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Public Events: recordings

Challenges in Science Education: teaching and learning in schools and universities

Dr Mark Butler, Dr Manjula Sharma, Dr Paul Willis and Associate Professor Peter Aubusson,

Forum chaired by Professor Richard Johnstone

In our schools and universities, are we nurturing future Nobel Laureates in science? What educational experiences foster scientific discoveries that underpin innovation and excellence? Australian innovation depends on the strength of science, engineering and technology (SET) workforce. Concern about the numbers, and quality, of students attracted to university courses in Science, IT and Engineering has focused on the quality of science teaching in the schools and possible incentives for studying science at university, such as reduced HECS debt.

The Forum will review structural reasons for changes in the SET workforce, science teaching and learning in schools and universities, science teacher education, and strategies for promoting science and science education and fostering Australia's SET capability

Dr Mark Butler is currently the Head Teacher of Science at Gosford High School and the National Education Convener of the Australian Institute of Physics.

He holds a PhD in Physics from Macquarie University and has taught science in private and public high schools in NSW for over twenty years. An inspired physics teacher and a tireless advocate for improving secondary science education, Mark received the BHP/Billiton Science Teachers' Award in 2002 and The Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Secondary Science Teaching and a NSW Premier's Scholarship in 2004.

Dr Manjula Sharma, lecturer in Physics and Head of Sydney University Physics Education Research Group Dr Manjula Sharma did her undergraduate studies at the University of the South Pacific and commenced work at the University of Sydney in 1990 as a Senior Tutor in Physics. Currently she is a Senior Lecturer in Physics having completed her PhD in physical optics in 1999 and an MEd (Research Methods) in 2006, both from the University of Sydney. Dr Sharma has been passionate about physics education throughout her career and currently supervises PhD students doing physics education research projects within the School of Physics. She publishes in this area, and has led projects funded by CUTSD, AUTC and the newly established Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. She heads the Sydney University Physics Education Research (SUPER) group and was awarded the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2006.

Associate Professor Peter Aubusson was secondary science teacher for ten years before becoming a university teacher and researcher. He has researched science education and teacher learning and development for over fifteen years. He is Program Director of Secondary Teacher Education and leads the Designs for Learning Research Cluster.

He has led numerous research projects in science education and teacher education.

Peter was co-editor of Science Education News for seven years and is on the editorial board of Research in Science Education. He has served on numerous reference groups for the Board of Studies and the NSW Department of Education. In 2002, his contribution to science education was recognised by an award from the Science Teachers' Association of NSW.

His publications include 4 books, 2 edited books, 6 major reports of commissioned research, over 40 refereed journal articles and 12 book chapters.

Professor Richard Johnstone was appointed Executive Director of The Carrick Institute in 2005 and took up the role on 28 November of that year.

Richard is a graduate of the University of Newcastle in NSW and Cambridge University. He has lectured in English Literature in universities in Australia and the UK, and has subsequently held a range of senior university appointments including:

  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Charles Sturt University;
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Support) at the University of Sydney; and
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at the University of Technology, Sydney.

In addition to his university management roles, Professor Johnstone has been closely involved in a range of policy and planning initiatives in relation to teaching and learning in universities, both nationally and internationally.

He was a member of the Australian Universities Teaching Committee from 2000 to 2004 and its predecessor body, the Committee for University Teaching and Staff Development, from 1997.

He is a member of the Board of Graduate Careers Australia and has chaired GCA's Survey Reference Group which oversees the national Course Experience Questionnaire and Graduation Destination Survey.

Professor Johnstone was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001 for his contribution to Australian higher education.

Paul Willis got into science as a kid and has never grown out of it. He found his first fossil when he was a six-year-old and has been hooked on palaeontology ever since. Moving to Australia at the age of nine, Paul went on to study Geology and Zoology at Sydney University before completing a PhD at the University of New South Wales studying fossil crocodiles. Paul has been with the ABC since 1997 as a cross media science broadcaster, regularly appearing on radio, TV and online. He also performs live discussions and forums such as Cafe Scientific. In 2002 he was voted Skeptic of the Year for his work combating Creationism.

Paul is currently a reporter on Catalyst, the ABC TVs weekly science magazine show.

This initiative is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Education, Science and Training

Thursday June 14

Download: Audio file (48.8MB, 64kbps mp3 file)

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