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Teaching Grants

SGDE Development Grant Scheme

The Small Group Discovery Experience (SGDE) Development Grant scheme supports the further development of high-value, high-quality SGDEs across the University. The University is committed to small group discovery because of its educational value. Learning through inquiry and research offers a powerful means of engaging students, fosters a sense of connectedness with the academic discipline and community, supports deep subject learning, and develops a wide range of intellectual, personal and professional capabilities.

2017 Funded Projects

2017 funded projects focused on evaluation, to establish a shared understanding of how the SGDE is being conceptualised and implemented, and the outcomes for undergraduate students at different levels across the five faculties. The aim was to learn from the development of practice in discovery- and inquiry-oriented learning through SGDE, in order to inform sharing of good practice and to provide an evidence-base for further educational enhancement and innovation. Results of the evaulation project will be made available in early 2018.

  • Faculty of ArtsDr Thomas Wanner, School of Social Sciences

    The project investigates the SDGE learning and teaching activities in the Faculty of Arts by looking at four SDGE courses at each level (first, second and third year, plus Masters). In turn, the project assesses the factors that lead to successful SDGE teaching and learning activities in the Faculty; provides recommendations for improvement of SDGE teaching and learning in the Faculty; shares the findings with other Faculties; and will cooperate with other Faculties to establish ‘best practice’ guidelines for successful SDGE implementation across the University. Overall, the project intends to show the value of inquiry based learning and how this kind of learning can be successfully implemented in course design and delivery.

    SGDEs and courses evaluated

    The Enquiring Mind: Freedom and Media (ARTS 1007)

    In addition to the lecture, each student participates in a two-hour seminar each week. SGDEs are the core of every weekly seminar time. In the first hour students will discuss key issues from the readings and lecture in small groups and then bring those ideas to the larger group. In the second hour students will focus on the skills needed for assessments and more widely across the University.

    Hollywood or Bust! (ENGL 2057)

    This course last ran in 2016, and will run again in 2018. Each week, a team of up to six students collaborated to research and create discussions questions, instead of mini-lectures. The class was divided into small groups and leaders then facilitated discussion. At the end of 15-20 minutes, discussion leaders circulated. For quality control, each team submitted a plan to the Course Convenor for formative feedback one week before leading discussion. This method ensured that most class members were actively engaged in rich, varied and rigorous discussion most of the time.

    Memory Wars in Contemporary Global Conflict (HIST 3057)

    SGDE is central in this course. The student research teams will consist of up to 10 students. The research teams and their activities will be the focus of students’ experience. Students will sit in their research teams during the workshops. They will have to organise tasks within the teams. They will elect a team ambassador who will liaise both with staff and with other team ambassadors. The first assignment is a team assignment. The second assignment is a wiki-page produced by the team as a whole, but divided into sections that are written by designated individuals and assessed individually. Students can choose, however, in the second assignment to work with other students and be assessed collectively.

    Russia in War and Revolution 1917–1953 (HIST 2084)

    SGDE is deeply embedded in this course because the students will be divided into research teams according to the occupational field of their chosen characters (academics, actors, dancers, engineers, musicians, politicians, secret police agents, soldiers etc.). They will be conducting genuine historical research in the sense that they will have to be proactive and resourceful in searching for information on individuals. In order to complete the assignments the students will have to work with each other effectively in terms of pooling their knowledge and helping each other to analyse their findings. By the end of the course, many of the students will know significantly more about their chosen characters than the course convenor does – and (in some cases) more about their chosen characters than anybody knows.

    Assessment & Evaluation (EDUC 7553)

    Details forthcoming.

  • Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical SciencesAssociate Professor Emmanuel Chanda, School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering


    The objectives of the ECMS project are to: (i) evaluate the effectiveness of SGDE as a teaching approach for the Engineers Without Borders Challenge, including the ‘discovery’ aspect of the approach; (ii) assess students’ and staff experiences with SGDE in a first year electrical engineering course, Digital Electronics; (iii) assess student experience with the SGDE approach to field work in Introduction to Petroleum Geosciences & the Oil Industry; and (iv) examine the difference between group work (e.g. MEA courses) and SGDE courses.

