CHEMISTRY 1 BIOORGANIC AND POLYMER CHEMISTRY

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Report on Associate Deans (Learning & Teaching) Conference
Cristina Varsavsky (Monash)
Simon Pyke (Adelaide) Emma Gyuris (James Cook)

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Overview

1. Network and Annual Conference 2. Enhancing laboratory learning

3. Fostering leadership in L&T
4. Role of ADL&T

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1. Network and Annual Conference

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Proceedings of first meeting
Program: • ALTC projects (ACDS, Bioassess, Threshold Concepts, Physclips, Scientists Leading Scientists) • ACELL • Learning spaces

• Discussion of hot issues (T&L in research-intensive universities, research experience for UG students, generic skills)

Networking, networking, networking, …

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Emerging themes

Importance given to L&T Challenges of L&T Institutional structures and support for L&T Need to strengthen cross-institutional cooperation (already started!)

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Recommendations
ACDS continue supporting at least annual meetings of ADL&T All science faculties/divisions have an ADL&Tand that these be actively engaged in this network. Deans support their ADL&T on projects and activities related to this network ADL&Ts are provided with the support necessary to allow the effective discharge of their roles in the continued improvement of L&T outcomes of their faculties ACDS establish a framework to support the strategic development of new initiatives to enhance science L&T outcomes across all Australian Universities. In particular, that through this network, ACDS take an active role in influencing the definition of priorities for science projects funded by ALTC. As an example, it is recommended that ACDS assist in fostering the „franchised‟ expansion of ACELL into ASELL.

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2. Enhancing Laboratory Learning

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Context - Chemistry
• ~20,000 students spread over 35 universities undertake chemistry units each year,. • On average, 48% of these students‟ time is spent in laboratory-based activities • Potential benefits from lab work: – it develops technical skills – it can makes theory more concrete

– it gives potential to engage students in the practices of science
• Challenge: Providing a lab program that demonstrably lives up to its potential within existing constraints.

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Strategies
• In 1999 the Advancing Physical Chemistry by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory (APCELL) project began. • Initial aim was to build on established effective experiments and provide resources needed to implement new experiments:
– Technical Notes – Demonstrator Notes – Student Notes – Results Proforma – Hazard Assessment

• This grew into an „all of chemistry‟ project (ACELL) in 2004. • ACELL has been funded through CUTSD ($167k) and HEIP programs ($145k).

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Directors of ACELL
A/Prof. Simon Barrie
The University of Sydney

Dr Adrian George
The University of Sydney

A/Prof. Bob Bucat

The University of Western Australia

Dr Ian Jamie

Macquarie University

Prof. Mark Buntine
The University of Adelaide

Prof. Scott Kable
The University of Sydney

Prof. Geoff Crisp

The University of Adelaide

Mr Justin Read

The University of Adelaide (based at The University of Sydney)

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Aims of ACELL
• Four principal aims of ACELL: – Develop a database of educationally and chemically sound experiments, that have been tested by both academic staff and students. – Provide for professional development of chemistry academic staff. – Facilitate the development of a chemistry education community of practice. – Research learning in the laboratory environment.

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The ACELL Educational Template
• Section 1 – Summary of the Experiment • Section 2 – Educational Analysis This section contains the Learning Outcomes in areas of

– Theoretical and Conceptual Knowledge
– Scientific and Practical Skills – Thinking Skills and Generic Attributes • Section 3 – Student Learning Experience

• Section 4 – Documentation For each Learning Outcome:
– What should students learn? – How will students learn it? – How will staff and students know that students have achieved the learning outcome?

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Impact of ACELL – Database usage

100000 90000 80000 70000 60000 50000 40000 30000 20000 10000 0 Jun 06 Jul 06 Aug Sep Oct 06 06 06 Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun 06 06 07 07 07 07 07 07 Jul 07 Aug Sep Oct 07 07 07 Nov Dec Jan Feb 07 07 08 08 Mar Apr May Jun 08 08 08 08 Jul 08 Aug Sep 08 08

Unique visitors Total visitors Pages view ed

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Impact of ACELL - PD
• Professional development for around 25% of Australian chemistry academic staff by participation in ACELL Workshops

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Impact of ACELL - CoP
• Uptake of experiments from database is difficult to measure, but „hits‟ from experiment database suggest substantial interest: – 3 experiments with > 2000 hits – 8 experiments with 1000 – 2000 hits – 15 experiments with 500 – 1000 hits – 22 experiments with 250 – 500 hits

• International expansion (USA & Europe) currently being pursued.

