Statement addressing selection criteria
In 1997, I was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching with the support of three senior academics and many students. The Vice-Chancellor's Award is a formal recognition of outstanding contributions to teaching at Monash University and consisted of a medallion, a permanent citation in the Monash Calendar and a grant of $5000. While I provided information and proofed the dossier, the prime responsibility for the preparation of my dossier rested with my nominators. Working closely with them, together we produced a 15 page dossier which outlined how my teaching activities evidenced excellence against four main criteria. The criteria were: focus on student learning, teacher attributes, broader curricular involvement and scholarship in teaching.
In compiling this document, I have written my statement retaining the third person of the original dossier material. I have used many components of the dossier prepared by the nominating group. Some of the supporting comments and vignettes have been shortened due to the page limitation, however every attempt was made to retain their true meaning. Original vignettes and comments are available on request.
If I were to restrict myself to one word in describing Angela, it would have to be the word "enthusiasm". Angela has always been brimming with enthusiasm, enthusiasm for teaching, enthusiasm for the students, enthusiasm for learning.
Now I argue that enthusiasm is not quite enough, for teachers must also impart understanding, and that understanding in students is not possible unless there is also adequate understanding with the teacher. Such understanding, and the transference of understanding, presupposes a certain depth of knowledge and conceptualisation, not only about the discipline in question, but also about the learning process itself. It is in this area that Angela has shown herself to be far more motivated and dedicated than any other academic in my own experience (which, counting undergraduate days, extends for some 30 years). Associate Professor John Hurst Associate Dean (Teaching) ‘97
Angela has always undertaken formal evaluations of her teaching using the Monash Questionnaire Series on Teaching called MonQueST. The feedback from MonQueST questionnaires have shown that she has ranked among the top few teachers of both MonQueST users generally and within the Faculty of Information Technology (FIT) in particular. She has demonstrated excellence in areas of organisation, explanations, interactions with students and enthusiasm. Below are extracts of student comments that were either attached to the MonQueST Questionnaires or that were submitted to the nominating group when compiling her dossier for the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching 1997. The comments are both positive and supporting, highlighting Angela’s teaching skills to support student learning.
Angela is committed, interested and enthusiastic
Angela's ability to communicate and articulate her understanding of Computer Science principles to students was second to none in the five years experience I've had of this department. Her teaching ability combined with her excellent knowledge of Computer Science enable her to help even those who believe they are helpless. She does this with a blend of enthusiasm, determination, and an ability to relate to others honestly, and at a level they can understand. Chris Bird '97
Angela was an expert at explaining complicated problems often using diagrams to aid our understanding. She made difficult concepts seem easy that I couldn't understand why it had taken me so long to figure out. Angela always asked the class questions about the problems or concepts we were working on. Often I actually came up with an answer instead of a complete blank. Hamsa Rafeh '95
Angela’s commitment to her students goes beyond normal expectations. Her concern for the student is consistently evidenced by her limitless patience and her constant efforts to provide students with the best opportunity to learn. Recent examples include the provision of additional research material outside the normal course material, research by Angela to provide a clearer alternate viewpoint of difficult areas of the course in order to aid student understanding. Her overall concern for student learning and her knowledge and enthusiasm and commitment to the subject provide a working environment which arouses a curiosity in the student and a desire to learn. Scott Thompson '94
She is consistently enthusiastic about classes and inspires students to reach beyond themselves. Her confidence in the subject matter and her ability to communicate this in an understandable manner to students, together with her availability make it easy for students to receive assistance. MonQueST data’95
Active engagement, not passive reception, promotes quality learning
Freya Gunn, was employed as a Research Assistant by the Faculty of Education, Monash University to observe teaching behaviours of tutors and demonstrators as part of the 1996 Education Research Project (Edproj) (See section 9). She attended a large number of laboratories and tutorials, including Angela’s lessons. Below is a description of one of Angela's tutorials that clearly succeeded in engaging the students in interactive discussion.
Angela came in and sat at her desk "I have a new job" she said. The class sat in stunned silence. "I am working as a receptionist for Dr Feelgood. As a receptionist I have to make appointments. You are going to call me and make some." Realisation dawned, this was the first tutorial exercise in the text!
Individual students were called upon to make pseudo phone calls and provide data in various forms. After three students "made calls" Angela said "Now I want you to draw a dataflow diagram of the information I have just been given". She then provided a series of symbols on the board to use in representing the component information. After five minutes, Angela brought them together to discuss how they had represented the dataflow, and how the symbols should be used.
"I want you now to work in groups to create a role play of the termination of employment of a worker. In 10 minutes I want each group to present their role play to the class, and draw a data flow diagram of the information movements". There was a flurry of activity, with discussion about what should be presented and how, who should play what role, and what should be said and drawn. Most groups were animated and engaged, with a deadline to meet.
Each group performed, the role play was dissected and analysed, with Angela leading the group in questioning the participants about the reasons for their choice of representation and the reality of the data flows. The real world nature of the situation allowed many variations and possibilities that tested understanding. Angela questioned the students to encourage reflection rather than provide answers, or directly challenge ideas. Errors were recognised and improvements made as the group explored each attempt. Data flows that were incomplete were then resolved and submitted, while Angela moved around the groups, questioning more closely, until time ran out. Report from Freya Gunn '96
One of the major challenges to education is to instil in students a sense of responsibility for their own learning, as well as an awareness of their own learning processes. This is a path to establishing "life-long learning", and making graduates truly productive in the work force.
From an early stage of Angela’s career, students were enjoying her classes. She was approached by many students that were unknown to her, wanting to transfer into her classes. Students who had previously shown a lack of interest in other tutors’ classes were interested in her lessons. She left her labs with students still deep in thought and working conscientiously on their exercises. Angela possesses a natural talent that relates positively to a "learning orientation" in teaching. Her interests and energies have been highly focused towards activities aimed at improving the quality of teaching, student learning and understanding. Critical thought requires a persistent search for deeper meaning and a refusal to accept superficial understanding. Good teaching inspires students to engage in a deep approach rather than surface approach to learning. The students’ comments below demonstrate Angela’s genuine concern for the student’s attainment of learning objectives and for their learning processes.
Challenging the thoughts that students bring into learning situations arouses curiosity
Angela would always ascertain your level of understanding before attempting to assist you. She would often probe you by questioning. Often she suggested different ways of tackling problems with the emphasis not always on the correct answer. She was able to help students based on what they already knew rather than ‘push’ a method because it was the most efficient manner of dealing with a student's query. She uses her teaching skills to stimulate our understanding. Angela listens and advises, she challenges our thoughts and existing understanding with new ideas that we have never come across. Nina Syhanath '97
Independent learning occurs when students learn how to learn
By third year I needed little assistance because Angela had taught me how to think for myself and tackle complex problems. The fact that she addressed my misunderstanding in first year meant that I was able to achieve a high grade on my final year project. It was Angela’s help that allowed me to reach that standard. Following her methods of slowly growing the program, and testing it at each stage made the assignment so manageable. Warren Stampe '97
Critical thought is not about memorising facts
Learning an entirely different perspective on programming was difficult, learning how to code in this new perspective was even more difficult. Angela designed a course geared to our level of understanding. Learning was no longer memorising terminology but actually understanding how to apply it. The course not only covered the new material, but it built on what we knew from first year. The analogies and tailored examples highlighted many of the useful topics in such a way that I found myself actually understanding object-oriented programming – and wanting to learn more. I had learnt a lot, more than I thought I wanted to know. Andre Rencontre '96
Within Angela’s usual teaching activities (of preparation and delivery of classes, marking, assessment and consultation), she has always shown a willingness to venture beyond the norm and lead the way. She has been developing further curricula and organising course materials since 1993 such as;
As a result of such experiences, she was invited by Associate Professor Chris Browne from the Department of Physiology at Monash University to collaboratively design a new second year lecture course Bioinformatics and Communications with other academics from his Department.
Organisation of course material (1993 - 1996)
In 1993, Angela was part of a group titled the Style Council, and collaboratively designed and produced a text book to help first year students write better C programs. The book called theStyle: A guide to writing better C programs was published as a Technical Report  and incorporated as part of the first year programming course.
