Projects

Our project outcomes build staff capacity, improve our programs and contribute to best practice teaching methods in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and health disciplines.

Future projects

Strengthening the profession through Humanitarian Engineering

This project poses questions about the interaction between Humanitarian Engineering Education (HEE) and diversity. The focus is placed on the social side of engineering, how this translates to real world impact and how this may attract more diverse students to engineering, especially, more women to engineering. Humanitarian Engineering is a relatively new and growing area of engineering that transcends discipline boundaries, attracting students from many engineering disciplines who are interested in using their technical skills for the benefit of society. The 'engineering team' tackling complex humanitarian engineering projects must have the motivation, capability and ethics to contribute to this complex field. Other Australian initiatives to attract more women to engineering programs have largely failed to deliver a significant increase in numbers. A growing number of universities have introduced humanitarian engineering units or minors. These attract a higher proportion of female students than traditional units. However, many questions remain such as, do these increase the proportion of female students overall, or just redistribute existing female applicants and students between units, disciplines, and institutions?

Contact: Dr Nick Brown, School of Engineering or Professor Margaret Jollands, School of Engineering

Tutoring in STEM courses

This study will examine the role of tutors in Australia STEM undergraduate education in facilitating student learning. The study will benchmark Australian performance against international institutions. STEM disciplines are closely linked to national productivity and growth via their role in design and production of manufactured goods, infrastructure and construction that promotes innovation. In an increasingly complex world, STEM graduates must combine their skills in science and mathematics with critical transferable skills and apply them to a global work environment. This study will examine how different models of tutoring facilitate STEM undergraduate learning. How do different models of tutorial teaching facilitate developing student knowledge as well as the confidence and ability to transfer that knowledge to new contexts? 

Contact: Professor Margaret Jollands, School of Engineering or Professor Colin Kestell, School of Engineering

Preparing engineering graduates for the global labour market

This study will examine the role of universities in Australia   in preparing engineering students for the global labour market. The study will benchmark Australian performance against international institutions. Engineering is closely linked to national productivity and growth via its role in design and production of manufactured goods, infrastructure and construction that promotes innovation, such as advancing medical technology, devising solutions to climate change and developing infrastructure to support a growing population. In an increasingly complex world, engineers must combine skills in science and mathematics with critical transferable skills and apply them to a global work environment. This study will examine how employers and universities in a variety of national contexts are responding to the growing demand for "global" engineering graduates through the lens of employability skills. Critical skills for success in the global workplace include communication, inter-cultural and critical thinking skills.

Contact: Professor Margaret Jollands, School of Engineering or Dr Alex Kootsookos, School of Engineering

Providing curriculum for accountability

Accountability underpins effective contemporary professional practice across a broad range of professions — law, medicine, allied health, nursing and engineering. It is therefore critically important that higher education institutions ensure that students are able to demonstrate accountability prior to transitioning to the workplace.

The aim of the project is to provide empirical evidence to inform a range of curriculum practices such as setting outcomes and developing teaching approaches and assessments around students’ internalisation of accountability.

Contact: Professor Ieva Stupans, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences

International students are ideal immigrants: A critical discourse analysis of study-migration pathways in Canada, Australia and Germany

This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Grants and funding: SSHRC Can$155 k
Project lead: Associate Professor Roopa Desai Trilokekar, York University, Canada
Project Partners: RMIT University, The Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration
Project Collaborator: Dr Cate Gribble, RMIT University

Where are the jobs, what are they, and how prepared are graduates for digital work?  

This ATN funded project aims to design, implement and evaluate an affordance model for scaffolding digital skills and processes, drawing on technology theory and social constructivist pedagogy.

The intention is to position graduates for new and emerging digital work opportunities, in line with:   Preparing students for the globalised world of work; Research embedded in teaching and engagement; Inspiring teaching; Places and spaces for creativity and collaboration; and Digital infrastructure supporting everything we do.  

Grants and funding: 2017-2018 ATN Learning and Teaching Grant $104,000
Project lead: Associate Professor Fiona Peterson. Team members include Associate Professor Margaret Jollands
Project partners: University of Technology Sydney, Queensland University of Technology.

Developing entrepreneurial capabilities for the global labour market: A cross national study of IT students in the UK and Australia 

The aim of this study is to investigate how universities are preparing IT students for the global labour market. The focus of this study is entrepreneurship which is now given high priority in public policy. Fostering entrepreneurial activities that drive innovation is increasingly seen as the answer to rapid technological advances, global competition and rising graduate unemployment rates. This cross national study will explore current entrepreneurship initiatives in post graduate IT programs at RMIT University, Australia, and Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. The study aims to increase understanding of how sociocultural factors (gender, class, cultural background) impact on the entrepreneurial intentions and practices among IT students.  The study will investigate how universities in two distinct contexts are developing the entrepreneurship capabilities among IT students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and preparing them for increasingly challenging graduate labour markets globally.

