All future 2013 events

View All Summary Expand all
2013 IISME Annual event - Teaching Science to Non-Science Majors   View Summary
13 February 2013

Teaching Science to Non-Science Majors: How do we engage the students?

Convenor: Dr Meloni Muir

Deputy Convenor: Associate Professor Adam Bridgeman

Tertiary academics are acutely aware of the challenge of motivating undergraduate students, particularly in large classes, to engage with lecture material. It can be even more challenging when teaching the basic sciences as service units of study where students may not see the need for or relevance of these units of study to their degree or career aspirations yet are required to successfully complete them. This symposium will bring together academics and students from a range of disciplines to discuss perspectives on teaching in science service units of study with examples of successful strategies for engaging students. The keynote speakers will be Dr Kay Colthorpe (University of Queensland) and Associate Professor Les Kirkup (University of Technology, Sydney).




1:15 - 2:15

Register between 1.15 - 1.30.

Welcome at 1.30.

Keynote - Dr Kay Colthorpe (Biomedical Sciences, UQ)

2:15 - 2:35

Dr Vanessa Hughes and Dr Chris Gordon (Nursing, USYD)

2:35 - 3:15

Keynote - Associate Professor Les Kirkup (Physics, UTS)

3:15 - 3:35

Afternoon Tea

3:35 - 3:55

Associate Professor John O'Byrne (Physics, USYD)

3:55 - 4:15

Dr Louise Sutherland (Education, USYD)

4:15 - 5:15

Students and Panel session - discussion and questions

5:15 - 6:00

Refreshments and networking

Keynote Speakers

Dr Kay Colthorpe is a teaching-focused lecturer in the School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS) at the University of Queensland (UQ). She is the Chair of the Education Research Unit within SBMS, and was a UQ Teaching Fellow in 2010, with a project that focussed on developing effective assessment practices in biomedical science. She has had considerable experience both teaching physiology and coordinating physiology courses for science and allied health science undergraduates, including to medicine, health science, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech pathology students. In addition she has extensive experience in curricula design, across diverse undergraduate programs. She is an active member of CUBEnet and of the Australian Physiological Society Education Interest group. Her research interests include the enhancement of learning of the fundamental sciences by allied health science students, the development of effective assessment and feedback, and the design and use of inquiry-based classes to aid critical thinking skills. She is currently supervising an Honours student, who is examining undergraduate science student's scientific reasoning in oral communication, and a PhD student whose project is evaluating the impact of inquiry-based authentic assessment on communication and critical thinking by accounting students.

Associate Professor Les Kirkup - Les Kirkup is an Associate Professor in the School of Physics and Advanced Materials at the University of Technology, Sydney. Associate Professor Kirkup has a strong physics research background and is an exceptional and respected educator. Les has led an ALTC Discipline Study and was awarded an ALTC Associate Fellowship in 2007, for work in the area of science service teaching.

At the conclusion of the event, networking can continue over dinner from 6:30pm. Although dinner will be at your own cost, please indicate when you register if you would like to attend, for booking purposes.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact Ms Charmaine Valenzuela (

DNS retreat on lectures   View Summary
25 February 2013

DNS retreat on lectures: Lectures in the age of MOOCS: Why, what and how?

Convenor: Dr Thomas Bishop

The lecture has been the core of university teaching for centuries. However in the age of MOOCs and easily accessible information is the teacher-centric lecture dead? The Division of Natural Sciences will be hosting a one day retreat to address this question and present alternative approaches for the future. The topics will build upon two DNS forums on lectures held in 2012.

Draft Program:

9:30 Welcome and Introduction

9:50 Talks on current innovation and research within the Division

10:40 Group Discussion: What is a lecture?

11:00 Small Group Discussions: Current practices (Groups 1 - 4)

12:00 Reporting of Groups

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Keynote: Prof. George Cairns, Head of School of Management, RMIT University (see below for more information)

14:30 Small Group Discussions: Future practices and strategic planning (Groups 5 - 8)

15:30 Reporting of Groups

16:00 Summary & Close

Small Group Discussions

Small group discussions/workshops will be held in the morning and afternoon to discuss different issues and questions. Please indicate on the registration page which two you would prefer to attend for each session. We will try to allocate you into one of these.


Group 1: How can we get students to turn up to (be engaged with) lectures?

Group 2: What do I know now that I wish I knew as an early career lecturer?

Group 3: Large lecture classes: how can we make them more student-centric?

Group 4: Lecturing to small classes: how can we avoid it? Should we avoid it?


Group 5: What will a lecture be like in 2020? How far are we from that now?

