Quantitative Skills (QS) in Science Activities Continue

December 12th, 2013 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

Get QS on the agenda at your university

The QS in Science project produced many resources that can be used to facilitate curriculum development. If you are in Australia and believe that curricular planning to build the QS of your students is needed, consider applying for an extension grant. There are two deadlines in 2014 (early April and early September). The application form is short and you could be awarded up to $30,000. Extension grant information is available at the Office of Learning and Teaching website. The QS in Science project team is happy to support you in applying for an extension grant, contact Kelly Matthews at k.matthews1@uq.ed.au.

page of numbers in table

Extending QS in Science workshop at the University of Queensland (UQ)

The Extending QS in Science team initiated an action-planning workshop among academics from the Bachelor of Biomedical Science and the Bachelor of Science focused on majors in BiochemistryBiomedical Science and Geological Sciences. The workshop, according to the participants, not only served as an avenue to formulate plans but also a highly valued way of providing space and time for academics to get together and discuss common issues. Details of workshop outcomes will be posted to our website in early 2014.

Extending QS in Science workshop at 2013 DELTA Conference

Kelly Matthews and Cristina Varsavsky facilitated a workshop, Mathematics and statistics for life science students: Discussing the contribution of mathematics and statistics departments, with 35 mathematicians and education researchers at the 2013 DELTA Conference. The QS list of topics developed from the project was presented. Participants noted that ‘the list was useful to prompt discussion but could be improved if the expected levels for QS topics were articulated.’

Learning or doing? Science degrees need reform and students can help

Kelly Matthews, in her article for The Conversation, urges universities to consider the voice of students. Their perceptions of their learning gains should inform curriculum review and reform efforts. She argues that “students are uniquely placed to comment on the learning outcomes of a university degree program”, her view strengthened by the data from 400 graduating science students of two research-intensive universities in Australia. Read more here.

National Australian forum on the assumed knowledge in maths

There is increasing awareness that many students entering STEM degree programs do not possess the assumed knowledge in mathematics required to succeed. This is not only evident to academics teaching mathematics in first year, but across other disciplines such as science and engineering, where students struggle to apply mathematical skills in the context of their discipline. The First Year in Maths Project is inviting academics to participate in a national forum. The event will be held on 13-14 February 2014. Click here for more information and registration.

Extending QS in Science project update

The team is preparing the final report consisting of case studies from the three member-universities UQ, Monash and LaTrobe along with details of action-planning workshops and QS resources. The QS in Science website will be updated in early 2014 with all the latest resources from the Extending QS project. Until then, enjoy your holidays!

QS workshops and research

October 24th, 2013 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

Extending Quantitative Skills (QS) in Science action-planning workshops

We have enjoyed facilitating two action-planning workshops in September at La Trobe University and Monash. Utilising QS in Science project resources, working groups from biochemistry, biomedical sciences and biological sciences engaged in robust discussions of where and how quantitative skills (QS) were taught and assessed across the majors. La Trobe attendees found that while QS were widely present in teaching and assessment across first to third years, much learning appeared to be superficial rather than a deeper understanding of QS. The Monash workshop highlighted the inconsistent use of language between the mathematicians and the scientists when discussing the QS needed for students. Both workshops identified action plans to enhance QS student learning across the curriculum, including the development of common language and QS standards lists for each major. More findings from our action-planning workshops are coming soon!

student measuring with ruler

Exchanging ideas for building QS across the curriculum

The Extending Quantitative Skills (QS) in Science team facilitated two Ideas Exchange sessions at the Australian Conference for Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) on the 19th of September 2013. Thanks to the 30 scientists and mathematicians who actively exchanged ideas with our facilitators, Liz Johnson and Yvonne Hodgson. The discussion revolved around two topics:

  1. Articulating the quantitative skills (QS) needed across science majors and disciplines.
  2. Understanding and then extending the QS that students bring with them to university.