At this stage she also restructured the content and sequencing of topics in CSC1030 (Data Structures and Algorithms) syllabus and redesigned (Computer Systems) information sheets to present information in a manner that assisted students to process it. Her changes have been adopted by various academics involved in the teaching of the first year course.
Angela has been a major driving force behind the move to quality professional teaching of subjects in the Department of Computer Science. She has been involved at many levels in ensuring that lecturers develop an adequate syllabus, correct lecture and practical materials. Rohan Baxter (lecturer) '95
Examples of coherent and imaginative presentation of materials
In the second tutorial Angela explained bubble sorting. Her explanation involved role playing the sorting algorithm. She made us call out our own name and if we were out of order we would proceed to swap seats until we reached our correct spot (ie. we "bubbled" along the seats). This was fun, and not only did it help explain the algorithm but it was also an excellent way to learn fellow student’s names and to break the "ice" in the room so that everyone felt comfortable. This is only one example of her many great lessons. Angela took the time to learn all the students names and their level of understanding of the subject. She created a trusting environment, one that would not make any student feel uncomfortable answering questions, even if they were just giving an educated guess. I know this, ‘cause I was often giving them. This kind of practice was very good. It kept up motivation, attention and participation between all the students. Vince Punturiero '97
Angela helped me understand so many of the fundamental concepts that I needed for second year computing. In one lesson Angela was teaching queues. I was very unclear about how circular queues worked and had no idea how to implement them in C. Angela devised an exercise in which she used chairs to represent an array of a fixed size, and students to be the elements in the array. She placed eight chairs in a line and students were added to and deleted from the queue. She also used two students to point to the elements at the front and rear of the array. Basically she had set up a human based queue, deleting and inserting elements into the queue. In the end she joined the two ends of the chairs and introduced the circular queue concept. The concrete examples that Angela devised still remain very clear in my mind. Angela often went out of her way bringing in props to relate the abstract concepts to situations familiar to us. Andrew Salib '96
Angela’s command of her subjects has lead to her working in teams with other academics and professionals. The recently formed Computing Education Research Group (CERG), the Computing Education Research Group International (CERGI) have as its main focus two aspects of computing education:
This year members from CERG (Ainslie Ellis, Dianne Hagan, Wendy Doube, Judy Sheard and Angela Carbone) have applied for a grant of $50,000 under the Teaching Innovation Fund Scheme 1998 from the Faculty of Information Technology. With the move to Java as the introductory programming language for several courses, this funding will be used to begin developing a series of modular resources intended to supplement course materials for first year programming. Some modules will relate to specific aspects of programming concepts while others relate to the support of self directed learning.
One of the modules Angela has designed and is trialing as part of her PhD, may be used to provide students with a framework to analyse their own learning and open up some possibilities for growth and development in changing student learning patterns. The module will include the latest research on learning, such as: the process of learning, approaches to learning (deep versus surface approach), poor learning tendencies, factors that led to understanding, constructivism , elements of memory, quality learning, meta-cognition, cognitive strategies, experiencing cognitive overload, and strategies to reduce cognitive overload. Currently, the Faculty of Education at Monash has supported this work by funding $400.
Angela has been involved into developing software products, such as TeachTools , CADAL Quiz , and G-SPI , and has incorporated these recent developments into her teaching.
TeachTools is a web-based application to capture and analyse teaching skills and review the set tasks. The application maintains information, as provided by tutors, on the teaching practice itself, the context in which it occurs, processes of review and improvement and the academic's general views on teaching and learning. This information can be accessed by the academic's name, the class and other keywords. The software provides frontline teachers with new methods to use in their teaching and contains a stockpile of techniques that teachers can apply in different teaching situations.
