Faculty mentoring, evidence-based assessment, and student learning: An Australian exploration of American initiatives

CDIO Initiative
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 8th International CDIO Conference, 2012, pp. 1 - 14
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
There have been many improvements in Australian engineering education since the 1990s. However, given the recent drive for assuring the achievement of identified academic standards, more progress needs to be made, particularly in the area of evidence-based assessment. This paper reports on initiatives gathered from the literature and engineering academics in the USA, through an Australian National Teaching Fellowship program. The program aims to establish a process to help academics in designing and implementing evidence-based assessments that meet the needs of not only students and the staff that teach them, but also industry as well as accreditation bodies. The paper also examines the kinds and levels of support necessary for engineering academics, especially early career ones, to help meet the expectations of the current drive for assured quality and standards of both research and teaching. Academics are experiencing competing demands on their time and energy with very high expectations in research performance and increased teaching responsibilities, although many are researchers who have not had much pedagogic training. Based on the literature and investigation of relevant initiatives in the USA, we conducted interviews with several identified experts and change agents who have wrought effective academic cultural change within their institutions and beyond. These reveal that assuring the standards and quality of student learning outcomes through evidence-based assessments cannot be appropriately addressed without also addressing the issue of pedagogic training for academic staff. To be sustainable, such training needs to be complemented by a culture of on-going mentoring support from senior academics, formalised through the university administration, so that mentors are afforded resources, time, and appropriate recognition.
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