Participants identified challenges to overcome. First, miscommunication across mathematics and life science departments in regards to what QS are needed. Differing language between departments was viewed as potentially detrimental to students transferring QS across units and year levels. Second, designing curriculum to build QS are complicated by the diverse levels of mathematical knowledge within student cohorts. Feasible solutions to overcome challenges, which participants could implement at their institutions, included:

  1. Facilitating cross-disciplinary conversations to articulate what QS are needed at the major level.
  2. Mapping where QS were taught and assessed across science degree programs.
  3. Sharing QS assessment items across units at the major level and investigating student performance.

Of course, QS in Science resources are available to assist those seeking to enhance the QS of their students! Check them out at http://www.qsinscience.com.au/links.

How authentic are QS in science when taught my mathematicians?

International Journal of Mathematics Education in Science and Technology (iJMEST) special issue on QS in science inspired Jenny Koenig, a biologist from Cambridge University, to ponder authenticity. In a blogpost, she discusses an article from Leon Poladian, Engaging life-sciences students with mathematical models: does authenticity help? , which highlights a teaching strategy she finds effective.

“…what I think is missing from a lot of mathematics for biologists courses and textbooks, is the idea of teaching through mathematical modelling, and using modelling as the central theme of the course… developing tools which can interpret and solve a real-life problem and making connections between concepts and procedures”.

Interested in how mathematical models can authentically be integrated into your teaching? How are academics approaching the teaching of QS? Check out the QS in science special issue to find out!

The student perspective: Research on science graduate learning outcomes

What learning outcomes do graduating students think they gain from their undergraduate science degree programs? Where are learning outcomes taught and assessed in the degree program? What factors contribute to students’ perceptions of gaining QS in science degree programs?  Extending QS in Science team members Cristina Varsavsky, Kelly Matthews and Yvonne Hodgson have collaborated to investigate these questions. Using the Science Student Skills Inventory, the research involved 400 responses from undergraduate science students about to graduate with findings reported in the below articles.

Perceptions of science graduating students on their learning gains: Findings indicate which learning outcomes students believed to be important and taught in their degree programs. Results on learning gains are presented across several learning outcomes (i.e. communication, teamwork, content knowledge). A preview of the results: quantitative skills and ethical thinking were perceived by more students to be less important with analyses revealing some differences in perception across different demographic groups, like gender. Read more – the first 50 people to follow this link can get a free/full access copy at: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/hfD4KxPP4BI4JRNsMHGZ/full

Assessment and teaching of science skills: whole of programme perceptions of graduating students: The findings of this study document the students’ perspective about their gains in skill sets, and the teaching activities and assessment tasks that require them to use and thus develop these skills. The teaching activities identified by students as developing the broadest number of skills were laboratory classes and tutorials. Lectures were only effective for developing scientific knowledge and, to a limited extent, ethical thinking. Assessment tasks that students perceived to utilise the broadest range of skills were assignments and oral presentations. Read more – the first 50 people to follow this link can get a free/full access copy at: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/brQRMVP9ghdEcH779P5.

Factors influencing students’ perceptions of their quantitative skills: Using logistic regressions, factors influencing students’ beliefs of their QS are explored. Findings reveal several variables predicting higher levels of self-rated competence in QS: students’ grade point average, students’ perceptions of inclusion of QS in the science degree program, their confidence in QS, and their belief that QS will be useful in the future.

Lighthouse DELTA 2013 Conference

The 9th Delta conference will be held at the Pavilion, in the coastal town of Kiama, New South Wales, Australia from 24-29 November. This year’s theme, Shining through the fog, encapsulates and brings to light the challenges faced by those responsible for building mathematics and statistics capacity needed for the 21st century. Registration is still open. Look out for the Extending QS in Science presentation!

