Australian Conference for Science and Maths Education (ACSME)

24 September 2012

The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, hosted by the University of Sydney, examined university teaching and learning standards in a national conference of tertiary educators from Wednesday 26 to Friday 28 September 2012.

With speakers from universities across Australia and the UK, US and Malaysia, the conference explored the theme of 'Teaching and Learning Standards: What does a standard mean to you?'

Associate Professor Manju Sharma, Director of the University of Sydney's Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, and member of the organising committee for the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, said "the conference was successful in tackling big questions around measuring and benchmarking our teaching practice."

"It's really important to foster the exchange of ideas and strategies amongst science and mathematics tertiary educators for learning and teaching in our current age," said Associate Professor Sharma.

"We focussed on how we can measure our teaching outcomes to provide evidence that our students are learning and achieving to a high quality standard. This is partly in response to the 'quality' agenda in higher education which will be regulated by the federal government's Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and the Education Standards Framework which will be developed and monitored by the Higher Education Standards panel."

The conference featured three keynote speakers: Emeritus Professor Alan Robson, recently retired Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia; Professor Kerri-Lee Krause, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Western Sydney; and Professor Mick Healey, Higher Education Consultant and Researcher in the UK.

Also featured were two plenary speakers: Professor Gabriela C. Weaver, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Discovery Learning Research Centre at Purdue University in the US and Associate Professor Les Kirkup, from the School of Physics and Advanced Materials at the University of Technology Sydney.

"In the sciences, we are well placed to meet the federal government's quality agendas because of the work of our discipline scholars with the Australian tertiary science and mathematics community to develop Threshold Learning Outcome statements as part of the Learning and Teaching Academic Standards for Science project set up by the now closed federal government's Australian Learning and Teaching Council," said Associate Professor Sharma.

"The presentations over the three days ranged from discipline specific workshops to broader considerations of the concepts of quality and standards, to building scientific inquiry skills in science students to research on different student assessment methods."

The School of Physics was represented at the conference including posters by Mathew Hill and Associate Professor John O'Byrne as well as Science Communicator Tom Gordon, who presented his initial inquiry into the effect of High school outreach programs to University enrollment.

"The conference was an excellent forum for tertiary science educators to share strategies, dissect issues and examine measurement methods to ensure our tertiary students in Australia are receiving the best possible science education to equip them for their futures," said Associate Professor Sharma.

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Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 0429111518020d5e5f065a5522580a0d3b2c1c42123e017b4e23