The Centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact (SORTI) is focused on understanding and developing research and higher order problem solving skills, and the impact of research training and research outcomes in a wide variety of contexts.

STUDY OF RESEARCH TRAINING
AND IMPACT
- SORTI
Centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact

About us

The Centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact (SORTI) is focused on understanding and developing research and higher order problem solving skills, and the impact of research training and research outcomes in a wide variety of contexts.

SORTI was established out of the concern evident at national and international levels about the quality and impact of research and research training. The continued development of the Centre has also responded to the escalating interest in higher and professional education; the acquisition, use, settings; and the acceleration of the use of information technologies in related contexts.

To capture these changes we developed an overarching program framework recognising two key domains: Adaptive Knowledge Production (AKP) and New Technologies that encompasses:

  • Studies in Research Training
  • Studies in Higher Education
  • Studies in Professionalism
  • Studies of Cultural Variation

SORTI activities are directed toward the understanding and development of research and higher order problem solving skills, the impact of research training and knowledge use, professional development and pathways to professions, and e-learning in a wide variety of contexts.

SORTI brings together researchers from the University of Newcastle and national and international academics in the fields of Education, Science and IT, Psychology, Social and Cultural Studies, Business and Law, Evaluation and Measurement, Policy Studies, Curriculum, ESL, History, Philosophy, Creative Arts, Music, Design, Mathematics, Medicine, Engineering and the Built Environment, Environmental Studies, Business, Research Management, and University Administration.

Research Highlights

"Our analysis … Indicated a need to make explicit the nature of intellectual demands underlying university study and the need to scaffold their development in the first year,"

Book front cover

In a chapter of a new book published by Routledge, Cantwell, Scevak  and Spray investigate the capacity to segue from non-university to university-level study.

Cantwell, R., Scevak, J., & Spray, E. (2014). 'I thought I knew this stuff, but apparently I don't': Understanding the transition into university-level thinking (pp. 136-149). In N. Murray & C, Klinger (Eds.), Aspirations, access and attainment: International perspectives on widening participation and an agenda for change. Oxon, UK: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-82877-2.

Do examiners treat research masters and PhD theses as qualitatively different on recognised criteria?

In a recent article in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Bourke and Holbrook, drawing on the responses of 353 PhD and 74 research masters thesis examiners, answer this question.  They also address what is the quality of theses examined, and how well are the criteria reflected in assessments of overall thesis quality?  

Do final-year undergraduate research projects prepare students for further research study?

The level of interest in building research capacity has intensified. While emphasising the development of postgraduate research students, this interest also extends to undergraduate research experience. Investigating student experience across a diverse range of fourth-year undergraduate research programs, Shaw, Holbrook and Bourke explore how these programs prepared students for further research study.  Read more about this research in Studies in Higher Education

The role of theory in doctoral education: EARLI Conference Symposium

At the 15th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI), Munich, Kiley and Holbrook presented papers for discussion to this well-attended and well-received symposium:
Big theories, little theories: What happens in doctoral education? (pdf 136 kb)

Examiner concern with the use of theory in PhD theses (pdf 231 kb)

Six individual papers were also presented.  These can be downloaded from the SORTI Publications pages.