subjects, student ages, and student demographics.

Whether we look to experimental evidence or other forms of evidence about what makes teaching effective for most students, universities must invest in the pursuit of this evidence and invest in their teachers. More than ever before, universities need to provide evidence-based training, resources, and support to enable academics to maximise learning and achievement for the increasingly diverse students entering our increasingly competitive higher education sector.

Reference:

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

More information about Hattie can be found at http://www.findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/display/person428067 and our own Tom Coverdale’s terrific discussion paper on Inclusive Teaching, which draws on Hattie’s work, can be found at http://www.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=s1ket45y2qrb

Share your thoughts about improving the quality of learning and teaching in our comments section!

RMIT Learning & Teaching Expo Preview

Guest Post by Diana Cousens, Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching Unit, RMIT.

Opens a link to the program for RMIT's Learning & Teaching Expo 2012

Click on the nautilus shell see the full program!

Transforming the Learning Experience is the theme of RMIT’s Learning and Teaching Expo this year. Held over four mornings from 27 August to Thursday 30 August 2012, the Expo will host speakers and offer seminars and workshops of national relevance to the higher education and also VET sectors.

Each morning is dedicated to a particular specialisation in learning and teaching and includes speakers and practitioners from RMIT, other universities and important members of organisations such as TEQSA and OLT (formerly ALTC). With the theme of Transforming the Learning Experience it is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how we might enhance the student experience and re-imagine our teaching using a range of innovations including our new learning spaces and RMIT’s global presence.

Come along and hear from our invited keynote speakers about what is happening in the tertiary education sector, hear what your colleagues have done to improve student learning outcomes and bring along your own experiences or questions for discussion time.

The Expo runs from 9.00 to 1.00 with lunch from 1.00 to 2.00.

You could also win an iPad! You’ll be in the running for an iPad just by filling out a short feedback sheet.

Register to attend at: http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/expo(RMIT login required).

Date: Monday, 27 August – Thursday 30 August

Venue: Storey Hall and Bundoora campuses.

On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday the Expo will be held in the City Campus at Storey Hall and on Wednesday it will be held at the Bundoora Campus.

Day 1: New rules of the game
Monday 27 August
Storey Hall, City campus
Keynote 1: TEQSA and the new regulatory environment
Ms Lucy Schulz
Executive Director, Regulation and Review Group, TEQSA

Keynote 2: AQF, TEQSA and ASQA – Simple acronyms with far reaching consequences
Professor Geoff Crisp
Dean, Learning and Teaching, RMIT

Day 2: Teaching for all
Tuesday 28 August
Storey Hall, City campus
Keynote: Inclusive teaching in Australian higher education: Findings from a national study
Professor Marcia Devlin
Open University Australia

Day 3: Access all areas
Wednesday 29 August
Building 224, Bundoora campus
Keynote: An Education ‘In’ Facebook
Professor Matthew Allen
Head of Department, Internet Studies, Curtin University

Day 4: Engaging globally
Thursday 30 August
Storey Hall, City campus
Parallel Sessions with Vietnam – Saigon South & Hanoi
David DeBrot
Landon Carnie
Chi Le Phuong
Kieran Tierney
Minh Nguyen Duc
RMIT Vietnam

We look forward to seeing you there!

Applying for a teaching award next year? Start collecting your evidence this semester.

Apple in front of a 2013 calendar

(cc) Flickr: dscblogphotos

Posted by: Kym Fraser, L&T Group, Design and Social Context College, RMIT.

People apply for teaching awards for a range of reasons, including recognition for their teaching and academic promotions application evidence. Writing an application usually takes a bit of thought, time and effort. However, there are benefits to doing so. The process of writing an application provides an opportunity to reflect on your teaching and reassess what you are doing, the work that goes into your application also may be of use in a promotions application, and of course your teaching award application may be successful!

Successful applications for teaching awards usually tell a compelling story and are backed up with substantial and varied evidence. While you may be able to write an application in a weekend, the evidence is usually collected over several semesters or years. It’s useful to think in advance about the story that you are going to tell through your application so that you can make sure that you collect evidence that will support your story.

