Professor Roy Tasker

Roy TaskerRoy Tasker is currently Professor of Chemistry Education at the University of Western Sydney, and Provost of its Hawkesbury campus.

He graduated from the University of Queensland in 1978 with a science degree and a diploma of education, and then moved to New Zealand where he obtained his PhD in synthetic inorganic chemistry at the University of Otago in 1982.

Following postdoctoral positions at the University of Tasmania and the University of Adelaide, he was appointed as a Foundation Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney in 1985. His primary teaching responsibilities are in first-year chemistry, and his research interests are in how and what students learn using interactive multimedia resources.

In the mid-90s a suite of molecular-level animations were produced in his collaborative VisChem project. From research with students he developed the VisChem Learning Design as a best-practice strategy to use these animations, and Odyssey simulations, to develop student mental models of the molecular world, and understand chemistry in a deep way. He has applied this work as a co-author of a multimedia-rich, university chemistry textbook entitled Chemistry: human activity, chemical reactivity.

He is also a consultant for universities in Australia and Singapore interested in moving away from passive delivery of information in face-to-face contexts to interactive, evidence-based teaching. This involves developing learning designs informed by an evidence-based model for how we learn, and mediated using wireless student response technology and data mining to monitor learning gains and affective factors.

In 2011, Roy was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year.

Conference presentation

Research into practice: a useful learning model to inform teaching

  • Why do we all lose attention so quickly in passive lectures?
  • How can we motivate students to engage with cognitively demanding content?
  • Why is 'scaffolding' and 'chunking' so important?
  • What strategies lead to deep learning rather than surface learning?
  • Why are labels better than captions in diagrams?
  • What can we do as educators to make best use of the valuable face-to-face time we have with our students?

In the conference we will consider some answers to these questions on the basis of a cognitive model for how we learn, distilled from research in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and education. After presenting this simple, but powerful model, I will show a stunning piece of educational research that supports it. Then I will show how I have applied it in a learning design that uses visualisation and imagination as key strategies in face-to-face and e-learning teaching (The VisChem learning design - YouTube clip).

During the presentation you will use the latest type of student response unit (SRU) and see for yourself what it can offer as a tool to motivate engagement through peer discussion. This has changed the way I teach.

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