    SGDEs and courses evaluated

    Engineers Without Borders Challenge

    Professional Practice I (CHEM ENG 1010) and Introduction to Engineering (ENG 1000) are two first year engineering courses which utilise the SGDE learning format to present the Enigeers Without Borders challenge to chemical and flexible entry engineering students. For the EWB challenge students need to provide and engineering solution to a problem facing a developing community. In the SGDE format, students form teams of 4-6 and are each allocated a member of academic staff as a mentor. In the early stages of the project, mentors help guide team progress toward milestone assessment pieces, like the project scope and design criteria, which culminate into a final report showcasing their engineered solution.

    Digital Electronics (ELEC ENG 1102)

    In Digital Electronics (ELEC ENG 1102), first year electrical engineering students choose a topic of interest for a research project in small groups of 3-5. As part of the SGDE, groups are allocated an academic mentor, who meets with them for two formal meetings. Through these meetings, the mentors apply their experience and knowledge to assist group progress and help students connect their research topic to the real world. As a group, the students present what they have learnt in a seminar-style format and present a research poster.

    Introduction to Petroleum Geosciences & the Oil Industry (PETROENG 1005)

    Introduction to Petroleum Geosciences & the Oil Industry (PETROENG 1005) is a first year petroleum engineering course which incorporates the SGDE format. Students form groups of 4-5 and are accompanied by members of academic staff on an overnight field trip to the Fleurieu Peninsula. On the field trip, student groups are required to create a geological map of the area. In subsequent practical sessions, the students discuss their findings within their groups and with their academic mentor. This exercise is practically relevant and gives the students tremendous opportunity to engage with their mentors and discuss ideas related to their field of study.

  • Faculty of Health and Medical SciencesDr Rick Wiechula, Adelaide Nursing School; and Adriana Milazzo, School of Public Health


    This project investigates whether incorporating SGDE activities and assessment into two core nursing courses on health assessment will improve student engagement and learning outcomes. The project will evaluate if students understand the rationale behind the SGDE (i.e., that inquiry learning as a group is vital for students in completing their degree and being employable), and enhance student engagement with the course material through the SGDE task. The project will also investigate whether incorporating SGDE activities and assessment into a novel first year core health sciences undergraduate course, coupled with a focus on equipping students with essential research, communication and independent learning skills, contextualised for disciplines in the Health and Medical Sciences domain will improve student engagement and learning outcomes.

    SGDEs and courses evaluated

    Health Assessment and Clinical Nursing I (NURSING 1007)

    The SGDE on 'Turning Health Research evidence into improved practice or policy’ is conducted over two weeks with translation science researchers from the School of Nursing. The students engage with online materials, introductory video and survey of current knowledge prior to session 1. Session 1 explores oral hygiene as a knowledge translation project. Students are divided into groups and identified as one of several stakeholder groups. Each group works with a translation science researcher to develop a knowledge translation project proposal from the perspective of their stakeholder identity. Session 2 students present their project proposal in two-minute presentations. A panel of translational science researchers evaluates each group. The students are then re-surveyed to identify the level of knowledge acquisition.

    Health Assessment and Clinical Nursing IV (NURSING 2011)

    The SGDE on 'Knowledge translation in clinical practice' is conducted in a variety of clinical settings where knowledge translation projects have been conducted. Senior clinicians that have been involved in projects run in collaboration with our research staff showcase their project.

    Create, Communicate and Connect with Health Sciences (HLTH SC 1002)

    The SGDE comprises three groups of 5-6 students allocated within tutorials (maximum of 18 students per tutorial). The mentor/tutor allocates the grouping in the tutorials based on a numbering system, or other method of grouping as determined by the mentor (this process is transparent and completed with the students in class). Students remain in their allocated group for the entire semester. The SGDE project involves interviewing a health scientist/professional by email – students first need to design the questions, send the email, collate the responses and produce a video.

  • Faculty of the ProfessionsDr Cate Jerram, Business School


    The project examines how and to what degree the implementation of SGDE in a spread of undergraduate courses in the Professions has built students’ team skills (as described by the Team Skills Development Framework). In particular, the project examines whether students are aware of / able to articulate these acquired skills, whether these skills can be more specifically built into the implementations of SGDE, and what outcomes SGDE has had for student engagement with learning.

    SGDEs and courses evaluated

    Principles of Public Law (LAW 1504)

    The SGDE in this course runs over weeks 9, 10 and 11. The SGDE commences with instruction on legal research and group work skills. Students will then be allocated into groups of either 3 or 4 to undertake research into critical contemporary public law issues. The SGDE classes contain the same students, and occur at the same times, as the seminar classes for the rest of the course. However, all SGDE classes will be held in the Law Library computer suite (with access to all Law Library facilities), be supervised by leading academic researchers in public law, and have library staff who are legal research experts available to assist.

