Science & Maths TL News: March 2016 |


ACDS TL Centre News

Planning is well advanced for our two national science learning and teaching meetings: the ACDS Teaching and Learning Conference (July 21-22) for science TL leaders and the ACSME Conference (Sep 28-30) for science and maths educators.  These meetings offer the opportunity to gather new ideas, network with peers, and re-invigorate your practice.  Abstract submission for ACSME will open very soon…

ACDS WIL project: Lighthouse projects

Six projects in work-integrated learning for science have been announced. Our projects are:

• Unifying WIL in Science at the University of Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Lead: Dr Tina Botwright Acuña

• Providing WIL across complex interconnected science degrees, Western Sydney University, Lead: Dr Jo-Anne Chuck

• Development of professional skills in science students through a work integrated learning honours stream, Monash University, Lead: Dr Rowan Brookes

• Exploring alternate models for WIL in Science: Linking Work with Learning, University of Queensland, Lead: Professor Peter Adams

• Scaling-up Professional Experience Programs: developing a framework to support broad-based WIL, University of Technology, Sydney, Lead: A/Professor Peter C Meier

• Learning to Work, Working to Learn: Curriculum design and teaching practice for WIL in the Natural and Physical Sciences, Deakin University, Lead: Professor Malcolm Campbell 

Read more about the Lighthouse Projects on the ACDS TL Centre site.  The teams will be bringing their work to regional meetings around Australia later this year to work with you on your own WIL strategies.

While thinking about work-integrated learning, check out the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) ( who are leading national work with Universities Australia and industry peak bodies.  ACEN is currently offering research scholarships for development of WIL.

On the ACDS TL centre website

• Good Ideas Blog – this month Kelly Matthews reports on the visit of Carl Wieman to the University of Queensland. Scientists pay more attention when the Nobel prize winner speaks about education!

• PCK in Chemistry reports on some excellent OLT-funded work on the best strategies to teach chemistry in higher Education.  Madeleine Schulz and Glennys O’Brien collected good practice to extract the ideas that really make chemistry stick.

• VisChem Resources to support chemistry teaching are available from the project website ( Project lead, Prof Roy Tasker is continuing his work from Purdue University where he is teaching in a whole new system.

Dates for your diary (and check the SaMnet listings below):

ACDS Teaching and Learning conference - July 21-22

HERDSA conference – July 4-7, Perth, (

STARS conference – Jun 29- July 2, Perth (

ACEN conference – Sep 28-30, Sydney (

ACSME conference – Sep 28-30, Brisbane (


Cheers, Liz

Prof Liz Johnson, Director ACDS TL Centre


SaMnet News and Ideas

This Month’s Question:

Callout for Workshop Proposals for Discipline and Workshop Day – Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education Conference 2016

The third day of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education is designated the “Discipline and Workshop Day”, allowing disciplines to come together to focus on issues specific to their discipline during the conference, as well as developing the skills of academics in numerous areas.  

ACSME are looking for workshop proposals on the third day. Current workshops include ‘Communication Skills’ and ‘Engaging Alumni to Support Employability and the Study-Work Transition’. If you have a workshop proposal that fits with the theme of the conference, ‘The 21st Century Science and Maths Graduate’, we strongly encourage you to present your workshop at ACSME 2016.

Please send your submissions for workshops to the SaMnet team at


Dr Zara Dennis and Dr Rowan Brookes (Monash) from the School of Biological Sciences are looking for participants on the topic of ”Developing Teamwork Skills in Undergraduate Science Students: The Academic Perspective”.

As current teaching and learning practitioners, your input on this topic is highly valued and will enable the researchers to understand the teaming of teamwork skills from the academic perspective; contributing to the understanding of the link between teamwork and graduate employability.

You are invited to participate in this study via the link:

For further information regarding any aspect of the project, you are encouraged to contact Zara at 


Upcoming Events and Activities

The 4th International Conference for Science Educators and Teachers (ISET) 2016

KhonKaen University, Thailand, 3-5 June 2016

The theme for this conference is ‘Bridging the Gap, Moving to the Future’. How do we translate education research to the classroom more effectively?

Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration

Students Transitions Achievement Retention & Success (STARS) Conference 2016

Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June-2 July 2016

The STARS conference makes its way to Perth in 2016.

Registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.

ACDS Teaching and Learning Conference for Faculty Leaders

University of Sydney, Sydney, 21-22 July 2016

Faculties of Science are invited to send delegates along to the conference, including Associate Deans of Learning & Teaching or equivalents.

A full conference program and registrations will be made available soon.

ACER Research Conference 2016

Brisbane Convention and Education Centre, Brisbane, 7-9 August 2016

The theme of this conference is “Improving STEM Learning: What will it take?”

Early bird registrations are open; click here for more details and registration.

Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education 2016 (22nd UniServe Science Conference) – Supported by the Australian Council of Deans of Science Teaching and Learning Centre

University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane 28-30 September 2016

The theme of this year’s ACSME conference is ‘The 21st Century Science and Maths Graduate’.

Online Early Bird registrations will be open from 2 May; details are available here.

