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

October 2, 2015 Leave a comment

The Call for Submissions is open now and can be found at
The deadline to submit for oral sessions is Nov. 13, 2015.

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.

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:


Masterly RSD Symposium- photo and event highlights

September 30, 2015 12 comments

The Masterly RSD Symposium was attended Wednesday 23 September 2015 by an enthusiastic 100 participants and presenters.

The day was kicked off by Trevor-Tirritpa Ritchie, a Kaurna man from the University of South Australia, who gave us a rousing welcome to Country in three languages; Kaurna, English and digeridoo.

Trevor-Tirritpa Ritchie welcoming us to Kaurna Country

Trevor-Tirritpa Ritchie welcoming us to Kaurna Country

Sabine Schurer and Nayana Parange; Colin Sharp and Stephanie Eglington-Warner; and Robyn Davidson; the SA core who organised and ran the symposium, welcoming people and setting up.

South Australian Masterly RSD core group

South Australian Masterly RSD core group

We had an interactive session early on to enable the audience, who had diverse experiences of the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework, to engage in an activity normally given to undergraduate and masters students in order for them to derive the facets of the RSD in their own words. This activity required people to consider the similarities and differences between Aboriginal Peoples’ traditional living skills and contemporary research skills.

Symposium participants tossing over similarities and differences,

Symposium participants tossing over similarities and differences

Representatives from NSW/ACT (Assessment and RSD), Vic/TAs (Collaborative Conversations with the RSD), Queensland (Work Skill Development and RSD) and the whole SA core Masterly RSD group each presented 5 minute ‘Pecha Kuchas’ to entice the audience to attend their breakout session. The audience then chose one of these sessions to attend:

Breakout rooms saw lots of discussion...

Breakout rooms saw lots of discussion…

... and hard work.

… and hard work.

Following Lunch,  Professor Derrick Armstrong kicked us off with an overview of his impressions, as a DVC (Research) new to the University of the South Pacific (USP), of the University’s implementation of the RSD over the past 4 years. Then Heena Lal provided us with an institution wide look at this RSD role-out at USP since 2011.

DVC(R) Professor Derrick Armstrong and the Manager of USP's RSD initiative, Heena Lal

DVC(R) Professor Derrick Armstrong and the Manager of USP’s RSD initiative, Heena Lal

Then we had a wonderful tag-team, with Sotiana Mele, a Masters student,  and Rev. Dr. Keith Morrison, a Masters course coordinator, both of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, presenting on Culturally appropriate use of the RSD in the USP context.

Rev. Dr. Keith Morrison and Sotiana Mele

Rev. Dr. Keith Morrison and Sotiana Mele

After the fantastic USP presentations, the audience was required to form groups of six, where each person was assigned one of the RSD facets, and had to join up with the five other facets. Groups formed then raced outside into the glorious Spring afternoon sun.

Groups of six formed, with each person representing one of the RSD facets.

Groups of six formed, with each person representing one of the RSD facets.

Each group had to consider which of the six facets was the most important one in Apollo 13’s Carbon dioxide problem and solution. They then were forced back inside the theatre to vote:

flash left

Teams voting on which facet was most important to Apollo 13. A total of 2 Fs, an A and 2 Es.

Each team then presented their case as to why the facet they chose was most important. This team analysis and argument is a great way to ‘re-animate’ facets of the RSD with students who have encountered them in earlier studies, but may have forgotten them.

Pausing only for a quick launch of the RSD Masters website, which houses the emerging work of each state and territory’s clusters…

Masters RSD site

Masters RSD site

… Professor Phil Levy, PCV (Student Learning) made some closing remarks and presented Coconuts, symbolically representing valuable contributions from USP, to all the Presenters resident in Australia.

Prof Derrick Armstrong passes coconuts to Prof Phil Levy

Prof Derrick Armstrong passes coconuts to Prof Phil Levy

Thankyou coconuts to the presenters from Australia. L to R Barbara Yazbeck (Monash), Deborah Murdoch (CSU), Michelle Harrison (USyd), Nayana Parange , Stephanie Eglington-Warner, Sabine Schuhrer , Colin Sharp and Robyn Davidson

Thankyou coconuts to the presenters from Australia. L to R Barbara Yazbeck (Monash), Deborah Murdoch (CSU), Michelle Harrison (USyd), Stephanie Eglington-Warner (Uof Ad), Robyn Davidson (UofAd), Nayana Parange (UniSA), Sabine Schuhrer (UofAd) , Colin Sharp (UniSA), Lyn Torres (Monash) and Sue Bandaranaike (JCU).

If you attended the Symposium- what was the highlight for you? Please leave your thoughts in the ‘Leave a comment’ field at the top of this page.

Thanks to all of you who made the event such an amazing day!



Categories: Uncategorized

Describing the Extent of Student Autonomy in the RSD: revising the Level descriptions

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment

The Research Skill Development framework articulates the extent of student autonomy in researching, critical thinking or problem solving. From 2013 version of the RSD, these levels have been:

Prescribed Research- Level 1
Bounded Research – Level 2
Scaffolded Research- Level 3
Self-actuated Research – Level 4
Open Research – Level 5

The first three descriptions seem to work well in many context, as does the final one. There are two aspects that can be clunky:

1) the term ‘self actuated’. Its not such a common term, so people can tangle on it- maybe students too.
2) use of the word ‘level’. Gets confused or conflated with Level of university study. Its all about ‘extent of autonomy’ but in English ‘Extent 1’. ‘Extent 2’ etc doesn’t work.

I would love your perspective on changes to these for a new version of the RSD for later in the year. Please vote for your preference.



Feel free to make further suggestions about improvements to the RSD in the ‘comment’ field for the blog

For those of you attending the Masterly RSD Symposium in Adelaide 23 September, we will look at the results from this poll. Hope to see you then.

kind regards


Categories: Uncategorized

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


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