A national call to arms_ Newly adopted academic standards for by pptfiles


									    A national call to arms! New academic standards for Australian science graduates are centred on inquiry.
                                               Susan M. Jones
                                       ALTC Discipline Scholar for Science
                                              School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Australia (s.m.jones@utas.edu.au)

            Introduction and background                            The Science TLOS: core principles               Where to next?
                                                                                                                        Implementation of the Science TLOs
he Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Project          We want our graduates to understand that scientific                                                                                    A national imperative
(LTAS) was commissioned in 2010 by the Australian            knowledge is both testable and contestable.           The Science TLOs now need to be translated into practice.
Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) as a proactive                                                                Our curricula must map to the TLOs, and our assessment      In May 2012, the Office of Australia’s Chief Scientist,
response to the (then) imminent establishment of a new       We want our science graduates to be able to frame     tasks will overtly demonstrate, for quality assurance       Professor Ian Chubb, released a major Report on the
national regulatory body: the Tertiary Education Quality     questions and to execute an investigation.            purpose, that our graduates meet the TLOs.                  Health of Australian Science (available at
and Standards Agency (TEQSA).                                                                                                                                                  http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/).

The LTAS Project aimed to demonstrate that disciplinary                                                                                                                        Surveys of school and university students indicated that
communities could work together to develop learning and                                                                                                                        most interesting and stimulating styles of
teaching standards (defined as learning outcomes) and                                                                                                                          teaching and learning were “student-led research, practical
achieve endorsement and commitment to integrate those                                                                                                                          activities, and the study of real-world examples within the
standards into educational practice.                                                                                                                                           student’s sphere of experience” (p.10) .

The LTAS Project for Science was led by Profs Susan Jones                                                                                                                      Professor Chubb has thrown down this challenge to the
and Brian Yates, the ALTC Discipline Scholars for Science,                                                                                                                     Australian education sector: “the teaching of science should
and Dr Jo Kelder as Project Officer, under the auspices of                                                         We must ensure that our graduates “have the skills to       resemble the practice of science more than it does”
the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS).                                                                 solve problems with well-defined parameters, as well as     (Address to the National Press Club, 23 May 2012).
                                                                                                                   tackle more open-ended research questions” ( Science
The project team held 50 consultation workshops at                                                                 Standards Statement : p.13).
institutions in all Australian states
• 750 people, including academics, industry
representatives, employers, professional societies,
students, were involved in workshops.
• We also ran an on-line survey.                                                                                   2012 Implementation activities                              The Science TLOs ( Science Standards Statement: p. 14)
                                                                                                                                                                               provide us with a curriculum framework that will ensure
                                                                                                                   We (Jones & Yates) convened a workshop for Associate        that our bachelor level graduates can:
                                                                           Science Standards Statement: p. 11
                                                                                                                   Deans (Teaching and Learning) for Science in February
                                                                                                                   2012 at which we considered strategies for implementing     “frame a problem so it might be solved in a creative and
                                                                                                                   TLO 3: Inquiry and problem–solving.                         innovative way by applying scientific method”.
The Science LTAS Project defined an agreed set of
threshold learning outcomes (TLOs) for bachelor-level                                                              This workshop drew on the expertise of Les Kirkup (ALTC
degrees in science.                                                                                                National Teaching Fellow & University of Technology         Undergraduate research and inquiry should
                                                                                                                   Sydney), whose Fellowship topic is Inquiry-Orientated       therefore be the non-negotiable foundations of
The TLOs articulate what every Australian science graduate                                                         Learning in Science. The outcomes of this workshop are      our university science curricula.
will know, understand and be able to do.                                                                           available at:
The TLOs are presented in the Science Learning and                                                                                                                                         The LTAS Project for Science was funded by the Australian Learning
                                                                                                                                                                                           and Teaching Council and led by Emeritus Professor Christine Ewan.
Teaching Academic Standards Statement (Jones, Yates &                                                              At the annual ACDS Teaching and Learning Forum, July
                                                                                                                                                                                           The Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement is
Kelder 2011).                                                                                                      2010, we announced that the production of a set of Good                 endorsed by the Australian Council of Deans of Science.

                                                                                                                   Practice Guides addressing each Science TLO is a priority               The Implementation Project is funded by the Australian
                                                                                                                                                                                           Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching.
                                                                                                                   for the next implementation phase.

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