Extending QS in Science

August 18th, 2013 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

Good news: The QS in Science project is extended

The project Extending QS in Science: Trialling and disseminating resources to link and build QS across life sciences majors was recently approved by the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT).  This project extends the Quantitative Skills (QS) in Science project via the application and dissemination of QS in Science developed curricular resources (the mapping tool, the QS standards list, and the case study template) to new life sciences majors at La Trobe University, Monash University and the University of Queensland. Dissemination activities will occur via action planning workshops, conference presentations, maintenance of the QS in Science website, and the continuation of project newsletters to the roughly 300 members of the QS in Science network.

students at desk with light bulb

Life sciences program wide action-planning workshops in September

The QS in Science extension team will be facilitating action-planning workshops at La Trobe University, Monash University and the University of Queensland to engage unit coordinators and program leaders of life sciences majors in focused and productive curricular planning to not only indicate what QS are taught but to map, link and identify QS gaps across the majors. The focus will be on action-planning using existing curricular development resources such as the visual mapping tool, an extensive list of QS topics, and case study templates for unit coordinators to document explicit QS which are taught and assessed in their units.

QS in Science extension team to facilitate ‘nuts and bolts’ workshop at ACSME

The Extending QS in Science team will facilitate a ‘nuts and bolts’ workshop, Building quantitative skills in science: Students’ journeys in applying mathematics and statistics across the curriculum, in the upcoming Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) conference. In this workshop participants will work collaboratively to identify opportunities to coordinate QS planning efforts across the science curriculum. Participants will construct an action plan for discussion in their home institution. We hope to see you there!

How do we improve basic QS for under-prepared students and build awareness of their relevance within science disciplines?

Deb Jackson and Liz Johnson answer this question in a recent paper, A hybrid model of mathematics support for science students emphasizing basic skills and discipline relevanceYou can read the full paper from Taylor & Francis Online, published by the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology (iJMEST).

The Maths Skills program at La Trobe University has been developed to address mathematically under prepared students in the first-year science cohort in the absence of an institutional mathematics support centre. The program was delivered through first-year science and statistics subjects with large enrolments and focused on basic mathematical skills relevant to each science discipline. The program offered a new approach to the traditional mathematical support centre or class. It was designed through close collaboration between science subject coordinators and the project leader, a mathematician, and includes resources relevant to science and mathematics questions written in context.

QS in Science dissemination continues

Carmel Coady, a member of the QS in Science project team, was invited to give a 30 minute presentation at the Victorian/Tasmanian (VTAS) promoting Excellence Network – OLT Workshop  held on the 5th June at Swinburne University. The workshop of seventy-five attendees focused on writing successful OLT grants. Carmel presented not only the outcomes of the QS in Science project, but also indicated how the project was formulated and successfully managed.

Lighthouse DELTA 2013 Conference

The 9th Delta conference will be held at the Pavilion, in the coastal town of Kiama, New South Wales, Australia. This year’s theme, Shining through the fog, encapsulates and brings to light the challenges faced by those responsible for building mathematics and statistics capacity needed for the 21st century. Registration is now open. Look out for the Extending QS in Science presentation!

 

 

Quantitative Skills (QS) in Science in 2013

April 17th, 2013 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

Be sure to check out our updated Project Resources page!

This QS in Science Update discusses 2013 post-project activities. While the QS in Science Final Report is being reviewed by the Office for Learning & Teaching (OLT), QS in Science spin-off activities and follow-up projects are plentiful!

QS in Science article: What QS are needed? How are we collaborating?

