University of Wollongong (Wollongong, Australia)

September 16th, 2011 by QS in Science team Categories: University of Wollongong No Responses

Print Version_Wollongong Case Study_Oct2011

The University of Wollongong is a public, multicampus university with approximately 26,000 students. It has nine faculties and offers 30 degree programs across its campuses in Australia and overseas.

 

 

 

Science at Wollongong: The Faculty of Science consists of three schools of roughly equal size: Chemistry, Biology, and Earth and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty offers a range of three and four year Science degrees. The most general is the three year Bachelor of Science (BSc) with an average annual intake of 260 students. The entry requirement for the BSc is an ATAR of 75 (admissions ranking from 0-100, with 100 the highest rank).

Mathematics requirements for entry into Science: Mathematics is not required for entry into the BSc although it is assumed knowledge. Students without at least HSC Band 4 Mathematics or equivalent are required to take a mathematics subject (usually MATH151) in the first year.

The Wollongong case study focuses on Bachelor of Science majors in the Biological Sciences, and is framed around a model of educational change based on the work of Michael Fullan.

Initiation of Change

“Who prompted need for QS in science and why?”

At Wollongong each degree program is reviewed every five years, with the reviews run by the relevant faculty education committee.

Strategies around the enhancement of QS outcomes have largely occurred independent to cyclical reviews of degree programs and have been driven by the needs of individual disciplines.

Vision for Change

“What do QS in Science look like?”

The University of Wollongong has identified institutional graduate qualities, which have been further contextualised at the Faculty level.

The Science Graduate Qualities assume quantitative skills (QS) with statements such as:

  • Scientific approach to the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data

Currently, staff within the Faculty are mapping graduate qualities across the science curriculum.

Implementing for Change

“How is need for QS in Science translated into practice?”

Curriculum Structure for building QS: Students are expected to enrol in the major having either completed secondary school mathematics, or complete an equivalent unit when they begin their study at Wollongong. QS are embedded within level 1 discipline units. A QS pathway exists through a level 2 statistics unit followed by embedding  QS components in level 3 biological sciences units.

1st level features a mathematics unit taught by mathematicians for those whose mathematics on entering university is not up to the required standard. QS components embedded within compulsory chemistry units in both semesters with specific QS resources and QS components embedded within compulsory biology units in both 1st and 2nd semesters.

2nd level features a compulsory unit: Statistics for the Natural Sciences STAT252 taught by School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics.

3rd level QS component embedded within ecology subject BIOL355 (optional).

Interdisciplinary QS: The need to address QS of students across Science has sparked cross discipline conversations. However, there are no formal structures or mechanisms that facilitate or promote cross-departmental planning around building QS.

Evaluating the Change

“How effective has the change to build QS in Science been?”

Institutional standardised evaluation procedures are in place at Wollongong, including general unit surveys.

Evidence of QS learning outcomes: To date, in the Faculty of Science, and in the Biological Science majors, there has been no formal evaluation on the effectiveness of the changes in the curriculum to build QS.

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Thanks to the following people at Wollongong for collaborating with us to document this case study:

Paul Carr, Associate Professor and Associate Dean Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Science
Glennys O’Brien, Senior Lecturer, School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Kristine French, Professor of Ecology, and Director of Janet Cosh Herbarium, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Tracey Kuit, Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
James Wallman, Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science

If you have any questions or comments on the Wollongong case study, you are welcome to contact them directly.

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This case study is up to date as of October 2011. The interviews to gather this data were conducted in May 2011.

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