The conference program, poster program and ideas exchange program are available for download. Please note the change in days and program from previous ACSME/UniServe conferences.

Discipline and Workshop Day

Discipline and Workshop Day - The first day (Thursday) of the conference is designated the "Discipline and Workshop Day". The discipline day will be held at the INSPIRE Centre at the University of Canberra. Themed workshops will take place in the morning while the afternoon workshops will be dedicated to the discipline networks (see below for details of each workshop). This year the first plenary will take place on the first day as public lecture at the Australian National University before the conference dinner.

A tentative program is a follows:

  • 9am – 11am :: Morning session – themed workshops
  • 11am – 12pm :: Morning tea and/or tour of teaching and learning spaces
  • 12pm – 1pm :: SaMnet Scholars Meeting or viewing of SAFFIRE display
  • 1pm – 3:30pm :: Afternoon Session – Discipline network workshops
  • 3:45pm :: buses from University of Canberra to University House, ANU
  • 6pm – 7pm :: ACSME plenary (public Lecture): Professor Brian Schmidt at Finkel Lecture Theatre in the John Curtin Medical School, ANU (Building 131, Garran Rd, Acton ACT 2601)
  • 7pm – 10:30pm :: Conference Dinner (Vanilla Bean Cafe, John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU (Building 131, Garran Rd, Acton ACT 2601)

Presentations - On Friday and Saturday, delegates will have the opportunity to showcase their work via oral and poster presentations.

Conference dinner – Thursday 19 September 2013. The conference dinner will be held at Vanilla Bean Cafe, John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU (Building 133, Garran Rd, Acton ACT 2601).

Discipline and Workshop Day

The discipline day will be located in the INSPIRE centre, University of Canberra. See map for location details.

Morning workshops (9am-11am unless otherwise stated)

The National Curriculum: Implications for first year science programs (David Low, UNSW (Canberra), Jim Woolnough, University of Canberra, and Melanie Isaacs, ACARA)
Flexispace, INSPIRE Centre

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA; is responsible for the development of an Australian National Curriculum through to Year 12. This includes the curricula for Science (including, at the senior/Years 11 and 12 level, Biology, Chemistry, and Earth and Environmental Science, and Physics). States and Territories began (or planned for) implementation of the National Curriculum from 2011. Hence, at the tertiary level, starting from "now" we can expect to encounter students who were exposed to the National Curriculum at their senior level. This presents renewed opportunities for tertiary institutions to re-align both their existing curricula, together with their expectations of what incoming students will "know", and have experienced in their Science education at the point at which students enter tertiary study.

The purpose of this workshop is two-fold: firstly, to give participants an overview of the National Curriculum in the disciplines of relevance to ACSME; and secondly, as a forum for discussion on the challenges and opportunities that the National Curriculum presents to us as the tertiary level. The "before and after" comparison of the student experience will vary by State/Territory, and participants will have the opportunity to hear and discuss what the changes will mean for their own particular student intake profile.

Provoking, challenging, and a little bit scary: An inquiry-oriented activity from multiple perspectives (Les Kirkup, University of Technology, Sydney)
Teal Room, INSPIRE Centre

This workshop explores issues of student engagement and learning through inquiry type activities by connecting with, and exploring from several perspectives, the student experience and that of staff supporting student learning. An inquiry-oriented activity will be presented that requires participants to undertake an experiment using a method they have devised. Participants will refine their methods, defend their data, provide evidence to support their conclusions and communicate their findings to the other participants.

During this workshop participants assume the roles of students, demonstrators, educational developers and evaluators, though not all at the same time. No prior disciplinary knowledge is assumed or required in order to participate fully in the workshop - the only requirement is an interest in inquiry learning. The group as a whole will examine the educational value of the activity– challenges for staff, what participants experienced, what observers noticed about what the ‘students’ did and about what the teacher did, how the activity could be improved and in what way(s) the activity could be scaffolded.

Mathematics Assessment: How do we Grade Student Work? (Cristina Varsavsky, Carmel Coady, Deborah King) (10am-12pm)
Studio 1, INSPIRE Centre

Within the current regulated higher education environment, it has become imperative to have answers to the following questions:
Are our assessment practices defensible?
How do we ensure comparability of standards within our mathematics departments?
How do we communicate levels of performance to our students?
How do we articulate to our tutors marking and grading schemes of assignments and exams?
These are the very questions we are trying to address with the OLT supported project MathsAssess, through engaging the mathematics community in developing a shared understanding of mathematics assessment standards.

