The Research Skill Development (RSD) framework was devised in 2006 to articulate what educators do when they facilitate student learning through active exploration in ways that enable their skills to grow in sophistication and rigour. This special issue of JUTLP comprises eight articles that focus on the critique, adaptation and application of the RSD. This article introduces the special issue and presents the 2018 version of the RSD, in response to 12 years of feedback on the framework. Changes in the RSD include improvements in articulation of the facets of research, better delineation of autonomy, and the addition of the affective domain and guiding questions.

Of the other seven articles, five are set in the undergraduate years and two in master’s, with contexts including biology, education, engineering, humanities and interdisciplinary studies. The articles are based across diverse settings, including laboratory, online, language and workplace learning. Of these seven, one critiques the RSD, three focus on curriculum design and three connect the RSD to enduring issues of current concern by adapting the framework for academic literacy, work skills and problem solving. These three adaptations are examples of numerous emerging models that modify RSD terminology and shape, within its broad parameters, and are introduced in this issue as the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching (MELT).

Practitioner Notes

  1. The Research Skill Development (RSD) framework, published in 2007, has been the conceptual framework for numerous studies and the subject of a variety of critiques, informing this article on the updated 2018 version of the RSD.
  2. Updates include increased coherence of the six facets of research skills, enhanced clarity on learning autonomy continuum, and the addition of affective domain elements as well as driving questions associated with each facet.
  3. An unexpected evolution of a variety of models that shared the RSD parameters but using context-specific language and format, from 2009, led to these being named the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching (MELT).
  4. In the special issue, of which this is the first article, the other MELT introduced are the Work Skill Development framework, The Optimising Problem Solving pentagon and the Accelerating Academic Literacy Development model, while there are articles on undergraduate and Masters level implementations.
  5. Individual MELT emphasise teacher and student context-oriented adaptations and the benefits of this to inform enhanced student learning, while providing a core conceptualisation in common between MELT that may enhance learning connections across higher education.