Leading the pack: Developing students’ research skills at Monash Malaysia

Under the patronage of the Campus Education Committee, as part of MUM strategy to enable research skills development across the curriculum, the Library and Learning Commons organised a series of Research Skill Development (RSD) framework workshops from May 30th to June 1st, 2017. The workshops, held at the Sunway campus, were led by Dr John Willison author of the RSD framework (University of Adelaide) and RSD experts Lynette Torres and Sebastian Borutta (Monash University Australia Library). Librarians Namita Santra and Anette Wilson (Monash University Malaysia) played an active role in the program and co-facilitated several sessions of the workshops.

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Building upon the success of the inaugural workshop “Working with the Research Skill Development framework” held in September 2016, the three day-interactive workshops and RSD clinics fostered stimulating conversations between facilitators, academic staff, librarians and learning skills advisers around what research skills might look like in a learning continuum. Valuable discussions demystified research skills as the foundational skills students require to engage successfully with undergraduate coursework and into the future as Researchers. Participants engaged in RSD-informed activities allowing them to appreciate the potential of the RSD in curriculum and assessment design, while modelling effective faculty-library partnerships to enhance student learning outcomes. In Willison’s thought-provoking Master Class and facilitated discussions, participants had an opportunity to experience adapted versions of the RSD, also known as “Models of Engaged Teaching and Learning”, underlying the organic development of the RSD and the influence of our own cultural contexts and institutional drivers.

A total of 25 participants including 14 academic staff hailing from Monash Malaysia’s various Schools participated in the RSD workshops, Master Class and clinics. In addition, a delegation from RMIT Vietnam, currently exploring the potential of the RSD in curriculum enhancement, was invited by Isabelle Eula, Library Director, to attend the Monash University Malaysia’s workshops.

[Some people say that the RSD is difficult to implement, changing the curriculum design considerably. Others feel that the RSD is a great tool that supplements and elevates the teaching and learning experience. Going through the … workshops allowed me first-hand experience of what the RSD framework can and cannot do.
The RSD …. is a good tool to map out our curriculum design and assessment tasks. It shows the research skills students should be using and the amount of autonomy students are given. When I briefly mapped the RSD to my Writing Experiments unit, I saw in one highly advanced assignment I had given too much autonomy to the students. It helped me to adjust my expectations, and offer more scaffolding for the task.]
(Timothy Wong, MEB Coordinator, SASS)

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Several Library staff and academic staff will be presenting two papers on the Monash Malaysia’ collaborative journey and experience with enabling research skills at the December I-MELT (International Conference on Mobilising Engaged Learning Teaching) conference at The University of Adelaide, Australia. https://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/i-melt/

The Library invites the academic staff who, during the RSD workshops and clinics, expressed interest in revisiting their Unit guides or in developing new RSD-informed assessment activities to pursue the conversation with their School liaisons.

Stay tuned, we will keep the community posted on future RSD professional development opportunities at School or campus level!