Research Areas

Members of the RIBET group have been investigating how prepared students are when they enter university, how they use learning resources, how they develop graduate attributes and how they develop their thinking as biologists during the degree program.

eLearning

  • The role and usage of computer-based learning modules in supporting student learning across Life Science disciplines.
  • Investigations on the impact of online learning materials to student learning, including their perceptions of use and usefulness of resources and whether their use enhances student performance.
  • The impact on staff of elearning project development.

Learner Profiles in Transition

The process of Learner Profiling incorporates approaches to learning and student conceptions of biology, which can be related to various factors defining student engagement with the biology curriculum and academic performance. To date, we have tracked changes in Learner Profiles of tertiary students during a one-semester biology course to determine whether students maintained their incoming Learner Profile, whether certain Learner Profiles were more persistent than others and how changes may relate to student engagement with the curriculum. Our technique provides a means for examining Learner Profile changes that may occur in response to curriculum change and over the course of a degree. This work is ongoing.

Mentoring

  • The effects on mentoring and training programs on student and tutor confidence and performance in learning environments are being evaluated through interviews and questionnaires.

Science Writing

  • Investigations of the types of feedback staff give to students, how it is communicated, and how students interpret it, to determine the most effective ways to help students.
  • Deconstructing the feedback process from the perspective of teachers using interviews and analysis of written comments.
  • Osu what is your spin on writing
  • Investigating the impact of peer-editing on students' perceptions of writing in the discipline

Threshold Concepts

  • Defining threshold concepts in biology, which will encourage cultural change in teaching that is appropriate for diverse learning strategies.
  • Re-viewing academic numeracy as a threshold concept. Identifying ways to move beyond the "I can’t do maths – they can't do maths" impasse.

Postgraduate and Honours Opportunities

Current projects include:

  • Challenges in a changing world: investigating Sydney’s parrot diversity
  • Are five year olds ecologically literate?: a study of kindergarten children’s understanding of the concept of biodiversity
  • Competition in the urban environment: a study of the Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis

Potential themes for postgraduate and honours projects may be identified under research areas. Alternatively you may have your own idea that you would like to develop.

If you are interested in enrolling for Postgraduate or Honours projects with us, please contact Dr Charlotte Taylor.

Collaborative Activities

Collaborations have included working with colleagues in the UK and Europe, and in Australia and New Zealand on a number of interests including: investigating threshold concepts in learning (http://bugs.bio.usyd.edu.au/thresholds_in_biology/); the development of a web site that provides biologists with ideas about how we are assessing the discipline (Bioassess web site link); benchmarking teaching in first year chemistry and biology (http://science.uniserve.edu.au/disc/benchmarking/index.html).