Does your coursework Masters program satisfy the research requirements of AQF9? National symposium about developing research skills in coursework Masters, 23 September 2015, Adelaide

August 26, 2015 1 comment

The Symposium is timely in Australia because we have a new requirement that all coursework Masters students:

“Apply knowledge and skills ..with high level personal autonomy and accountability… to plan and execute a substantial research based project, capstone experience and/or piece of scholarship”

Each coursework Masters degree needs to not only provide program structures to satisfy AQF9 requirements, but also the learning, teaching and assessment/feedback tasks that will develop professionally-relevant research capacity for all students, to answer the question:

Are your Masters degrees really at AQF level 9?

Its a big ask!

The Masterly RSD Symposium is designed to provide an action-based forum that enables you, along with other academics and professional staff, to share and develop discipline- appropriate strategies and resources for Masters, based around the Research Skill Development framework ( so you can address this question thoroughly.

The program and registration details for Masterly RSD is here:Flyer_MasterlyRSD_23Sept_NationalSymposium_2015_26Aug

Since November 2014, academics and professional staff in different states, territories have been meeting regularly to develop such resources based around the RSD that will enable students to engage in discipline-specific research projects and scholarship. At the Symposium, representatives from each group will be running interactive breakout sessions, with themes including:

RSD as a tool for collaborative conversations
: Victoria/Tasmania Cluster
RSD for assessment in Masters: New South Wales/ACT Cluster
The Work Skill Development framework use in Masters: Queensland Cluster
Whole-of-program conversations using the RSD: South Australia/NT Cluster

We have a rich intercultural thread across the symposium, with Indigenous perspectives and those from colleagues from the University of the South Pacific presenting on: Culturally appropriate use of the RSD in Masters .

Join us to see the diversity of approaches to using the RSD to enrich coursework masters students experiences of learning and research.

Some of the Masters-specific resources developed so far are available at, a newly opened site that will have additional resources over the coming 6 months.

This symposium runs after the HERGA conference 21 and 22 September, which has a theme:

Brave New World: The Future of Teaching and Learning (details at

Registration for both events is at

If you would like further information on the Masterly RSD Symposium, please contact me

Dr. John Willison, National Teaching Fellow (OLT)

Hope to see you at the conference and symposium


Assessing the Research Requirements of Coursework Masters (AQF9): Webinar Tuesday 1st September 12.15-12.45 pm EST

August 25, 2015 Leave a comment

If you are concerned about how to assess student research processes and products in Coursework Masters, come to our next webinar:
1 Sept: Research Skill Development & Assessment in coursework Masters (12.15pm EST, 11.45am-12.15pm CST, 10.15-10.45am WA)

It will be run by colleagues from CSU, UTS and USyd, who have been using the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework to inform Masters-level formative and summative assessment.

To enter the virtual classroom, go to

Log in as ‘guest’ with your name. If you have a headset, please use this.

Our final webinar in the build-up to the Masterly RSD symposium will be on:
15 September: Work Integrated Learning for Masters, informed by the Work Skill Development framework (1.00 pm EST).

To see RSD-based resources developed for coursework Masters, go to

Hope to see you in the virtual classroom.


Building Capacity for Work-Readiness: Bridging the Cognitive and Affective Domains

August 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Suniti Bandaranaike, James Cook University, Australia and I just had an article published that focuses on an analysis of students’ and employers’ perspectives during work placement, especially on student emotional work readiness. The article is titled: Building capacity for work-readiness: Bridging the cognitive and affective domains.

The article was published in a special issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 2015,16(3), 223-233 and is available from this link:

The work builds on the Work Skill Development (WSD) framework, which is a sister framework of the Research Skill Development framework. We are currently exploring how to manage the connections and segue between explicit research skill development and work skill development. The idea is that students do not experience a disconnect between the world of work and the world of university, but rather see them sharing similar cognitive and affective skill sets that use different terminologies and different emphases.

Suniti summarises the article:

Work-readiness capacity is a function of both the delivery of tertiary courses and the accompanying assessment standards. Work-readiness delivered through placements/internships often focus on cognitive skills and knowledge with little emphasis on emotional skills and affective knowledge. This study therefore, looks at empirical evidence of work-readiness of students through their learning experiences and their understanding of both the cognitive and the affective domains. The research is based on a validated employability framework, the Work Skills Development framework (Bandaranaike & Willison, 2009), which was used to assess core employability competencies and performance levels of 138 multidisciplinary WIL students and gain feedback from 111 employers. Statistical analysis was used to compare variations in the application of cognitive and affective skills and tested across gender, age, discipline and previous work experience. The study concluded that whilst overall students had limited understanding of affective skills, employers’ emphasised the need for greater use of affective skills in the workplace. In order to unlock the potential of the cognitive skills and for a deeper understanding of affective skills by students, this research introduces the concept of Emotional Work-readiness [EW] as a pathway for building work-readiness capacity.

How important do you think understanding the emotional aspects of work is for students on workplacements?


Key Lessons from Our Experiences Co-Facilitating the RSD CoP at University of Wisconsin (Stout)

The 2014-2015 Research Skill Development (RSD) Community of Practice (CoP) has been an incredible learning experience for our participants, and the campus as whole. Engaging CoP participants and key administrators with the Research Skill Development Framework during the summer 2014 RSD Workshop, hosted by John Willison, was critical to getting support and buy-in at all levels. The Summer Kick-Off Workshop also helped us to retool our original CoP plans by getting immediate feedback and input from all CoP members. Ultimately, we learned:
1. Participants each brought their own unique area of research expertise, and were at differing levels of familiarity with working through Institutional Research Boards and conducting Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SOTL Research). Immediately the utility of a “shared language of research” through the RSD Framework facilitated our discussions and collaboration within the CoP.

