Book review: Student-generated Digital Media in Science Education by G. Hoban,W. Nielsen and A. Shepherd (eds)


My copy bookmarked throughout for future reference!

Review of “Student-generated Digital Media in Science Education: Learning, Explaining and Communicating Content” by Garry Hoban, Wendy Nielsen and Alyce Shepherd (Eds.) (2016) London: Routledge. Pp. 274.

I was really excited to be asked to review this edited book focusing on student-centred learning in science using technology and digital media. I recognised many of the authors from the conferences on higher education and science education that I have attended recently and I was keen to read more of their work in this growing field. I wasn’t disappointed! This book provides a rich collection of creative examples of student-generated digital media tasks in science, with lots of great advice for implementing learning activities and assessment tasks.

My book review has just been published in the HERDSA News (The magazine of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia) volume 38, issue 2, page 26.

You can download a free copy of my book review in the HERDSA News vol. 38, issue 2 here


STARS conference – Supporting student transition: embedding reading practices into the first year Science curriculum

I presented this paper with my co-author Neela Griffiths at the recent STARS 2016 conference. A full version of this Emerging Initiative paper, as it appears in the conference proceedings, is available here. The slides and a short video from our presentation are available below. 

Title: Supporting student transition: embedding reading practices into the first year Science curriculum

Authors: Yvonne C. Davila (Faculty of Science, UTS) and Neela Griffiths (IML, UTS)

Conference: STARS 2016 (Students Transitions Achievement Retention & Success), Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June to 2nd July, 2016.

Abstract: Although being able to critically read and comprehend scientific texts is fundamental, many students find reading the primary literature overwhelming and may lose self-confidence as a result. Our aim was to build first year science students’ confidence in reading relevant and reliable sources of information and develop their critical reading practices through a First Year Experience Project focusing on supporting student transition. To achieve this, we utilised a flipped classroom approach to design and embed interactive online modules and a face-to-face workshop in a first year Science subject. Student participation and completion of the learning activities was evaluated with students commenting very positively on the usability, accessibility, usefulness and relevance of the reading practices resources. Based on the success of this initiative, we recommend that discipline specific, contextualised resources which develop effective reading practices should be integrated into the first year curriculum.


A short video demonstrating the interactivity of the online modules is presented below:


Reference: Davila, Y.C. & Griffiths, N. (2016) ‘Supporting student transition: embedding reading practices into the first year Science curriculum’. Students, Transitions, Achievement, Retention & Success (STARS) Conference, 29 June to 2nd July, 2016, Perth, Australia. Retrieved from


Presentation of CampusFlora to University Leaders from Central and Western China Region

CampusFlora is now available as a WebApp:

Congratulations to Rosanne Quinnell and her team of students and staff!


The creators of the CampusFlora app were invited by the International Leaders Programme at the Office of Global Engagement, University of Sydney, to present their app ( to a Delegation of Chinese University Leaders from Central and Western Region China. The University Leaders included university senior management as well as senior staff and representatives from the PRC Ministry of Education and National Academy of Education Administration (The University of Sydney’s key partner). The presentation was part of a two-day executive programme showcasing the latest development in teaching, learning, research and management in Australian higher education.

Welcome banner 28Nov14 Welcome at the Office for Global Engagement, The University of Sydney.

Delegation of Chinese University Leaders from Central and Western Region China Delegation of Chinese University Leaders from Central and Western Region China.

On behalf of the team, Dr Yvonne Davila, Dr Matthew Pye and Mr Shawn Wang explained the development of the app, focusing on the collaboration with students and the development of students’…

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Supporting the development of professional skills in scientific writing – 2014 UTS T&L forum

My colleagues, Andy Leigh and Neela Griffiths, and I were chosen to present our work at the 2014 UTS Teaching and Learning Forum. The forum was held on 12 and 13 November, and provided an opportunity for the sharing of ideas and innovations in learning and teaching at UTS. Our work was funded by a 2014 UTS Vice Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching grant and a 2014 UTS First Year Experience Grant.

Slide01Scientific writing is a fundamental skill for scientists to communicate effectively to the scientific and wider community. Responding to a need to embed the development of paraphrasing and referencing skills early in the science curriculum, online interactive learning resources were designed for a large (>650 students) core first year environmental science subject. Using the flipped learning approach, the online pre-class activities were partnered with a redesigned face-to-face tutorial, which incorporated peer-to-peer and teacher-to-peer interaction. Prior to this initiative, students received a mini lecture on referencing standards, with no opportunity to practice referencing and paraphrasing prior to their major assessment (scientific report).

The aims of this project were to:

  1. Increase student engagement with the ‘Professional skills’ Graduate Attribute,
  2. Improve students’ approach to using current online technology to effectively find peer-reviewed articles for use in scientific writing, and
  3. Build student understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and academic integrity in the scientific discipline, and how these relate to being a professional scientist.

By addressing these aims, we hoped to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. Develop student confidence in using and citing the primary literature correctly for successful scientific writing, and
  2. Improve student skills in paraphrasing for the scientific discipline and correctly citing the scientific literature.

Slide08Although the online activities were not worth any marks, most students completed the online interactive tutorial on paraphrasing prior to class. A feature of the interactive tutorial included immediate feedback on quiz answers and the option to review or retake the tutorial. We received positive feedback about the online resources and the redesigned face-to-face collaborative tutorial from our students:



Students indicated that the opportunity to practice referencing and paraphrasing skills in class before writing their major scientific report was very beneficial. Students also consulted the online resources repeatedly when writing up their reports indicating that the discipline-specific resources were a valuable inclusion. Students also agreed that they could see the link between the skills developed in the tutorials and graduate attributes.

Our plan is to refine the online resources and in class paraphrasing activity based on feedback from our students and teaching associates, and we will continue to develop the resources to support the development of scientific writing skills in first year.

Presentation details:

Title: Supporting the development of professional skills in scientific writing: an embedded, flipped and interactive approach to citing and paraphrasing the scientific literature

Authors: Yvonne Davila, Neela Griffiths, Andy Leigh

Keywords: academic integrity, scientific writing, flipped learning, professional skills, Science, first year, referencing, avoiding plagiarism

Date presented: 12 November 2014

Forum: UTS Teaching and Learning Forum 2014