Thursday, June 17, 2021

HERDSA mid winter networking & pre-conference meeting in Canberra

HERDSA mid winter networking
& pre-conference meeting
Greetings from the HERDSA mid winter networking & pre-conference meeting at ACU in Canberra. These are previews for  HERDSA 2021 Conference, of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA), in Brisbane, 7 – 10 July 2021.

  1. Gavin  Mount UNSW Canberra: Student wellbeing: A community of practice staff survey.
  2. Carol Hayes ANU: Creating the advanced Japanese tertiary languageteacher’s network across Australia, NZ and Singapore.
  3. Elke Stracke UC: Dialogue in doctoral supervision: The Feedback Expectation Tool (FET).
  4. Fiona Campbell ALIA: Where do new ideas come from? The problem withproblem-solving.
  5. Marie Fisher ACU & Pam Roberts CSU: Innovation or auto-repeat? What inspires me to commit to the long-haul journey on continuous improvement of teaching practice?
  6. Joe Northey UC: Perceived impact of COVID19 on the development of first year university student employability skills
The first conference preview was from Gavan Mount from UNSW on supporting student wellbeing. They have a community of practice on integrating student wellbeing into the teaching, rather than as something done by a separate unit. He said it was important to talk to sessional teachers. One important question he suggests is what are the boundaries for teaching staff in dealing with student wellbeing and the risk of becoming too involved. It was interesting that Gavan did not focus on COVID-19 until the end. This is refreshing after a year and a half of presentations about nothing but.

Carol Hayes, ANU talked on e-learning for language teaching with a teachers network across Australia, NZ and Singapore. They suggest the research findings apply more generally to the humanities, but one finding I suggest is of more widespread significance: differing vies between staff and students as to what an "advanced" course is. It was interesting that some of the student materials were anime and manga.

Elke Stracke UC presented on a tool for dialogue in doctoral supervision. Elke said there was not much research on pedagogic practice of research supervision, which I found surprising, given the number of advanced degree research students, the cost of their training and importance to the economy. The tool is a one page questionnaire for students and supervisors, where they agree or disagree with statements about the role of each. 

Something which struck me was that many of the questions were procedural and perhaps should be answered by the institution. However, even in areas where the answer should be clear, I suggest they can be changed for learning purposes. As an example, I should and usually know the deliverables and deadlines for student work, but I still ask the student what they are, so I know that they know. A paper has been published (Stracke & Kumar, 2020).

Fiona Campbell ALIA/UTS explained the presentation is based on her PhD on creativity: how do we develop cognitive flexibility. I must admit to doubts as to if you can teach creativity. In helping teach innovation at start-up centers and in hackerthons I am not so much teaching how to be creative as to direct the person's creative ability to a useful end.

Robert Kennelly talked about "TATAL: Talking about teaching and learning". I went through the TATAL process, around the same time as that for the Higher Education Academy, and  CMALT. Robert invited people at the meeting to talk about their TATAL experience. I explained that I was attempting to obtain multiple teaching accreditation and having difficulty with the required reflection. Attending TATAL meetings with people also going through the same challenges helped me with HEA Fellowship, although I abandoned attempts at CMALT and HERDSA Fellowship.

Joe Northey UC pointed out that researching the impact of a pandemic on employability skills was not planned. He quipped that nobody planned for a pandemic (I quipped back that I did). Very relevantly Joe is from a health faculty. He described how the first year was revised with a professional core. Each students starts their study with a unit on professional practice. This sounds like something which could be applied to my area of computing , to form the graduate's identity as a professional. Joe described creating a tool to help the students by having them rate themselves on employability skills. This started in 2019 and the pre assessment was one face to face in 2020. The shift to online learning provided a natural experiment. Obviously the inability of students to develop f2f skills was a factor. Some students found the online tools useful.

Pam Roberts talk about professional development for academics and what happened during COVID-19.


Campbell, F. C. (2018). Flow, resistance and thinking: a phenomenological study of creativity (Doctoral dissertation). URL

Schonell, S., Gilchrist, J., Kennelly, R., McCormack, C., Northcote, M., Ruge, G., & Treloar, G. (2016). TATAL: Talking about teaching and learning: Teaching philosophy workbook. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. URL

Stracke, E., & Kumar, V. (2020). Encouraging Dialogue in Doctoral Supervision: The Development of the Feedback Expectation Tool. International Journal of Doctoral Studies15, 265-284. URL

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