2. Some CoP participants had difficulty committing to the scope of the RSD and some wanted to serve as champions for the framework and educate others about it. Others were willing to actually conduct research on it.

3. Some CoP members had more difficulty than others conceptualizing how the framework best related to their courses/assignments. This also impacted the pace of the CoP, particularly in fall semester.

4. Having a librarian involved in the CoP was key to our success, as she helped to reinforce how information literacy is a cornerstone for reaching higher levels on the RSD framework. This was especially for several CoP participants who were teaching foundational courses – and thinking through what kinds of support services on campus are available to help students build competencies in information literacy.

5. Thinking through how the RSD ties to the mission/vision of the University (as well as at the college and department levels) was important to help us understand how to communicate about the RSD to important stakeholders.

6. The RSD was especially useful to us because it came from an external expert, and thus was perceived as “neutral territory.” Because no specific department, college or other academic unit was seen as having specific ownership of the RSD framework, it was easier to implement from a political perspective.

The CoP blog archive is found here

Innovative Undergraduate Research at UWS

Innovative Undergraduate Research at UWS

Anne Kerber, Kitrina Carlson, Sylvia Tiala & Renee Howarton, University of Wisconsin (Stout)

The RSD website is

‘Integration of research into the curriculum’: Council on Undergraduate Research conference in Florida, 26- 28 June 2016

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) just announced its biennial conference is to be held in Florida, 26- 28 June 2016. Several of us at the University of Adelaide will be heading over. I started attending this conference in 2008 and found it to be much more of a confer-ence and less a talkfest-ence. Really good conversations and time for forming network,s and often hour-long sessions that you can really get your teeth into. CUR usually calls for abstracts about August and they are to be submitted sometime in November.

Of five themes, one is of particular interest to me: ‘integration of research into the curriculum’.

This theme was not evident in 2008 and 2010 conference, as CUR has traditionally had a focus on mentored summer scholarships as the main mechanism for undergraduate research in the past. ‘In the curriculum’ started emerging in 2012.

There has therefore been emerging interest in North America generally and in CUR members particularly on the use of the Research Skill Development framework (RSD: to scaffold the development of undergraduate student discipline-specific research skills.

If you have been using the RSD to guide your students’ learning and/ or assessment, and been evaluating this use, you may consider submitting an abstract for the conference.

There are no details on the CUR website yet, but you can see 2014 conference details I’ll post when the full conference information becomes available.

Maybe I’ll see you in Florida in 2016! I’ve never been to Florida, but interested to see what natural wonders await- see my find when visiting outback New Jersey for the 2012 CUR conference:


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Masters Students and the RSD Pentagon

March 19, 2015 Leave a comment

A colleague, Isabella Slevin, University of Adelaide, writes about her use of the RSD pentagon with Masters students:

RSDpentagon image

I was tasked to prepare and present a 2 hour workshop on ‘How to Write a Literature Review’ for the 6 new Masters by Research students. The areas I decided to cover were: Purpose of a Literature Review; The Role of a Literature Review in driving your research; Structure and Features of a Literature Review; The Importance of Critical Analysis as opposed to mere summarising and Academic Language and Tone.
When first meeting the students I felt rather hesitant as they were all local students who had recently finished their Undergraduate degrees. They were articulate, independent and confident – I did wonder if I had anything new or of use for them. However, I worked my way through the power point slides, the various activities I had prepared – including a Literature Quiz, Survey of Appropriate Resources and deconstructing some Literature reviews from past students.
Foremost, however, was my emphasis on Research Skills and the Research Process. This is where I used the Facets of the RSD Pentagon and kept referring back to it throughout the workshop. I spoke of research as being a process involving various skills and phases, but, importantly, reinforced that it is not a linear process. One of the main aspects I highlighted was: when in doubt, go back to the middle Facet i.e. ‘Embark and Clarify’…again emphasising the process nature of research.
At the end of the workshop the students commented on how useful it had been. They said that the purpose of, and the format of Literature Reviews had never been explained to them – they had basically produced Annotated Bibliographies in the past. They reiterated that the content was useful and, in particular, the ‘Facets of Research’ was something that had given them a different perspective on research and another strategy to assist them in their own research project.

Thanks Isabella for your insights and experiences. A little scary- but maybe not uncommon- that perhaps plenty of domestic students have never had the format of Literature Reviews explained to them, or much experience with researching themselves. What is this like for international students?

The RSD pentagon was modelled on the brilliant work of Mechanical Engineering tutors, who ‘re-enineered’ the RSD framework into the OPS pentagon. If you missed the blog on that, its here

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Undergraduate students engaging in small groups: see how academics have made research skills explicit

February 5, 2015 Leave a comment

See how academics have made the development of the skills associated with research explicit to students. The link is to a new resource that captures student experience of research in small groups.

Especially note the comprehensive work in Engineering (access via ‘examples’). Mechanical Engineering tutors ‘reingineered’ the RSD for Engineering contexts, producing the OPS (Optimising Problem Solving) pentagon. Use of OPS throughout second semester 2014 is featured, with explanations of OPS and lots of student engagement with the pentagon.


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