Keynote speakers

Dr Daniel Southam

Daniel Southam

Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Curtin University

Dr Daniel Southam is the Chair of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s Accreditation Committee and Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at Curtin University. He has transitioned accreditation of undergraduate chemistry degrees to an outcomes model that recognises the practice of chemistry includes a suite of skills necessary for employment. Accreditation by the RACI now assures that courses deliver on these outcomes, and graduates have had these skills assessed. This is part of the Institute’s approach to assure the future employability of chemists.
Daniel is a passionate advocate of active learning, where he crafts engaging social environments blended with effective use of technology that support student development of skills necessary for lifelong learning. His broad aim is to improve students’ perceptions of science, which enables real deepening of their understanding and enjoyment during learning. Daniel has demonstrated interest and expertise in the dynamic relationship between science education research and its application to practice, where he explores issues of educational measurement in different sociocultural contexts, and employs strategies for involving and informing academic colleagues to contribute to this agenda.

See abstract

Mr Peter Ellerton

Peter Ellerton

Director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project

He was formerly Head of Experimental Sciences at the Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology, a state high school catering for gifted students and offering the IB program exclusively. He is an advisor to the International Baccalaureate Organisation on the development of the new Nature of Science subject, and has advised on the structure of all the new science syllabus materials and on Physics in particular. He is also a Theory of Knowledge examiner.
Peter has appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Radio Nation program on ‘The Philosopher’s Zone’ and on ‘Ockham’s Razor’ speaking about teaching philosophy and critical thinking. He won the Australian Skeptics $10 000 prize for critical thinking in 2008 for his work on developing educational resources in critical thinking and has created and maintained the website to resource teachers of philosophy and critical thinking.

Keynote Title: Teaching the Deep Structure of Science: Argumentation as Scientific Literacy See abstract

Ms Jackie Randles

Jackie Randles

Jackie Randles manages the NSW program for Inspiring Australia, the national strategy for community engagement with science. Jackie helps scientists articulate what they do and why it matters to people who may have very little exposure to scientific concepts and ideas. As one of seven state managers, Jackie builds connections to foster public participation in science, technology and innovation. She works with community groups, universities, scientists, artists, museums and business leaders to develop initiatives that promote the importance of science and innovation to Australia’s future economic and social wellbeing.

Keynote presentation: What’s your story? Positioning yourself and your students for the future. See abstract

Dr Ruth Bridgstock

Ruth Bridgstock

Ruth Bridgstock Ruth Bridgstock is passionate about building Œfuture capable¹ learners, teachers, and educational institutions. Her activities are all centered on the question of how universities can foster capabilities for productive participation in the 21st century knowledge economy and society. Based in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology, Ruth engages in research and scholarship into the changing world of work, capability needs, and approaches to learning in the digital age. She designs, develops and evaluates innovative curricula and teaching approaches for the development of these capabilities, and is also engaged in teacher capacity building and university transformation projects. Ruth is OLT National Senior Teaching Fellow for Graduate Employability 2.0, which is concerned with how students, teachers and universities can build and use social networks for innovation, career development, and learning. She is co-author of Creative Work Beyond the Creative Industries: Innovation, Employment and Education (Edward Elgar, 2014).

Keynote presentation: Graduate employability 2.0: Capabilities and networks for learning, innovation and career development in the digital age.

Toss Gascoigne


Toss Gascoigne is a consultant in the area of strategy, communication, training and event management in the broad area covered by research and education at the tertiary level. He is a co-founder and Life Member of Australian Science Communicators, and the inaugural President of the international Public Communication of Science and Technology Network (PCST). He is a former Executive Director for Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) and Council for the Humanties, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS), peak councils representing Australians working in research, education and practice. He devised and organised 'Science meets Parliament’, which is now in its 15th year.

Keynote presentation: How much science does an ordinary citizen need to function in modern society?

