I am an applied linguist, and I work with the Engineering/IT faculty as an academic & professional communication lecturer to develop and embed disciplinary literacy and professional communication in the engineering/IT curriculum. I have been working and researching in engineering edcuation and in academic literacies in higher education for many years. My Ph.D. research investigated the invisibility of writing practices in the engineering curriculum using practice architecture theory. I have published in areas including writing in engineering, reflective writing in engineering, work-integrated learning, engineering curriculum design, peer learning, PASSWrite, the theory of practice architectures and developing professional identities.
member of Association of Academic Language & Learning; member of Australasian Association of Engineering Education
engineering education research
writing practices in engineering
reflective writing in higher education
Work integrated learning
academic and professional communication
developing professional identity
theory of practice architectures
writing in engineering, reflective writing in engineering, peer learning, PASSWrite and design-based curriculum reform in engineering, doctoral writing practices
Goldsmith, R & Willey, K 2018, 'The otherness of writing in the engineering curriculum: A practice architectures perspective', Journal of Academic Language and Learning, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 97-114.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Engineering students are expected to graduate with high level written and oral communication, yet these expectations continue to fall short despite repeated calls by industry and by accrediting bodies such as Engineers Australia for engineering faculties to address this issue. One explanation for this ongoing challenge is that the prevailing practices of engineering education constrain rather than enable the development of writing practices in the engineering curriculum, in part because writing practices are viewed as 'other', and as not belonging to engineering knowledge.
We argue that the reasons for the view of 'otherness' of writing practices in the engineering curriculum relate ontologically to the construction of engineering identities, and epistemologically to perspectives of engineering and writing as being different types of knowledge. Drawing on
elements of identities of engineering educators and students, research on engineering knowledge and legitimation code theory, the authors explore these ideas through the lens of practice architectures theory. The analysis reveals that dominant practices in engineering education place writing practices outside what is seen to be engineering, although there are exceptions.
The authors conclude that the practice architectures of the engineering curriculum which prefigure writing as being what engineers are not expected to be 'good at', and not as important as technical skills,
are so much a part of the 'unspoken narratives' of engineering educators that writing practices are marginalised. When they become part of what engineers do, they are re-framed as 'documentation'. This suggests that writing practices can be seen as intrinsic to engineering education and practice if or when they are re-framed as engineering practice.
Manidis, M & Goldsmith, R 2018, 'Governing the social, material, textual and advancing professional learning of doctoral candidates in the contemporary university', Teaching Public Administration, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 14-33.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Doctoral education is increasingly of interest to higher education researchers and policy-makers as the qualification's diversity, governance, reach and policy outcomes come under growing scrutiny. In the context of these changes, the paper adopts for the first time since Cumming's seminal study, a practice-based exploration of the social, material, textual, and professional learning of doctoral candidates in an Australian university. The exploration, drawing on empirical data and practice-based analyses of the university as 'organisation', examines divergent and growing pressures on the qualification. Data indicate that current arrangements privilege sociomaterial (disciplinary) learning. Textual practices, central to accomplishing the dissertation, develop over time and in irregular fashion across disciplines, as candidates learn new rhetorical and publication practices. New practices aimed at reimagining the doctoral qualification as a vocational/professional formation program are unlikely to succeed given the prevailing nature of practices and practice-based conceptualisations of situated learning.
Goldsmith, R, Willey, K & Boud, D 2018, 'Investigating invisible writing practices in the engineering curriculum using practice architectures', European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 44, no. 1-2, pp. 71-84.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Writing practices are seen to be essential for professional engineers, yet many engineering students and academics struggle with written communication, despite years of interventions to improve student writing. Much has been written about the importance of getting engineering students to write, but there has been a little investigation of engineering academics' perceptions of writing practices in the curriculum, and the extent to which these practices are visible to their students and to the academics. This paper draws on research from an ongoing study into the invisibility of writing practices in the engineering curriculum using a practice architectures lens. The paper uses examples from the sites of practice of two participants in the study to argue that prevailing practices in engineering education constrain more than enable the development and practice of writing in the engineering curriculum.