Group 6: What will learning spaces be like in 2020? How far are we from that now?

Group 7: How should the Division deal with MOOCs and similar online resources?

Group 8: Suggest a theme or question...

Keynote: The Lecture is Dead - Long Live the Academic!

George Cairns

Professor of Management, Head of School of Management, Centre for Business Education Research (CBER), RMIT University


I fully support the notion that the lecture is dead. But, this does not necessarily mean that the academic is doomed, so long as she/he does not stay with the corpse. Accepting the death of the lecture in its historic form does not mean the inevitable death of the academic, despite the cries of woe of the luddites and dire predictions on the impact of MOOCs and other 'technological disruptions'. However, the academic must realise that her/his primary role and expertise no longer lie - if they ever did - in telling students what is knowledge, but in instilling in them the ability to see why some ideas should be valued as knowledge, and why others; based on opinion, bias, propaganda, etc; should be questioned or rejected. Then, the academic must work with students in enabling them to explore how this knowledge can be applied to investigate, elicit options, and design optimal solutions to the complex and ambiguous problems that face society.

The challenges are great, but the potential rewards are greater, and both are outweighed by the risks of not engaging. If the academic stays with the dying lecture, she/he will become redundant. However, the student will then be left at the mercy of an unmediated web-learning environment that will be exploited by commercial and other self-interests that have no concern for knowledge in itself. In this session, drawing upon my background in architecture and my current location in RMIT University's new Swanston Academic Building, I will outline approaches to business education that are based upon a 'design studio' approach. I will show that the 'flipped classroom' and such concepts are not new, but that the advent of new technologies - and the design of new physical learning environments - enables them to be applied and implemented in new and exciting ways. In the new learning environment, the academic remains the custodian of knowledge, but does not have exclusive ownership of it.

Biographic Note

George Cairns is Professor of Management and Head of School of Management at RMIT University. With others, he has worked on development of scenario method since the 1990s. George has facilitated scenario workshops for organizations including UK National Air Traffic Services, South East England Development Agency, the Facility Management Association of Australia, and the Risk Management Institution of Australasia. From 2009-2011, he contributed to a project exploring higher education futures for Romania, funded by the European Social Fund. With Prof. George Wright from the UK, he co-authored Scenario Thinking: Practical approaches to the future, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011. George has published widely in international journals, including Human Relations, European Journal for Operational Research, Management Learning, Technological Forecasting and Social Change and Futures. George trained as an architect in the UK and gained his PhD from the University of Glasgow.

National ASELL Science Workshop   View Summary
2 April 2013 to 5 April 2013

The ASELL National Science workshop will be held at the University of Sydney on Tuesday 2 April - Friday 5 April 2013.

The ASELL project aims to improve the quality of learning in undergraduate science laboratories by making available student tested, peer reviewed experiments which are scientifically and educationally sound.

Universities are invited to send 2-person teams (one academic and one student). This is a great opportunity to showcase one of your practicals and for colleagues to network and view a range of practicals in a 'hands on' format. This workshop will include a mixture of discussions and laboratory-based activities.

Registrations due: 18 March 2013 (deadline extended) contact Alexandra Yeung. Visitwebpage for further details.

Cost: AUD$660 (AUD$600 plus GST) per team covering registration and food

Location: The University of Sydney

Disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics and allied disciplines

Science and Education Snapshots: A summary of activities at Miranda House, University of Delhi   View Summary
16 April 2013

Science and Education Snapshots: A summary of activities at Miranda House, University of Delhi


With the support of a grant from AusAID, we are happy to welcome 9 Australian Leadership Award Fellows (ALAF) to Sydney. The Fellows, all from the University of Delhi, will be attending the Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory (ASELL) National Science Workshop and learning about how we teach science at the University of Sydney. This joint IIMSE/USSA seminar gives us the opportunity to gain insights into how the Fellows teach science to their students in India.

Program (download as pdf)

  • 2:30-3:00 Registration and light afternoon tea
  • 3:00-3:10 Welcome
  • 3:10-3:35 Keynote: Research and Innovation in Science Education: Transforming Teaching-Learning at the Tertiary Level (Dr. Pratibha Jolly)
  • 3:35-3:45 Plant Tissue Culture (Janaki Subramanyan and Saloni Bahri)
  • 3:45-3:55 Colours of Gold: Exploring Chemysteries (Bani Roy and Mallika Pathak)
  • 3:55-4:05 Deans address (Prof. Trevor Hambley - Dean, Faculty of Science)
  • 4:05-4:15 Undergraduate Physics Projects: Flavour of Research (Usha Malik and Mallika Verma)
  • 4:15-4:25 Searching Genes for Novel Drug and Vaccine Candidates from Mycobacterium tuberculosis Genome (Sadhna Sharma)
  • 4:25-4:35 Final comments and close
  • 4:35-5:30 Refreshments (drinks and canapés) and networking

