The discipline of biological science encompasses the long standing fields such as zoology, botany and anatomy, along with the more recently defined fields of biochemistry, ecology, genetics, developmental biology and others. Students often take highly general first year programs, later branching into more specialised sub fields. As the number of undergraduate students attracted to science declined steadily in the last decade, there has been a growing concern regarding the qualifications and capacity of teachers, and that of curricula to effectively prepare and enthuse young people for careers in the sciences (Harris et al., 2005). The purpose of this project was to develop and strategically disseminate resources designed to enhance the assessment of learning in the biological sciences in Australian universities. The project involved fieldwork on assessment issues, and studies of current approaches and best practice in eight Australian universities.
The Resource Library contains a collection of higher education learning and teaching materials flowing from projects funded by the Commonwealth of Australia including those from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
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9 resources found.
Physclips - multi-level, multi-media resources for teaching first year university physics
Despite its key position as an enabling discipline, physics content in school and university curricula is decreasing at an alarming rate. There is a real need for essential physics principles to be made widely available to an increasingly diverse group of students and academics. The Physclips package provides an excellent resource that specifically fills this critical gap. This is a very visual, engaging and easy to use introductory series into major physics principles. It takes an unashamedly rigorous approach. One of the outstanding features is the links to explain in an integrated manner, the mathematical principles supporting the physics. Other key features are the use of tutorials and animations. There is a very strong pedagogical foundation. For example, the authors have taken into account cognitive load theory, the use of narration to reinforce the animation and current web design approaches to produce this very sophisticated tool. The modules go into a good level of depth and detail and are designed such that they can be done at an individual’s own pace. This resource will be of use to anyone who wants and alternative platform to learn about the basics of physics and can be used either to support physics classes or to provide refresher or learning activities. Potential users include university and later year school students as well as teacher and academics who would like to refresh their knowledge. From a pedagogical perspective, these clips also act as excellent examples of how physics can be taught in an approachable and engaging manner. This is a user friendly interface that loads quickly and is readily navigable. It is also released through Creative Commons so there are no fees associated with its use. The videos require a Flash player. The clips currently cover Mechanics, Waves and Sound, Electricity and Magnetism. It is not clear whether further modules are planned. There are many physics videos and online resources available on the internet, but these Physclips packages are of the highest standard and will retain their relevance for many years to come.
Enhancing the assessment in the Biological Sciences
Teachers need to clearly explain assessment requirements and strategies pertinent to their courses within any discipline area. This excellent resource provokes academics firstly, to reflect upon and question what current methods they use to assess students, and secondly, whether they utilise recognised, up-to-date, principles of effective assessment. For early career academics and academics reviewing the curriculum design and content of their teaching courses this resource provides extensive examples of assessment strategies written by academic staff from across Australia (and supported by students’ feedback). Examples provided can be easily downloaded in PDF format, and provide contact details for academics to network with colleagues and share innovative assessment practices. Whilst the resource is complete in itself, there is an open invitation to all academics, students and stakeholders to contribute. For example, new academic users can easily download a template and submit their own assessment method to UniServe Science to share with colleagues. This opportunity permits all users to continually update and add content and ideas to the database and disseminate content to the wider academic community that will maintain the sustainability of the resource over an extended period of time. Professional accreditation bodies and stakeholders can clearly view assessment practices and even provide direct feedback. This resource is most informative for undergraduate students studying subject areas in the biological sciences. Students gain better performances in assessments if they clearly understand why and how they are being assessed. Clear explanations of principles of assessments, the types of assessment students need to confront and, the purposes of employing these modes of assessments, provide the student with a better understanding of assessment processes. As a likely consequence, the student may more effectively achieve learning tasks and desired learning outcomes. Being very user friendly it is easy to navigate to the various components of content. Each link can be easily opened and content downloaded and the search link is effective. ‘Biological science’ is used in its broadest sense and so one wonders if biological science should be replaced by ‘life sciences’ – particularly as the content is likely to expand greatly as more users contribute.
Forging new directions in physics education in Australian Universities
The website consists mainly of components of the final project report and some derived resources that address three priorities: service teaching, laboratory work and employment of physics graduates. These form the three strands of the project.
The report on a survey of service teaching identifies three models of service teaching and outlines differences between student expectations and experiences of service-taught units. The survey found that students' experiences are significantly at variance with their expectations. The outcomes provide very strong evidence that university service teaching physics needs to be examined and reformed. Examples of units where students' experiences matched their expectations are described in Appendix 3 of the final report.
There is also a self-efficacy survey which would be of use in unit reviews.
The strand on laboratory work for physics students consists mostly of reports on workshop meetings, from which many issues were raised but few solutions proposed. The most tangible and immediate outcome of this strand is the depository of physics higher year laboratory experiments in use in Australian universities. This resource provides experiment titles, brief outline and the contact details of their designers/authors. It could prove very valuable in the sharing of and, if engaged with critically, improving of laboratory work.
The report on graduates in the workforce outlines graduates' employment types and graduates' preparedness for work in terms of knowledge and generic attributes. The report will be of interest to physics program managers. A separate document, outlining employment destinations of physics graduates, could be used to motivate or inform potential or current physics students.
Enhancing the assessment of learning in Australian Higher Education: Biological Sciences
Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Development in Physics
The Virtual Slidebox - a new learning paradigm for exploring the microscopic world
Teaching scientific inquiry skills: a handbook for bioscience educators in Australian universities
Twenty-six cases of current teaching practices are identified and described using a framework based on the degree of inquiry inherent in student tasks; the independence expected of students in performing tasks; the tasks’ learning objectives; and the learning environment. Six innovative learning designs incorporating educational technologies are presented in the Hand book. Recommendations are made about evaluating student learning of scientific inquiry skills. A website presents project findings.