Buckingham Shum, S, Sándor, Á, Goldsmith, R, Bass, R & McWilliams, M 2017, 'Towards Reflective Writing Analytics: Rationale, Methodology and Preliminary Results', Journal of Learning Analytics, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 58-84.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Goldsmith, R & Willey, K 2016, 'It's not my job to teach writing: Activity theory analysis of [invisible] writing practices in the engineering curriculum', Journal of Academic Language and Learning, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. A118-A129.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Although writing is still the main form of assessment at university, the prac-tice of writing continues to be marginalised, particularly in technical disci-plines such as engineering, notwithstanding decades of reports identifying gaps in graduate communication abilities in these fields, and diverse inter-ventions to address these gaps. The assumption underlying many of the re-ports and interventions is that engineering students neither value nor are in-terested in writing, but actually many engineering students are not provided with the opportunity to develop or practise disciplinary writing in the sub-jects they study, despite being required to write in a range of genres as part of their assessment. This implies that writing practices are neither seen as developmental nor as intrinsic to the engineering curriculum. This demands the question: why not? This paper reports on a study investigating percep-tions of writing practices in the engineering curriculum at the level of engi-neering academics. Using activity theory to capture the dynamic interactions of the various participants in engineering subjects, the study analyses the perspectives of engineering subject coordinators about writing practices in their subjects through interviews and documents. Current findings show ten-sions between the value of propositional or technical knowledge and that of writing practices. These findings can be used to develop a discussion with engineering academics to emphasise the developmental nature of writing and to make writing practices more visible in the engineering curriculum.
Williamson, F & Goldsmith, RJ 2013, 'PASSwrite: Recalibrating student academic literacies development', Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, vol. 10, no. 2.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
While there have been improvements in Australian engineering education since the 1990s, there are still strong concerns that more progress needs to be made, particularly in the areas of developing graduate competencies and in outcomes-based curricula. This paper comments on the findings from a two-day Australian Learning and Teaching Council funded forum that sought to establish a shared understanding with the thee stakeholders (students, academics and industry) about how to achieve a design-based engineering curriculum. This paper reports on the findings from the first day's activities, and reveals that there is a shared desire for design and project-based curricula that would encourage the development of the "three-dimensional" graduate: one who has technical, personal, and professional and systems-thinking/design-based competence. In addition, the data also reveal industry willingness to engage in the engineering curriculum to enhance authentic learning experiences
Goldsmith, RJ & Newton, S 2011, 'What do communication skills mean in the construction discipline?', Journal of Academic Language and Learning, vol. Vol. 5, no. No. 5, pp. 158-168.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Goldsmith, RJ, Jones, G & Farrell, H 2009, 'Paradigm shift from student to researcher: An academic preparation program for international students', Journal of Academic Language and Learning, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. A61-A69.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Although there are many Academic Preparation Programs designed for
international postgraduate students, the importance of establishing 'the role
of the researcher' is rarely the focus of these programs. This role is a
fundamental 'threshold concept' (Meyer & Land, 2006) for postgraduate
success which has the potential to be transformational at both Masters and
PhD levels. This paper reports on an intensive academic preparation program
(IAPP) for international postgraduate students commencing study at UNSW
in 2009. This pilot program consisted of 40 hours facilitation prior to
commencement of Semester 1, 2009. The program aimed to explore the
'role of the researcher' by engaging in academic literacies fundamental to
postgraduate expectations and empowering each student by acknowledging
they were budding specialists in their disciplinary field.
The design of the program encouraged personal responsibility for research
and learning. This gave learners confidence to explore their reflective and
critical learning process and to fine tune their research interests. Learning
activities were designed to foster and record reflective practice. The use of a
learning journal, group discussions and debriefings were central to the
program and increased learners' confidence as researchers.
Student feedback of this pilot program was very positive and demonstrated
its transformational nature. Based on this experience, we suggest that
developing the 'role of the researcher' offers another direction to consider
when designing international preparation programs.
Goldsmith, RJ, Power, C & Carmichael, E 2007, 'Parrot poo on the windscreen: Metaphor in academic skills learning', Journal of Academic Language and Learning, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. A18-A32.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Metaphor can be a powerful tool in communicating the purposes and processes involved in learning as the use of metaphor enables new and complex
ideas to be presented through more familiar forms. A considerable range of
literature recognises the role of metaphor in learning and teaching both as an
analytical tool and as a medium for conveying meaning. However, little has
been written about the use of metaphor in the context of academic skills
learning. This research was prompted by the authors' personal experience in
using metaphor and students' positive feedback. It explores the use of
metaphor both among academic skills advisers and in academic skills texts.
