MELT for interdisciplinary STEM education: Forging Connections

One problem for teachers facilitating interdisciplinary STEM projects is how to lift student rigour and sophistication in each subject as well as the interdisciplinary whole. This problem is compounded by differences in terminology within STEM subjects, which make it appear to students like they are being required to do very different forms of thinking and makes it hard for them to make connections between subjects.

This seminar will introduce the Models of Engaged learning and Teaching, or MELT for short, to capture the sophisticated thinking within each subject in terminology used by that subject, and to show the connections between subjects. Participants will make their own modifications to MELT to capture the different ways of, for example, commencing project work in each subject. MELT then can be used to maintain the differences between subjects but amplify the connections between the sophisticated thinking in STEM, and lift student rigour in approach towards projects. . For example in Science it may be formulating a research question, whereas in Engineering it may be defining problem, in maths as establishing problem parameters and in technology determining customers’ needs.

In this seminar, you will work on your own MELT for each of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to enhance communication and commonality of purpose in STEM learning.

How do you ask students to ‘embark’ in a specific subject?

Single-verb answers are great:

Here is a version from Golden Grove HS, that students helped to develop

Powerpoint for the SASTA workshop, 12 April 2021, Pulteney Grammar, Adelaide.

Do you think something familiar (MELT structure), something different (your modifications for each subject), could help forge connections in your STEM education?

Authentic Assessment for skill development and content learning

A forum hosted by Monash University Malaysia

26 February, 2021

Q1 What makes an assessment ‘Authentic’?

1st Breakout room activity

Introduce yourselves: including interest in Authentic Assessment

Topic: How could you use MELT to help forge Authentic Assessment with colleagues and the curriculum?

Discuss one context for each person where authentic assessment needs to be introduced?

Choose one context to discuss in detail and report on.

  • which course or context? 
  • which assessment task(s)?
  • what will make the assessment authentic?
  • could MELT frame the assessment marking criteria?
  • which colleagues will you involve in developing the assessment?

Summarise the above in one entry in Padlet:

Password: Authentic

Please indicate your group’s breakout room number in your padlet response.

2nd Breakout room activity (if needed)

Questions for the Q&A session

  • questions of clarification
  • questions of possibilities
  • comments and critiques

University of Calgary: Research and Experiential Learning

Research and Experiential Learning, University of Calgary


Some useful links:

The MELT website

The MELT book:

Answer Garden:

Interactive Session A

In your breakout of 4 or 5:

  • Find out one Research or Experiential Learning focus of each person.
  • Choose the 2 most diverse contexts.
  • What would the name of the 2 MELT be for these contexts?
    • E.g. Volunteering Skills, Critical Thinking, etc.
  • Explore ways that MELT could be adapted to focus students on the overlaps and connections of thinking skills in these experiences.
  • Summarise the above in one entry:
  • 10 minutes and then breakouts automatically return

Interactive Session A

Same people in breakout room

  • Focus on Feedback for improvement
    • Coursework- formative or summative?
    • Extra-curricular- informal or formal?
    • Mechanisms for feedback based on your MELT?
    • Self-assessment
    • Peer-assessment
    • Employer assessment
    • Your assessment
  • How and why will students respond to feedback so they improve
  • Summarise your discussion in padlet

Feel free to share any thoughts on this session

Thanks for your involvement


MELT, for a fluid sense of purpose in education?

The open-access Springer book, the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching: Connecting Sophisticated Thinking from Early Childhood to PhD, spans not only educational sectors but learning paradigms and subjects/disciplines.

The book uses the seven questions of MELT as its seven chapters’ titles.

Chapter 1 ‘What is our purpose?’ concludes (p25):

The billion human brains that will be born between 2023 and 2030 need something different from the learning and education that has occurred so far across 100,000 years of human history. That billion will inherit the leadership of the earth somewhere from 2040, with all of the accumulated problems caused by humanity until that time. Those billion need diverse learning environments that resonate with their complex learning capacities, that connect to multiple educator perspectives and theories, and that enable them to address local and global issues in ways that do not cause more problems than they solve.

But do you think the broad adaptation and use of the MELT can help forge those connections and instill a greater sense of purpose for education in the coming years? Have your say by leaving a comment below.

Webinar: Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching (MELT): forging connections

This webinar is on the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching, or MELT for short, and begins the conversations around the open-access Springer book of the same name. The MELT not only foster, but rely on, the professional judgement of teachers to design and implement learning that students get their teeth into…. (continues below)

Date: 2 December 2020

Time: 2.30pm-3.30 pm Adelaide (4-5 am Coordinated Universal Time)

Presenter: Dr John Willison


The first mechanism for this teacher engagement is adaptation of one’s own MELT, so that it is fit-for-context. It was not an academic decision to create that mechanism but an organic one. As the archetypal MELT, the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework, was piloted and evaluated in numerous universities from 2006 to 2016, what emerged alongside the use of the RSD were frameworks based on its parameters but adapted by educators to fit their context. These models included the Work Skill Development framework, the Clinical Reflection Skills Framework, the Optimising Problem Solving framework; the Digital Skills Development framework, Research Mountain a song for ECE and the i-Talitali framework out of the University of the South Pacific. These and other MELT, as we called them retrospectively, share the same parameters but use appropriate terminology and configuration to speak into their context. The combination of something in common, something different is one of the features of the MELT that can help forge connections across disparate contexts to help students see, not a lot of individual educational trees, but their own forest of learning.