This facility supplements the work of a project commissioned by the Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching in June 1995, titled Reflecting on University Teaching . The idea behind the project received support from CERG. As a result, both Angela in collaboration with other CERG members applied for a 1999 National Teaching Development Grant, Tutor Training Programme that includes a Web-based Databank of Teaching Strategies, and are awaiting its outcome. TeachTools was presented at the ASCILITE’97 conference in Perth last year. Angela is also currently collaborating with academics from Central Queensland University, who expressed an interest in using TeachTools. The flexibility of the application ensures, that with little modification, it can be used in other departments. The databases created could be used by teachers from many disciplines to enhance their teaching technique and help maintain uniformity in the way that topics are presented to students.
CADAL Quiz is a Computer Aided Dynamic Assessment & Learning Quiz. It is Web-based multiple choice quiz generator and assessment tool . By 1997, CADAL Quiz was used in practical classes in introductory programming  in two faculties: the Faculty of Information Technology and the Faculty of Engineering at Monash. As a result, Angela was invited as a keynote speaker at the First UNESCO International Centre for Engineering Education, Annual Conference at Monash University and awarded the UNESCO, Diamond Award (First Place) her work in this area.
G-SPI stands for Graphical Student Progress Indicator. G-SPI allows students and demonstrators to graphically represent student laboratory results and other performance statistics on the World Wide Web. Students can regularly monitor their progress and compare it with the class and lecture averages and lecturers can view students’ progress so that difficulties in the course can be addressed as they occur. At the time of implementation of the package, usage had been monitored to evaluate its effectiveness; and over 110 out of approximately 300 first year students used G-SPI to keep track of their progress.
Angela became an enthusiastic and constructive participant in the design and development of further curricula since 1993. She has persistently shown an active interest in student learning, enabling tutors and demonstrators to better focus on student learning. Her involvement in a number of teaching products has extended beyond the School and the Faculty of Information Technology. Table 1 below provides a snap shot of the units Angela has designed and delivered either on her own or collaboratively in the last two years.
Improve your learning
A short course intended to provide students with frames to analyse their own learning and open up some possibilities for growth and development in changing student learning patterns. This program was designed with my PhD supervisors.
Bioinformatics and Communication
A new course, designed in collaboration with academics from Philosophy, includes components of imaging such as digitising, processing, image formats, exchanging images and medical imaging. Ways computers exchange information, Email, News, Sharing databases, I/O devices and File servers.
Students At Risk
Identify students "at risk" and provide individual private consultation with students. Closely monitor these students on a regular basis.
Advanced Students' Projects
Non-award activities offered to first and second year students such as extra-curricula project work, to extend the academic and professional skills of students.
Revised Tutor Training
Tutor training is aimed at developing the skills of and provide support for itinerant teaching staff of tutorial and computer laboratory classes and to increase the teaching expertise of experienced staff. The programme was revised with input from CERG.
Advanced First Year Tutorials
The tutorial curriculum was extended to include concepts needed in the students' project work. Topics included were: UNIX tools, Network programming, Databases, programming under Windows and an introduction to new programming languages such as C++ and JAVA. Experts in these fields were invited.
WIC Mentor Scheme
A support program for first year females studying IT was developed with Dr A. Nicholson.
Innovation - Advanced Students’ Project Scheme (1996 - 1998)
Angela introduced a First Year Advanced Students’ Project Scheme in second semester 1996 . This was the first time the Department really adequately challenged its brightest first year students. It is particularly important to do this in Computing, where the range of abilities in first year is arguably greater than any other subject. With the success of the Scheme, students demanded it continue into their second year of Computer Science. This also lead to a National Teaching grant application, The Establishment of a Problem Based Learning Network for Engineering and Computing, instigated by the Director of Teaching in the Department of Civil Engineering, Roger G. Hadgraft, which Angela was part of. Her accomplishments in this area lead to giving an invited session address at the 1st Annual UICEE Conference on Engineering Education, .
I was a passive, but fascinated onlooker to the development of the Advanced First Year Students’ Project Scheme. The issue of challenging brighter students was raised by Angela at a fortnightly meeting and sparked a vigorous discussion that, from my perspective, mirrored debates that have raged in schools for years about the advantages and disadvantages of streaming. The problem of bored bright students was much more acute here because of the wide spread of experience and expertise in the students who enrolled in first year from complete neophyte to advanced hacker. I suggest that no other faculty would have such an acute problem in this area.