It was found that it was not uncommon for academic skills practitioners to
use metaphor in learning and teaching situations and the research revealed a
rich assortment of metaphors. Similarly texts in this field use metaphors,
albeit more tentatively and sparingly. Empirical research into student
understanding and perceived benefits of the use of metaphors would further
contribute to this initial discussion.
Goldsmith, R & Jin, X 2019, 'Using action research to explore postgraduate transition and develop disciplinary literacies for engineering students', Students transitions achievement retention & success 2019, Unistars.org, Melbourne, pp. 1-5.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Unprecedented changes in higher education in the 21st century both in teaching and learning practices and in student cohorts have contributed to the development of transition strategies and pedagogies for first year undergraduate students. However, there has been little acknowledgement of the need for similar approaches for commencing postgraduate students, despite research which indicates that postgraduate cohorts are very diverse and do not necessarily have the 'expert status' accorded to them. This is especially the case in engineering and IT faculties, where students from a multitude of undergraduate and language backgrounds enrol in postgraduate studies for a wide range of reasons. In response to this, we devised an initiative which seeks to scaffold support for postgraduate coursework engineering students in research practices, academic writing practices and problem-based learning. An action research approach has been adopted to implement this initiative, and we will encourage students to become participant researchers.
Goldsmith, R & Willey, K 2018, 'Making writing practices visible and sustainable in the engineering curriculum: a practice architectures theory analysis', Canadian Association of Engineering Education Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Engineering practice requires engineers who have strong spoken and written communication skills, but the development of these skills, notably writing practices, is often invisible in the engineering curriculum, and rarely embedded. Decades of reviews of engineering education have identified the gap between the engineering curriculum and engineering practice, such as engineering graduates' level of writing skills being inadequate for the workplace. This paper draws on research from a qualitative study which investigates the perspectives of engineering educators about writing practices in the engineering curriculum, utilizing the theory of practice architectures as a theoretical and methodological lens. Using examples from the case studies, we explore some constraints of the development of writing practices in the engineering curriculum. We then focus on case studies where the development of writing practices is enabled within a subject, across a sequence of subjects and throughout an engineering degree program, and identify elements that contribute to these practices. Our findings suggest that the development of writing practices can be integrated into engineering studies, but certain pre-conditions are required.
Inchbold, S & Goldsmith, R 2017, 'Developing three-dimensional engineers through project-based learning', Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017), Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, AAEE, Sydney, Australia, pp. 303-311.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Context: The issue addressed is the need to develop engineering students' independent learning and their understanding of the range of professional engineering activities within the context of a large introductory engineering subject in a revised academic calendar with reduced teaching weeks. Thus a project was created to re-design the subject to take a structured approach to flipped and blended content delivery. This has provided a scaffolded and supportive environment to introduce students to collaborative project-based and independent learning.
Purpose: The project aims to create a coherent teaching and learning narrative to develop student engineering identities within an authentic student project which gives them insights into the nature of engineering work. This is done in a subject with strong tutor support to scaffold students" learning experiences.
Approach: The project uses transition pedagogies to scaffold blended and flipped learning experiences, and to make explicit the need to develop students' engineering identities. Active and interactive learning opportunities enhance students' agency to become independent learners. Data have been collected from students and tutors to measure the impact of the changes in learning and teaching practices. Student data are being analysed through the lens of developing professional identity. The effectiveness of the student learning activities are being evaluated using tutor feedback and assessment results.
Results: Results indicate that due to the subject redesign, students have a stronger sense of the nature of engineering work. Furthermore, teaching and learning activities that focus on project-based learning have developed students' emergent professional identity and professional capabilities. In addition, the standardisation of teaching and learning experiences across tutorial classes have led to greater consistency in content delivery and learning outcomes.
Conclusions: It is critical to introduce stude...
