Review of CSaLT
Monday, 26 September 2011
Towards the end of 2010 a five-year review of the Centre was conducted with Professor Sasha Barab of Indiana State University heading the panel for the review. He was joined on the panel by Dr Jack Bana (retired) and Professor Beth Walker (Associate Dean - Business) to complete the review. Overall the report was seen to endorse the value and directions being pursued by the Centre. There were four main areas highlighted as challenges to address: Reliance on Director; loss of key researchers and post-doctoral scholars; inadequate funding for Centre administration; and, lack of promotion of a strategic plan. An action plan has been developed and endorsed by the Academic Board of the University.
Overall the report was seen to generally endorse the value and directions being pursued by the Centre.
There were four main areas highlighted: Reliance on Director; loss of key researchers and post docs; inadequate funding for Centre administration; and, lack of promotion of a strategic plan.
Reliance on Director: The Director has been the leader for the two large research projects but a number of smaller ones have other staff as leaders. Over the past year at least two proposals for large projects have been submitted that do not have the Director as the leader – both were unsuccessful. However, this strategy will continue to be supported.
Loss of key researchers: This is a general problem faced by the School of Education as a whole. Recruitment and appointment of new staff to the School emphasises the need for doctoral qualifications and active researchers. Two strategies that have been pursued by CSaLT are to apply for postdoctoral scholars and to support the development of staff through involvement in research teams. The latter is dependent on gaining large research grants.
Ongoing Funding for Centre administration: Funding from the Faculty for administration has been secure over the past two years so this is not currently a problem. In the longer term, 5% of the 15% USC on CSaLT projects could be returned to the centre to support CSaLT administration.
Promotion of strategic plan: CSaLT has produced a flyer which is available to staff and distributed to schools that outlines the mission and services offered by CSaLT. In addition this information is expanded on the Centre website and is presented at seminars throughout the year.
A number of opportunities were outlined.
Funding Partnerships of Sponsorships with Industry: There are critical limits to this opportunity with the funding available to education being small and the main interest in commercial industry being development, not research. In the past the Centre has unsuccessfully pursued collaboration with commercial industry – success has always been with non-commercial industry.
Leadership to the School and pre-service programs with use of ICT in teaching and learning: This has been a focus of the Centre in the past but is largely dependent on the policies set by the Head of School. It is likely that the new Head of School will be supportive of a return to this role by the Centre. Plans are already underway for this to occur through the new national project, Teaching Teachers for the Future.
Commercialization: To this point it has not been considered productive to pursue commercialisation. Advice will be sought from the Manager Research Commercialisation in ORI for any new products.
Appointment of an Associate Director to take on an entrepreneurial role: No obvious source of funding has been identified to support such an appointment and it is questioned whether this would be the most appropriate use of any additional resources made available to the Centre.
In 2010 the following plans are intended to address the recommendations of the review.
Take on leadership in the promotion of the connection between research and teaching in the pre-service programs.
The Centre has been instrumental in supporting the Council of Deans of Education in developing a successful proposal to improve the use of ICT in teacher education programs. This includes connecting and conducting research within the project. This project, Teaching Teachers for the Future, will provide the ECU School of Education (SoE) with 1.5FTE and will be led by Paul Newhouse.
In connection with the aforementioned project the Centre will convene a team that will work with the School to develop and implement policy and practice in the use of ICT in programs. This will include an audit of programs and units and the implementation of an ongoing professional learning strategy and the generation of research outputs related to the teaching-learning-practice nexus.
The Centre will apply to extend the current two post-doctoral scholar positions to the end of 2011 and then apply for a new position in 2012. This would allow the Centre to capitalise on the completion of the current ARC Linkage grant project, Digital Forms of Assessment. These two researchers were integrally involved in the project and are in the best position to assist us in increasing our publications using the results of the project. They are also in a good position to assist us in developing proposals to continue this work and to transition to a follow-up project with the Curriculum Council.
The Centre will continue to apply for research grants to cover the cost of a post-doctoral scholar position.
Strategic planning and leadership of the Centre
The Centre presents a strategic plan annually as part of the report to the Faculty. This is done in conjunction with the Advisory Board. The plan typically includes strategies for encouraging research, devolving research output, engaging with the education community and industry, and meeting the needs of the School. While the Director leads this process it involves the wide range of representatives on the Board.
The review suggested investigating a role for an Associate Director. This was discussed at a Board meeting with a decision taken to approach the Head of the School of Education to call for applicants. As a result Jeremy Pagram was selected as the Associate Director of the Centre for a period of three years.