Empowering overseas teaching staff to embed learning and academic skills in an off-shore Australian university program
Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 4:15pm – 4:45pm parallel session
Room 5 – 301-G050 Lg Chem
Dr Elena Verezub
Swineburne University of Technology, Australia
Dr Alan Robertson
Nawaloka College of Higher Studies, Sri Lanka
The aim of this initiative was to provide staff from an off-shore partner institution with professional development (PD) opportunities to get an insight into Australian university teaching and learning practices and culture, as well as to enrich staff professional skills, so they can embed learning and academic skills into their mainstream classroom teaching to broaden student experience and facilitate student successful transition to study in Australia. Research findings over the past few decades have supported embedding of academic skills into the curriculum as a means to improve student achievements (Briguglio & Watson, 2014; Verezub et al., 2018). However, its adoption, especially in the off-shore institutional context is still in a formative stage (e.g. Hussin, 2007). To implement this initiative, a four-stage structural model was developed:
- Identification of the needs by communicating with (a) staff and getting their input into the themes, and (b) managers and getting their observations;
- Designing activities taking into account staff interests and student needs;
- PD delivery; and,
- PD evaluation of benefits for staff and students.
Over a three-year period, eight professional development sessions, followed by email communication and relevant material sharing, were conducted via Skype by six Learning and Academic Skills Advisors from an Australian university for 23 academic staff from an off-shore partner institution. The data was collected in a form of staff feedback immediately after the sessions and after the implementation of interventions on skill embedding discussed during PD. In addition, student perceptions of academic skill development before and after the embedding intervention were compared. The outcomes of the initiative demonstrate a greater understanding and implementation by teaching staff of academic skill acquisition strategy. At the same time, students’ application of academic skills in relation to academic writing, note-taking, referencing, oral presentations, IT and organisational skills showed a significant improvement between the commencement and conclusion of the teaching semester.
Briguglio, C. & Watson, S. (2014). Embedding English language across the curriculum in higher education: A continuum of development support. The Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37(1), 67-74.
Hussin, V. (2007). Supporting off-shore students: a preliminary study. Innovations in Higher Education and Teaching International, 44(4), 363-376.
Verezub, E., Price, S., Wallace, K. & Sinchenko, E. (2018). The value of outside of the classroom learning to enhance student experience. Presented at HERDSA conference ‘[Re]-valuing Higher Education’, 2-5 July, 2018, Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, SA. Retrieved from http://herdsa2018.aomevents.com.au/
Academics – Academic Development