Goldsmith, R & Willey, K 2017, 'Using practice architectures to investigate the invisibility of writing practices in the engineering curriculum', Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE, 2017 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, IEEE, Indianapolis, IN, USA, pp. 1-6.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2017 IEEE. Written communication is neither systematically developed nor practised in the engineering curriculum, despite expectations by universities and employers that engineering graduates will be proficient communicators, and despite interventions to develop students' writing. The gap in the development of students' written communication calls for an investigation into the continuing invisibility of writing practices in the engineering curriculum. The lens of practice architectures theory was used to explore how engineering academics view writing in their engineering subjects, and how they develop the writing practices of their students. Practice architectures theory sees practices as shaped by and shaping cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political arrangements. A qualitative study examined engineering academics' teaching practices and the extent to which writing is practised and developed within the subjects they teach. Results show the majority of engineering academics in this study view writing as separate from technical engineering knowledge. This impacts the prevailing teaching and assessment practices by not providing opportunities for writing to be practised and developed within the context of engineering education. Unless there is conscious inclusion of writing practices, prevailing teaching and assessment practices will continue to focus on the acquisition of propositional knowledge to the exclusion of the development of writing practices.
Goldsmith, RJ & Willey, K 2016, 'How can the development of writing practices in the engineering curriculum be enabled?', Proceeding of AAEE 2016 CONFERENCE, AAEE - Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Coffs Harbour, NSW.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Gardner, AP, Goldsmith, R & Vessalas, K 2016, 'Using practice architectures theory to compare consecutive offerings of the same subject', Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE2016), Australasian Association of Engineering Education annual conference, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Two consecutive offerings (2015 and 2016) of the same subject, Concrete Technology and Practice, prompted opposite reactions from students. The academics involved in 2015 and/or 2016 sought to explore the similarities and differences between these consecutive offerings in reflecting on the learning and teaching practices in their classroom.
Practice architectures theory provides a framework for examining and understanding the differences between these consecutive offerings of ostensibly the same subject. This paper also provides an example of how a theoretical framework can be used to examine teaching practices – even our own by practitioners who are also acting as researchers in this context.
Evidence used in comparing the 2015 and 2016 offerings of this subject is drawn from focus group discussions with students and observations of each of the researcher/practitioners involved. Additional data includes the end of semester Student Feedback Survey results including written responses to open-ended questions.
Differences in aspects of the cultural-discursive, material-economic and socio-political arrangements of the 2015 and 2016 offerings of Concrete Technology and Practice became apparent from the analysis.
Using the theory of practice architectures gave us insights into the inter-relationships between the different arrangements inherent in teaching and learning practices. It also highlighted the resilience of 'taken for granted' practices.
Shum, SB, Sándor, Á, Goldsmith, R, Wang, X, Bass, R & Mcwilliams, M 2016, 'Reflecting on reflective writing analytics: Assessment challenges and iterative evaluation of a prototype tool', ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference, ACM, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, pp. 213-222.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2016 ACM.When used effectively, reflective writing tasks can deepen learners' understanding of key concepts, help them critically appraise their developing professional identity, and build qualities for lifelong learning. As such, reflecting writing is attracting substantial interest from universities concerned with experiential learning, reflective practice, and developing a holistic conception of the learner. However, reflective writing is for many students a novel genre to compose in, and tutors may be inexperienced in its assessment. While these conditions set a challenging context for automated solutions, natural language processing may also help address the challenge of providing real time, formative feedback on draft writing. This paper reports progress in designing a writing analytics application, detailing the methodology by which informally expressed rubrics are modelled as formal rhetorical patterns, a capability delivered by a novel web application. This has been through iterative evaluation on an independently humanannotated corpus, showing improvements from the first to second version. We conclude by discussing the reasons why classifying reflective writing has proven complex, and reflect on the design processes enabling work across disciplinary boundaries to develop the prototype to its current state.
