And that’s a wrap
FOI laws should assist academics: they aren’t helping
What the Accord must provide for student success
No issue ANZAC Day
CMM will be back, if the fates allow, Wednesday.
Setting interest rates: it’s not (entirely) academic
The Reserve Bank Review suggests a member mix on its proposed monetary policy board
“It is expected that members could include business leaders or others with relevant expertise alongside academic and professional economists,” suggest authors Gordon de Brouwer (Commonwealth Government secretary for public sector reform) Renée Fry-McKibbin (ANU) and Carolyn Wilkins (ex Bank of Canada)
Heaven forfend anyone think it wants “a purely academic monetary policy board,” “although it would very likely mean more academic expertise than is currently on the Reserve Bank Board. The Review interprets expertise and diversity of perspectives broadly.” (124)
However, the board “should contain more members with deep formal expertise on economic and financial system matters.” (130)
There’s more in the Mail
In Expert opinion Michael Sankey (Charles Darwin U) on AI im teaching. “ChatGPT is like a textbook on steroids.”HERE
In Features this morning
Uni Wollongong created an Integrity Division. Sean Brawley, Richard Cook and Trish Mundy explain why.
plus Alex Barthel (Association for Academic Language and Learning) on the unmet demand from students who need academic language support. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.
Sheil Review gives the ARC a bunch to do
The Australian Research Council itself is a major winner in the Sheil Review of the agency’s act with recommendations that would give it authority over major policy making
Big issues that will be up to the ARC, if Professor Sheil and colleagues recommendations are adopted by the government include,
assessing the overall research performance of individual universities and “depth and capability of researchers”
What is clear on these two is what is not going to happen. The metric-based ERA and anecdotal Engagement and Impact are no more and a metrics-based exercise will not follow, “because of the evidence that such metrics can be biased or inherently flawed in the absence of expert review and interpretation.”
So what is on is that, “the ARC develops a framework for regular evaluation and reporting on the outcomes of the National Competitive Grants Programme over a timeframe that allows the full impact of research funding to be assessed and the public benefit explained.”
So how, will the ARC address Education Minister Jason Clare’s request for “impact data to enhance the reporting on the impact value of grants funded so that more robust evaluations of ARC funded programmes and initiatives can be undertaken,” (CMM August 31)?
What, you ask, like what could have come from the working group the ARC appointed to advise on “a modern data driven assessment model,” (CMM September 28 2022)? But perhaps not now.
Responsibility for “promoting and upholding” research integrity
There are two general approaches on how this should be done, the Pollyanna (“they did not mean to do it and if they did they are such nice researchers they won’t do it again”) and the Tourquemada (“anyone seen the wrack?”).
The ARC generally appears to favour the former -via it (and the NHMRC’s) Australian Research Integrity Committee, which “reviews institutional processes used to manage and investigate potential breaches.”
A review of ARIC (CMM March 7) is said to be complete but is not public. Whatever it decides, the Sheil Review, gives hope to advocates of a national research integrity agency with powers an inquisition – just not much.
“We have made provision for the purpose of the ARC to include promoting and upholding research integrity as per the recommendation from ARIC. We note that this does not mean the ARC has an exclusive role in relation to research integrity or that some of the role of ARC and ARIC may not be incorporated into, or support, other arrangements that have a broader remit at some point in the future.”
“Promoting accessibility of publications and research data”
If this means open access to publicly funded research, adding it as an agency function in the Act can’t hurt – because the ARC to date has not done a lot to extend OA, at least compared to its sibling, the National Health and Medical Research Council, which now requires all new papers based on research it funds to be open access from publication.
The existing ARC policy requires OA 12 months from publication date – but it is up for review in June.
Presumably the ARC is already engaging with Chief Scientist Cathy Foley on her much-anticipated plan for national open access.
Dollars for digital
Cengage used to be an education publisher, as in books, (you remember books)
It still is, although it wants to “accelerate the company’s transformation from print to digital.” It has just raised US$500m in equity to do it. As to what will be done, who knows? Cengage says it will continue to focus “on education for employment” to “help millions of students leverage education to gain the skills and competencies needed to be job ready.”
AI in education: what the media misses
An Edith Cowan U team looked at what was being covered in February media reports of ChatGPT in higher education and how its potential for learning and student support rated against reports of academic integrity risk
Miriam Sullivan, Andrew Kelly and Paul McLaughlan (all Edith Cowan U) found* the big issues in the coverage were,
academic integrity: “the most common themes that arose in the data were general concerns about academic integrity and ways that students could be discouraged from using ChatGPT”
avoidance: “half of all articles argued that ChatGPT should be avoided because it was likely to make errors and had inherent limitations.”
“It was hypothesised in multiple articles that students would lose critical thinking skills”
policy: “the most common response quoted was that a particular university was undecided”
embrace: “the two most common reasons provided for allowing students to use ChatGPT were that it was too hard to ban and that students would need to use it in the workplace.”
But the quoted views are generally from university staff, with students getting way less of a say and “very little commentary” on how AI can help students.
Which it really can.
The authors argue, ChatGPT, “has the potential to demystify academic conventions for non-traditional students,” and “enhance the academic success of students from different equity groups.”
“There is a need to shift the discussion about ChatGPT to a more constructive student-led discourse,” they conclude.
* “ChatGPT in higher education: Considerations for academic integrity and student learning,” Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching 6,1 (2023) HERE
What works at work
After all the pandemic pain it’s time to work through the lessons of lockdown and build better HE workplaces
HEjobs invites you to an in-person event to talk, listen and learn about jobs that work better HERE.
No more Uni Q student queue
Microsoft explains why its Azure virtual desktop product helps Uni Queensland science and engineering students
Before Azure’s adoption, students had to wait turns to use specialist software that was only accessible on campus.
“You might have 500 students in a subject that all need to do an assignment using GIS software, which was installed on 100 machines in our computer lab … So the students would do crazy things like camp outside until they could access a computer,” is what MS quotes a university manager.
Good thing that’s fixed.
Regulator TEQSA’s guidance note on technology-enhanced learning cites as a “risk to quality ” “unreasonable barriers to accessing essential technology or other resources.”
Monash U announces appointments to lead two new sub faculties. Wayne Hodgson becomes dean of the s-f of Health Sciences. Eric Morand takes charge of Clinical and Molecular Medicine.