Project dates: 2017 - 2018
Key People: A/Prof Margaret Hamilton, Dr Cate Gribble, Dr Sally Smith (Edinburgh Napier University UK).
Grants and funding: This project was funded by the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) (UKP 10k)

STEM in situ – Imagining entrepreneurial futures

This project is funded by Australian Federal Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Women In STEM and Entrepreneurship (WISE) grant program Round 1. The grant was one of 24 made to a variety of Australian organisations, totalling $3.9 million, under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Grants and funding: 2016-2018 WISE Cat 1. $150k
Project lead: Associate Professor Trish McLaughlin
Project partners: Professor Kay Latham, Associate Professor  Marc Demange and Dr Grant Cooper

Overview: The grant will support a program that targets high school girls from years 7 to 9 and involves a series of workshops and mentoring activities to provide students hands-on experience in STEM-related activities to explore the creative possibilities of STEM disciplines.

Educating the Edisons of the 21st Century

This OLT funded fellowship addresses challenges faced by Australian educators in graduating creative engineers, capable of developing novel products and services in a competitive global market.

Grants and funding: 2016-2017 Office of Learning and Teaching Grant
Project lead: Professor Iouri Belski
Project partners: International TRIZ academic experts from Germany, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Russia and Finland

Overview: Educating the Edisons of the 21st Century: Embedding tools of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) into the engineering curriculum is aligned with the Government’s vision for higher education in Australia to act as an engine of economic growth.

Student and Supervisor Perceptions of Writing Competence for a Computer Science PhD

The aim of this project is to study the relationship between assessed English writing skills and the quality of research manuscripts in computer science. We will also determine which factors are perceived to change English writing skill during candidature.

Project dates: start (5/2016) and finish (4/2017)
Grants and funding: This project is funded by the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) ($56k)

Girls in STEM

The aim of this grant was to target high school girls from years 7 to 9 and involve them in a series of workshops and mentoring activities to provide students hands-on experience in STEM-related activities to explore the creative possibilities of STEM disciplines.

Project dates: 2016
Key people: Dr Trish McLaughlin, Professor Mandy Berry
Grants and funding: This project was funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) as part of the Women in STEM Entrepreneurship (WISE) Programme ($110k)

The Global Canopy

The Global Canopy was a national OLT funded project encompassing five universities, that examined the global mobility opportunities developed through discipline-based learning activities.

Funding: 2014-2016 Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) $280,000
Project Lead: Trish McLaughlin
Project Team: Andrea Chester and James Baglin (RMIT), UWS, Uni Syd, UoN, Deakin, CQU

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The STEM Ecosystem project

This project aimed to create a networking framework that promoted teaching leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Funding: 2014-2015 Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) $217,000
Project Lead: Julianne Reid
Project Team: Trish McLaughlin, Belinda Kennedy (RMIT), Lydia Kavanagh (UQ), David Dowling (USQ), Philip Poronnik (Uni Sydney)

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The Island in Schools: the learning of statistics

The Island in Schools project used an online virtual world to improve mathematics, science and statistics education in secondary schools.

Funding: 2014 RMIT Learning and Teaching Investment Fund (LTIF) $30,000 and 2015 the Australian Maths and Sciences Partnerships (AMSPP) $96,360
Project Lead: James Baglin
Project Team: Anthony Bedford (RMIT), Michael Bulmer (UQ), Helen MacGillivray (QUT), Steven Bowe (Swinburne)

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Developing Graduate Employability through Partnerships with Industry and Professional Organisations

This OLT funded project developed an overarching framework to distinguish programs that enhance learning for employability from those that inhibit learning.

Funding: 2014-2015 OLT Grant $258,000
Project lead: Associate Professor Margaret Jollands (RMIT)
Project partners: Ms Bronwyn Clarke, Associate Professor Danilla Grando, Associate Professor Margaret Hamilton, Ms Catherine Pocknee, Associate Professor John Smith, Dr Sophie Xenos (RMIT), Associate Professor Angela Carbone (Monash), Professor Lorelle Burton (USQ).

Overview: This project compared stakeholder views of employability skills in five disciplines and evaluated how employability is developed in students at three higher education institutions. 'Employability' includes the skills required to obtain a new position and those required to maintain existing employment. The project aimed to identify the key issues and challenges that influence graduate employability from the viewpoint of a wide range of stakeholders across a variety of disciplines, as well as identify the gap between industry expectations and student and academic perspectives of graduate employability. In addition, the project built staff capacity to develop curriculum and learning affordances that promote student acquisition of employability skills, knowledge and attributes. Outcomes included a framework to lead program renewal for employability.

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Making Something Out of Maths

This  Australian Government funded project managed by the Office of the Chief Scientist, Australia, aimed to engage students in maths and science courses at tertiary and secondary levels, through innovative partnerships between universities, schools and other organisations.  The project provided opportunities for secondary students, in particular middle school girls, to actually see the value of studying mathematics and technology at undergraduate level. 

Funding: 2015 Australian Maths and Sciences Partnerships Program (AMSPP) $50,000
Project lead: Tricia McLaughlin
Project team: Dr James Baglin

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ICT courses database for classified and benchmarked exam questions

This project aimed to develop a database that allows ICT lecturers and tutors to upload exam questions, given to past students.