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Impact of ACELL – Researching Learning
• To date, 23 publications have resulted from the project: – 8 from the project team on aspects of laboratory learning

– 15 from contributors to the experiment database
• Recognition with two journal collaborations: – Australian Journal of Education in Chemistry

– Chemistry Education Research and Practice
• Both journals have appointed ACELL Associate Editors.

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Where to next?
• It is proposed to expand upon the success of the ACELL project by introducing the project methodology to a broader range of scientific disciplines – „all of Science‟ → ASELL • Initially add Biomolecular Sciences & Physics. – Trial workshops in both discipline areas have been conducted: • Physics: Dec ‟07 [42 academic staff & students] • Biomolecular Sciences: Sept ‟08 [30 academic staff & students]

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Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop
The ACELL approach is applicable to physics

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Staff (n = 22) Student (n = 20)

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

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Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop
70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Staff (n = 22) Student (n = 20)

Student involvement added a valuable perspective to activities at the workshop

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Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop
The ACELL Educational Template is a useful tool for evaluating existing physics experiments

70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Strongly Agree

Staff (n = 22) Student (n = 20)

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

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Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop
50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Staff (n = 22)

Participating in this ACELL-style workshop has reminded me of what it is like to be a student

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Aims of ASELL
• Four principal aims of ASELL: – Provide professional development for science academic staff by expanding their understanding of issues surrounding student learning in the laboratory . – Facilitate the development of a community of practice in science education within the broader academic community – Develop a database of materials relating to undergraduate science experiments which are educationally sound, that have been evaluated by both students and academic staff. – Undertake original research about student engagement, motivation and interest in the specific context of science laboratories .

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Potential benefits of ASELL
• Student learning will be enhanced by better engagement with laboratory activities, resulting in superior learning outcomes. • Academic staff benefit from professional development in terms of a better understanding of the educational issues associated with student laboratory learning in their specific discipline.

• Science faculties will benefit by implementation in a consistent and verifiable/measurable fashion across all participating disciplines.

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Proposed structure of ASELL
ASELL Directorate

ASELL: Chemistry Discipline Team

ASELL: Mol. Biosci Discipline Team

ASELL: Physics Discipline Team

Associate Deans (L&T) ACDS Universities Professional Societies

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Proposed structure of ASELL
• A model for other domains: Molecular Biosciences, Physics… • Structure has discipline relevance and maintains „branding‟ by using a franchise model.

• Must be sustainable and generate significant impact.
• Funding: – ALTC funding application being developed • ACDS:

– Link through ASELL Directorate
– Link through Assoc. Deans (L&T) who are embedded within institutional processes

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3. Fostering Leadership in Learning & Teaching

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Points of tension
• Changing context (massification & globalisation) of Higher Education • Rapidly changing communication & information technologies

• Individualist academic researchers vs. traditional conceptions of collegiality
• “Academic freedom” vs. institutional authority

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Research vs. L&T
• • • • Focused on individual goals and interests Undertaken in interests of discovery High flexibility in choosing members of research team Outcomes are identifiable and measurable • • • • Focused on corporate goals Undertaken in the interests of the students & the institution Little flexibility in choosing members of teaching teams Outcomes are complex and difficult to measure

Expert academic researchers are not necessarily experts in learning & teaching.

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Manage or Lead?
• • • • • Operational Present focused Ensures efficient & effective function of the unit Do things right Skill (competency) based • • • • • Strategic Future focused Sets vision for where the unit will head Do the right thing Diagnostic (capability) based

Common perception:
A good leader is a good manager but not necessarily vice versa.

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Leadership in L&T – is it different?
• Leadership in L&T is quite different and clearly requires a unique skill set. • The cultural value of „collegiality‟ necessitates leadership by „influence‟ rather than through mandate or power. • Leadership in L&T in particular is about „winning followers‟ by influence.

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Challenges for L&T Leaders
• Dealing with the internal institutional environment (how „change ready‟ and „change capable‟ the institution is will have significant impact on what can be achieved). • Dealing with collegial consensus („change averse‟) and academic independence („change irrelevant‟) factors. • Finding „room to learn‟ & „room to lead‟ amongst the endless meetings, administration, reporting, changing directions…

“Change does not just happen – it must be led, and led deftly.”

