Minutes of the Learning and Teaching Committee
Minutes of the Learning and Teaching Committee
held at 12pm on Thursday 25, June 2009 in E6A 202
There were present: A/Prof Steve Cassidy (Chair), Dr Ian Jamie, A/Prof Debbie
Richards, Dr Ayse Bilgin, A/Prof Jenny Donald, Dr Rod Yager, Ms
Lindie Clark, Dr James Cresser, Ms Carolynne Paine, Dr Mark
Lackie, Ms Carol Jacobson, Ms Wendy Goldstein, A/Prof Ken Cheng,
Ms Cathy Rytmeister, Mr Daniel McGill, Mr John Elias
Apologies: Dr Robyn Beirman, Miss Belinda Bean, Mr Jamie Gabriel, Ms Lee
In attendance: Ms Ruth Bonser, Ms Sian Paine, Mr Dean Groom, Ms Bronwyn
1. Minutes of the previous meeting
The minutes of the meeting of 30, April 2009 were passed with minor amendments
at Items 1.2 and 5.2 to correct the spelling of Dr Julian de Meyrick’s name.
The chair welcomed Bronwyn Kosman from Policy Central (see item 3 below) and
Dean Groom, the Head of Education Development from the Learning and Teaching
Centre (LTC). Mr Groom will be in residence in the Faculty to provide instructional
design and development support for unit coordinators for two days a week from
Semester 2. He can be contacted on email@example.com
2. Business Arising from Minutes
2.1 FSQC (item 2): The process for making FSQC minutes available was
discussed and members were advised that the Faculty now has permission to
establish an intranet where FSQC and Faculty Board minutes will be available.
2.2 Capstone Units (item 2): A half-day workshop for Capstone units will be held on
Wednesday, 23rd July. Margot McNeil from LTC will attend the session and
provide her expert input in relation to assessment and management of
Capstone Units. Participants will be drawn from staff involved in delivering
Capstone Units. Further advice will be issued about the time of the session and
participants. The Chair also proposes to ask APC about the possibility of 2cp
2.3 Sustainablility in Curriculum Project (item 3): The Chair advised that there will
be a workshop as part of Learning and Teaching Week.
3. Discussion about policies under review
Bronwyn Kosman provided members with an overview of the activities and scope
of Policy Central and tabled a paper which addressed the principles and
framework for the development of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. The
following issues were raised in discussion.
Access to Policies in draft: Members are concerned that they are not aware when
policies are in development, as these cannot be published on Policy Central. It
was suggested that an intranet or similar site could be set up for staff only access
to address this issue.
Broadening discussion about draft policies: It was suggested that policies in draft
be more widely distributed to University Committees for comments and feedback
as part of a quality assurance process. The Staff Consultative Group was
suggested as another possible avenue for review.
Authority to generate and write policies: There was uncertainty about how a policy
is initiated and who has authority to write policy. It was noted that a proposal for a
policy can come from anyone and that Policy Central acts as the gatekeeper in
supporting and managing its development.
Publicising new approved policies: There was some concern that staff are not
always aware when new policies come into force. It was suggested that all new
policies, once approved, be advised to the University community through a
Macquarie Announcement. Ms Kosman noted that this is already being done.
Relative authority of Rules and Policies: There is lack of clarity about the
relationship between Policies and Procedures and University Rules and how the
former are to be applied. For example, if a University Rule is repealed and
replaced by a Policy and Procedure does the latter have the same authority? Ms
Kosman noted that Policies and Procedures are approved at the level of the
Executive or Council and are enforceable.
4. Report of the Chair
The Chair provided a written report and indicated that, in future his report as well
as reports from representatives on University Committees will be provided in
writing to assist members. The Chair also tabled a draft FOS LTC plan for the
information of members and for feedback.
There was detailed discussion about transition to the new curriculum. Some of the
issues raised were:
Transition rule: The University Council has now passed a Transition Rule which
specifies a three year period for transition to the new curriculum. Most students will
be encouraged to transition to the new programs as early as possible but will be
transitioned by default from the beginning of 2013.
Informing students: First advice to students about the new curriculum will be given
during enrolment for Semester 2. It was noted that at mid-year the University will
still be taking new students into named programs which will no longer be offered in
2010 and that academic advisors will need to take into account transition to the
new curriculum in advising these students.
Academic advising: All students transferring into a different program will be
required to have academic advice and it will be important to develop solutions at
the program level to ensure students can still complete in minimum time. It was
suggested that it may be useful to organise a workshop at the Faculty level for the
BSc although it was noted that it will be important for Departments to work on
discipline specific transition plans.
University transition workshops: The Dean of Students will be running workshops
for academic and professional staff in July. It was suggested that these will be
more useful if they are Faculty specific.
ACTION: The Chair will follow up with staff who attend the Dean of Students
Workshop to determine what other Faculty specific measures will need to be
implemented for the transition. A transition template will be considered as a tool
for Program level solutions to Academic Advising.