The paper, Scientists and mathematicians collaborating to build quantitative skills in undergraduate science, draws directly from the QS in Science project and is published in the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology (iJMEST). The article discusses ways in which mathematics and science academics are working together to build the QS of their undergraduate science students, together with the mathematics and statistics needed or desired in a science degree. Forty-eight academics from eleven Australian and two USA universities were interviewed about QS in science. Information is presented on: what QS academics want in their undergraduate science students; who is teaching QS; how mathematics and science departments work together to build QS in science; and implications for building the QS of science students. We wonder how the findings will surprise you?

workshop participants

QS in Science follow-up project: EOI accepted, full application coming

A few informal conversations at the December 2012 Game On! Forum led to a QS in Science follow-up project proposal involving eleven team members from one American and seven Australian universities. The power of networking in action! The forum was funded by the OLT and jointly organised by VIBECUBEnet and the QS in Science project. The proposed project, Development and implementation of MathBench for Australian universities to improve quantitative skills of science and mathematics students, aims to adapt and embed the MathBench online modules for use in Australian undergraduate science and mathematics programs across seven universities. The project EOI was well-received by the OLT with a request for a full application!

Extension application: Applying QS in Science resources

The project proposal, Extending QS in Science: Trialling and disseminating resources to link and build QS across life sciences majors, aims to apply and disseminate the QS in Science developed curricular resources (mapping tool, QS standards list, and case study template) to several life sciences majors in three universities. Activities will include action-planning workshops that would lead to (1) curricular maps of QS across specific life sciences majors in three universities; (2) a detailed list of major-specific standards for QS including topic areas at each year level; and (3) exemplary case studies of individual QS innovations within critical units in the major. The application is currently being considered by the OLT.

HERDSA newsletter: What’s next for QS in Science?

The Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) invited the QS in Science team to update the HERDSA community on our project findings. We offer several follow-up proposals to build on our findings and invite HERDSA members to take the lead! Read our HERDSA QS article here. Perhaps you’ll want to take the lead on a future QS in Science follow-up project?

Promoting Excellence Workshop: Look for QS in Science in June

The QS in Science team was kindly invited to present at the Victorian and Tasmanian (VTAS) network Promoting Excellence Workshop to be held at Swinburne University in Melbourne on 5 June, 2013. We will be discussing project findings and activities and hope to see you there!

More coming: Special edition arriving in September

iJMEST, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, is featuring a series of QS in science articles in the September edition. We’ll be sure to alert you to the special edition later in the year.

Must see website: National Centre for Teaching & Learning in Australia

The Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) Teaching and Learning Centre exists to support quality teaching and learning in science and mathematics in higher education. The new ACDS LT Centre is the hub of Australian activities on matters of national significance to science and mathematics higher education. The QS in Science team is grateful for the tremendous support of the ACDS TL Centre. Have you visited the new website yet?

Reflections on Game On!

December 19th, 2012 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

“Game on! …” a success

The CUBEnet-VIBEnet-QS in Science symposium Game on!: Preparing our biology and biomedical graduates for the future  was hailed a great success.  More than 90 biologists from VIBEnet and CUBEnet along with chemists and mathematicians attended the two day event.

QS in Science was one of the highlights with two engaging speakers captivating the audience. Dr Kyle Seifert from James Madison University shared programmatic assessment approaches in biology and Dr Katerina Thompson from the University of Maryland introduced MathBench, the online modules designed to build the QS of biology students.  The benefits of using these modules were apparent as there is now a project underway to adapt and apply these to the Australian context.

Having science and mathematics academics attending the same symposium certainly proved to be worthwhile, as one participant commented “…excellent turnout! Brilliant idea to bring the discipline groups together this year around quantitative skills, well done to all involved!”.

A QS follow-up project was born!

The QS in Science project team is excited at the prospect of a follow-up project based on the MathBench modules. This project is being driven by science and mathematics academics from five Australian universities, led by Deakin University.  The project ”Development and implementation of MathBench for Australian Universities to improve QS of science students” will adapt, pilot and evaluate the effectiveness of the online Math Bench modules in the Australian context.

QS Special Edition papers due 15 January 2013

Quantitative skills in science: integrating mathematics and statistics in undergraduate science curricula  a Special Issue in the International Journal of Mathematics Education in Science and Technology (iJMEST). This special issue on quantitative skills (QS) provides a timely opportunity for the science and mathematics sector to share current practice, and build a foundation for future scholarship and research in QS in science. Empirical research, case studies or theoretical essays are welcome. We hope contributors will come from a range of disciplines. Information for contributors is here. Publication date is September 2013.

