Putting the RSD to Work: details of the working issues for the symposium (Adelaide 24 September)

September 13, 2014 2 comments

RSDwheelOnly a few days to go!

The symposium will feature 8 key issues in higher education where experienced users have put the RSD to work for the benefit of student learning. If you have registered for the symposium, the details below will help you to nominate two sessions of interest. If you are interested in registering for the symposium, held the day before the Higher Education Research Group of Adelaide (HERGA) conference, go to http://www.herga.com.au/herga-14.html.
The Research Skill Development (RSD) website is www.rsd.edu.au

Using the RSD to harmonise pre- and face-to-face segments of the flipped class (Sophie Karanicolas)
Find out how simple it is to successfully flip your classroom and create student centred learning cycles beyond the classroom walls. In a first year human biology class, we have successfully put the Research Skills Development framework to work as we design our flipped classes against each facet of the RSD rubric. We have translated theory into practice by explicitly scaffolding the students’ learning and developing levels of autonomy as they actively engage in the application of key concepts throughout each stage of their learning. The RSD provides a dynamic framework that allows the integration of the flipped class into all aspects of learning and assessment.

Scaffolding research skill development and assessment across the honours year (Said Al-Sarawi)
In 2009 the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Adelaide, piloted the use of the RSD to scaffold research skill development and assessment across the honours year. This was sufficiently successful for the school to further develop this use from 2010 to the present time. In addition, another school that had been using RSD in First Year saw our approach to honours, and adapted this to the health science context, demonstrating useful transferability between disciplines. This session will provide you with an understanding of how these schools achieved scaffolding with the RSD across an entire year of projects and give you time to apply the ideas to your context.

Approaches to Mapping Research Skills with the RSD (Lyn Torres and Linda Kalejs)
In this session we will share different approaches to mapping research skills using the RSD framework that have been developed by Monash University Library Staff. Examples will include a semester-long course from the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, the Diploma of Tertiary Studies pathway program and the Bachelor of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University. You will have time to think through mapping the facets and degrees of autonomy of the RSD onto units or degree-programs of your own.

RSD and the PhD (Michelle Picard and Lalitha Velautham)
In this session we discuss the RSD and its application as a tool to support research students and their supervisors. We demonstrate our use in Research Proposals and in evaluating the readiness of the research thesis for submission. We also discuss the strengths and challenges of applying our ‘Assessment Matrixes’ more directly to PhD thesis examination. The session includes practical assessment exercises.

From Little Things Big Things Grow: Using small groups and the RSD to grow big ideas. (Susan Hazel and Hayley McGrice)
In this presentation we will share our experiences with use of the RSD framework in small group teaching to facilitate active learning. Students work in Team-Based Learning environments during University of Adelaide’s Small Group Discovery Experience (SGDE), as a platform for teaching research skills. With these teaching methods, students learn not only to remember facts, but also how to apply them in order to solve complex or higher order problems. You will have opportunity to apply these ideas to your own teaching and learning context.

Making the RSD framework ‘speak engineering’: A problem solving framework generated by student-tutors  (Mei Chiin Cheong and Harry Lucas)
What happens when you give engineering tutors, who are themselves students, a table with words? They pull it apart and ‘re-engineer’ it to be less wordy and more visual. Tutors of a first year Mechanical Engineering Communication course reconfiguring the RSD framework to work, think and speak engineering, developing a sister framework called the Optimising Problem Solving (OPS) pentagon. Visually capturing core elements of the problem solving processes, the OPS framework emphasised communication as a process integral to problem solving, and empowered both tutors and first year students. In this session, you will have the opportunity to consider and adapt the OPS to your context.

Framing Assessment and Feedback with the RSD (Cathy Snelling)

The perennial challenge for educators is to effectively design assessment tasks and provide meaningful and authentic feedback for their students. The RSD has a successful tool in meeting these ‘twin challenges’ and this session will showcase the wide variety of ways that it has been put to work in diverse range of educational settings. By using the RSD scaffolded framework as a template, exemplars of performance are made explicit for students. This allows them insight into how they will be assessed and just as importantly provides the educator with an effective feedback tool.

Masters student engagement with the research requirements of AQF Level 9 (John Willison)
Many universities have restructured Masters programs to provide a substantial research capstone, with a supporting research methods unit, to satisfy the AQF9 research requirement. This working issue session looks at the use of the RSD to reframe content-rich courses in the earlier semesters of Masters, in order to develop student research mindedness and so enable more sophisticated engagement in research capstones. This session will provide you with an understanding of how a scaffolded structure like this can be framed by the RSD, and provide time for application to your Masters degree.

