Report on Associate Deans (Learning Teaching) Conference

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    Report on Associate Deans (Learning &
            Teaching) Conference

             Cristina Varsavsky (Monash)
               Simon Pyke (Adelaide)
             Emma Gyuris (James Cook)

    1. Network and Annual Conference
    2. Enhancing laboratory learning
    3. Fostering leadership in L&T
    4. Role of ADL&T

    1. Network and Annual Conference
               Proceedings of first meeting
    • 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, …
                  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!)

    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
    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.

    2. Enhancing Laboratory Learning
                     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
    • Challenge: Providing a lab program that demonstrably lives up
      to its potential within existing constraints.

    • 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).
                           Directors of ACELL

     A/Prof. Simon Barrie                    Dr Adrian George
       The University of Sydney                The University of Sydney

     A/Prof. Bob Bucat                       Dr Ian Jamie
       The University of Western Australia     Macquarie University

     Prof. Mark Buntine                      Prof. Scott Kable
       The University of Adelaide              The University of Sydney

     Prof. Geoff Crisp                       Mr Justin Read
       The University of Adelaide              The University of Adelaide
                                               (based at The University of Sydney)
                         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.
             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?
                          Impact of ACELL – Database usage


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                   Impact of ACELL - PD

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

     • Uptake of experiments from database is difficult to measure,
       but „hits‟ from experiment database suggest substantial
        – 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
       Impact of ACELL – Researching Learning

     • To date, 23 publications have resulted from the project:
        – 8 from the project team on aspects of laboratory
        – 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.
                         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
            • Physics: Dec ‟07
                 [42 academic staff & students]
            • Biomolecular Sciences: Sept ‟08
                 [30 academic staff & students]
       Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop

     60%       The ACELL approach is applicable to physics


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



           Strongly    Agree     Neutral    Disagree       Strongly
            Agree                                          Disagree
           Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop

                    Student involvement added a valuable perspective
                               to activities at the workshop

     50%                                                 Staff (n = 22)

     40%                                                 Student (n = 20)




             Strongly      Agree        Neutral      Disagree        Strongly
              Agree                                                  Disagree
           Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop

                        The ACELL Educational Template is a useful tool
     70%                   for evaluating existing physics experiments

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




             Strongly         Agree         Neutral      Disagree        Strongly
              Agree                                                      Disagree
           Outcomes from trial Physics Workshop

     50%         Participating in this ACELL-style workshop has reminded
     45%                     me of what it is like to be a student

     25%                                                  Staff (n = 22)
             Strongly      Agree         Neutral      Disagree       Strongly
              Agree                                                  Disagree
                         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 .
                 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

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


     ASELL: Chemistry   ASELL: Mol. Biosci   ASELL: Physics
      Discipline Team    Discipline Team     Discipline Team

                         Associate Deans

                  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

     3. Fostering Leadership in
        Learning & Teaching
                         Points of tension

     • Changing context (massification & globalisation) of Higher
     • Rapidly changing communication & information technologies
     • Individualist academic researchers vs. traditional conceptions
       of collegiality
     • “Academic freedom” vs. institutional authority
                            Research vs. L&T

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

         Expert academic researchers are not necessarily experts in
                             learning & teaching.
                           Manage or Lead?

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

     Common perception:

         A good leader is a good manager but not necessarily vice versa.
           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
                 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.”
                 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.
                     Recommended reading

     Learning Leaders in Times of Change
     Academic Leadership Capabilities for Australian Higher Education
     G. Scott, H. Coates & M. Anderson
     Australian Learning & Teaching Council, 2008

     Roles and responsibilities of
           Associate Deans
       (Teaching and Learning)

 “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
                       Why ADs(T&L)?

     • The position of AD(T&L) is relatively new in
     • 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)

     “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 Vice-
     Chancellor 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

               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
                          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
                          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,
     • 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

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

The position
in an
context –
room for role

            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
      How significant is the decline of science disciplines in
       secondary education to the engagement of academics in
      Can referent power be projected efficiently and effectively?

     Please remember to complete
           the questionnaire