QS in Science Final Project Report is now with OLT

The QS in Science project Final Report has been submitted to the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT).  This report drew mainly from the earlier report entitled The state of quantitative skills in undergraduate science education: Findings from an Australian study prepared for the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) in July of this year. This comprehensive report will soon be made public and we look forward to sharing this with you in 2013.

 Life of the QS in Science project website

 We are pleased to inform you that the project website will still be live and accessible for the next five years as arrangements with the provider are being finalised.

 Holiday Greetings

 The QS in Science project team wishes you all the best for this holiday season.  May you all have a prosperous and productive 2013!

QS in its final leg

November 17th, 2012 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

Call for Papers

We have put out a call for Papers on Quantitative skills in science: integrating mathematics and statistics in undergraduate science curricula for a Special Issue in the  International Journal of Mathematics Education in Science and Technology (iJMEST). This special issue on quantitative skills (QS) provides a timely opportunity for the science and mathematics sector to share current practice, and build a foundation for future scholarship and research in this emerging interdisciplinary area of critical importance to higher education. Empirical research, case studies or theoretical essays are welcome. We hope contributors will come from a range of disciplines. This special edition is an initiative of the QS in Science project, funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching in Australia in collaboration with iJMEST.

Submission due date: 15 January 2013
Information for contributors: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=tmes20&page=instructions
Publication date: September 2013

hand with calculator and papers

QS Events – International speakers

The QS in Science-CUBEnet-VIBEnet symposium, Game on! Preparing our biology and biomedical graduates for the future will be held at the University of Sydney on the 10th and 11th December, 2012.  This free event will feature two world-renowned experts in the area of QS: Dr Katerina Thompson from the University of Maryland and one of the QS in Science team members, and Dr Kyle Seifert from James Madison University. Please join us to find out more about the educational resources and the teaching and learning activities designed to promote QS across the biological and biomedical sciences.

QS article of the month

When Math Hurts: Math Anxiety Predicts Pain Network Activation in Anticipation of Doing Math

It has been documented that students, especially those with high math anxiety, have certain fear of mathematics.  But is that fear or tension that powerful that just thinking about doing mathematics can really send signals to our pain network that it hurts?  Find out in this article by Lyons & Beilock (2012).

QS Phase 2 projects – advancing the QS agenda

How is your institution fairing in relation to building QS in your Science graduates?  How is your institution coping with the diversity of students’ mathematical backgrounds in relation to QS?  Need help with assessing whether your students have achieved the QS learning outcomes as stated in your course or institutional graduate attributes?  Projects aimed at assisting with these vexing questions and others are available in the QS in Science project report, (pages 40 -42).

QS in Science Project in its final leg

After almost two years the QS in Science project is in its final leg and the team just submitted the Final Report to the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT).  This comprehensive report will soon be made public.

As the project identified and investigated the importance of issues surrounding QS, the team listed recommendations that entail: developing a shared understanding of QS; encouraging cross-disciplinary communication about curricular issues;  strengthening leadership in defining graduate outcomes; more rigorous evaluating and evidencing of QS learning outcomes; increasing awareness of the importance of QS in curriculum reform processes; strengthening the connection between attributes, outcomes and standards; improving awareness and adaption of existing educational resources; and better defining clear QS curricular pathways to cater for diversity in student cohorts.

More details may also be found in the earlier version of the QS in Science project report (page 11) prepared for the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) in July of this year.