This workshop will form part of building assessment criteria for mathematics and statistics, and developing examples of how these could be applied in your own context. Get involved! Be part of this conversation!

Student engagement in large lecture classes (Manju Sharma, The University of Sydney)
Studio 2, INSPIRE Centre

Large lectures are regarded as ineffective learning environments. Yet they persist, and more continue to be build with innovative features and affordances. What can we do to make the most of innovative lecture environments? And indeed many such techniques can be used to engage students in traditional spaces. This workshop will scope out and share ideas about how to innovate in lectures. The workshop is part of an OLT National Fellowship.

Further workshop descriptions will be added progressively.

Afternoon workshops (1pm-3:30pm unless otherwise stated)

Biology Discipline Netowrk - VIBEnet
Teal Room, INSPIRE Centre

The Biology workshop at the ASCME discipline day will be focused on the future shape of undergraduate Biology Education. It will commence with an update from VIBEnet on the Biology Threshold Learning Outcomes (BTLOs) and provide an overview of core units/subjects in biology majors across Australia to determine where there are gaps between the BTLOs and practice. It will attempt to answer the question: What key concepts and competencies should students engage with if they are completing only first year biology? It will finish with commentary on the issues and challenges facing undergraduate biology education and where we should head for, as a disciplinary network, in the future.

1.00 - 1.30pm: Biology Threshold Learning Outcomes (BTLOs)
1.30 - 2.00pm: What units/subjects (concepts and competencies) need to be developed in a biology major? What concepts and competencies need to be developed in non-biology majors (first year biology).
2.00 - 2.15pm: Afternoon tea
2.15 - 3.00pm: Issues and challenges in Biology Education
For more information, please contact Pauline Ross at or Vicky Tzioumis at

Biomedical Network – CUBEnet
Flexispace, INSPIRE Centre

The CUBEnet workshop will focus on achievements so far and plans for the rest of the year. This will include discussion of progress in developing threshold learning outcomes for biomedical programs and reports from working groups about their achievements and issues identified. Some funding is available to support projects of interest to CUBEnet and of national significance. Priorities for further action will be discussed and this will contribute to planning for the December workshop. The workshop will be an opportunity for members to contribute to the direction of CUBEnet activities. For more information, please contact Phil Poronnik (

Chemistry Discipline Network
The future of Chemistry Discipline Network and Assessing Threshold Learning Outcomes
Studio 2, INSPIRE Centre

Chair: Madeleine Schultz

12:00 - 12:30 Informal lunch (sandwiches and drinks provided)
12:30 - 12:45 Welcome and discussions
12:45 - 1:25 Summary of Chemistry Discipline Network activity to date, including outcomes of mappings and TLO meetings
1:25 - 1:45 Catalyst grant holders introduce their projects
1:45 - 2:15 Discussion of how to keep the network functioning to provide useful connection. What have we done so far that has facilitated discussion? Using
2:15 - 2:30 Afternoon tea
2:30 - 3:30 Discussion of how TLOs will or should impact your teaching and assessment - Focus on TLOs 1.1 and 5.3

All welcome! Please RSVP to facilitate catering.
For enquiries or to RSVP please contact Madeleine Schultz at
More details available at

Mathematics Discipline Network (AMSLaTnet)
Seminar Room, INSPIRE Centre

Understanding and addressing transition and diversity in mathematical sciences learning and teaching This year's ACSME mathematical sciences discipline workshop will feature two mini-workshops. Associate Professor Birgit Loch (Swinburne University of Technology) will be leading "How can we collaborate to improve student support in maths and stats?". Michael Jennings (University of Queensland) will be leading a workshop on the transition from secondary to tertiary mathematics. This workshop is supported by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching through funding support via the Australian Mathematical Sciences Learning and Teaching Network (AMSLaTnet).

Physics Education Network (PEN)
Studio 1, INSPIRE Centre

This year the physics discipline day at ACSME will highlight accreditation and standards. John Holdsworth will share the experiences of Newcastle in preparing for TEQSA accreditation; Margaret Wegener will describe the Threshold Learning Outcomes in physics and how they might be integrated into the AIP accreditation process; David Hoxley will outline the impact of MOOCs and 'flipped' classrooms on the traditional methods of measuring standards. Each presentation will be followed by a roundtable discussion, which will form the basis of wider consultation and amongst the Physics Education Network.

Further workshop descriptions will be added progressively.