ACDS TL conference report

Acds Audience July2013

The 2013 ACDS conference was held in Sydney July 18-19 focusing on leadership of teaching and learning in Faculties of Science.  Participants included Associate Deans Teaching and Learning, Science Discipline Network leaders and teaching and learning leaders of key projects in science and mathematics.  Major themes for the conference were the ACDS TL Centre and its next steps, implementation of the Science TLOs and working with sessional staff.  Highlights include:


Keynote addresses: Prof Beverley Oliver on engineering change, Prof David Wilkinson on leading change

Prof Beverley Oliver (Deakin) presented an exciting vision of future possibilities in higher education at the ACDS TL conference. Prof Oliver challenged the conventional paradigms for the role of university assessment.  A video of her address will be available soon.

Prof David Wilkinson (Macquarie) used his recent OLT National Teaching Fellowship to outline roles and capacities in leading change.  Prof Wilkinson described the importance of building “followers” who turn a lone idea into a movement for change (see Youtube “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy) which caught the imagination of the conference.


Launch of the Science TLO Good Practice Guides

The Science Threshold Learning Outcomes are a landmark publication for science and mathematics in Australian universities.  Our Science Discipline Scholars, Profs Sue Jones and Brian Yates, recently commissioned a suite of good practice guides to support implementation of the Science TLOs in undergraduate degrees.  The guides are in the final stages of editing and will be available shortly from the Office for Learning and Teaching and the ACDS TL Centre.


Case studies in curriculum reform and using the Science TLOs

The complex task of curriculum reform in subjects and courses at three universities was presented and stimulated vigorous discussion about curriculum mapping, supporting staff and increasing capacity, and aligning university and discipline agendas.


The importance (and the plight) of sessional staff

The ACDS Executive Director, Prof John Rice, launched the ACDS report on demonstrator training.  Four presentations from individual universities explored the crucial role of sessional staff who do most of the face-to-face teaching in undergraduate degrees.  At first year, this can account for well over 90% of the student contact hours for a discipline.  Training, support, recognition, recruitment and the potential for spectacular improvement in outcomes for students were discussed.


The ACDS Teaching and Learning Centre

OLT National Teaching Fellow, Liz Johnson, presented her work in developing the model for the ACDS TL Centre and consultation with stakeholders.  The conference went on to develop ideas for sustainable operation of the Centre and generated an exciting range of ideas for upcoming Centre projects.  Development of a leadership group for the Centre and bids for projects for 2014 will be discussed through the remainder of 2013.


OLT Fellows and projects

The conference heard from science/science education projects and fellowships of the Office for Learning and Teaching.  Prof Les Kirkup launched the report from his project, Inquiry-Oriented Learning in Science.  2013 fellows, Garry Hoban and Manju Sharma outlined their new projects and two OLT projects, Maths-assess and FYiMaths, reported on their work working in undergraduate Maths.


The conference program is available from the Events page with presentations added shortly.