QS at ACSME

October 20th, 2012 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

QS Findings – QS in 13 science curricula

The QS in Science team presented at the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) held at the University of Sydney, 26 – 28th September, on the various curricular models that were identified from the project’s 13 case studies. Almost all of these case studies were for a major in the life sciences. Findings from the case studies revealed a tremendous variation in the approach taken by the different institutions and in each year of the program. Four models emerged; each an approach to the teaching of QS in a single year.

person presenting to an audience

The four models identified are:

  1. The unit model consists of specific unit/s in mathematics and/or statistics.  Cross-disciplinary communication and co-teaching is most evident in this curricular model.
  2. The embed model engages students in QS context-based learning experiences, mostly provided by the relevant science-based discipline academics. This was the most common model found in the third year of a science program.
  3. The hybrid model combines the distinctly mathematical and/or statistical units (unit model) with QS embedded in science-discipline specific unit/s (embed model). This appeared only in the first year of science programs.
  4. The silent model indicates that no units have any QS embedded or could be identified as requiring QS. 

Overall, QS could only be identified in a few units across the curriculum, largely due to the flexibility inherent in science programs.

More details may be found in the QS in Science project report (page 11, with the case studies presented in pages 28 – 65).

QS in Action – Featuring QS in Science innovators

Maths Skills Programs – support for first year science and statistics students at La Trobe University

The Maths Skills Program, a quantitative literacy support program offered by the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering for first year science undergraduates, has been running for the past two and a half years. It was developed as a First Year Experience resource in the university-wide curriculum reform project Design for Learning by project leader and mathematician, Dr Deborah Jackson, in close collaboration with science and statistics subject coordinators. Topics range from basic mathematical understanding to first year university mathematics. Tailored streams are provided for chemistry, physics, biology and statistics.  Students are invited, through their first year subjects, to complete a screening test and advised to join the Maths Skills Program if they get below a certain mark in the test, or they can also self-nominate. Student participation is motivated by improvement of mathematical skills, improving mathematical confidence, or finding relevance of mathematics to their subject.

A combination of approaches allows students to select the learning and teaching activities that suit their own study style. Worksheets provide theory, relevance, examples and exercises.  Questions written in context highlight the links between mathematics and science or statistics.  Online programs have been developed using the Pearson education site MyMathTest and give students 24/7 access to pre, post and self diagnostic testing, as well as video help and study plans.  Face-to-face help sessions give students one-to-one guidance and instruction. Student surveys show participating students value the program, increase their mathematical confidence and appreciate the flexible learning activities.

Learning materials are delivered through La Trobe’s Learning Management System and the Pearson site and are not publically available. To access website and for further information, please contact Dr Deborah Jackson at D.Jackson@latrobe.edu.au.

QS across Curricula – Featuring MathBench at the University of Maryland

The QS in Science project found that academics tended to develop their own resources when trying to address student inadequacies in QS. Once these resources were developed, the sharing of these with colleagues was not evident. However, the University of Maryland has reversed this trend, with the interactive modules making up the publically available MathBench in use across 30 science classrooms in the US and Australia.

The MathBench biology modules allow students to improve their QS through web-based activities that complement the content presented in the undergraduate biological science curriculum at the University of Maryland. Students using these modules have shown increased QS and enhanced appreciation of the essential role that mathematics plays in modern biology.

You can hear more about this amazing resource from the chief designer of these modules, Dr Katerina Thompson, who is a keynote speaker at the QS in Science-CUBEnet-VIBEnet symposium, to be held the University of Sydney, Australia, 10-11 December, 2012.

QS Events – International speakers at QS in Science-CUBEnet-VIBEnet Symposium 10-11 December

Registration is now open! The QS in Science-CUBEnet-VIBEnet symposium, Game on! Preparing our biology and biomedical graduates for the future will be held at the University of Sydney, 10-11 December, 2012. This free event will feature two world-renowned experts in the area of QS: Dr Katerina Thompson from the University of Maryland and one of the QS in Science team members, and Dr Kyle Seifert from James Madison University. Please join us to find out more about the educational resources and the teaching and learning activities designed to promote QS across the biological and biomedical sciences.

