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The Owls and golden eggs:  Embedding scholarship and academic integrity in first year Engineering

Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 10:30am – 11:00am parallel session



Room 10 – 303-B07 Sem



Andrea Duff
University of South Australia, Australia

Deb Moulton
University of South Australia, Australia

Catherine Nairne
University of South Australia, Australia

Professor Abelardo Pardo
University of South Australia, Australia

Elizabeth Smith
University of South Australia, Australia



Developing the skills to competently use sources vexes students and academics alike. 

Engineering students often enter university without well-developed English language proficiency.  This is due to having chosen numerate study paths where calculations take precedence over sentences.  This is compounded by students’ lived experiences in a digital age where information is replicated, redistributed and mashed up – often without any clear idea of authorship.  Further, foundational language support vies for a place in a technically-rich curricula where calculations take precedence over writing proficiency.

We describe a pilot in a first year course in the Bachelor of Engineering program at the University of South Australia.  The objective was to explore how to embed highly contextualised modules to develop student writing and use of sources. The pilot took place in the core course, Sustainable Engineering Practice.  It was undertaken by a team of faculty; learning specialists; an academic integrity officer and an academic librarian.

The Search-Evaluate-Integrate-Reference-Act Ethically (SEIRA) modules use a series of ‘scholarly owl’ buttons embedded throughout the first six weeks of the course.  Each module is designed with three simple features: small vignettes which tell the story of two students and their first assignment at university; a selection of ‘must have’ resources and quizzes.  The modules are predicated on a simple ‘just-in-time’ approach which interweaves with assessment.

This showcase provides data drawn from site analytics; pre and post paired surveys and staff reflections about the process.  Our findings provide us with early indications about the effect of this embedded approach; the impact on student engagement and influence on academic performance.  Early findings suggest a direct correlation between student success in using sources and engagement with the SEIRA modules.

This collaborative work has provided an opportunity for reflection about what needs to be taught, how, and by whom to develop scholarship in engineers. 



Briggs, A. R. J., Clarke, J. & Hall, I.  2012 ‘Building bridges: understanding student transition to university’, Quality in Higher Education Vol. 18, no. 1 2012.
Ciccone, A. & Hounslow, L. 2019 ‘Re-envisioning the role of academic librarians for the digital learning environment: The case of UniSA Online’, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice Vol. 16 Issue 1: Implementing online learning: Stories from the Field, Article 11.
Lowe, H. & Cook, A. 2003 ‘Mind the Gap: Are students prepared for higher education’ Journal of further and higher education, Vol 27 (1) p 53-76.


Presentation topic

Students – Future Graduates

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