We hope to see you there on Wednesday 24th. If you are able to make it, please post questions or comments on RSD use on this blog beforehand and during the day. We will look at some emerging issues during the afternoon. If you are not able to make it, feel free to comment or pose questions for RSD users too.

If you prefer twitter #RSDwork will come alive with conversation on the 24th, if not before.

Putting the RSD to Work: A Symposium before the HERGA conference, Adelaide Wednesday September 24th, 2014

August 28, 2014 1 comment


Its ten years since the first version of the Research Skill Development framework (www.rsd.edu.au) was developed by Kerry O’Regan and myself.

In that time quite a few people have used it in many different contexts and universities. For example, see different disciplinary uses on the website http://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/examples/

We are taking the opportunity before the Higher Education Research Group of Adelaide (HERGA) conference to run a symposium for those who know a little about the RSD but are interested in working with experienced users and exploring how it could be used in their context.

Putting the RSD to Work

Wednesday September 24th, 2014

Putting the RSD to Work symposium provides you with the opportunity to learn about how educators have used the Research Skill Development framework to inform the learning of research skills in university curricula. Specific RSD Working Issues that will be addressed in the Symposium will be chosen from the following:

• Assessment and feedback
• Discovery learning in small groups
• Student ownership of learning
• Flipped Classroom design
• Student Problem Solving
• Masters course design for AQF9
• Institution-level implementations
• Optimising Problem Solving Skills
• PhD learning and supervision
• Introducing the RSD to students

The symposium will provide you with time to plan and develop ideas and resources based on the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework, with guidance from experienced users.

University of Adelaide, North Terrace Campus.

8.30 Registrations and coffee/tea
9.00 Introduction and purpose of the symposium
9.30 Pecha-Kucha Session 1. Four RSD Working Issues: 5 minute presentations, 5 minute Q&A.
10.15 Working Issue Session 1. Attend one of the Working Issues portrayed in Pecha Kucha Session 1.
11.15 Break
11.30 Pecha Kucha Session 2. Four more brief presentations on Working Issues.
12.30 Emerging Issues from the morning
12.45 Lunch
1.30 Working Issue Session 2.
2.30 Whole Group Interactive session based on emerging issues.
3.30 Wine and align. Ideas, possibilities and new thinking in small groups.
4.30 Report back from each group and where to from here?
5.00 Finish. Depart for drinks/ dinner.

Register for the Symposium as part of the HERGA conference

Download the flyer for the Symposium RSD_to_Work_Flyer_HERGA 2014_used


Visit the RSD site at http://www.rsd.edu.au to be better informed about the RSD framework in advance.

You will be sent a Survey Monkey link after you register. This is to provide information that will be used to make the Symposium work for you.

If you have queries about Putting the RSD to Work Symposium, please contact me- John Willison

john.willison@adelaide.edu.au (08) 83133219

Hope to see you there!

Optimising Problem Solving (OPS): a re-engineered version of the RSD

August 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Tutors of a First Year Mechanical Engineering Communications course at the University of Adelaide have ‘re-engineered’ the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework with language and configuration that fits the ways that engineers work, think and speak.

The tutors are themselves students in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Years and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.

Their framework is called Optimising Problem Solving, or OPS for short. It has several brilliant features, which the RSD current representation does not have:

1. Simple
2. Visually captures core elements of Problem Solving Processes
3. Great for direct use with students in the classroom
4. Shows how communication is an integral part of the problem solving process, not just end-on in products like reports.

You can see the full sized downloadable OPS (version 2) at http://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/framework/frameworks/


The tutors are looking forward to using this with First Year students in the week beginning 4 August 2014. Some of them will probably write some guest blogs on Reskidev in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, have a look at OPS and maybe comment on:

1) How effectively does OPS capture problem solving, from your perspective?
2) Under the OPS title is a byline beginning ‘when in doubt…’ that shows that the OPS process is not linear or even cyclic, but there is some direction that can be given to students. What do you think of the guidance provided by the byline?

The RSD website is www.rsd.edu.au

OPS also helps me to see how similar the skills underlying problem solving and researching really are. Great if you comment on OPS, so that the tutors get feedback on this work-in-progress

Framing assessment across degrees with the RSD: HERDSA in HK:

In a standard three-year degree, students encounter somewhere between 20 and 70 assignments, depending on discipline and university, from which they may receive some sort of feedback. How effectively can students see that these individual assignments fit together into a forest of learning?