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Fostering leadership in L&T
• Purposeful networks (both intra and inter-institution) – National ACDS AD(L&T) meetings

• Accessing quality leadership development programs that are contextual, „just in time‟ and „just for me‟
• Clarification of roles and associated expectations.

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Recommended reading

Learning Leaders in Times of Change
G. Scott, H. Coates & M. Anderson
Australian Learning & Teaching Council, 2008

Academic Leadership Capabilities for Australian Higher Education

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Roles and responsibilities of Associate Deans (Teaching and Learning)

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“While learning and teaching play a central role in all Australian Universities, identifying the people directly in charge of these activities is not a straight forward task. A few formal roles do exist that capture this role explicitly. Examples include the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) and the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching)”
Scott, G., Coates H. and Anderson M.(2008) Learning Leaders in Times of Change. Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

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Why ADs(T&L)?
• The position of AD(T&L) is relatively new in Australia • It has been created in response to greater demands on the teaching skills of academic staff • Larger and more diverse (cognitive, cultural, age, language) student body • Greater financial reliance on maintaining and increasing enrolments & retention • Demonstrating teaching quality to students (as clients pushing for „value for money‟) and government (continued provision of funding)

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“In the broader literature on leadership roles, challenges and effectiveness of Deans and Heads is particularly prominent. ….. Some studies can be found on more senior leader roles such as Vice Chancellors. Far fewer studies, however, are found on more recent senior leadership positions like Pro ViceChancellor or on the middle-tier leadership roles of Assistant/Associate Dean (Leaning and Teaching)”
Scott, G., Coates H. and Anderson M.(2008) Learning Leaders in Times of Change. Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

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How is the role of the ADs(T&L) defined?
• Role – a part played by an individual in a social setting. From multiple roles intrapersonal and interpersonal role conflicts often arise – Role definition is the highest ranked issue for ADsT&L1 across the sector. Also an issue for those in Science • Responsibility – power + authority + accountability. Seen as a key theme in how the role is understood and approached. – Referent power is the only kind available to ADs(T&L). This may take time to acquire and use. (New appointments!!)

1 Southwell et al. (2008) Caught between a Rock and Several Hard Places. Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

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PDs of the ADT&L
Responsible for strategic oversight of all matters relating to T&L and academic administration + coordination of student administration in the faculty (+405 word detail) UQ The role is to make an effective contribution to T&L within the Faculty and in accordance with the University and Faculty strategic plans (+383 word detail) U Adelaide Provide academic leadership in respect of T&L in the Faculty. Specific accountabilities by discussion/negotiation at faculty level with the consideration of specific points (provided, 223 word detail) Sydney Responsible for strategic leadership of T&L within the faculty (304 word detail) Macquarrie Responsible for strategic leadership (+466 word detail) QUT The ADE provides leadership in the development, implementation and monitoring of Education policy and curriculum within the faculty and assists in the development of education policy in the wider University. (+>1000 word detail) Monash

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Detail of PDs
The following dimensions are common and remarkably uniform (Across 7 universities sampled) • Administration and management – membership of committees, reporting and reviews, quality assurance • Staff development – including promotion of T&L related research, (attraction of T&L funds and awards); participate and promote University T&L events, organise faculty T&L events, etc • Enhance learning outcomes – leading change in courses and curricula; develop, implement and monitor PPPs to enhance student learning and experience; keep abreast with the T&L literature + government policies and disseminate them to schools;

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Yet the following sentiment is typical…
“The (Associate Dean) role is ill defined, and it does not fall naturally within the department/school/faculty hierarchy. Whilst this gives me freedom to make of it what I wish it also makes it difficult or uncomfortable to implement policy. When your role is not clearly defined within the structure, there is a fine line between implementing and interfering.” (Associate Dean, female, 46-55)
Scott, G., Coates H. and Anderson M.(2008) Learning Leaders in Times of Change. Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

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The position in an organisational context – room for role conflict?

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Is it lack of role definition, or is it something else?
Is the role too wide? Is it too nebulous? Is there clear prioritization within the role? Are there conflicts between the ADT&L‟s priorities and that of Schools and their individual staff?  How significant is the cultural divide between “education” and science?  How significant is the decline of science disciplines in secondary education to the engagement of academics in teaching?  Can referent power be projected efficiently and effectively?    

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