    International Business II (INTBUS 2500)

    The SGDE in the group assignment with research skills develops as a process of developing an international company, and reports on the research analysis required to analyse the external market factors and the necessary product adaptation given the nature of the host market. There is also a weekly SGDE in the course: students will develop individual problem-solving skills in the weekly tutorials when doing a situational analysis of a real-life international business problem, identifying the problems and focus on the main problem of the case study, and then extending their analysis skills by developing a number of short term and long term solutions that address their main research problem.

    Global Economic History II (ECON 2513)

    Workshops in this course are designed to be small group discovery sessions in which students focus on communicating outcomes of the research process. Each workshop will be dedicated to one particular form of communication (e.g., posters, wikis, maps, etc.). A central part of these sessions is a practical experience which requires students to cooperate in small groups (approximately five students per group) to apply a particular communication method to the material covered in the lectures prior to the workshop. The resulting material from these small group activities will be made available to the whole course allowing their utilization as study material.

    Managing Across Cultures III (COMMGMT 3500)

    The group report and group statement in this course will incorporate a small group discovery opportunity for course participants. There will be two opportunities to meet with an experienced academic member of staff who will act as a mentor during the preparation of the group report and statements.

    Portfolio Theory & Management III (CORPFIN 3501)

    This course features a group assignment through which students build upon theoretical foundations to understand portfolio construction, implementation and management for an investor.

  • Faculty of SciencesAssociate Professor Natalie Williamson, School of Physical Sciences


    The project evaluates SGDE activities in a broad range of courses and year levels, in the course catalogue areas of Science (second year), Animal Science (first year), Microbiology (third year) and Geology (third year), with a view to gauging which approaches have worked well, and have led to successful student outcomes. The project will enable the Faculty to collate good practice in SGDE activities, allowing the sharing of this with staff within the Faculty and the University. This will enhance student learning via SGDE by providing guidelines to academic staff within the Faculty to assist them in producing high-quality SGDE experiences.

    SGDEs and courses evaluated

    Principles & Practices of Research (Advanced) II (SCIENCE 2300)

    Teamwork and communication skills are developed from, with and via the SGDE. Small group research topics (three) are conducted across two weeks of mentored research tutorials and between one to two weeks of report writing. The three (two-week) tutorials are conducted as inverted learning feedback sessions. The Researcher presents a research problem or current 'hot-topic', with readings, and then the students (4-12), depending on the specific tutorial/discipline, prepare discussion points and questions which are presented back to the workshop and eventually written up as short critical reviews.

    Infection and Immunity IIIA (MICRO 3000) / Infection & Immunity IIIA (Biomedical Science (MICRO 3102)

    The courses use a flipped model to replace traditional lectures with a broader SGDE comprised of researcher sessions and follow-up sessions (after both of the researcher sessions, questions were asked about the research design; additionally, identifying a research hypothesis from the talks given and defining research aims). Students work together to develop answers, strategies and experimental approaches to solve specific research questions. This will take place during both allocated lecture time and tutorial time, and will be guided by experienced academic staff. Small groups of students will analyse and reflect on key primary research papers relevant to the lecture course, and will be guided by set of questions. These questions are used to drive participation in tutorials.

2016 Funded Projects

2016 funded projects were designed to support further development of effective practice, including evaluation of the approaches that were being developed and their impact on the student experience. Staff were supported to develop approaches to SGDE implementation, enhancement and evaluation that had faculty-wide and institutional reach and impact, and that recognised the important role that students have as co-creators and partners in learning and teaching innovation.

  • Developing teacher capacity to design engaging and effective SGDEAssociate Professor Cathy Snelling, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

    This project takes a multi-disciplinary approach to strengthening and further embedding SGDE in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (FHMS). Staff development workshops and collaboratively developed resources, benchmarked against pedagogical frameworks such as the Research Skills Development (RSD), will contribute to a more calibrated and effective SGDE experience for health science students. Based on the highly successful faculty-wide format used in the Becoming an Effective Supervisor and Teacher (BEST) program, this project will enable staff to reflect on their SGDE experiences, engage in peer review and collaboration, and deliver the SGDE as an effective core pedagogical activity in health sciences programs. A FHMS Community of Practice (CoP) will enable ongoing cross-disciplinary dissemination.

