IISME Seminar by award winners in science and mathematics education

8 August 2013

The Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (IISME) will be hosting a special event in May this year. This event will be a series of seminars presented by 2012 award winners in the field of science and mathematics education.


  • 10:00-10:15 Refreshments
  • 10:15-10:20 Welcome
  • 10:20-10:40 Fiona White and Caleb Owens (School of Psychology)
  • 10:40-11:00 Siegbert Schmid (School of Chemistry)
  • 11:00-11:20 Manju Sharma (IISME/School of Physics)
  • 11:20-11:30 Close

Below are the abstracts and information about the speakers:

Siegbert Schmid || Engaging Students in a Competitive World

Universities in Australia are beginning to realise that the traditional lecture format is starting to reach its use-by date. While it may be the best way to broadcast large amounts of information to very large classes, it is nonetheless not an effective way to facilitate or encourage learning for the majority of our students. Attendance levels have rarely been at 100 %, but anecdotal evidence suggests that since the introduction of widespread lecture recording, which are then made available online, the number of students seeing value in attending lectures has dropped significantly. Students have many demands on their time, in particular large work commitments keep them from coming to campus all the time. In order to make it worth their while, we therefore have to add value to our face-to-face lectures beyond what they can get from a recording of the material. Interactivity in lectures is one way to enhance students' experience and I will show examples from my lectures, using KEEpad response devices, worksheets and interactive lecture demonstrations in Chemistry.

Bio: Dr Siggi Schmid teaches all areas of Chemistry at junior level and also aspects of inorganic and materials chemistry in higher years. He has been teaching at the University of Sydney for ten years. Dr Schmid's research is in solid state materials chemistry, investigating better materials for re-chargeable batteries amongst others. Dr Schmid's contribution to chemistry education is based on a unique combination of being an inspiring classroom teacher with universally acknowledged enthusiasm, and a commitment to improving chemistry education, both locally and nationally, based on the scholarship of teaching and learning. His command of pedagogical content knowledge lets him tailor teaching material to his students' needs and his own chemistry education research flows directly into curriculum renewal and improvements to the student experience. He has supervised a number of PhD and Honours students in chemistry education. He is a Past Chair of the RACI Division of Chemistry Education. He is on the management committee of ChemNet, has chaired its resources working party and is a mentor for junior academics on a SaMnet project. He has been recognised with a number of teaching awards, including the Vice Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching (University of Sydney, 2012) and an OLT 2012 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Fiona White and Caleb Owens

Associate Professor Fiona White || Since receiving her PhD in Social and Developmental Psychology at the University of Sydney in 1997, Fiona's work has been widely published and funded by several nationally competitive grants. In 2009 she received ARC Discovery Project Grant funding, in 2010 a VicHealth Grant, and in 2012 an OLT Priority Project Grant to investigate Academic Integrity nationally with colleagues from Macquarie University. Across her career, she has published over 40 papers in peer-reviewed academic journals and delivered over 60 presentations at both national and international psychology conferences. Fiona is also the first author of a leading developmental psychology textbook that is adopted by 12 universities nationally. In 2010 she was appointed to the senior leadership role of Associate Dean of the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Studies (BLAS), and in 2012, Fiona along with Dr Caleb Owens, were awarded the Vice Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award for the Student Experience.

Abstract: Due to the ease in accessing internet resources, the lack of understanding of correct academic referencing procedures, and minimum experience in tertiary-level academic writing, the risk that first-year students will misattribute material and plagiarise it is on the rise. To address this growing concern, we trialled several strategies to reduce the incidence of plagiarism and to improve writing and referencing among first-year psychology students across 10 consecutive semesters. Each semester's cohort ranged in size from 950 to 2,000 students. These strategies included the sole use of similarity detection software as a deterrent; several interactive writing and referencing exercises with feedback; and mastery quizzes on writing and referencing. The findings revealed that the most significant reduction in reported plagiarism cases occurred between the 'no education (a deterrent only) strategy' and when a writing exercise with feedback strategy was introduced in the following year. This extensive research program highlights the fact that an educational approach to writing is essential for students to maintain their sense of academic integrity.

Manju Sharma || The changing face of education: Challenges and opportunities for science and mathematics educator

Universities are facing a tumultuous time with external regulation through TEQSA and the rise of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Scientific disciplines within universities face the challenge of doing excellent research, as well as producing a range of graduates capable of undertaking cutting edge research and transferring into diverse careers. These are not new challenges. The emergence of MOOCs has raised the question, 'Why go to a University?'. These tumultuous times provide a threat as well as an opportunity. How do we balance our activities? Does teaching and learning need to be re-conceptuliased? Is it time to seriously consider the role of education and the 'value-add' university education provides? This talk will provide snapshots of work that demonstrate the value-add universities can provide.

Bio: Associate Professor Manjula Sharma completed her Bachelors at The University of the South Pacific, PhD and MEd at Sydney. She is the Director of the Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, heads the Sydney University Physics Education Research group and Leads SaMnet, the Science and Mathematics network of Australian University Educators. Prof Sharma has some 80 refereed publications and book chapters in science and mathematics education, and has received repeated funding. Her work is recognised internationally through research partnerships and service on Editorial Boards and Conference committees. She has been awarded the Australian Institute for Physics Education Medal in 2012, ALTC Team Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2008 and Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006.

Time: 10:00am-11:30am

Location: Carslaw Lecture Theatre 275

Cost: Free

Contact: Alexandra Yeung

Email: 3d3a1d5d51240309343a313b6d301734563b44