5. Report from committee representatives
5.1 Report from Academic Program Committee (APC)
Ms Clark reported the following matters from APC.
M Biotechnology: The proposal to change the credit point load for this program
was not supported at the present time by APC. The committee considered that
this proposed restructure should be included in the Postgraduate Curriculum
Renewal which is to commence in the second half of this year.
Transition rule: This has been the main focus of APC at recent meetings. It
was noted in addition to the discussion at item 4 above, that students who
transfer into the new curriculum will be exempt from the requirement to
undertake People and Planet Units.
Planet Units: The three additional units proposed as Planet Units by the
Faculty of Science, BIOL260, GEOS206 and MSM 205, have been approved.
Bachelor Chiropractic Science: The request for exemptions from Planet
requirement for this program has been approved.
Program Structures for 2010: The Undergraduate Sub-Committee of APC has
continued to work on templates for programs and majors. The Faculty of
Science is making good progress with only a couple of programs remaining to
be finalised. It was noted that there have been issues with programs
combined with the LLB, particularly in relation to total credit points required for
a combined program and the credit points required for the Law component of
Part B proposal: The Faculty of Human Sciences has put its part B review
proposal to APC. This will commence with a review of 10% of units by 24 th
July, 2009 and culminate in 100% of units having been reviewed by April,
2010. The Faculty of Science will be proposing a 3 year review cycle for all
units. The deadline for submission of the Part B process to APC is 24 th July,
ACTION: The Chair will circulate a draft Policy and Procedure for the Part B
Process for the Faculty of Science for comment.
5.2 Report from Coursework Studies Committee
A written report was tabled by Associate Professor Donald. There was detailed
discussion about Credit for Previous Studies. Some of the issues raised were as
Credit for studies taken by Macquarie University students outside the
University: At present, Study Abroad students can count up to 50% of their
300 level program requirements from the units completed overseas. This
provision is not available to students who complete domestic cross-institutional
study. CSC has been asked to look at this inconsistency in policy and
members were asked for their point of view as it has not been practice at
Macquarie to allow any credit at 300 level. One of the issues raised was the
issue of quality of units offered at other universities and whether this gives an
advantage to students undertaking studies outside Macquarie. It was
suggested that this could equally disadvantage students who study at
universities with potentially higher standards and that the most equitable
solution would be to explore students’ external study on a case by case basis.
It was also suggested, however, that there should be some limit on the amount
of credit that can be gained at 300 level.
Course transfers: There was discussion about the issues for students
transferring from the old to the new degree programs from 2010. It was
agreed that the Faculty will need to develop a consistent policy which is
informed by current transfer practices as well as the potential for complications
for transferring students arising from the Curriculum Renewal.
ACTION: Science Centre will collate current range of transfer practices across
the Faculty, highlighting gaps and inconsistencies. A small working party will
be formed to look at the information gathered and will make recommendations
to FOS LTC to inform discussion for the development of a Faculty policy.
Exemptions: Some academic staff are concerned about professional staff
approving exemptions, although the Chair suggested that there could be a
case for very common exemptions to be handled administratively with support
from Academic staff. It was noted that the granting of exemptions will be
further complicated during transition and that it is an academic responsibility to
advise students to ensure the best outcome for them. The role of
professional staff in supporting academics in this function needs to be clearly
delineated and should be included in the Faculty policy.
6. Update from Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC)
Ms Cathy Rytmeister from the LTC provided a written report outlining current
developments and events.
It was noted that Associate Professor Ian Solomonides has been appointed as
Director of the Learning and Teaching Centre.
Faculty participation was encouraged in the full day professional development
forum on “The Why, What and How of Inclusive Practice” which forms a part of
Diversity Week from the 3 to 7 August, 2009.
Applications for the PG Certificate/Diploma/Masters in Higher Education close
for mid-year entry on 30th June and the Chair will encourage the uptake by
FOS academic staff.
Graduate Capabilities resources are published on the LTC website and can be
utilised in the development of Unit Outlines by the Faculty.
There will be recordings available from the iLecture Video Capture Pilot
7. First year experience
Daniel McGill indicated that the first-year experience has become a specialised
area of research and noted that a lot of literature is now available to support
convenors of first year units. Support is also available from the LTC. Mr McGill is
trying to gauge the level of interest in the first-year experience across the Faculty
and would like to set up a special interest group for first year convenors and
professional staff supporting students to look at this issue.
ACTION: An email will go out asking departments to nominate first-year unit
convenors and appropriate professional staff to join the special interest group.
8. Careers Development
The Chair advised that the Director of the Career Development Office, Sheila
Mylvaganam, had contacted him about partnering with Departments in the Faculty
to run a short course as part of the Kickstart Your Career Program. This is a not
for credit course which can be tailored to suit different disciplines and targets
second year students. One member reported very positive outcomes from
working with the Career Development Office.
