Student experiences with contrasting first year science programs

Schmidt, Susanne, Matthews, Kelly, Firn, Jennifer and Whelan, Karen (2016). Student experiences with contrasting first year science programs. In: Queensland Universities Educators Showcase, Brisbane, Australia, (). 26-27 September 2016.

Author Schmidt, Susanne
Matthews, Kelly
Firn, Jennifer
Whelan, Karen
Title of paper Student experiences with contrasting first year science programs
Conference name Queensland Universities Educators Showcase
Conference location Brisbane, Australia
Conference dates 26-27 September 2016
Publication Year 2016
Sub-type Published abstract
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Uninspiring teaching is deemed a main reason for declining interest in STEM education. This trend is alarming modern societies that rely on a science-literate populace. In Australia, there are educators and government leaders who agree that STEM education has to transcend lowlevel factual recall and develop the skills required to solve complex problems, work in teams, recognise and generate evidence-based arguments, and interpret and communicate information and knowledge. Interdisciplinarity is an avenue for curriculum innovation. Interdisciplinary education transcends a single disciple focus in a given course or across a program. Reasons for favouring interdisciplinarity over single disciplines include that many of today’s scientific endeavours breach discipline boundaries. It is argued that discipline separation stands in the way of addressing complex problems, and that interdisciplinary teaching and learning provides relevance and context. Proponents of interdisciplinary teaching claim that students are more engaged and motivated and achieve better learning outcomes, but this claim has received little evaluation. We addressed this knowledge gap by comparing the entry semester of the first year science program at two comprehensive Australian universities: one being discipline-focussed and the other interdisciplinary. We quantitatively explored student experiences with an on-line questionnaire (Science Student Skills Inventory) that requires students to reflect on core graduate learning outcomes. Statistically significant differences between cohorts' experiences were observed. Students in the discipline-oriented curriculum reported higher perceptions of scientific knowledge and ethical thinking while students in the interdisciplinary curriculum stated higher perceptions of oral communication and teamwork. Further insight into student perceptions of their respective programs was gained from short-answer questions relating to scientific creativity and thinking. We discuss the educational outcomes of both curricula and implications for curriculum development.
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation Publications
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Created: Sat, 01 Oct 2016, 23:05:47 EST by Kelly Matthews on behalf of Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation