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EDST512 Science Education , EDSI660 Science, Inquiry and Sustainability Education (B-12)

Unit rationale, description and aim

Knowing how to teach science to primary school children is vital because, as the Australian Curriculum makes clear, scientific knowledge, understandings and skills support children in making informed decisions about local, national and global issues.

In this unit, pre-service teachers will apply their knowledge in contemporary, inclusive and rigorous science curriculum for primary school children into leading science curriculum development and teaching practice in schools. The focus of the unit is applied scientific literacy to promote children’s continued experiences of and engagement with scientific knowledges, concepts, applications, and skills of inquiry and investigation. The unit contributes to the recognition that a teacher’s responsibility is to the common good, the environment and society.

Pre-service teachers will also explore and develop effective, ethical, and culturally appropriate pedagogical practices addressing primary science curricula from both Western and Indigenous perspectives of science. Incorporated are contemporary understandings of how children learn (including planning and assessment) in a range of primary educational contexts. Pre-service teachers will develop and promote rich, inclusive, interconnected understandings about the world around them associated with scientific endeavour and sustainable living.

The aim of this unit is to develop pre-service teachers’ professional agency regarding contemporary, inclusive and rigorous science curriculum for primary school children with the capacity for leading science curriculum development in schools.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Evaluate research, current education policies, relevant State and National curriculum frameworks to articulate ways that teachers can support children to investigate their contribution to and impact on society and the environment (APST 1.2, 2.1, 2.4, 2.5)GC1, GC5
LO2Analyse aspects of the nature of Western and Indigenous perspectives of science and science teaching to consider their contribution to the common good, the environment and society (APST 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.4, 4.1)GC1, GC2, GC5, GC6, GC7
LO3Create teaching and learning sequences incorporating a range of approaches for children’s learning in science, with particular focus on setting challenging goals through exploratory and purposeful play, inquiry-based and integrated learning (APST 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 2.6, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1)GC1, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO4Design and critically reflect on appropriate assessment strategies of and for learning, including provision for how judgements can be made and moderated to evaluate children’s learning of science (APST 1.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.4, 3.6, 5.1)GC1, GC4, GC6


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

2.3 Use curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge to design learning sequences and lesson plans.

2.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

2.5 Know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.

2.6 Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students.

3.2 Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

3.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge of strategies that can be used to evaluate teaching programs to improve student learning.

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

4.2 Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.


Topics will include:

  • Theories and approaches to teaching Science through emergent and integrated curriculums including: inquiry, problem solving, play-based learning and ethics of care, socio-scientific issues and multicultural science education
  • Science education in the Australian Curriculum and Early Years Learning Framework (and/or other state-based curricula as relevant); including Science understanding, Science as human endeavour and Science inquiry skills
  • Education for sustainability in early learning; integrating science, sustainability and the environment across learning outcomes from cross-curriculum priorities in the Australian Curriculum and relevant elements of the Early Years Learning Framework
  • Western and Indigenous perspectives of, and ways of knowing in, science, with special attention to the resources and Descriptors in the Australian Curriculum: Science which specifically target Indigenous ways of knowing
  • Key Science and inquiry understandings developed by children in primary settings (including relevant links to EYLDF for early-childhood range of F-2)
  • Science; investigating the nature, development, and application of Science in the biological, chemical, physical and earth and space sciences
  • Science in Society; examining the ethical use of Science and implications for the wellbeing of individuals, societies and the environment
  • Creativity in Science; exploring the links between Science and creativity, especially with other areas of the curriculum (e.g., The Arts)
  • Key Science resources and materials; including safe and responsible use of physical and ICT resources and materials
  • Knowledge of learning and development in Science for setting learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics
  • Pedagogy for the effective and inclusive teaching of Science to children in primary settings (including relevant links to EYLDF for early-childhood range of F-2)
  • Constructing learning sequences appropriate for primary school settings related to the development of age-appropriate knowledge and understanding, and including appropriate pedagogical and assessment practices
  • Contemporary approaches to curriculum for teaching and assessment of Science including inquiry-based, play-based, emergent and integrated curriculums
  • Contemporary approaches to assessment and reporting; working with appropriate data and evidence of learning in Science for diagnostic, formative and summative purposes
  • The contribution of science knowledge and practice in broader society, examining its ethical implications for the common good, society and the environment.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In line with social constructivist principles, this unit is premised on the belief that teaching and learning activities should build on prior knowledge, connect with the learner’s needs and interests, be inclusive and sensitive to a range of cultural perspectives, and encourage active participation. The lecture and supporting materials for this unit will cover key concepts across the four science disciplinary areas (Biological sciences, Earth and space sciences, Physical sciences and Chemical sciences) in order to support the development of appropriate science pedagogical content knowledge and inquiry skills. Tutorials will be active, collaborative and experiential, with a focus on the application of science understandings and inquiry skills that are aligned to relevant curriculum frameworks and paradigms. Through active participation in lectures and tutorials, pre-service teachers will develop a deep understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry along with the ability to use a range of scientific inquiry methods including questioning, planning, conducting experiments and investigations, collecting and analysing data, evaluating results and drawing ethical and critical, evidence-based conclusions. First-hand experience with an inquiry-based approach to science teaching and learning will ensure that pre-service teachers are able to develop their own knowledge and skills as well as transfer these effectively to primary classroom contexts. 

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support learning including but not limited to reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts and video. 