ACTION: The Chair will send an email to Departments providing information and
contact details for this program.
9. Academic Advantage Scheme
The Chair noted that a review of bonus points available to HSC students is being
undertaken and an Academic Advantage spreadsheet has been disseminated to
Departments. He also wanted to verify that Departments have received and are
working on the document. The process last year was rushed and it was stressed
that this year it is important that more time and care is taken to ensure that
improvements are made. A number of issues were raised by members of the
committee in relation to the Scheme.
There are discrepancies in the number of bonus points possible for students
who undertake HSC subjects in different disciplines. Humanities subjects
have examples where the maximum bonus is 5 points compared with science
which may give only 2 points. There is also a discrepancy between maths and
other Science areas. Students can, for instance, gain 4 bonus points by doing
2 extension maths units
The purpose of the Scheme itself was also discussed and it was suggested
that its pivotal aim is to identify students likely to succeed in different science
programs. However, in many instances, students are likely to select HSC
subjects strategically to gain the greatest number of bonus points. As a result,
the Scheme itself becomes less about future success and more about a
marketing exercise to attract potential students.
It was also suggested that the Scheme may provides an alternative to the
general trend of the lowering of UAI entry levels. One member suggested that
a long term goal could be to raise the UAI in response to a widespread
perception that the UAI is a measure of quality.
There will be a meeting in early July to review the Scheme and the bonus point
allocations for 2009 school leavers and the Chair asked members to send him any
proposals or feedback as soon as possible. He noted that Departments should
feel free to propose other subjects for HSC bonus points. It is anticipated that the
points to be offered for 2009 HSC students will finalised in August.
10. Faculty Learning and Teaching Awards
The Chair would like to establish a small working party to run these awards and
will organise this in August so that the awards can be finalised before Learning
and Teaching week in September. It was also pointed out that Faculty Learning
and Teaching Awards lead into the University awards and are a good opportunity
to identify potential nominees for the latter. A key goal of the faculty awards,
which will be nominated by staff, students and Heads of Departments, is to have a
process which places less burden on nominees.
ACTION: If anyone else is interested in joining this working party please contact
the Chair. The nominations for the awards will open during August.
11. General business
11.1 Assignment submission: The Science Centre has requested that all
assignments are to be submitted no later 9am to aid the efficiency of the
assignment collection process. The committee discussed this procedure, raising
It was suggested that 12pm would be a more reasonable time for students,
particularly since the Science Centre only opens at 8:30am. It was pointed out,
however, that students have access to an after hours box and that one reason for
a 9am deadline is to decrease the flow of students through the centre in the
Another member did not support a generic 9am deadline, suggesting that other
Faculties manage multiple deadlines quite easily. It was also suggested that
Science Centre staff explore the procedures used in other Faculties, such as EFS.
The possibility of electronic submissions was raised, since paper submissions
are a sustainability issue.
ACTION: Manager of Science Centre will send an email to unit convenors to get
feedback on the 9am deadline and to explore other possibilities.
11.2 Library Developments: Mr John Elias introduced himself as one of the Library
Liason representatives along with another contact, his colleague, Mrs Carol
Walker who was not present at the meeting.
John reminded committee members that an email had been sent out by Carol
Walker outlining training available for Faculty staff in the use of the library’s
resources for teaching purposes. It was noted by one member of the committee
that this email had not been received and it was suggested that developments in
the library be disseminated to more than one person by email.
The member from the University Library reported that the Library’s website is
being redeveloped and one consequence is the possible deletion of e-guides. If
staff find e-guides useful they should contact John Elias so that the Library
receives feedback on the matter and can perhaps consider this decision more
ACTION: Committee members should email John Elias about training and e-
11.3 Graduate Capabilities Workshop: It was noted by Associate Professor Debbie
Richards that this state wide event is coming up in July and that posters can be
prepared by staff from Departments who have an understanding of graduate
capabilities to be displayed at the event. Expressions of interest would be
11.4 Grade Appeals: It was pointed out that the new policy on Grade Appeals has
still not been approved. The Chair reported that the policy has been
recommended by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee and is therefore
close to approval. It was recommended that staff use the new policy this
Semester even if it is not yet ratified by Senate, however the existing form should
still be used. The process for students submitting appeals was also clarified: the
initial application for an appeal against final grades should be submitted to the unit
convenor; the application only gets escalated to the Faculty level if the student is
unsatisfied with the outcome of their appeal at a lower level.
ACTION: The Chair will contact the Manager of the Science Centre to begin work
on a procedure detailing consistent practices for the Faculty of Science in line with
University Policy and Procedure.
11.5 FOS L&T Strategic Plan: A draft of the FOS L&T Strategic Plan was also
tabled which provides an overview of goals and objectives relating specifically to
Learning and Teaching and the strategies and timeframe necessary for their
ACTION: The Chair asked that any feedback on the L&T Strategic plan be sent to
him by email.
The meeting closed at 2.25pm
25 June, 2009