This webinar introduces the MELT and the Open Access Springer book by that name. Some of the authors of the above MELT will briefly discuss the thinking underlying the development of their model.

All the above models have been published separately and are also in the MELT book. You might want to browse the book in advance of the webinar
See also
For further information about Dr Willison:

Connecting curriculum-integrated research in Teacher Education to critical thinking, problem-solving, and teaching skills.

This post is especially for you if you are attending the workshop at the Virtual Council on Undergraduate Research Biennial Conference, 1 July, 2020: 1.15pm-3.15 pm ET:

Connecting curriculum-integrated research in Teacher Education to critical thinking, problem-solving, and teaching skills.

The word document for the workshop can be downloaded before it starts Word doc for CUR conference workshop

The Presentation PDFs are: Connectingcurriculum-integrated-research_ WIllison_Tiala_Palmer_2020 and Connectingcurriculum-integrated-research_ WIllison_Tiala_Palmer_2020Part2

URL for Answer Garden in the workshop

The MELT website is

MELT book, Open Access book published by Springer

We hope to hear your questions during the Q&A for the workshop.

Feel free to write further questions or comments here during and after the workshop.

Sylvia, Ruth and John





MELT, the open access Springer book

MELT, the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching, has been published by Springer as Open Access.


In counting and Accounting, zoo visits and Zoology, single subjects and STEM, the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching- or MELT for short- are for fluid, connected and sophisticated thinking early childhood to PhD.

Maybe this is too expansive, but we’ve got a lot of problems, and we need a better way of connecting people’s thinking about them across the years of education, areas of study and approaches to problem solving, critical thinking and researching.

The MELT share and ask seven questions, and these are used to structure the book’s seven chapters. Chapters use a story, an example from history or current cases of use to bring the concepts in MELT to life. Each chapter features a title page in cartoon format, with Einstein, a young child and a beaver, each making utterances that epitomise aspects of the chapter.

In the foreword I claim the skills that 6 year olds playing in a tree by the seashore in a Pacific village are the same as those that PhD students need and use. What changes is the level of sophistication, depth of content knowledge and degree of rigour required, but the cognitive skills and affective elements are the same in nature.

But what do you think? I’d love you to comment about the above, or any feature of the book.




Facilitating the development of students who think critically & creatively

Here are some resources for Facilitating the development of students who think critically & creatively, based on the Masterclass webinar run by School of Education, University of Adelaide, 15April, 2020

1. The Critical and Creative Thinking Brainstorm


2. The webinar powerpoint with with audience contributions embedded


3. The recording of the 90 minute webinar

Breakout groups were asked to adapt their own version of the Critical and Creative Thinking Brainstorm

  • Please stick for now to the idea of the 6 facets (questions) and the pentagon shape
    • This is for communication purposes and potential connections
  • Be ready to report back in 10 mins. Share screen, use voice. Tell us the changes
  • Title
  • Centre
  • Change in verbs

For various documents and examples of The Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching

Based on this webinar, how appropriate do you think MELT, used creatively and adapted appropriately, is for developing  your students’ critical and creative thinking?

Feel free to comment here.


Graduates’ affective transfer of research skills and evidence based practice from university to employment in clinics- fully open access article

BMC Medical Education published this article just now, co-authored with 6 fantastic Masters students and Dr Fizza Sabir


The article acknowledges the work fantastic done by Sophie Karanicolas, Cathy Snelling and Clinton Kempster in their innovative use of the RSD in their degree.

This work resulted in amazing graduates who were interviewed one year after the degree, when employed. A striking feature is how passionate the graduates are about the skills that they developed in the degree and then used with patients.

This is the first article on the RSD work that richly unearths the affective domain of attitudes, values and emotions, and shows the intimate connections to the more cogntive aspects of learning and work.

Blooms Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is famous, but the Affective Domain is not so well known, yet Bloom’s separation of cognitive and affective domains has had a powerful and pervasive influence across education.

Yet Krathwohl, Bloom and Masia (1964) noted, ‘the fact that we attempt to analyse the affective area separately from the cognitive is not intended to suggest that there is a fundamental separation. There is none.’

This article highlights the intimate connections of cognitive and affective domains, as well as of university learning and skills used in workplaces.

While the role of emotions, values and attitudes in learning is hard to deny, the question remains about how to effectively deal with the affective domain to maximise learning. What do you think and what do you do?