    Development of the capacity of health science teachers, through their participation in the staff development workshops on SGDE, to design, implement and evaluate quality SGDEs. Good planning, structure and organisation of SGDE and SGDE-style learning facilitates the interactivity of student-staff partnerships in learning and teaching.

    Transferable and scalable project planning: that is, staff can use well positioned/developed projects to help develop related aspects, such as the CPD module, which was not part of the original project plan. Project members presented a module on discovery learning for the University's new CPD program to the SGDE CoP in September 2017, and the program was piloted in late November 2017.

    Resources and Links
    'Planning (more) engaging and effective SGDEs' staff development workshop PowerPoint.

  • Development of a Team Skills Development Framework to support SGDEDr Cate Jerram, Faculty of the Professions

    This project customises the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (designed by government researchers with employers) to develop a Team Skills Development Framework (TSDF) for mapping and developing SGDEs. The project seeks to support the specific group and team skills and knowledge needed by University of Adelaide graduates, and the evidence they will need to provide, to be genuinely considered to be career ready.

    Improved understanding of student views on the impact of SGDE on the student experience. Students recognise the real world importance of group work but feel they need more instruction about dealing with the dynamics of group work, and think that some SGDEs could be implemented in a more holistic manner throughout an entire semester as opposed to appearing to be tacked on at the end of a semester.

    Resources and Links
    Matrix version of the TSDF
    Model version of the TSDF
    Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework,

  • Investigating the role of mentor-student relationships in the implementation of SGDEDr Beth Loveys, Faculty of Sciences

    This project examines the role of a research-active mentor in undergraduate SGDE and how to better integrate the mentor with their allocated group of students in order to improve the learning experience for students. Through survey and focus group meetings about the experience of several cohorts of level II students, mentors, technical staff and demonstrators, the component of SGDE in the course Foundations in Plant Science (PLANT SC 2510WT) was established. These data were collated and used to inform the development of a Mentor Induction Workshop. The experience of both the mentors and the students was improved when the mentors were given sufficient information about what was expected of them during the SGDE. This led to an improved working relationship between students and mentors which will likely translate into improved learning outcomes for students.

    The project resulted in improved understanding of the role of mentors in SDGEs. Mentors are a key part of making the SGDE research projects a success for the students and a great experience. It might not seem this way at all times, but students appreciate the involvement of mentors and that it makes and breaks the research experience for students. An improved working relationship between students and mentors will likely translate into improved learning outcomes for students.

    A corollary of improved learning outcomes for students is improved student engagement with the development and dissemination of research. For example, a student group from Foundations in Plant Science presented at BeaCUR 2017, won a BeaCUR prize (which included Faculty sponsorship to attend ACUR 2017) and presented at ACUR 2017 (hosted by the University of Adelaide, 27–28 September).

    Resources and Links
    Handout for mentors
    Mentor induction workshop PowerPoint
    Foundations in Plant Science (PLANT SC 2510WT) course outline
    'Waite students shine at BeaCUR 2017'

  • Supporting and developing staff and student engagement with SGDE via a curated repository of student work in CanvasDr Joy McEntee, Faculty of Arts

    This project will create a showcase for student-generated SGDE materials in Canvas. Compared with a traditional website, Canvas offers more opportunities for collaboration and interaction. The SGDE repository will include student work on SGDE; interviews with staff about their implementation of SGDE; and material on the pedagogies behind SGDE. Led by Education Specialists, the project will enable Departments from across the University to share their students’ achievements, resulting in cross-fertilisation that will enhance student learning by strengthening SGDE practice.

    The SGDE repository will become a rich resource for staff, increasing their knowledge of SGDE and their creativity in applying the concepts and pedagogical theory behind it. It will enhance student learning in three ways: by promoting best practice SGDE teaching; by increasing students’ sense of ownership of their own work; and by encouraging student as co-creators in their engagement with SGDEs. This project will have an impact University-wide.

    Resources and Links
    Poster presented at the Festival of Learning and Teaching on 19 August 2016
    SGDE Learning Outcomes
    'SGDE Showcase' (Canvas site)

Contact Ashleigh Ward,, for any further information.

National OLT Grants Programs

There will be no further grant rounds under the National Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Grants Programs. The OLT will be replaced in 2016 by a new institute to promote excellence in learning and teaching. Details on any available funding opportunities under the new institute will be provided here as information is made available.

Grant Winners

Division of Academic and Student Engagement

The University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

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