At the end of June, AAEE held the annual Winter School in Sydney at UTS. Winter School is an immersive experience that brings together engineering educators and researchers wanting to enter into engineering education research (and those who want a refresher!) to learn about designing and undertaking effective education research projects, evaluating teaching and curriculum and positioning evaluation and research activities in light of current trends. We asked lead facilitator A/Prof Anne Gardner (UTS) to give us an overview of how Winter School 2019 went and participant PhD student Ms Ellen Lynch (ANU) to provide insights into why she decided to attend Winter School and what she took from the experience. We hope everyone who attended Winter School in 2019 had an enriching experience and look forward to our 2020 offering.

A/Prof Anne Gardner (UTS), Lead Facilitator AAEE Winter School 2019

“From 24 – 28th June, 27 participants attended the AAEE 2019 Winter School at UTS.  They included six PhD students and academics from 13 Australian universities.  It was also great to be able to welcome a colleague from the University of Waikato, NZ and the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea.  I appreciated the efforts of co-facilitators Dr. Scott Daniel and Dr. Donna Rooney and the assistance of Dr. Tom Goldfinch.  Highlights were Scott’s banana analogy (again we learned that size is not important) and Donna’s box of spectacles which give her a different ‘lens’ to view the world.

Participants prepared for the start of Winter School by answering questions from a nominated reading about various methodologies that can be used in engineering education research. After introductions we collaboratively developed a research process that stayed on the wall for the duration of the Winter School so that we could refer back to it throughout the week.  We discussed methodology and the need to make it explicit, along with research tools and methods appropriate to educational research.   Finally participants provided peer feedback to each other’s proposed projects and some committed to working on projects together.”

Ms Ellen Lynch (ANU), AAEE Winter School 2019 attendee and PhD student

“I knew I was going to AAEE Winter School before I had even selected my PhD topic. My supervisor, Jeremy Smith, had attended it a few years ago and strongly encouraged me to go. I headed into Winter School hoping it would help me select the better of two study ideas I had, but I went away with even more to think about, which has in turn helped me craft a better PhD focus.

The week focused on covering a wide variety of current and emerging engineering education methodologies and factors to consider with the goal of crafting our own study. I found the tools, techniques and activities were not only applicable to research, but also to teaching and tutoring.

Like all academic conferences, there were great people and cracking conversations. However, as a young researcher I found Winter School a unique opportunity to engage with academics who were at the same stage of their engineering education journey as me, regardless of their academic position. It was a safe space to learn, hear others’ experiences and stories and to critically analyse our current approaches. Overall, Winter School helped me to create new connections, widen my perspective and improve my research practice. I’d recommend it for anyone thinking about engineering education practice and research, or as a refresher for those who have been involved for some time.”