Angela was determined that something be done about it and her interest and energy sparked the tutors in volunteering to invest some of their own time in supervising projects in this scheme. The project could not have succeeded without their commitment and Angela deserves much of the credit for this. She invested countless hours of her own time in getting this up and organised, planning a very successful seminar given by the students and organising certificates for the students. Even to someone with little domain knowledge, the quality of the projects was obvious; at the seminar one of the lecturers who was present commented to me that they were equal to the tasks being tackled by his fourth (Honours) year students. I would rate this project as the most successful initiative that I have ever seen in the very tricky issue of dealing with mixed ability classes. Ian Mitchell '97
I participated in the Advanced Students’ Project Scheme. This scheme, provided me with an excellent opportunity to learn many more advanced programming topics than those covered by the course. My project provided me with experience in programming under the Windows operating environment, not usually handled in most courses until about third or forth year, if at all. The scheme also gave me experience with working in a group environment, writing project reports and giving oral presentations. Recently I have been contacted by an engineer from AAB Engineering who is interested in purchasing the result of my project. I found Angela's handling of the project scheme impressive, especially seeing it had not been attempted before. She kept in constant touch with not only the group mentors, but also individual members. She asked for feedback on the scheme's success, and was always giving encouragement. I am grateful to Angela for providing us with this opportunity. Daniel Willis '97
Innovation - Discussion Sessions (1994-1998)
In 1994 Angela introduced the idea of Discussion Sessions into first year on a trial basis. She ran six tutorial per week on her own in addition to her normal work load. The sessions were targeted at helping students understand computing concepts. Her idea, its design and delivery received such overwhelming support by those who attended that Discussion Sessions were formally introduced into the curriculum in 1995. Further reports by first year student representatives at a student/staff meeting, in 1995, claimed that Discussion Sessions proved to be more valuable than the lectures and practical. Typical comments attached to evaluation surveys included:
In 1996, Angela further refined the Discussion Sessions, introducing an advanced stream. These classes were presented at a faster pace, with the material more challenging than that presented in standard stream. In 1997, industry specialists were invited to participate in the delivery and content design of the advanced stream.
Student feedback on Angela's teaching repeatedly tells the same story: empathy with the students, a concern for their education, patience in dealing with difficulties, encouragement, enthusiasm, communication at the student's level, and an ability to make clear what had previously been opaque. She is gifted at placing herself in the student's position, and working through difficulties in a collaborative manner. Angela’s effective and sympathetic guidance is clearly demonstrated in the case below.
It was 1993 when I was ready to quit my degree. I was in the worst possible position I could have imagined! Not only was I two years out of practice, but I had to take on the course mid stream, without the benefit of learning the ground material in semester 1. I had attempted First Year Computer Science three years in a row, and bombed out each time. For the first month I worked as hard as I could. I went to see so many tutors, but the cold hard fact was I had absolutely NO hope of passing this course. I made a decision to quit my degree, I was a month behind, I had no idea what I was doing and could see no point in continuing.
It was then a friend of mine, Peter Palatsides told me to "see Angela". Peter was one of Angela’s students, and he was so confident in her abilities as a tutor that he had no doubts at all that I could pass with her help. Peter insisted that he was in much the same position as I was, but having Angela as a tutor pulled him through. His exact comments were "Not only is she the best tutor in Computer Science , but the best tutor in the University, and if anyone could help me, she could".
I took what little I had done of my first assignment to Angela. I gave her my work and told her my problems, she listened and looked at my work. She put my assignment aside for the moment and took it upon herself to help me understand the foundations I was missing. At the time I was completely unknown to her but even with over 400 students in the course she still cared enough to help me.
Angela began giving me a regime of small tasks that I would complete and manage on my own. She would review them with me on a weekly basis and made sure I understood the basics on which I could build on. Angela was always available to help no matter how busy she was. She was patient, focusing on my learning, at my level of understanding and spoke in terms that I could comprehend. Throughout 1994 she showed me how to tackle problems and how to think about what I was doing. She never took the simple way out and issued answers, but gave me a learning strategy:
"If you give a hungry man a fish he will have a good meal,
teach him how to fish and he will never be hungry again."