Recent criticisms of assessment rubrics justifiably point out their problems, such as not providing feedback in a form that students use, and making students reliant on assessors rather than becoming increasingly autonomous learners, as noted by authors including Boud and Sadler. However, these problems are not necessarily endemic to rubrics, but rather to the current idiosyncratic use of rubrics providing feedback that is ‘too specific to a single episode of assessment rather than generalisable to the learning experience as a whole’ (Adcroft, 2011).

In our Office of Learning and Teaching project that looked at the benefits of using the six facets of the Research Skill Development framework (www.rsd.edu.au) as a common frame for assessment criteria across multiple and diverse assignments in a variety of courses across degrees. The efficacy of this approach was determined through interviews with 50 graduates, about one year after completing one of five undergraduate degrees. The use of the RSD facets in this way enabled many students to make connections between otherwise unrelated assessments and was perceived by graduates to be helpful in the development of attributes needed by them in a globalised world. A caveat is that RSD-framed rubrics are like ‘frozen conversations’ that need the warmth of human interaction to defrost them.

Visit the RSD website at http://www.rsd.edu.au to see a range of RSD-informed rubrics, under ‘Discipline examples’ that show RSD framing in a variety of contexts.

What role could the RSD play in your programs assessments, course by course? Please leave a comment.

Categories: Uncategorized

U Wisconsin Stout: Of the six facets of research, which has primacy?

In the U Wisconsin Stout presentation, we discussed the six facets of the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework (www.rsd.edu.au):

Embark and Clarify
Find and Generate
Evaluate and Reflect
Organise and Manage
Analyses and Synthesise
Communicate and Apply

If you had to prioritise one facet over the others, which one would it be? Why that one?

What may be potential uses for the RSD in your context?

Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse…

Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships. -Charles Simic, poet (b. 1938)

The idea of world’s best practice may at times provide a glut of ships-in-a-bottle. By the time I finish my ship, the oversupply makes it redundant. The way this seems to manifest in higher education is that by the time we follow a ‘world’ trend, the practice or initiative is no longer so highly regarded and the field has moved on to some different, more improved practice of focus.

However, maybe we need students who think ‘there are a lot of ships being built. Do we need another ship, or do we need something to help the ships out when they get in trouble?’

When students embark on the voyage of research, they may need to learn this through safe and common strategies with lots of structure and guidance (as per Prescribed Research Level 1 in the RSD: www.rsd.edu.au). However, do we also provide for students to think outside the ‘bottle’, or to imagine a different inside? (This is more akin to the RSD’s Level 4 Self-actuated Research or Level 5 Open Research).

Do we provide a range of active learning experiences where there are both safe and sure processes learned, as well as risk taking and adventuring?

The Levels on the RSD describe ‘extent of student autonomy in research’. Which of the five levels do you think is useful to begin with students in your context?

“I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.”

When Duke Ellington, the great jazz pianist, composer, and conductor (1899-1974) said:

“I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.”

I think that he was onto something that we can learn from in formal education.

I have run a lot of workshops for academic staff and professional staff on the six facets of the Research Skill Development framework (RSD: www.rsd.edu.au) in Australia and overseas, and I have looked at a lot of assessments across a number of universities. One stand out feature is that the facet of the RSD ‘Organise and Manage’ is typically under taught, under-developed and under assessed, resulting in minimised feedback for students to improve this complex set of skills.

Yet, without the ability to organise information in discipline appropriate ways, it is very difficult for students to do high level qualitative or quantitative analysis. Likewise, without the ability to manage resources, deadlines and sometimes teams, it is difficult to produce conceptually powerful work.

I have found quotes by famous people that connect to each of the other facets, but this Ellington quote is one of the few I have found that connects well to organise and manage. Interesting for me, then is that the current single-word descriptor of the affective (emotional and motivational) side of this facet is:


The Duke lead a rather large “team” of musicians with strong individual differences to produce great, harmonious music at the forefront of his field. His craving for a timeline is indicative of someone who yearns to wreak order on the choas of individual brilliance, pulling it all together harmoniously. Organisation and management then for the Duke served creativity, rather than restricting it.

I wonder if we can learn the Duke’s lesson in formal education, where the teaching, learning and assessment of organising and managing enable students to see the harmonies of data and in their teams, and so to engage in highly creative work that is scholarly in nature.

Do you have any good quotes around ‘organise and manage’? It would be great to build up the stockpile for these.

Do you agree or disagree that ‘organise and manage’ is under-done in formal education? Please add your ideas on this.

See another take on this facet at http://reskidev.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/what-do-i-do-with-all-this-information/


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