Funding: 2013-2014 ALTA Grant $15,000
Project lead: Dr Margaret Hamilton (RMIT)
Project partners: Dr Daryl D’Souza and Associate Professor James Harland (RMIT)

Overview: The project also encouraged ICT lecturers and tutors to upload student performance data from past exam questions. This data could cover various cohorts: postgraduate or undergraduate; home campus; country; or international campus. Moreover, while the emphasis here was on exam questions, the database may be used to track interesting formative assessment questions in the same way.

Mornington Peninsula Shire ‘Get Me to Class’ Project

This project included a feasibility study, conducted focus groups, built an application for the 'Get me to Class' mobile website and provided the final website for the Mornington Shire Council.

Funding: 2012-2013 $50,000
Project lead: Dr Margaret Hamilton (RMIT)
Project partners: Mrs Rita Kontos (Mornington Peninsula Shire), Adriana Del Mastro (RMIT)

Overview: The Mornington Peninsula Shire engaged our School of Computer Science and IT to build an application for their 'Get me to Class' mobile website. The project produced a mobile website tool that helps students travel to tertiary institutions, encouraging them to consider public transport options and arrange formal car-pooling.

The student's individual timetable link into the website was linked into the Metlink journey planner to calculate departure time and public transport routes. A further option allowed students, wanting to combine public transport and car-pooling, to link via Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, maps were linked and made available with GPS capabilities to identify student's current location.

The greener office and classroom

This project harvests environmental and energy-usage data from sensors and data feeds, then analyses and visualises it for designing new or retrofitting existing buildings and teaching spaces.

Funding: 2011-2015 Siemens RMIT Greener Government Building Learning and Teaching Grant $100,000
Project lead: Dr Margaret Hamilton (RMIT)
Project partners: Dr Flora Salim and Associate Professor Jane Burry (RMIT)

Overview: The overall project aim is to design a more sustainable office and classroom., with a reduced carbon footprint into the future, by encouraging students and staff to engage with monitoring, and designing new greening activities, either by accumulating green rewards in games, or delivering green lectures and online class modules.

Signposting the pathways

This project disseminated to industry partners the findings from the 2010-2012 lifelong-learning research study.

Funding: 2013 DIICCSRTE-OLT Extension $27,280
Project lead: Dr Patricia McLaughlin (RMIT)

Lifelong-learning pathways

This project looked at participation and diversity targets in higher education.

Funding: 2012-2012 ALTC Project $220,000
Project lead: Dr Patricia McLaughlin (RMIT)
Project partners: Professor Anthony Mills (Deakin)

Toward a shared understanding of competency in programming

This project developed a rich framework for describing the learning goals associated with introductory learning of programming.

Funding: 2011-2012 ALTC Project $146,000
Project lead: Dr Raymond Lister (UTS)
Project partners: Dr Margaret Hamilton, Dr Daryl D’Souza, Associate Professor James Harland (RMIT), with Computer Science academics from Monash, QUT and University of Sydney.

Transition in, transition out (TiTo)

This project investigated peer mentoring for the sustainable development of first- and third-year psychology students.

Funding: 2011-2012 ALTC Project $120,000
Project lead: Associate Professor Andrea Chester (RMIT)
Project partners: Louise Burton and Dr Sophia Xenos (RMIT)

Hurdling the great divide… AQF transitions from VET to HE

This project sketched the causal factors in students and workers up-skilling and transitioning from vocational education and training (VET) to higher education (HE) across Australia.

Funding: 2011-2012 National Centre for Vocational Education Research Grant $99,000.
Project lead: Dr Patricia McLaughlin (RMIT)
Project partners: Deakin University

Clearing the pathway

This project looked at ways to improve the transition for students moving between Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) levels 5, 6 and 7.

Funding: 2011-2012 DIICCSRTE-OLT Project $101,000
Project lead: Dr Patricia McLaughlin (RMIT)
Project partners: University of Western Sydney, Deakin University, Curtin University

Two cities as a living lab

This project examined project-based and research-led teaching of socio-technical pedagogical approaches in designing for the cities' ‘wicked problems’.

Funding: 2010-2012 IBM Smarter Planet Industry Skills Innovation Award $10,274
Project lead: Dr Margaret Hamilton (RMIT)
Project partners: Dr Flora Salim, Associate Professor Jane Burry and Dr Marsha Berry (RMIT)

Automated passenger-counting system study

This project examined the existing Yarra Trams system and the development requirements, configuration and deployment of an improved system.

Funding: 2010-2011 $20,000
Project lead: Dr Margaret Hamilton (RMIT)
Project partners: Georges Couenon and Bruno Lancelot (Yarra Trams)

Web 2.0 authoring tools in higher education learning and teaching

This project developed guidelines for formalising academic practices, standards and reporting related to the use of “web 2.0” or “social software” for assessing student learning in higher education.

Funding: 2010 ALTC Project $158,000
Project lead: Dr Kathleen Gray (Melbourne University)
Project partners: Dr Margaret Hamilton and Dr Joan Richardson (RMIT), Dr Judy Sheard and Dr Rosemary Clerehan (Monash University), Dr Celia Thompson and Dr Jenny Waycott (Melbourne University)

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.