Keynote: Dr. Pratibha Jolly

Dr. Pratibha Jolly is Principal of Miranda House, the premiere college for women at University of Delhi. Under her dynamic leadership, the college has regained its reputation as a pioneering institution for liberal studies in Arts and Basic Sciences. A chemical physicist by training, she has to her credit pioneering education research programs and has recently established the D S Kothari Centre for Research and Innovation in Science Education at Miranda House. Dr. Jolly's research interests include computational physics; electronic instrumentation; use of computer-based technologies in education; development of locally produced low-cost equipment; innovative laboratories that use appropriate technologies; teacher training; cognitive aspects of students' learning and diverse student populations. A major thrust has been to engage undergraduate students in development of a package called Science Online consisting of an indigenous low-cost data-acquisition system and comprehensive set of sensor circuits for real-time measurements in multidisciplinary contexts.

ASELL Schools Science Workshop   View Summary
26 April 2013

The next ASELLSchools Workshop will be held on Friday 26 April 2013 at SHORE School in North Sydney.

ASELL Schools Workshops are designed to help teachers improve experiments run in their classrooms and to improve students' experiences. This workshop will include a mixture of discussions and laboratory-based activities. We invite interested teachers to attend and/or submit an experiment for evaluation. You are also invited to bring two students from your school as well as another teacher from either your school or another Sydney school. This is a great opportunity to view a range of practicals in a 'hands on' format that your colleagues at other schools use in their teaching, share ideas as well as to network and build your existing community. More importantly, ASELL and the workshop will be a way that teachers and academics can work together in improving science experiments and experiences for high school students.

For more information see

IISME Seminar by award winners in science and mathematics education   View Summary
8 August 2013

The Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (IISME) will be hosting a special event in May this year. This event will be a series of seminars presented by 2012 award winners in the field of science and mathematics education.


  • 10:00-10:15 Refreshments
  • 10:15-10:20 Welcome
  • 10:20-10:40 Fiona White and Caleb Owens (School of Psychology)
  • 10:40-11:00 Siegbert Schmid (School of Chemistry)
  • 11:00-11:20 Manju Sharma (IISME/School of Physics)
  • 11:20-11:30 Close

Below are the abstracts and information about the speakers:

Siegbert Schmid || Engaging Students in a Competitive World

Universities in Australia are beginning to realise that the traditional lecture format is starting to reach its use-by date. While it may be the best way to broadcast large amounts of information to very large classes, it is nonetheless not an effective way to facilitate or encourage learning for the majority of our students. Attendance levels have rarely been at 100 %, but anecdotal evidence suggests that since the introduction of widespread lecture recording, which are then made available online, the number of students seeing value in attending lectures has dropped significantly. Students have many demands on their time, in particular large work commitments keep them from coming to campus all the time. In order to make it worth their while, we therefore have to add value to our face-to-face lectures beyond what they can get from a recording of the material. Interactivity in lectures is one way to enhance students' experience and I will show examples from my lectures, using KEEpad response devices, worksheets and interactive lecture demonstrations in Chemistry.

Bio: Dr Siggi Schmid teaches all areas of Chemistry at junior level and also aspects of inorganic and materials chemistry in higher years. He has been teaching at the University of Sydney for ten years. Dr Schmid's research is in solid state materials chemistry, investigating better materials for re-chargeable batteries amongst others. Dr Schmid's contribution to chemistry education is based on a unique combination of being an inspiring classroom teacher with universally acknowledged enthusiasm, and a commitment to improving chemistry education, both locally and nationally, based on the scholarship of teaching and learning. His command of pedagogical content knowledge lets him tailor teaching material to his students' needs and his own chemistry education research flows directly into curriculum renewal and improvements to the student experience. He has supervised a number of PhD and Honours students in chemistry education. He is a Past Chair of the RACI Division of Chemistry Education. He is on the management committee of ChemNet, has chaired its resources working party and is a mentor for junior academics on a SaMnet project. He has been recognised with a number of teaching awards, including the Vice Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching (University of Sydney, 2012) and an OLT 2012 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Fiona White and Caleb Owens

Associate Professor Fiona White || Since receiving her PhD in Social and Developmental Psychology at the University of Sydney in 1997, Fiona's work has been widely published and funded by several nationally competitive grants. In 2009 she received ARC Discovery Project Grant funding, in 2010 a VicHealth Grant, and in 2012 an OLT Priority Project Grant to investigate Academic Integrity nationally with colleagues from Macquarie University. Across her career, she has published over 40 papers in peer-reviewed academic journals and delivered over 60 presentations at both national and international psychology conferences. Fiona is also the first author of a leading developmental psychology textbook that is adopted by 12 universities nationally. In 2010 she was appointed to the senior leadership role of Associate Dean of the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Studies (BLAS), and in 2012, Fiona along with Dr Caleb Owens, were awarded the Vice Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award for the Student Experience.