4th International STEM in Education Conference

Beijing Normal University, China, 26-28 October 2016

The theme of the conference is ‘Connecting Informal and Formal STEM Education’.

A call for papers has been made with a submission deadline for May 2; details are available here.

APPC-AIP Congress 2016

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, 4-8 December 2016

This is the 22nd biennial Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics, and it will be run in conjunction with the 13th Asian-Pacific Physics Conference, the triennial meeting of the Association of Asia-Pacific Physics Societies.

Calls for oral and poster presentation abstracts are open; more details are available here.


Preparations for ACSME 2016 are well underway! The program and conference details, including confirmed keynote speakers, are now available on the website. Abstract and paper submissions will be open from April 11, with details on the categories of submissions and the process for submissions available here.

Do remember to print out a copy of the ACSME Flyer and stick it up on the noticeboards to generate interest and discussion!

The Special Editions of IJISME on Inquiry-Oriented Learning in the Laboratory and the Philosophy and Methods of Inquiry-Oriented Learning are now available online. We would like to give special thanks to the editors Gerry Rayner, Chris Thompson (Monash) and Les Kirkup (UTS) for their work on these special editions.


Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Human Science

Colleen Flaherty for Inside Higher Ed

What are the factors for success in interdisciplinary collaboration? Citations are not enough, the authors conclude; rather, a shared cognitive-emotional-interactional platform must be created between the collaborators. Are these factors present in your collaborative efforts? How does this contribute to the success of ‘distributed leadership’, a core focus of the SaMnet project?

Homework as Assessment

Sandra Yancy McGuire with Stephanie McGuire, Chapter 5 in the book ‘Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills and Motivation’

How do your students approach homework problems? The author outlines an approach that utilises ‘constructive failure’ to develop student confidence in attempting challenging problems; engaging the ‘motivational’ side of learning as highlighted in the framework of educational theorist Knud Illerus. How can you foster ‘constructive failure’ in your teaching and learning programs? The work of Professor Carl Wieman, who recently toured Australia, might be instructive.

Leadership Insights

The Subtle Ways Gender Gaps Persist in Science

Paul Voosen for The Chronicle of Higher Education

What are the ways in which gender gaps persist in science? From the angles of university education, scientific research and publication, the gender gap appears in multiple ways. What implications of the gender gap affect the way in which you teach and mentor students? In tackling gender inequality in the sciences, instead of asking whether it exists, the more productive approach is to ask ‘When does it exist?’


Hidden Scholarship: Achievements Academics Don’t Report

Maha Bali for The Chronicle of Higher Education

While publications and citations are the mainstream method of academic appreciation, a lot of the effort and work academics undertake go unrewarded; a ‘hidden scholarship’ of achievement the author highlights. SaMnet supports SoTL publications as a mechanism to reward your efforts in teaching and learning science. How can you record your ‘hidden scholarship’ achievements in a consistent manner for reward or promotion?


Opportunity for PhD Study in University Science Pedagogy, Assessment, Curriculum Development – University of Queensland

Applications are sought for a full-time PhD student to work in the Faculty of Science and the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, based at the St Lucia campus in the new Learning Innovation Building as part of a team investigating curriculum development innovations in science at the whole of degree program level. The selected applicant will have scope to design their project with the guidance of a small supervisory team led by Dr Kelly Matthews. Applicants who successfully meet entry requirements for PhD and are awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award will also be eligible for annual top-up scholarships valued at $10,000, with opportunities for overseas internships and conference presentations. More information and application details are available here.

Falling Walls Lab Australia – Australian Academy of Science

The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) has announced the following opportunity to take part in the Australian leg of the Falling Wall Lab competition. The winner from the Australian leg receives a free trip to Berlin to present at the final. 

The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Berlin, dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. It was established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At its heart is the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs.

The AAS invites applications from Australian and New Zealand researchers, postdocs and students, entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators from all areas to attend Australia’s first Falling Walls Lab in 2016. Falling Walls Lab Australia will be held on 24 August 2016 at the Australian Academy of Science, Canberra. Up to 20 Australian and 5 New Zealand contestants will be invited to participate in the challenge, each giving a three-minute presentation on their research, business model or initiative based on the ‘Which walls will fall next?’ concept. Presentation templates and further instructions will be provided to successful applicants.

Applications close on 9am (AEST) Monday 23 May 2016. For eligibility criteria, applications and more details on the Falling Walls Lab Competition, please click here.

OLT Project on Pedagogical Content Knowledge – Chemistry Discipline Network

The OLT Project on Pedagogical Content Knowledge has come to an end, resulting in the development of the ChemPCK website, available here.

This site contains the distilled pedagogical content knowledge from all our participants. It is searchable by topic and type of teaching strategy, so if you are looking for inspiration in your teaching please have a look. There are teaching strategies and expert insights (quotes), as well as a set of seven steps to transform teaching that you may find helpful. Please also suggest this site to anyone in your department who is new to teaching chemistry.


SaMnet Leaders, Will Rifkin and Manjula Sharma


Newsletter compiled by Emma Yench and Gabriel Nguyen.