Student Experience and Student Stories
Australia needs more capable, creative and empathetic STEM graduates in the coming decades at a time when the only certainty is the certainty of change. This change will include an ever-increasingly data driven world of algorithms, artificial intelligence and global challenges at a scale never seen before. The only way to create the future we all hope for is to ensure that STEM education at all levels is an unparalleled learning and character forming experience. In higher education, this requires us to act as experience guides for students as they navigate the curriculum. We must develop real-world and current learning activities with enduring meaning and skills that translate into the future workforce.
We need to create an “educational ecosystem” that places all of our students whatever their background and experiences at the heart of our endeavours. We need to hear and value the stories of students and engage them as co-creators of their curriculum and knowledge. We need to learn from their experiences and continually adapt our teaching to respond to their needs. Our STEM graduates will be the leaders and game changing agents for a better world and they need to have that sense of “belonging” to a learning community with shared aspirations.
The 2019 Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education will have a specific focus on the student experience and student stories. We are well into the 4th Industrial Revolution and in higher education we are at a point of inflexion. We can either choose business as usual and slip behind the others or we can choose to partner with our students to provide them with the opportunities to build their capabilities to ensure that they can make significant and meaningful contributions to Australia and the world.
The themes of the conference are:
1. The role of disciplinary depth in STEM education in an increasingly technological world
To develop disciplinary depth and understanding remains a cornerstone of learning STEM. In an age where content is accessible 24/7 anywhere, the design of learning experiences is undergoing a revolution. A range of active learning strategies are being used from block mode immersive design and increasingly more blended delivery are ever ubiquitous. We cannot, however, ignore that learning in science is difficult nor underestimate our influence in this. To understand the nature of the discipline requires a whole range of tools from multimodal representation to concept inventories. What new approaches are being used to increase students understanding in our technological world?
2. Interdisciplinarity, creativity and empathy in the curriculum
Interdisciplinary learning which involves students from different disciplines interacting to solve problems is increasingly a feature of the contemporary STEM curricula. STEM disciplines, however, usually operate independently which makes interactions and the construction of interdisciplinary problem solving difficult. To solve our global challenges will require interactions with other disciplines and the development of humanics, empathy and respect for different disciplines and perspectives. How do we create such a curriculum and what do students think about interdisciplinary learning?
3. Value of global experiences and perspectives
STEM curricula in higher education are increasingly global, involving student exchanges and immersive experiences in different cultures. Universities are creating partnerships with universities across the world so that students can be immersed in learning experiences in other cultures. What does this mean for learning in STEM? In the biological sciences, learning about biodiversity in different parts of the world seems a critical ingredient in the curriculum, but in Physics and Chemistry it may be more of the same. What value do global experiences and perspectives have for our students across STEM disciplines?
4. Undergraduate research through projects, peer-to-peer learning and group based approaches
In Australia and internationally there has been an increasing demand from students to engage in undergraduate research. Research experiences create an understanding of knowledge as uncertain and complex, and research is messy and non linear. It should be an indisputable tenet that teaching in STEM is framed within the research practices that gave rise to the “knowledge” being taught. From week one first year to final week of their studies, student learning and experiences need to be informed by the current understandings, methods and controversies/challenges that face us daily. The benefit of research to student learning remains a growing area of research in itself. Where are we headed in student undergraduate research experiences in STEM and what is best practice?
5. Education focussed academic roles in the “education ecosystem”
While research still maintains primal position in universities, expectations around the educational component of an academic role are changing. In 2008 Australian universities reported that almost 908 of their academic workforce engaged were employed on a “education/teaching-only basis” and in 2017 there were 4,061 academics in such roles. Although the number of academics in education/teaching focussed positions it is still around 8.8% of the total workforce, the trend is increasingly upwards. What is the shape of the “education ecosystem” for an education focussed academic?
Education focussed academics are invited to present their work and understanding of their role. Registration, accommodation and travel costs for the conference will be funded up to $1,000 each for early to mid-career academics in these roles who may not have the funds to attend. Submit your Expression of Interest here! The workshop or themed session will cover what education focussed academics need in terms of connectiveness so that they are not isolated and valued for the talents and skills they bring. What do they need in terms of their career development and what is missing in the landscape?
Funding for this initiative is from the OLT National Teaching Fellowship.
6. Our student stories
Our students have their own stories that often remain unheard. This ACSME conference encourages undergraduate and post graduate students to tell their stories about learning in STEM. Abstracts will be accepted from undergraduate and postgraduate students who want to share their experiences of learning in STEM. What did they value from their undergraduate experience – what was their experience of the undergraduate learning in STEM?
“A University is a place … whither students come from every quarter for every kind of knowledge; … a place for the communication and circulation of thought … It is the place to which a thousand schools make contributions; … We must consult the living person and listen to their living voice, … to adjust together the claims and relations of their respective subjects of investigation. Thus is created a pure and clear atmosphere of thought, which the student also breathes.”
Newman in The Idea of a University (1852)
The following categories of submissions will be included in the conference:
- Abstract only: A maximum of 200 words. These will satisfy the Australian DEEWR publication category E2.
- Non refereed paper: Full article submission, including an abstract of no more than 200 words and length of 3-4 pages. These will satisfy the Australian DEEWR publication category E2.
- Refereed paper: Full article submission, including an abstract of no more than 200 words and length of 5-6 pages. These will be fully peer-reviewed according to the Australian DEEWR publication category E1.
- Ideas exchange (roundtable/nuts and bolts): Provides an opportunity to road test your “nuts and bolts”, work in progress, or new ideas yet to be tried, with colleagues in the field.
Editorial and review processes
Abstract only non-refereed paper and ideas exchange submissions will be subject to review by the Editorial Board/Program Committee.
Refereed paper submissions will be subject to the full peer-review process according to the following criteria, as appropriate to individual submissions:
- Clarity of goals
- Quality and consistency of literature review
- Adequacy of the method and data analysis
- Presentation and interpretation of findings, inferences and conclusions
- Inclusion of appropriate implications
- Standard of writing including grammar, writing style and clarity of ideas
If appropriate changes are implemented, the work will be published as part of the Conference Proceedings. In some cases, refereed paper submissions maybe published as non refereed papers. A selection of papers will be invited to be further developed and submitted for publication in the International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (IJISME).
Please refer to recent proceedings for reference.
Assignment of presentation type
The Program Committee will determine whether authors will be offered an oral or a poster presentation. This determination will aim to ensure a balance of papers that address the conference theme and are from across disciplines. The intent will be to deliver a conference that has wide appeal.