Research students meet to encourage and learn from each other

Published 08 July 2010

Postgrad StudentsAbout 100 postgraduate students from around Australia and around the world are meeting at the University of New England this week to learn from each other’s experiences of research in a wide variety of disciplines.

The students – all undertaking Master’s Honours or doctoral programs in disciplines within UNE’s Faculty of The Professions – are participating in the Faculty’s fourth annual Postgraduate Research Conference, running from Monday 5 to Friday 9 July.

Among the many overseas students at the conference are some who have travelled from countries including Switzerland, Thailand, Vietnam and Bangladesh for the week-long event. One of those is Andrew Close, who lives and works in Geneva. Mr Close said he had chosen to study through UNE because of the excellence of the University’s online course delivery.

This is the second Postgraduate Research Conference at UNE that he has travelled from Switzerland to attend. “It’s good to meet people you talk to on the Internet,” he said. “And although we’re all working in different fields, the common patterns in the research process allow us to share experiences.”

Mr Close (pictured here), who is a music/drama teacher at a school in Geneva, is conducting research on levels of trust – and their impact on the development of teaching programs – within school music departments.

Mila Mukhzamilah (also pictured here), who comes from Indonesia, has been studying on campus at UNE for the past 20 months, and throughout that time has found the academic staff “very helpful”. Having completed a Master’s degree last year, she has embarked on a PhD project investigating second-language learning in early childhood. Among other things, she’s assessing the beneficial impact of second-language learning at an early age on life skills such as the ability to adapt to new environments.

Belinda Snell, the Research Support Officer from the Faculty of The Professions who has coordinated the conference, said this was the first time that some of the students had visited the UNE campus.

Research presentations by the students have outlined projects being conducted in the School of Education, the School of Health, the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, and the School of Law. As part of the conference program, UNE staff members have presented workshops on a range of research skills using the latest information technology.

Keynote speakers at the conference have included Professor Graham Webb, UNE’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, Professor Belinda Tynan, the Faculty’s Academic Director, Professor Jeffery Kottler and Dr Matt Englar-Carlson from California State University, Fullerton, USA (whose  presentation was titled “Personal transformations from doing/living qualitative research”), Professor Colleen Cartwright from Southern Cross University, and UNE’s Dr Terrence Hays and Associate Professor Rafat Hussain.

Dr Hays, the convener of the conference, said that an important aspect of the event was that it allowed students to “network”. “Research students often experience a sense of isolation,” he said, “and such networking provides them with peer support. And presenting a paper at a conference like this helps them to focus their ideas and provides them with feedback from people other than their supervisors.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Andrew Close and Mila Mukhzamilah displayed here expands to include two more of the students at the conference: Hasnah Sefriadi from Indonesia (left) and Mona Abou Taleb from Egypt.