2006 Projects

Arts Network Mentoring Program 2006

Applicant: Dr Nerida Jarkey
Duration of project: One year

Since 2002, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has organised a transition and peer mentoring program known as Arts Network. The main objective of this program is to help build an encouraging and supportive learning environment and sense of identity and belonging for all students in the Faculty, especially for commencing first year students. In the four years it has been running it has been considerably refined and developed through action research.

In 2006, we would like to extend the program by introducing more team building activities that involve both mentors and first year students, and that also attract participation from more faculty staff and alumni. We would also like to extend our web resources and the administrative database that supports registration for participation and activities in the program.

Developing Undergraduates’ Academic Writing Skills

Applicant: Dr Ahmar Mahboob
Duration of project: One year

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Graduate Attributes claim that graduates from our Faculty will possess a high standard of oral, visual and written communication skills relevant to their fields of study. However, many students commence an Arts degree with significant needs in this skill area, particularly in the key skill area of academic writing.

This project builds on the substantial progress made in the Faculty in recent years in the development and provision of writing skills support. The purpose of this application is to redevelop a unit of study, along with a range of additional support materials and processes, targeted at the needs of undergraduate students who struggle with writing Academic English. The resources will be used to improve the junior unit LNGS1005 and make it more congruent with the needs of both local and international students who have difficulty with English grammar and/or writing. We will focus on developing better diagnostic tools, feedback strategies, tutoring, and research on academic writing for undergraduate students.

Postgraduate Coursework Degree Pathways

Applicant: Ms Elizabeth Connor
Duration of project: One year

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers a total of fourteen named Masters Degree programs, most of which have associated Certificate and Diploma programs of study. There are a range of options for students to consider in determining their choice of postgraduate coursework program, and the final structure and pattern of their study within that program.

These options may vary considerably depending on the learning aspirations and personal circumstances of each student.

Whilst some information on all of these options exists, it tends to be buried in various degree and faculty rules and regulations and is not easily accessible to students. Furthermore, information that is available is not always presented in ways that encourage students to consider all possibilities to achieve the best outcome for themselves.

This project aims to improve the quality and accessibility of information on the web for prospective and current coursework postgraduate students in named degree programs, in order for them to determine the best options for their program of study. This project will serve as a model for the subsequent improvement of information for students in our generic postgraduate coursework programs and for postgraduate research programs in the Faculty.

Redesigning Lectures for Online Mode

Applicant: Dr Susan Thomas
Duration of project: One year

This project focuses on a single UoS, but one of significance to the entire university community. ENGL1000 is a university-wide service unit mandated by the Vice Chancellor and designed to improve students’ academic writing and communication abilities.

There are a number of motivations for redesigning lectures for online mode in ENGL1000. Recent student feedback suggests that many students, especially those enrolled in cross-faculty degree programs, have difficulty attending lectures due to clashes in timetabling. Students have been extremely satisfied with the highly interactive, two-hour weekly workshops offered at a wide range of times, and with the supporting materials available on the ENGL1000 WebCT and Write Site. However, they have specifically requested lectures to be delivered in an online mode in order to eliminate the inconvenience of a single lecture delivered at a fixed time each week. Furthermore, while students realise the value of the material presented in the lecture component, an overwhelming number of them question the mode of face-to-face or ‘performed’ lectures in a writing unit.

This innovative project would facilitate the following:

  1. More flexibility for students
  2. More student-focused organisation of learning materials
  3. More emphasis on student diversity
  4. Increased enrolments in ENGL1000

This project will build on existing work by evaluating how redesigning lectures for online mode would impact upon face-to-face learning in tutorials/workshops, and how the knowledge, skills and understandings facilitated by existing lectures can be reformatted for delivery in a blended learning environment. It will serve as a model for others in the Faculty, who have noted the success of online learning and teaching materials in ENGL1000 and have expressed interest in developing lectures (and other teaching materials) for an online mode.

Research and Information Skills Tutorial for First Year Students

Applicant: Dr Anthony Dracopoulos
Duration of project: One year

In a survey conducted in S1 2005, the Library found that more than 25% of respondents did not use or were unaware of e-reserve resources. These data support anecdotal observations of staff in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences that significant numbers of students, even in their senior years, do not know how to access and use key library resources such as e-reserve and journal articles.

In consultation with the Director of CHASS Libraries, the Social Sciences Librarian and the Director of First Year Teaching and Learning in Arts, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Library Committee has proposed that development of research and information skills be made an integral component of all programs of study for first year students in Arts. They have established a timeframe for implementation of a mandatory tutorial for all first years, and identified WebCT as the most effective and efficient method of delivery.

The establishment of this tutorial will bring with it a number of benefits. The tutorial will:

  • enhance the first year experience by ensuring that students have the skills to engage positively with the Library rather than seeing it as a source of anxiety.
  • support learning at point-of-need and integrate generic skills development into the student online learning experience and with other online learning and support mechanisms including the Write Site and Arts Network.
  • contribute to the development of graduate attributes.
  • ensure that all Arts students have access to information on core Library resources.
  • support the Faculty’s goal of encouraging a research-led teaching environment by giving students the skills to be engaged in the research process.
  • allow other Library programs to focus on advanced skills leaving the tutorial to cover core library skills for first year students.

TM Bookmarker

Applicant: Dr Chris Chesher
Duration: One year

Students are increasingly using the internet to gather materials for university assignments. While some resources accessible on the internet are excellent, many sources are very dubious or problematic. Although most students are skilled users of the internet, many lack critical scholarly skills to distinguish the good from the bad.

Adaptation of the TMBookmarker internet bookmarking/bibliography application for student use will facilitate the development of skills for students’ critical engagement with internet resources.

TIF funding will support a pilot scheme for adapting TMBookmarker for use by undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students. Modifications to TMBookmarker supported by this grant will extend its capabilities to provide a student-centred learning environment that offers a flexible infrastructure for inquiry-based learning curricula, enhances research-led teaching, and supports the development of a community of scholars.