Mr Peter Ellerton - Abstract

Critical thinking is the Cheshire cat of educational curricula, appearing everywhere half formed but disappearing on close inspection. One way around this problem is to focus on the relationship between three key components: cognitive skills, virtues or affective dispositions, and the values of inquiry. Cognitive skills are the things we do with knowledge, such as infer, categorise, analyse, synthesis and so on. Virtues are those things that are typical of critical thinkers, such as willingness to inquire, opens to new ideas, self-reflection, etc. The values of inquiry are those things applied during the process of inquiry, such as precision, clarity, plausibility, coherence and the like. Understanding what this means in a critical thinking pedagogy is vital for teachers, who will not be able to develop critical thinking in their students unless they are themselves critical thinkers.

Dr Daniel Southam - Accrediting outcomes: Evidencing the skills necessary for employability

Background: The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) is the qualifying body in Australia for professional chemical scientists, and a learned society promoting the science and practice of chemistry. The RACI accredits Bachelor’s level chemistry courses in Australia, which is designed to ensure that graduates of accredited courses have the skills and knowledge necessary to be a practicing chemist and member of the Institute. However, until very recently, the criteria for accreditation were input-driven and placed significant resource demands on curriculum. With the advent of the new Higher Education Standards Framework, and its outcomes and assessment focus,1 the RACI embarked on realigning its accreditation process to this framework.
Outcomes: The skills and knowledge of a graduate of a bachelor degree majoring in chemistry are articulated in the Chemistry Academic Standards Statement,2 which is a derivative of the statement for science.3 This statement represents the current consensus view of the Australian chemical sciences community and defines the minimum Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLOs) of a pass bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
Approach: To evidence the attainment of the Chemistry TLOs the notion of curriculum described by Rosier and Keeves4 and extended by Treagust5 was adapted. The accreditation process has four stages of curriculum review: Intended: the Chemistry TLOs are the intended curriculum; Implemented: each institution interprets each of the TLOs, and reports their self-assessment of student attainment in a curriculum map; Perceived: an accreditation panel validates the alignment between the intended and implemented curriculum before recommending the award of accredited status for a given programme or programmes, and; Achieved: this accreditation panel summarises the student achievement through the lens of the Chemistry TLOs.
Questions: Some questions have emerged during the implementation of the new RACI accreditation regime, which is of interest to anyone teaching undergraduate science and will be addressed through this presentation:
· How do we assess for and assure outcomes at the program level?
· What is the evidence to support students’ achievement of outcomes?
· Are graduates achieving the outcomes needed for employment?
· What is the current state of play of chemistry courses around Australia?
(1) Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015, pt A, s 1.4.
(2) Pyke, S. M.; OBrien, G.; Yates, B. J.; Buntine, M. A. Chemistry Academic Standards Statement; Office for Learning and Teaching and The Royal Australian Chemical Institute, 2014.
(3) Yates, B. J.; Jones, S.; Kelder, J. Science Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement; Australian Learning and Teaching Council: Melbourne, 2011.
(4) Rosier, M. J.; Keeves, J. P. The IEA study of science I: Science education and curricula in twenty-three countries; Pergamon Press, 1991.
(5) Treagust, D. F. Exemplary Practice in High School Biology Classes. NARST Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 1986.

Ms Jackie Randles – What’s your story? Positioning yourself and your students for the future

Have you got a compelling story that describes what you do and why it matters? Do your students understand how their studies today can equip them for a wide range of future careers, including in business and technology as well as in teaching and research? There’s a very public story in the spotlight right now about maths and science that focuses on Australia’s skills shortage. A worrying underperformance in international benchmarks has prompted the Australian Government to invest in its Ideas Boom campaign. Businesses of all kinds are joining a national call to action to boost STEM capability. But what are the issues for those at the coalface? To inspire the next generation of STEM graduates, and as maths and science educators, you should be part of the national conversation. Develop a personal story that positions you as a valued professional and savvy mentor. Tailor your own elevator pitch and tap into channels that will help raise your profile as a respected educator. Encourage your students to do the same by participating in programs that will help them develop their own science communication skills.