UniServe Science Motivating Science Undergraduates: Ideas and Interventions

29 September 2009

Finding ways to engage science undergraduate students in their studies is an area which concerns science staff in universities across Australia. UniServe Science, at the University of Sydney, has dedicated their annual conference in 2009 to the theme 'Motivating Science Undergraduates: Ideas and Interventions'.

The theme was initiated by the Director of UniServe Science, Alexandra Hugman, who holds a joint appointment in both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Education and Social Work, at the University of Sydney.

The two day national conference, to be held on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 October 2009 at the University of Sydney, will bring together over a hundred university staff from faculties of science across Australia and New Zealand, a group of research students from Thailand and interested colleagues from Egypt and the US.

Hazel Jones, Manager of UniServe Science, said, "The conference provides a platform for presenting and developing high quality research in tertiary science and mathematics teaching and learning."

"We have two great keynote speakers who will present one morning each: Dr Richard Walker, from the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, and Karen Burke da Silva, from the School of Biological Sciences at Flinders University," said Hazel.

Alexandra Hugman explained, "Dr Richard Walker will speak on 'Designing learning environments that engage science and mathematics undergraduates: principles from motivational theory and research'. He will discuss the two main approaches of motivational theory - person in context and socio-cultural - and how these can be used to structure learning experiences."

"Karen Burke da Silva will speak on 'Raising the profile of teaching and learning: scientists leading scientists'. She will discuss ways that science academic staff can work together to promote excellent teaching methods amongst colleagues, which results in higher engagement from science students and higher student retention in the sciences. Karen's work emerges from a recent Australian Learning and Teaching Council project," said Alexandra.

"After the keynote speaker each morning, the conference attendees will then break into two streams for a series of sessions on a variety of research experiences in the teaching and learning of science and mathematics. It's a great opportunity for attendees to exchange ideas and hear from those who have had success in these areas," said Hazel.

With speakers coming from nineteen Australian universities and two international universities - University of Otago in New Zealand and Hope College in Michigan, USA - the conference speakers represent a wide range of universities and experiences.

"The 'Research Experiences in Undergraduate Science' sessions will provide a forum for sharing solutions across the various disciplines of science to the issue of providing high quality undergraduate research experiences. Well-designed research experiences are crucial for bridging the gap between lecture content and the practice of science," said Hazel.

"Another session showcases four inter-university Australian Learning and Teaching Council projects, which will be presented and discussed," said Hazel.

"Leading up to the conference we hold a Discipline Day, where attendees meet informally to discuss their current research in teaching and learning, which builds support and collaboration specifically within their own subject area," explained Alexandra.

See the full line up of speakers and topics for the 2009 UniServe Science 'Motivating Science Undergraduates: Ideas and Interventions' conference at:

Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 0909314f57341b5a31081c1c1a133d4021615d113869331c