Following her methods I began doing a lot better in all my subjects. As usual in 1995 Angela had time to address student queries, she held extra classes in the holidays, issued exceptional course notes and took the time to give me the guidance that I needed. After coming so close to quitting and failing in my first few years, my final two years of Computer Science gave me 3 Credits, 4 Distinctions, and 4 High Distinctions.
I can honestly say that I would not have continued with Computer Science if she wasn’t around. All the time and effort that Angela put into me in those first couple of years gave me the drive and ability to achieve such high marks and now when I tutor students myself, I apply Angela’s teaching techniques. I will always remember the help Angela gave me. In those first few critical years, she set me on a path of success in my studies which enabled me to complete my degree. My average in Computer Science improved dramatically (45% to 62% to 74% and finally 82%) from the time I approached Angela.
I can say without question she is the best tutor I have ever come across in my 20 years of education. Warren Stampe '97
Angela is patient
Angela’s genuine concerns in this area lead to her taking on a more controlling role towards the academic planning and governance of the school and faculty in relation to effective educational policies. Angela is currently a member of:
The need for non-threatening situations and feedback is paramount for good learning to occur. One way to provide the necessary feedback to students without exposing them to too much criticism is to exploit the very technology about which we are teaching. This creates an opportunity for the student to see privately, what stage they are at compared to the rest of the class.
Learning can improve when poor performance is detected early and immediately addressed
In 1997, Angela devised and supervised an Honours project, which involved the development of a web-based Graphical Student Progress Indicator (G-SPI). G-SPI allows students and demonstrators to graphically represent student laboratory results and other performance statistics on the World Wide Web. Students can regularly monitor their progress and compare it with the class and lecture averages and lecturers can view students’ progress so that difficulties in the course can be addressed as they occur. The software has been demonstrated at various conferences such as Technical Working Party/ Higher Education Partnerships in Communication in Information Technology Conference, at Monash University, Victoria, the Second Australasian Computer Science Education Conference at Melbourne University in Victoria and the Fourteenth Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers In Learning In Tertiary Education, at Curtin University, in Perth.
Introduction of CADAL Quiz - A Web-based Quiz with Electronic Assessment (1997)
In 1996, Angela initiated and oversaw the development of a web-based quiz system, CADAL Quiz. The assessment component of CADAL Quiz provided students with immediate, on line feedback, and the graphical display of the cumulated results, enabled easy detection of not only the hardest questions (ie. most wrong answers) but even which wrong answer was most commonly selected. As a result, lecturers have received hitherto unknowable feedback about the meanings their students are constructing.
It really did help me pick up quickly on where the strong and weak points are. It was very good to be able to see, at a glance, which questions they were very good at, which questions they were on average completely clueless about (4 bars of roughly similar length), which questions they had some vague idea about but were thwarted when it comes to detail (perhaps a couple of good sized bars, other small bars), and which (few) questions completely threw them. I will be looking in future lectures to further emphasise some of the many points where they are weak. Graham Farr (Senior Lecturer) '97
In 1997, a grant of $500 was received from the General Manager's Award for Financial Excellence, and by mid 1997 CADAL Quiz was presented at two conferences; the Computer Science Education Conference and the Technical Working Party/Higher Education Partnerships In Communication and Information Technology Conference. Interest in her work lead to a joint grant application with Mr John Zakis from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, Monash University. A grant of $47,000 was requested from the 1999 National Teaching Development Grant Scheme (Individual) and a small ARC grant of $22,780, to redesign CADAL Quiz to generate multiple choice questions in a form requiring students to indicate a level of confidence in their answers. The funding will be used to calculate indices of actual performance, self-estimated knowledge states, and confidence to provide better measures of the students’ knowledge states.
Angela has identified three equity groups. Firstly, Computer Science attracts mainly male students so females are a minority. Secondly, Computer Science attracts students with a wide range of computing backgrounds, from the complete novice to the expert hacker. Knowing this, Angela attempted to stimulate on-going learning within the three groups. She worked on ways to, attract and retain female students, help the novices, and challenge the advanced students.