Goldsmith, R & Willey, K 2015, 'Activity theory analysis of the visibility of writing practicesin the engineering curriculum', Research in Engineering Education Symposium, Dublin, Ireland.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Goldsmith, RJ & Willey, K 2014, 'Invisible writing practices in the engineering curriculum', Proceedings of the AAEE2014 Conference Wellington, New Zealand, AAEE - Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Wellington, NZ.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Goldsmith, R, Willey, K & Boud, DJ 2012, 'How can writing develop students' deep approaches to learning in the engineering curriculum?', Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education - The Profession of Engineering Education: Advancing Teaching, Research and Careers, AAEE - Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-8.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
BACKGROUND Recent national and international research has identified a number of gaps in the development of engineering graduate capabilities: one is the real-world problem-solving ability, which is linked to a lack of integration of theoretical and practical knowledge (ASEE 2009; King,2008; Royal Academy of Engineering, 2006; Sheppard, Macatanga, Colby & Sullivan 2009; Male, Bush & Chapman 2009; Walther & Radcliffe 2007). Another is written (and spoken) communication (King, 2008; Male, Bush & Chapman 2011). There is strong evidence to indicate that these gaps occur in part as a result of a predominance of engineering curricula in universities which emphasise knowledge acquisition, and the prevailing assessment tasks that focus learning on atomised pieces of knowledge. Such an approach encourages surface learning approaches, resulting in graduates who may lack the integrated knowledge required for engineering practice and who have limited communication capabilities. PURPOSE There is, however, a body of research that suggests deep approaches to learning in the disciplines can be achieved through particular kinds of writing that provide the opportunity to explore concepts which link theory and practice, thus developing both writing ability and integrated understanding. This paper presents the preliminary phase of a study to investigate the strategic use of discursive writing to foster both a deeper approach to learning and enhanced written communication skills in the engineering curriculum. The study focuses on discursive writing as a means of providing students with the opportunity to explore the theories and concepts that they are learning, in order to integrate knowledge from different parts of the curriculum and to link the theories to engineering practice. DESIGN/METHOD In order to investigate how writing is currently practised and assessed in Australian engineering curricula, a preliminary analysis of written assessment tasks in a unit of study in the mechani...
Newton, S & Goldsmith, R 2011, 'An analysis of stakeholder preferences for threshold learning outcomes in construction management in Australia', Association of Researchers in Construction Management, ARCOM 2011 - Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference, Association of Researchers in Construction Management Annual Conference, pp. 127-136.
As a precursor to a new national regulatory and quality agency for higher education in Australia, the Australian Teaching and Learning Council (ALTC) has been commissioned to work with clusters of discipline communities to begin to specify how Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLOs) particular to each discipline might be used as a basis for academic standards. In 2010, a series of 14 workshops and follow-up questionnaires was convened to examine the preferences of key stakeholder groups for particular TLOs. A thematic analysis of the workshops identified six broad classifications: Judgement, Communication, Self-Development, Knowledge, Innovation and Work-Integrated Learning. Draft TLO statements for each have now been developed. An analysis of the stakeholder preferences reveals significant differences and interesting similarities in the preferences being expressed. These differences are examined in terms of TLO and source classifications. Results confirm that Judgement is generally a low preference for Industry and Students. There is also a strong case for curriculum review around Innovation. There is consistently high preference expressed for the development of graduates as individuals. Overall, the strong message from this data is that Industry is uncomfortable with learning outcomes being expressed in other than a traditional competency statement form. A critical requirement is to come not only to a shared expression of the TLOs, but also a shared understanding of them.
Goldsmith, R, Reidsema, C & Campbell, D 2010, 'Best practice or business as usual? Whose interests are served by the engineering science paradigm?', Proceedings of the 2010 AeeE Conference, Sydney, Australasian Association of Engineering Education 2010 Conference, FEIT, UTS, UTS, Sydney, pp. 1-9.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Goldsmith, R, Reidsema, C, Beck, H & Campbell, D 2010, 'Perspectives on teaching and learning engineering design across four universities', ConnectEd: 2nd International conference on design education, ConnectEd 2010, University of New South Wales, University of New South Wales.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Reidsema, C, Goldsmith, R & Mort, P 2010, 'WRITING TO LEARN: REFLECTIVE PRACTICE IN ENGINEERING DESIGN', American Society for Engineering Education Global Colloquium 2010, ASEE Global Symposium Singapore 2010, American society for engineering education, Singapore.
PASSwrite is a strategic and sustainable approach to the development of critical and communicative capabilities among students, particularly underprepared and 'non-traditional' students (students who are mature age, from LSES backgrounds, or working full time). The project brings together the well-established and effective peer-learning model – Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) – with the best practice model of discipline-based academic literacy to create group learning environments in which students engage in critical reading, writing and dialogue related to concepts, language and conventions in their academic discipline.