 

QS in Action

September 14th, 2012 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

QS Findings – Responding to the QS in Science Report

Nancy Pelaez, Associate Professor in Biological Sciences at Purdue University (USA) reminds us that our project findings are consistent—and even typical—of issues faced overseas. In order to move forward, a consideration of the broader issues of teaching and learning, as well as change/reform efforts, could save us spinning our wheels. Read more in the 2012 Change article by John Tagg (co-author of the seminal 1995 article from Teaching to Learning).

Quoting Max Planck, “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die…”

Tagg suggests that engaging academics in teaching and learning can be painful, but need not be. He offers some theories of change, common pitfalls of leaders and administrations in trying to “manage” change in higher education, and concludes with some practical approaches for leading teaching and learning reform efforts.

We appreciate all the QS in Science project report feedback and invite you to  comment here.

QS in Action – Featuring the Academic Numeracy Group

The QS in Science project found an overall “lack of knowledge and adaption of QS educational resources” (page 15) QS in Science project report. We have found a range of efforts to understand the challenges to students learning of QS in Australia.

While maths can be viewed as enabling learning in science and medicine, in reality we see students are bringing their maths anxiety with them to their studies – maths as a transferable anxiety rather than a transferable skill. 

Sound familiar? The Academic Numeracy group—consisting of Roseanne Quinnell at the University of Sydney and from UNSW Rebecca LeBard and Rachel Thompson—has been exploring the QS issue for more than 10 years. Their research uses theoretical frameworks (e.g. Meyer and Land’s Thresholds Concept framework and Perkins’ framework of triadic thinking dispositions) to understand why students have such trouble transferring their numeracy skills from math to their studies in life sciences. More information can be found in a recent article. They have a number of interventions to assist student learning and a freely available online module. The group are now working to design an online diagnostic to more explicitly address dysfunctional stances that students adopt when asked to manipulate their quantitative data. A group worth watching and supporting!

QS across Curricula – Featuring JMU’s holistic QS evaluation

The QS in Science project found a “lack of evaluation and evidencing of QS curricular learning outcomes” in Australia (page 15) QS in Science project report. Our benchmarking case studies has on-going, comprehensive evaluation process.

The Biology Department at James Madison University (JMU) assesses essential skills in graduating biology majors by using a multiple choice exam called the Natural World-9 (NW-9) consisting of measures of Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning. More than a performance indicator to gather data for quality assurance processes, JMU has established an innovative and effective approach to engage academics in using the data to inform on-going curricular reforms. Read more in the Journal of College Science Teaching article.

While the JMU approach produces reliable performance data specific to science learning outcomes, it more importantly closes the assessment loop by allowing faculty to participate in the assessment process and meaningfully reflect on student assessment results. 

Sounds amazing! You can hear more in December 2012. The QS in Science project, in collaboration with the Australian Biology (VIBE) and Biomedical Science (CUBEnet) Networks, is hosting a two-day event featuring Dr. Kyle Seifert from JMU.

QS Events – Involving yourself with the QS in Science projects

The QS in Science project has strived to actively engage folks throughout the last two years. As the project officially wraps up, we have a series of activities to further involve you and your colleagues.

Face-to-face events

ACSME Conference (26-28 September, 2012): The QS in Science team is presenting two posters and giving one talk at the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education in Sydney.

QS in Science/VIBE/CUBEnet Event (10-11 December, 2012): Planning is well under way for a two day event in Sydney, Australia featuring two overseas speakers addressing QS in Science.  As indicated, one speaker will discuss program level evaluation of graduates QS. The other speaker will share and discuss free educational resources – online modules specifically designed to enhance the QS of life sciences students in introductory biology units. We’ll circulate further information soon. In the meantime, save the dates!

The QS in Science team will be in North America in October, more details on our events page.

Scholarly activities

Call for articles: January 2013 is the deadline for the QS in Science Special Edition of iJMEST, a highly rated, prestigious journal in science and mathematics higher education. Read more on our Get Involved page.