Helping the minority group - female undergraduate students
There is an ongoing concern about the lack of women entering Computing courses. This year, at Monash University, there are approximately 351 students studying first year introductory programming; 262 males and 89 females. In third year, there are 172 students enrolled in the most popular subject, with only 20 female students. Similarly at Central Queensland University, the first year class consists of 362 males and 75 females. By third year, female student numbers drop to 41 females, in the largest class.
In 1997, Angela with Senior Lecturer, Dr. Ann Nicholson, at Monash University, established a Mentor Scheme for first year female undergraduates with the intention to retain those students to higher year levels. In 1998, Angela conducted a study, with Renany Buchanan from Central Queensland University (CQU) in Queensland attempting to uncover any common underlying themes, and misconceptions female students have about computing that emerge across two interstate Australian universities; Central Queensland University (CQU) in Queensland, and Monash University in Victoria. One possible explanation for the lack of women entering Computing disciplines could be related to the perceptions women have about the image of a computing professional and the employment opportunities associated with a profession in computing. Their findings were presented at the Annual Conference on Women In Computing, in Brisbane, Queensland .
Helping the novices (1993-1997)
Introductory students have no computing knowledge against which they can relate new concepts. Consequently, many students struggle to acquire even basic understandings, and rapidly lose confidence. Angela has used her own initiative, outside the bounds of her normal teaching load, to design a number of workshops (Summer lecture-style tutorial ‘93, Assembler Talk ‘94, C++ ‘95, C/MIPs ‘96). Results, feedback and outcomes have repeatedly shown her dedication, devotion and energy to help all students with their learning and understanding of computing. These workshops have provided many students with a foundation to build on.
The two weeks I spent that summer attending tutorials hosted by Angela, I consider to be the foundation of which I used as a spring board into the programming world. From failing first year computer science, I am now, currently completing Honours in Computer Science. Jim Maroudas '97
In 1996, a significant proportion of students were struggling with the CSC1030 Computer Science subject. Students who failed the second mid-semester test were invited to attend a catch-up course, revising the topics covered so far. On top of other official duties, Angela designed this rescue course on very short notice, which included 3 hours of lectures and 4 hours of labs each day. Results show that 71 students of the 93 that attended continued into second year Computer Science. Reviews are expressed by student comments below.
Challenging the advanced students
For the advanced students, Angela introduced an Advanced Students’ Project Scheme which provided these students with challenges beyond the normal curriculum. The Scheme involved students working on specialised projects; some which have extended beyond the bounds of the normal curriculum. Typical comments from students in the Scheme include:
Angela is proactive in her efforts to improve and update both her own teaching, and within her School. In 1993, Angela embarked on a Graduate Diploma in Education to develop her teaching skills further, with the intention of improving student learning and understanding. In this setting Angela further developed her knowledge and understanding of a consistent view of learning which related to a wide repertoire of teaching strategies. In 1995, Angela was a part of an Education Project Group (Edproj). Edproj comprised of members from the Education Faculty and the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology. The aim of the project was to investigate ways to improve the teaching and learning of first year computing, the outcome of that project is described below. By 1997 Angela joined educational organisations devoted to the advancement of knowledge, theory and quality of learning and teaching at all levels with information technologies:
Design and Delivery of Tutor Training (1996-1997)
In 1995, Angela was involved in a collaborative research project that sought to establish the nature of the teaching, the learning and class dynamics in first year programming at that time. The project team consisted of members from the Education Faculty (Ian Mitchell and Ian Macdonald) and academics from the Faculty of Information Technology. The group developed a conceptual framework to help tutors in the teaching situations wherein they found themselves. At the heart of the framework was a focus on student learning and understanding, deciding on the intended learning outcomes and processes before designing any teaching approaches.