The story

Who you are and what you are trying to achieve with your students needs to come through in the first page of your application. You need to tell the reader a story that sets the context and scene. Keep in mind that the person assessing your application may not know anything about your discipline, your students or even your institution if the application is for a national award. You will need to provide a fair amount of contextual data within the first page (or less depending on the page limit for the application).

An individual’s story can be told in different ways. Often it is framed in terms of a problem. Below are two quite different examples from academics who have successfully applied for an ALTC (now OLT) Teaching Citation (names have been changed).

Violet teaches ‘voice’ to students at a small university. Her story was framed in terms of comparing her teaching with her peers who teach at major metropolitan universities in a conservatorium of music. Her peers teach up to six students in their classes and all of their students have completed voice exams up to level 6. Violet teaches up to 25 students in her classes, many of whom have never taken a voice class let alone completed an exam. Violet’s application shows how she chose a very different teaching approach from the one that she experienced as a student. The approach chosen was based upon the particular needs of her very different group of students.

Ben took over the teaching of a core economics subject for first-year business students. Most of his students would study economics for only the first year and then major in a different discipline (management, marketing etc). Ben found that his students didn’t attend classes and the failure rate for the subject was very high in the years leading up to when he took over the subject. Ben taught the subject as it had been taught and collected attendance and pass rate data. He then changed the curriculum, significantly improving both class attendance and the pass rate. Ben’s application tells the story of the transformation of the student experience through a complete update of the curriculum and assessment process.

You need to tell your own story and help the assessor to understand your particular context, students and what you are trying to achieve with them.

Evidence

It’s likely that you will have to include student evaluation data for which you won’t have a lot of space, so you may need to summarise it in a way that makes sense. For example, if you were making the case that you improved the curriculum incrementally over time, you could use a table showing improvement for specific questions on end of semester student evaluations (Table 1). Or if you were showing that the curriculum you developed fosters certain learning outcomes for students, you may use a table to show excellent student evaluations in the unit over time (Table 2). You may also use student comments judiciously throughout the application to good effect; but it is advisable not to use more than three or four.

Table 1. First year student evaluations in NUR107 over 3 years

Questions 2010 2011 2012
The lecturer encouraged students in this unit to reflect on their personal learning 3.27 4.39 4.7
My experience in this unit has encouraged me to accept greater responsibility for my own learning 3.54 4.24 4.6

Table 2. Third year student evaluations in ED322

Questions 2010 2011 2012
The content of this unit contributed constructively to my learning of the subject 4.89 4.78 4.92
My experience in this unit has increased my confidence in my ability to teach science 4.76 4.84 4.72

Data- necessary but not sufficient

Your student evaluation data will need to be supported by other evidence. The evidence that you collect and use in your application will depend upon your story and what achievements you are trying to show.  It is likely that you will also be asked to demonstrate peer recognition of your teaching. Your evidence might include things like:

  • student results from national competitions
  • learning and teaching grants and publications and citations of these publications
  • awards from your profession’s national or state body
  • testimonials from community groups/companies/schools/hospitals et cetera, at which your students have completed their practicum or volunteered
  • testimonials about the influence of your teaching from students who have gone on to be successful in their field
  • testimonials from colleagues from your discipline or university who have adopted some of your teaching ideas/approaches.

You might also include that you are:

  • your School’s representative on the Faculty/University teaching and learning committee
  • a teaching and learning award assessment panel member
  • a reviewer for an L&T journal
  • an editor for an L&T journal
  • a member of a state or national discipline committee.

You should also mention instances where you have:

  • reviewed another university’s program
  • run a workshop on an aspect of your teaching for your school/department/faculty/university
  • given a keynote address at a teaching and learning conference
  • examined honours/masters/Ph.D theses.

As you can see, applying for a teaching award requires you to thoughtfully collect relevant evidence over a period of time. Your teaching and learning deputy head of school or your academic development advisor will be able to help you as you begin to plan for your teaching application.

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