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SCIT140 Science in Our World

Unit rationale, description and aim

Having the appropriate knowledge of science understandings, processes and skills is necessary to be able to teach science in early childhood settings and/or primary classrooms. It is also important to ensure that scientific knowledge, understandings and skills support pre-service teachers in making informed decisions about local, national and global issues.

This unit contributes to the development of background knowledge and skills related to the ‘big ideas’ of science and technology and how these have contributed to our present understandings of the known universe. The unit lays a foundation that enables students to develop a deeper understanding of the historical, contemporary and social nature of science and technology and how both play a significant role in society. In this unit, science is explored as a particular ‘way’ of observing, making sense of and understanding the world.

In this unit, pre-service teachers will develop the knowledge and skills required to support the teaching of science: to think critically and creatively about the nature of Science from both Western and Indigenous perspectives; to demonstrate the skills of scientific investigations; to have content knowledge in areas of science.

The aim of this unit is to allow pre-service teachers to demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes in science such that they can be a competent and confident teacher of 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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1     identify aspects of science which contribute to the common good, the environment and society (GA2, GA4; APST 2.1, 2.4; ACECQA B6, D3) 

LO2     demonstrate an understanding of scientific knowledge and skills(GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 2.1, 2.5, 3.4; ACECQA B1, B2, B3, B6)

LO3     apply understanding of scientific processes through collaborative planning and undertaking of a scientific investigation (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8; APST 2.1; ACECQA B2, B3)

LO4     demonstrate scientific literacy by communicating scientific knowledge with clarity and fluency in a range of forms and for a variety of purposes (GA4, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.3, 3.4, 2.1, 4.5; ACECQA B3, B4)

LO5     analyse aspects of the key ideas of science and technology (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 2.1; ACECQA B2)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


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

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.

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

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.

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

4.5 Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

ACECQA Curriculum specifications

On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed knowledge in the following areas:

B. Education and curriculum studies

B1 Early Years Learning Framework

B2 the Australian curriculum

B3 numeracy, science and technology

B4 language and literacy

B6 social and environmental education

D. Family and community contexts

D3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives


Topics will include:

  • The nature of science from both Western and Indigenous perspectives;
  • Scale and measurement related to time (formation of the universe, geological time scale, evolutionary time scale) and distance (astronomical distances, atomic distances); 
  • Patterns, order and organisation as a way to make sense of the world including observed environmental changes, and the classification of living things and non-living objects 
  • Matter and energy focussing on different forms, and the nature of their interactions 
  • Stability and change related to cause and effect in living things; the environment; and chemical and physical systems 
  • Systems to understand, explain and predict events and phenomena

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 in total across the semester. In line with social constructivist principles, this unit is premised on the understanding that teaching and learning activities should build on prior knowledge, connect with the learner’s needs and interests, and encourage active participation.

Teaching and learning activities will build from the prior knowledge that pre-service teachers have about key science concepts. Many of these conceptions will not align with current scientific understanding, in which case learning and teaching strategies will create learning environments which allow pre-service teachers to reconstruct their knowledge to better align with modern scientific understanding.

Tutorials/ laboratory workshops etc will emphasise a hands-on approach, requiring active participation from pre-service teachers, to develop their content knowledge base.

Further real-world activities will be given priority where possible, such as visiting science-based excursions sites; visiting local classrooms with specialist science teachers; meeting their local professional science teaching association etc.

These first-hand teaching and learning experiences will support knowledge development in science to form a solid basis for further science units which focus on classroom pedagogies. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In line with the principles of constructive alignment (Biggs & Tang, 2011), assessment tasks allow students to show that they have achieved the Learning Outcomes (LO). These assessment tasks have been designed to align with the LO so that, in achieving the minimal standard of these tasks, pre-service teachers will have met the required learning outcomes of the Unit.

In line with andragogical principles (Knowles, 2015), assessment tasks should be authentic, real world tasks. Undertaking a scientific investigation allows pre service teachers to put real scientific processes into practice. Posters are a unique form of academic communication and in exploring common misconceptions, pre service teachers are able to communicate their developing content knowledge to a wide audience. 

In line with mandatory accreditation requirements (AITSL, 2018), pre-service teachers must demonstrate they have the content knowledge required in science as a key learning area.

 Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to complete all assessment tasks, and achieve a Pass grade overall. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1- Scientific Investigation

Plan, undertake and report on a practical scientific investigation orientated towards an issue of significance for the environment and society. 

Part A – Proposal (10%)

Part B – Final report (40%)


(Part A - 10%

Part B – 40%)

LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Assessment Task 2 - Science Communication

Effectively communicate one of the big ideas of science and/or technology through an engaging medium that is appropriate to the target audience. 


LO2, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 3 - Examination

Examination of scientific knowledge


LO2, LO5

GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Recommended references

Allen, M. (2014). Misconceptions in primary science. Retrieved from

Devereux, J., and Open University. (2007). Science for primary and early years: developing subject knowledge (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications

Fleer, M. (2015). Science for children. Port Melbourne, Vic: Cambridge University Press.

Harlen, W. (2015. Working with big ideas of science education. Trieste, Italy: Science Education Programme of IAP. Accessed

Harlen, W. (2018). The teaching of science in primary schools. London: David Fulton Publishers,

Loxley, P., Dawes, L., Nicholls, L., & Dore, B. (2014). Teaching primary science: Promoting enjoyment and developing understanding (2nd ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge; Taylor and Francis.

MacDonald, A., & Rafferty, J. (2015). Investigating mathematics, science and technology in early childhood. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

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

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