Call for reviewers: Give back to the community and learn about the latest QS research and innovations by signing up to act as a reviewer for the QS in Science Special Edition.

student performing calculation

QS Project – Getting close

The QS in Science project is in the home stretch, drawing to an end this year. We’ll be sharing our final Updates filled with project findings, worthwhile research in the area of QS, featured QS practices and curricular approaches, and project events.

Challenges and Strategies of QS

August 22nd, 2012 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

Engaging leaders – Deans of Science workshop

The QS in Science team presented at the Australian Council of Deans of Science Learning and Teaching forum (19-20 July, Sydney). During our session we tabled a report of findings – The State of Quantitative Skills in Undergraduate Science Education – and engaged participants in discussions of our key findings and activities for future planning.

Here’s a short video – an overview of our ACDS workshop – including challenges of QS and then some great strategies from ACDS attendees related to moving forward to further the design of QS across science curricula. Thanks to all the attendees for actively engaging during our session!

workshop participants

Get Involved – How do you think we move forward?

If you’ve watched our short video or read the QS in Science report of findings, we welcome your thoughts – click here. We are actively seeking input into the QS in Science final report which will feature a range of recommendations.

Call for Papers – iJMEST Special Issue

Remember, there is plenty of time to plan for your submission to the Special Issue of International Journal of Mathematics Education in Science and Technology (iJMEST). Additional details are outlined on our Get Involved page.

Call for Reviewers – iJMEST Special Issue

We are seeking reviewers for the QS in Science special edition, register your interest.
In our next Update, we’ll reveal some exciting 2012 QS in Science events! We’ll also be sharing ideas and suggestions on moving forward to better build QS in science from various members of the Australian science learning and teaching community.

Sharing our QS Report

July 12th, 2012 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

July 2012 Update

Upcoming activities

The QS in Science project is in the dissemination phase. We have some upcoming workshops including the Australian Council of Deans of Science Learning and Teaching forum (19-20 July, Sydney) and two overseas workshops in October/November. We will also be sharing our report The State of Quantitative Skills in Undergraduate Science Education. See our Events page for more information.

 conference group

Our project report – open for discussion

Findings of the QS in Science project have been formulated into a report – The State of Quantitative Skills in Undergraduate Science Education. The key findings are organised around seven points, with the team proposing several recommendations in the form of “QS Phase 2 Project Proposals”. We invite you to comment and become involved. See Get Involved for more information.

Why is QS change needed?

Part 2 of our interview with Professor John Rice—Executive Director, Australian Council of Deans of Science—exploring the issues related to Quantitative Skills (QS). This video— Why is QS change needed?—outlines some academic perspectives and concerns.

Key findings

Our website features 12 case studies, highlighting how undergraduate science degree program curricula are structured to build QS. The main findings from our analysis of the case studies are summarised below:

  1. There is no pattern in the curricular approaches implemented to build QS across the 12 case studies;
  2. The mathematical preparedness of entering science students influences how science curricula—particularly in first year (freshman year)—is structured in regards to building QS;
  3. There is a lack of effective, sustainable collaboration across science and mathematics departments on matters of curricula design to build QS; and
  4. Curricular resources to build—or remediate—QS tend to be developed reactively by teaching academics, in isolation from the broader curriculum or materials available from other institutions.

We’ll explore these finding in our upcoming workshops.

Advice to young scientists

We’ve found a great TED talk from EO Wilsonadvice to young scientists—which speaks directly to biologists on the issue of mathematics in biology and maths phobia that keep many bright students away from science. You can view this and related videos via QS in Science YouTube Channel.

Call for Papers – iJMEST Special Issue

A quick reminder – we need your contributions and scholarly papers for a Special Issue of International Journal of Mathematics Education in Science and Technology (iJMEST). We hope contributors will come from a range of disciplines. Additional details are outlined on our Get Involved page.

In our next Update, we’ll discuss our project findings and report on our workshops from the Australian Council of Deans of Science Learning and Teaching forum.