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 (email@example.com)
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.