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Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit supports the development of scientific understanding for students planning to work in education, particularly students seeking admission to teacher education programs, where a confident approach and strong foundational knowledge and skills are required.

In this unit, students will develop conceptual understanding and familiarity with scientific knowledge and skills within the themes of the social and environmental impact of technology; health and wellbeing for humanity; and responding to change in the environment. Each of these themes contributes to the broader issues of social justice and sustainability and the role of scientific literacy in critically reflecting on the relationship between humans and the universe that sustains us.

The aim of this unit is to develop the student’s analytical thinking and ability to communicate about contemporary scientific issues and ethics as they build knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and practise the cognitive and physical processes of scientific investigations. The learning outcomes and unit learning activities are specifically designed to demonstrate the achievement of Australian Qualifications Framework Level 5 for General Science.

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
LO1Use scientific terminology, definitions, concepts and theories to develop explanations of real-world systems and patternsGC1, GC5, GC6
LO2Conduct investigations and use scientific and technological equipment to safely gather data and information for formulating questions, hypothesising, experimenting and evaluating scientific issuesGC2, GC4, GC8
LO3Analyse scientific knowledge and processes to draw conclusions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informedGC7, GC8, GC12
LO4Engage critically with issues of social justice and sustainability in the application of science as a human endeavour with limitations and contradictionsGC5, GC6, GC7
LO5Communicate qualitative and quantitative information and ideas in a variety of ways using scientific convention and terminology in written, oral and multimedia formatsGC10, GC11, GC12


The unit will be organised around three themes:

  • Social and environmental impact of technology, including:

-Communication and transportation

-The science of technology; applications of physics and chemistry

-Harnessing and using energy Historical development of scientific technologies

  • Health and wellbeing for humanity, including:

- Nutrition and genetics

-Biological systems

-Nutritional and energy inputs and outputs of humans


  • Responding to the change in the environment, including:

Natural disasters and biodiversity

-Causes and impacts of geological and meteorological events


The following topics will be studied across the three themes:

  • Science as a human endeavour
  • Sustainability
  • Indigenous ways of knowing
  • Social and environmental ethics in science
  • The scope of science; branches of scientific endeavour
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to scientific problems
  • Scientific inquiry; conducting scientific investigations
  • Scientific inquiry skills; using and manipulating tools and resources
  • Communicating scientific ideas; using scientific genres for reporting and explaining
  • Communicating scientific data and evidence; using tables, graphs and diagrams

Using digital resources to communicate scientific data, evidence and ideas

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours of study for this unit; including class attendance, readings and assignment preparation.

This unit applies a social constructivist approach to develop pre-service teachers’ understanding of scientific concepts and develop their scientific knowledge and skills. They will have the opportunity to build on their understanding of science through both a mastery learning approach (to build a strong foundation and develop self-efficacy in the study of science) and an active learning approach (to facilitate the collaborative unpacking of scientific concepts and practices). This includes critical reading, lecturer modelling, active engagement, rehearsing and discussion. It is expected that students will build their scientific proficiency including conceptual understanding, foundational knowledge and procedural fluency across the three themes.

To support this strategy teaching and learning approaches may include, but are not limited to:

•           Weekly on-campus 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.

The unit is hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote the connection between content and educational experiences.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants.


Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.

Online scheduled

All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

This unit includes 3 contact hours per week over 12 weeks, comprising lectures (1 hour/week) and laboratory sessions (2 hours/week).

Students are required to actively participate in all lectures, laboratory sessions and assigned learning activities to achieve the learning outcomes, which include out-of-class collation of materials to complete the investigations and mandatory attendance at laboratory sessions.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures is designed to allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement of the unit learning outcomes and to develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.

The assessment tasks have been designed for students to develop and demonstrate their scientific knowledge, skills and processes. The assessment tasks and their weightings have been developed to meet the learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes required at the University, and to provide opportunities for students to engage in a diversity of tasks including laboratory journals, extended response questions, and an experimental investigation.

The assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development. Task 1 is a longitudinal task that requires students to identify and engage in deep reflection of the themes presented in this unit on an incremental basis, also inviting engagement with the community of learners which is the other students together with the lecturer/tutor. Its weighting takes into account the incremental nature of this task. In Task 2, students apply knowledge of scientific skills and processes to plan, undertake and report on an investigation. Task 3 is an examination of the competence with scientific knowledge across all the themes of this unit.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate the achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks, meet the learning outcomes of the unit and achieve a minimum overall passing grade of 50%.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Laboratory Journal

Completion and collation of materials from a selection of laboratory sessions covering each of the core themes of the unit. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Assessment Task 2: Experimental Report

Students plan, undertake and report on a scientific investigation related to one of the core themes of the unit. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Assessment Task 3: Examination

Combined short and extended response questions focusing on the analysis and explanation of previously unseen scientific data and evidence. Topics covered will be related to the core themes of the unit.


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Farrow, S. (2018). The really useful science book: A framework of knowledge for primary teachers (Fourth Edition.). Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 

Leal Filho, W., & Hemstock, S. L. (2019). Climate change and the role of education. Springer International Publishing.

Skamp, K., & Preston, C. M. (Eds.) (2021). Teaching primary science constructively (7th edn.). Cengage Learning Australia. 

Waller, J. (2004). Fabulous science. Oxford University Press.

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