Abstract: Due to the ease in accessing internet resources, the lack of understanding of correct academic referencing procedures, and minimum experience in tertiary-level academic writing, the risk that first-year students will misattribute material and plagiarise it is on the rise. To address this growing concern, we trialled several strategies to reduce the incidence of plagiarism and to improve writing and referencing among first-year psychology students across 10 consecutive semesters. Each semester's cohort ranged in size from 950 to 2,000 students. These strategies included the sole use of similarity detection software as a deterrent; several interactive writing and referencing exercises with feedback; and mastery quizzes on writing and referencing. The findings revealed that the most significant reduction in reported plagiarism cases occurred between the 'no education (a deterrent only) strategy' and when a writing exercise with feedback strategy was introduced in the following year. This extensive research program highlights the fact that an educational approach to writing is essential for students to maintain their sense of academic integrity.

Manju Sharma || The changing face of education: Challenges and opportunities for science and mathematics educator

Universities are facing a tumultuous time with external regulation through TEQSA and the rise of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Scientific disciplines within universities face the challenge of doing excellent research, as well as producing a range of graduates capable of undertaking cutting edge research and transferring into diverse careers. These are not new challenges. The emergence of MOOCs has raised the question, 'Why go to a University?'. These tumultuous times provide a threat as well as an opportunity. How do we balance our activities? Does teaching and learning need to be re-conceptuliased? Is it time to seriously consider the role of education and the 'value-add' university education provides? This talk will provide snapshots of work that demonstrate the value-add universities can provide.

Bio: Associate Professor Manjula Sharma completed her Bachelors at The University of the South Pacific, PhD and MEd at Sydney. She is the Director of the Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, heads the Sydney University Physics Education Research group and Leads SaMnet, the Science and Mathematics network of Australian University Educators. Prof Sharma has some 80 refereed publications and book chapters in science and mathematics education, and has received repeated funding. Her work is recognised internationally through research partnerships and service on Editorial Boards and Conference committees. She has been awarded the Australian Institute for Physics Education Medal in 2012, ALTC Team Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2008 and Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006.

IISME: Losing signature pedagogies in classrooms: Balancing content, pedagogy and assessment   View Summary
23 August 2013
Presenter biography
Dr Robyn Gregson is an experienced science educator having lead, developed and taught in secondary and primary teacher training courses. Robyn has taught primary and secondary Science, Mathematics and Literacy F-12 (14 years), lectured in Primary, Secondary teaching and Master's programs in Science Method, HSIE method, Literacy, Pedagogy and Research Methods (12 years). She is the editor of two books on science education and literacy.

Dr Gregson received her PhD from the University of Technology, Sydney after researching secondary science students' use of writing to demonstrate their understanding of science. Her research foci are literacy, science education and assessment of learning and teaching. She is currently completing a project of signature pedagogies in science and the transfer of scientific understandings through tertiary and secondary institutions.

Dr Gregson was the chair of the first National AITSL Accreditation Committee, successfully prepared program documentation for accreditation. Robyn has been an HSC Chief Examiner, examination committee member and marker. She has prepared numerous workshops for teachers F-12, while being a founding member and mentor of the Great Western Sydney Primary Teachers Science and Technology Network

Presentation abstract
In science classrooms, we are losing the signature pedagogies that are those routines and practices essentially found in the science discipline. The acknowledgment of the loss of these practices highlights the importance of supporting teachers to recognise their value and effect on engagement for student learning in science. The aim of the research reported has been to involve the emerging and already proficient teacher of science in understanding the central role of the development of pedagogical practices for the teaching of science. Teachers acknowledge the value of practical work in motivating students. However, forces beyond their control have led to the evolution of the term 'practical work' that has been blamed, in part, for the disengagement of students and the decrease in student positive attitudes toward the study of science. This case study highlights that the balance between content, pedagogy and assessment is not working to promote science. As experiments disappear, pedagogy in science is starting to look like any other classroom where the focus is on the development of skills needed for non-laboratory lessons.