Technology Enhanced Learning

The unit will include a Learning Management System site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to promote connection between on campus content and educational experiences. The site may include:

  • Online review exercises.
  • Discussion board to exchange ideas and refine learning.
  • Video illustrations of teaching practice and focussed readings addressing a wide spectrum of teaching contexts, practices and competencies;
  • Weekly face-to-face lectures and / or online lectures (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Hands-on tutorials and discussions that promote peer learning;
  • Self-directed reading and research
  • Collaborative learning opportunities.

Face-to-face/Online Learning support

Students enrolled in both face to face and online learning modes are required to regularly log into the Learning Management System to access recorded lectures and important announcements, to communicate with other students and lecturers, and to submit assessment and access feedback and grades. Students who are enrolled in either face to face or online learning will have equal access to support from the lecturer in charge and tutors.

Additional equipment requirements for online learning:

  • Reliable broadband access is recommended.
  • Headset with microphone to listen to podcasts, view videos and interact in synchronous classes.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment rationale and strategy for this Unit are based in theoretical standpoints of adult learning and all assessment tasks align directly with the Learning Outcomes of the Unit. The Curriculum and Pedagogy and Assessment units in this course focus on developing understanding of and skills in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment for a selected discipline with reference to the Australian Curriculum and other relevant curriculum frameworks (e.g., jurisdictional, Indigenous, and Early Years (F-2) documents). Emphasis is given to demonstrating professional knowledge of the content and how to teach it (APST 2), professional practice in planning and implementing learning (APST 3) and assessing learning (APST 5), with consideration to the wellbeing of individuals, societies and the environment and the critical role that Science plays in these areas. As such, the assessment focuses on applying pedagogical content knowledge within an ethical framework to inquiry-based learning in Science for learners from 5 to 12 years. The three assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development in demonstrating pedagogical practice in: knowledge and skills for identifying and analysing science-based teaching and learning activities exploring a range of pedagogical approaches appropriate to the curriculum area, including an ethics of care approach (Task 1); applying knowledge and skills to design a learning sequence for teaching a selected Science topic to primary school children (Task 2) which includes making, moderating and justifying judgements of learner performance to reflect on assessment of and for learning.

The tasks are not only assessments of learning but also for learning. The staged approach across the three tasks provides opportunities to obtain ongoing feedback to promote achievement of the associated Learning Outcomes.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for pre-service teachers to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to complete and submit all assessment tasks. Assessment in this unit includes a Critical Task: Task 2 Inquiry Learning Sequence. This task is core to the demonstration of a number of Australian Professional Teacher Standards. Pre-service teachers must demonstrate mastery of every summative standard listed in the learning outcomes and attain a score of at least 50% in Task 2 and a pass overall. 

Electronic Submission, Marking and Return

Submission, marking and return of assignments will be via the Learning Management System, through Turnitin. Assessments will be returned within three weeks of submission.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1:

Multimedia Folio of Science Teaching Approaches

Develop an evidence-based folio of at least four teaching and learning activities that cover a range of approaches to science (i.e., inquiry, problem solving, play-based learning, Indigenous science, and ethics of care) and demonstrates the importance of science education for the wellbeing of individuals, society and the environment, for primary (5-12) learners.


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 2

*Critical Task: Inquiry Learning Sequence

Develop an integrated, inquiry teaching and learning sequence for a designated curriculum level and focus, that incorporates links to sustainability science and a rich assessment task suitable for a project-based learning.

  • Use a justified approach to support children’s learning and engagement in Science and selected cross-curriculum priorities and/or elements of early years curriculum where relevant (e.g., Being, Belonging and Becoming in F-2 levels).

Design an assessment guide of and for learning, and strategies for judgement-making (e.g., rubric/criteria for summative assessment) and moderation.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Required document(s)

Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. (2020). Australian Curriculum: Science

Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. (2020). Implementation of the Foundation – Year 10 Australian curriculum.

NOTE: This Reference has links to the implementation of the Australian Curriculum (including Science) for all Australian States and Territories.

New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA). (2017). Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus science-and-technology-k-6-syllabus-2017.pdf 

Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2009). Being, belonging and becoming: Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.

Recommended references

Ahmed, J. (2019). Pedagogy of science: Reflective practices. Sage.

Allen, M. (2019). Misconceptions in primary science (3rd ed.). McGraw-Hill Education

Bhathal, R., & Bhathal, J. (2018). Australian backyard astronomy. NLA Publishing.

Cahir, F., Clark, I., & Clarke, P. (2018). Aboriginal biocultural knowledge in south-eastern Australia: Perspectives of early colonists. CSIRO Publishing

Campbell, C., Jobling, W., & Howitt, C. (2021). Science in early childhood (4th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Fleer, M. (2015). Science for children. Cambridge University Press.

Krajcik, J., & Czerniak, C. (2018). Teaching science in elementary and middle school: A project-based approach (5th ed.). Routledge.

Loxley, P., Dawes, L., Nicholls, L., & Dore, B. (2017). Teaching primary science (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Moeed, A., & Rofe, C. (2019). Learning through school science investigation in an Indigenous school: Research into practice. Singapore: Springer.

Nogrady, B. (Ed.). (2019). The best Australian science writing 2019. NewSouth Publishing.

Pascoe, B. (2018). Dark emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture. Magabala Books.

Saxena, A. (2019). Ethics in science: Pedagogic issues and concerns. Singapore: Springer.

Skamp, K., & Preston, C. (Eds.). (2020). Teaching primary science constructively (7th ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.

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