News from the ACDS Teaching and Learning Centre

October 2019


Dear subscriber,

The ACSME conference was a great success. I have been inspired by the depth and breadth of the academic program and as always, experienced a strong sense of community. It was great to see such a strong participation and levels of engagement. The number of research students and early career academics has visibly increased -- this injection of new blood is really good news for science education in this country.

In other news, the ACDS launched a new project on Indigenous science resources which will aim to support and connect all those with an interest in this area. The ACDS also launched its first issue of the Australian University Science magazine to showcase the impact of education and research of science faculties are having on society and the economy.

Finally,  in this newsletter we include an invitation to participate in a national study on the experience of science female students. We also point to a new book on science communication.

Best regards

Cristina Varsavsky

Director, ACDS Teaching & Learning Centre


ACSME 2019: It's wrap!

What a wonderful conference this was! Over 230 academics, professional staff and students came to share their experiences and to connect with colleagues who are dealing with similar challenges. The central theme was the student experience. We heard powerful stories from students. We had deep discussions about educational environments we should strive to create to place all of our students, whatever their background and experiences, at the centre of our endeavours; data driven research is key to understanding the student experience and informing the creation of such environments. Individual presentations ranged over a large number of topics and challenges and showcased the breadth and depth of the work that goes into making the experience of science students and graduates meaningful and of the highest quality.
Discipline day followed with meetings for the discipline networks in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biomedical sciences and environmental sciences, for discussions on topics of current interest. In the afternoon, this was followed by workshops on theoretical research frameworks, distributed leadership to embed scholarship in STEM teaching teams, and several tools for better learning of electromagnetism, scientific processes and chemistry labs.

Program and proceedings are available on the ACSME website.

In 2020 ACSME will go to the West Coast: it will be held in Perth 30 September-2 October. The organising team is already planning for another memorable conference. We hope to see you there!

Indigenous science resources

Indigenous Science is an area of emerging interest for scientific and cultural understanding, and as a mechanism for empowering Australia’s diverse first nations peoples. As universities are paying greater attention to this area, it is timely to collate, curate, and share resources and good practices which have been developed across the country.

The ACDS is currently supporting the exploratory survey Sharing better practices aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student participation in, and completion of science courses at Australian universities, led by Fiona Taylor (UTAS) and Tracey Kuit (UoW). 

A new ACDS project led by Angela Ziebell (Monash University) aims to build on the findings of this survey and develop a website for all those involved in supporting Indigenous students and introducing Indigenous matters in the science curriculum. 

For more details about the resources to be developed see here

New ACDS Publication showcasing University Science

Australian University Science is a new biannual publication, commissioned by the ACDS, that highlights the role of university science and its impact.

Issue 1 explores university science’s influence on the development of the hydrogen economy, profiles Australian science graduates working in industry and showcases the exceptional science at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Electromaterial Science. These examples provide critical insight into how Australian university science informs, partners and drives innovation domestically and internationally.

Future issues will cover sustainability in agriculture, water security, quantum computing, innovations from space science and new biologies.

Download the publication or subscribe to future editions here

National Study investigating the experience of female science students in Australian universities

Be part of a national study investigating the gendered experience of Australian undergraduate science students.

In Australia, little research exists on the gender issues female students studying science face at an undergraduate level. A PhD project at Monash University is currently underway exploring how gendered experiences for students in undergraduate science degrees are impacting their persistence in this career pathway. As part of this work, undergraduate science students are being surveyed and interviewed across multiple Australian universities to capture the first national snapshot of the critical issues facing women in science at an undergraduate level.

Currently, science educators in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, preferably at a first or final-year level, are being recruited to help disseminate a short 10-minute survey to their students now or at the start of Semester 1, 2020. Preview the survey here. Those interested in participating are encouraged to contact the primary researcher Camilla Fisher.

Theory and best practices in science communication

This new book, including a chapter by Louise Kuchel (University of Queensland) brings together a diverse group of experts and shares different perspectives on the "science of science communication". It draws on multiple disciplines and theoretical models and highlights how research on science communication and science communication training are vital to advancing our efforts to prepare scientists to discuss their work with the public, policymakers, media, and other scientists.

Find out more about this book here.

Upcoming conferences of interest

SWAN DELTA 2019– 12th Southern Hemisphere Conference on Teaching and Learning Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics, 25-29 November, Freemantle. Register here.

Biosciences Education Australia Network - BEAN19 Forum, Melbourne, 9-10 December 2019, Melbourne. Register here.

4th SEQ STEM Learning Development Symposium - 17 February 2020. Initial call for expressions of interest in giving a short presentation (10 minutes) or running a workshop (30-40 minutes). The theme for the symposium is Empowering students to succeed”.  Please use the expression of interest form