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Academics' and Students' Comments

Academics and students have given the project feedback on the Research Skill Development framework and its impact on their studies and work.

Academics' Comments

Using RSD in Introduction to Tourism at Monash University

"I am currently using Research Skills Development (RSD) marking rubrics for the Introduction to Tourism unit at Monash University. I trialled the RSD rubric on one of the course assignments in 2008, and the benefits, structure and consistency it provided made the decisions to use it on all three assignments in 2009 an easy one.

Feedback from my students suggests that they have gained a lot from using the RSD rubrics. They get a clearer indication of requirements for their assessment development, proof-reading and self-assessment prior to submission. Students also see clear indications of where they need further improvement, and this is reflected in their later assignments.

The initial benefits I saw from using the RSD rubric were in marking: it took less time, as there were quite specific and clear indicators of what was most important, and meant that markers had to write fewer comments. The rubric increased consistency between markers, and provided very good, structured feedback for students. Sessional tutors also stated that the rubric made the process of marking and responding to student queries easier for them.

Broader benefits have also become evident in that my expectations for assignments, previously often implicit, are now made explicit, and this makes them easier for students to achieve."

Glen Croy

Introduction to Tourism, Monash University

Creativity and the RSD

"Boden (1990), in a book on creativity, talks of H-creativity and P-creativity. The ‘P’ refers to ideas that are new to the person involved (but that may have been thought of by many others in the past). The ‘H’ refers to human history, that is something that is new to everyone. This fits in nicely with your classification of research.

Richard Feynman talks in his books of the development of new ideas and how important P-creativity is (although he does not use that term). He defends the re-invention of old ideas by a person, since the work involved in coming up with the idea is just as valid as it was for the first person who discovered it. He notes his own progress of ‘discovering’ something that he later found out had been discovered 400 years ago (don’t quote me on these numbers). Later he discovered something that had been previously discovered only 60 years ago and finally he came up with ideas that no-one had discovered (the H-creativity idea). Once again, this ties in nicely with the message you are putting across of students gradually developing as researchers.

The one thing that bothers me slightly is in the definition and use of the word research. Using colloquial language, I was researching flight times for a plane to Melbourne a few weeks ago. I knew the information was somewhere and the task was to find it. However, if I was talking to students I would be very wary of using the word research in that context. I think it gives the wrong impression about research and not only devalues what we do but sets a dangerous precedent on what is considered research.

In a university environment the fundamental property of research must be the aim of trying to discover or develop something that is H-new. It may be that a first year undergraduate will never attain that, but for them the important thing is to be introduced to the process by which research is done. It involves a critical review of the literature or existing knowledge (a dangerous word, ‘beliefs’ might be better rather than assuming a set-in-concrete-never-to-be-changed-fact) with the aim of understanding it well enough to see which bits of it are poorly supported or which bits might be built onto (or perhaps the whole thing has to go).

A key problem with literature reviews (student and otherwise) is the tendency for them to be a catalogue of current knowledge. If only they could be written (and thought of) as a catalogue of current beliefs then the critical aspect might be tackled better from the start."

Dr David Walker

Associate Professor
Postgraduate Coordinator
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering Editor "ergo"

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Students' Comments

“I have used the Research Development Framework for guidance as I proceed through my Ph.D. I realised early in my program that I needed to progress from Level II to Level V research, i.e. from closed inquiry research with some structure and guidance to open inquiry research within self-determined guidelines.

A fellow student was concerned and upset that she was receiving less guidance from her supervisors than earlier in her Ph.D. and by showing her the RSD Framework I was able to explain to her that she was being trusted with a greater level of autonomy, an explanation with which she was happy.”

Len Crocombe
Ph.D. student, Dentistry

“I think to have access to something like this shows you where you can go; maybe it gives you a little bit of an understanding of where you're at already in your research skills and the further steps you that can take as well...

Students might have a fantastic grasp of material, but flounder through university... and not necessarily understand why it is that they can't really excel in the studying that they have a great passion for. Things like this sort of show that there are--things like passion necessarily isn't all there is; there are different steps that can be taken. Students can be shown that there are different avenues to take.”

Andrew Steadman
Undergraduate student, Hollywood or Bust

“I remember receiving a rubric and really badly wanting to be in the last column. It really is something to work towards...

It reminds you of the different things that you need to know in terms of research... that you need to be talking about a question and that you need to be finding the right stuff and using it correctly, and there's all the different elements of working out your research in there. That helps you to work out what you're looking for, essentially, and how you plan to use it.

It's good knowing where the teachers are coming from in terms of what they want their students to become.”

Lisa Noll
Undergraduate student, Hollywood or Bust

“Self-assessment is the best learning tool you can teach someone, really, especially in a university environment where you have to self-assess all the time.”

Genevieve Williamson
Undergraduate student, Hollywood or Bust

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If you would like to pass on feedback about the Research Skill Development framework and its impact, please email Dr John Willison.


Research Skill Development

Established October 2006

School of Education

6.22, 10 Pulteney Street
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005


Dr John Willison
T: +61 8 8313 3553

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