RSD presentations at the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Conference, Washington DC 28 June- 1 July 2014

February 27, 2014 Leave a comment

If you are going to this conference, or were not planning to but may reconsider after visiting…

… consider dropping in on Cathy Snelling’s presentation: ‘Enhanced alumni: nurturing global citizenship using a scaffolded research skills framework’

or my presentations:

Graduates’ perspectives on of the development of all students’ research skills across undergraduate degrees


‘I love it.’ Student motivators to engage in the development of their research skills in the curriculum.

Hope to see you there


Introducing your students to the RSD facets: Module 1 of ‘Using the RSD’ series

February 17, 2014 2 comments

The first module in the ‘Using the RSD’ series is aboout how you may introduce your students to the RSD facets by experiencing these for themselves in large class settings. The module has five examples, with one example explained in detail and another showing footage of students engaging in deriving the facets of the RSD. It runs for about 20 minutes.

The module is called ‘Introducing your students to the RSD facets’ and available here:

This is the first module because, after interviewing graduates we found:

- understanding RSD-based rubrics was difficult but important
- there was a risk that rubrics could remain as ‘frozen conversations’ rather than helpful documents
- numerous encounters, including the ‘deriving activities’ described in the module are important for long term research skill development.

The above evaluation is found in the report on RSD emebedded across whole degree programs.

If you watch this module, you could comment on ideas that you have on what stimulus you might use in your context, and how you could organise the learning tasks so that students come up with differentiated lists. I for one would be interested! The more discipline-specific examples that we can gather, the better armed we will be to help students develop richly their research skills in multiple contexts.

John W

How to Use the RSD: A new series

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment

The first module on how to use the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework is now available. Its called ‘Introducing your students to the RSD facets’ and available here:

Its about 20 minutes long, and provides examples from five contexts.

If you are not very aware of the RSD framework, you might start with the RSD website

Over the next few months, further modules will become available at:

The next two modules planned are:

Module 2: Creating Marking Rubrics that are framed by the RSD

Module 3: Helping students to engage with RSD rubrics

You are very welcome to request a module based on RSD use that would be helpful for you.

You can do this in the comments section of this blog, or by emailing me- John Willison

Developing research skills across degree programs: Graduate outcomes of OLT study

February 14, 2014 Leave a comment

What are the long term advantages when students encounter explicit research skill development and assessment, framed by the RSD, in multiple courses across their degree program? Our study, funded by the Office of Teaching and Learning (Australia), interviewed 27 Graduates one year after completion of such degree programs as well as 23 students during their honours year after encountering RSD in multiple courses in their earlier years to find out.

A large proportion of graduates found that RSD helped them to develop research skills that were highly applicable to their working environment.

Honours students found that the RSD was helpful with the development of their own identity as researchers.

The report on the project ‘Outcomes and uptake of explicit research skill development across degree programs:’Its got a practical outcome in my world, in what I do’ can be found here:

One theme that emerged was the helpfulness of using the same framework in different context, to enable students to see the big picture. As one Honours student said:

Since the beginning [of First Year], they have … been consistently applying this structure to all of our assignments, we have come to think that way for science.

In the contexts investigated, the RSD was able to provide a common conceptual structure, and yet allow for a great deal of diversity of approaches.

How important is it to provide a coherent thread across university education, from your perspective? And how effective could the RSD be in helping educators to achieve this coherence across diverse courses of a university degree?

Feel free to comment and to complete the poll below.

How do we develop student problem solving and research skills across the curriculum? Colleagues from the University of South Pacific explain their perspective on RSD

October 25, 2013 1 comment


‘What is the problem here?’ asks A/Profoessor  Jito Vanualailai in the presentation at the VC’s Learning and Teaching forum at USP in October 2013 [link below]. ‘What are the problem solving skills that I need to identify? How do I teach these skills in a cohesive systematic manner?’

Two years since the University of the South Pacific decided to use the Research SKill Development framework to develop problem solving, critical thinkng and researching skills across degree programs, colleagues from the university explain their answers to Jito’s questions.

The advantages for graduates of Research Skill Development across undergraduate degree-programs

October 7, 2013 Leave a comment

We have been interviewing graduates, honours students and PhD students about explicit Research Skill Dvelopment in the undergraduate years to find out the long term advantages of this process.

The news and events sections on this blog show fora where these outcomes are being presented and workshoped. Feel free to come along if you can make it. However we will soon showcase specific outcomes of the project, funded by the OLT, on this blog.

In brief, graduates and honours students looked back over the previous three years of study which had multiple occasions where their reseach skills were explicitly developed. As one student noted:

Since the beginning [of First Year], they have given us assignments based on this criteria. You might not have liked the assignments, but because they have been consistently applying this structure to all of our assignments, we have come to think that way for science… You might not know that you’re following their guidelines, but you are.

From many interviewed, there was a refreshing sense of the big picture: ‘we have come to think that way for science’. There was a clear sense from a substantial majority of those interviewed (43/50) that explicit research skill development in the undergraduate years had advantages for their current employment or honours study, and recommended that this process should be embeded from the First or Second Year of the degree.

More of this in future blogs. I need to fly early tomorrow to Sydney!


Categories: Uncategorized

RSD Presentation at Monash University, Friday 11 October

October 7, 2013 Leave a comment

The advantages for graduates of Research Skill Development across undergraduate degree-programs

Mode:     Presentation then workshop

Date:        Friday 11 October, 2013

Time:       9.30am – 10.30 am: Presentation

10.30am – 10.45am: Morning tea

10.45am – 12.30 pm: Workshop with guest presenters

12.30pm: Lunch and networking

Venue:    ISB Meeting Room 2, Level 2,
Matheson Library, Clayton

Explicit research skill development is proving to be an effective teaching and learning strategy for cognitively engaging undergraduate students in many disciplines, and enabling them to work with increasing academic rigour. The project described in this seminar used the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework to provide the conceptual glue across multiple-courses in various degree-programs. This presentation will focus on attitudes about course-wide explicit research skill development of employed graduates from Health Sciences, Humanities, and Engineering. Perspectives of honours students in Heath Science and the Sciences provide a deep understanding of the role of RSD in research capacity building.

There will be opportunity to explore the implications and potential of using the RSD in your context, including:

  • Ways that others have initiated the use of the RSD
  • How to adapt the use of the RSD to your context
  • Starting from scratch- what are possible & realistic starting points?
  • Potential collaborations with others in the seminar, or academics in the 30 plus disciplines that have used the RSD
  • Assessing students to show that they have attained these research skills
  • Scaffolding students to work increasingly independently

Developing curricula to facilitate research skills

Hope to see you there



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