One outcome of the Edproj research  led to the design of a 12 hour initial training program for the tutors and demonstrators which was followed up by fortnightly two hour meetings. This research project was aimed to develop the skills of and provide support for itinerant teaching staff of tutorial and computer laboratory classes and to increase the teaching expertise of experienced staff. The fortnightly meetings had a common agenda: beginning with a sharing and analysis of successes and failures from the previous fortnight, continuing with the lecturers discussing the big ideas of the forth coming tasks as well as how they had presented these in the lectures. The tutors and demonstrators then brainstormed about how best to teach these ideas, including the building of links to the lectures and to previous tasks. Angela chaired these meetings and would make links back to the initial training as well as any other ideas in education that were relevant.
These meetings were a pleasure to participate in being very rich in ideas and characterised by very high levels of energy, commitment and engagement. One important reason for this was Angela's leadership, enthusiasm for teaching and learning and the quality of her contributions. Apart from her regular more general reflections and analyses of events, Angela made another very important type of contribution - sharing her teaching practices of the past fortnight. She is an outstanding teacher, who consistently generates very high levels of student engagement. She frames what she does, as well as how the students responded in terms of the learning that was and is not occurring, she constantly models how thinking about issues of learning can make teaching far more informed and purposeful. Her self-reporting in this area was done tactfully (avoiding any sense of boasting) and was geared to stimulate others to take the kinds of risks that were routine in her classes. In this it was very successful, I watched a steady growth in the tutors all year, that went far beyond my most optimistic hopes. Ian Mitchell (Lecturer) '97
Angela was an excellent supervisor for all tutors and demonstrators. She was a great inspiration to us and her experience was very valuable to everyone. Working in groups, with Angela’s help, we worked on solutions for the tutorials and laboratories. Angela cleared up inconsistencies in the tasks before classes were taken, she constantly gave tips, warning us about difficult concepts, common errors and misconceptions students may have. Michael Voelkel '96
Tutor Training for non-lecturing teachers of computing has been running since 1996. In 1997, the School of Computer Science could no longer afford input from the Education Faculty members, so Angela run the training herself the success of the scheme is detailed in . This year, Angela worked with members from the Computing Education Research Group to redesign the scheme and evaluate its success , and collaboratively applied for a grant of $73,270 under the 1998 CUTSD Staff Development Grant scheme.
Through Angela’s involvement in the whole curriculum, she has actively participated in collaborative educational research to improve the quality of teaching and learning in Computer Science. This collaboration has consciously built a culture of innovation which has led her to explore the various avenues, culminating in her enrolment in a PhD in 1997, and the participation in a range of international conferences that fall under the banner of Computer Science Education.
Reflections On University Teaching
Angela is very reflective about her teaching. She was one of only 5% of Australian academics who (in Sept 1995) were selected for their exemplary teaching, by the Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching (CAUT) to participate in the Reflections on University Teaching project . She made a carefully thought out contribution to the project, and developed the material further to produce (with Conway and Farr) a paper, "Techniques for Effective Tertiary Teaching" . In 1997, after receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s award Angela initiated a project with the two other award winners to collaborate and reflect on their practices. They presented their findings  at the HERDSA Conference this year.
Angela has participated in a number of international and national based conferences outlined in her curriculum vitae. Her research conference travel supported by the Monash Research Fund Travel Grant 1997 - Round 2 ($1000), and Postgraduate Conference Grants-In-Aid Scheme ($600).
PhD Research (Angela writes)
My thesis stems from a study conducted in 1994, that investigated the difficulties which faced students and staff in achieving success in their teaching and learning of programming. The experience at the time, and data collected, showed a common paramount emphasis by the students to get the set tasks done, meet the requirements and then stop. Tutors reported that it is "tremendously difficult to get students to do something beyond what was set". Concepts which were not stated for assessment were ignored. Tasks intended by lecturers to be gateways to exploration and reflection were seen by students merely as hurdles to be negotiated. The students saw the course about getting programs to compile and did not see the abstractions intended by the lecturer. In fact the lecturer's "Big Ideas" were often obscured behind the high demands of coding. My research is concerned with understanding student learning. This is phrased in terms of approaches and outcomes. My plan is to develop a set of guiding principles that can be used to design programming tasks for tutorials and practical classes
Published Scholarly Works
Invited Session Address