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EXSC122 Research and Ethics in Exercise Science , EXSC217 Research and Ethics in Exercise Science

Unit rationale, description and aim

Understanding research design, methodology and statistics is fundamental for Exercise Scientists to engage in effective evidence-based practice. Additionally, an awareness of the ethical considerations, in both prescribing exercise and conducting research, underpins any effective practice in the Exercise Science industry. This unit introduces students to key principles of ethics, research methodology and statistical analysis in Exercise Science. Students are required to critically appraise research methodology and apply this knowledge and understanding as well as appropriate analysis methods to research design contexts. The aim of this unit is to provide students with an understanding of ethics in Exercise Science and research methodology, as well as to develop skills in critical evaluation and statistical analysis. 

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 - Describe ethical and legal principles to challenges encountered in Exercise Science practice and research (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Critically appraise research methodology in Exercise Science (GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Understand and perform relevant statistical analyses and interpret results (GA5, GA8, GA10)

LO4 - Apply knowledge of ethical considerations, research methodology and statistical analysis to a scientific investigation (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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.


Topics will include:

  • Ethical/legal principles and processes in Exercise Science research
  • Ethical/legal principles and processes in Exercise Science practice
  • Ethical processes working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Exercise Science practice
  • Fundamentals of conducting Exercise Science research
  • Research methodology in Exercise Science
  • Evaluating research
  • Academic writing
  • Statistical considerations and assumptions
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Comparative statistics
  • Relationship statistics
  • Introduction to non-parametric statistics

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategies of this unit are designed to allow students to meet the aims and learning outcomes of the unit, and graduate attributes of the University. They are intended to reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to engage actively with unit content and learning activities.

Content for the unit is delivered via a series of 10 online modules, each accompanied by an online quiz assessing basic knowledge of key concepts. This basic knowledge is then built upon through inquiry-based tutorial activities that encourage active learning in both individual and group scenarios. Tutorial activities facilitate a deeper understanding and application of the content as well as directly preparing for further assessments. Students are also asked to problem solve and work collaboratively on a research project that involves design, data collection, analysis, and academic writing.

Further to this, to ensure students are ready to transition from the Diploma and articulate into the second year of undergraduate study, transition pedagogies will be incorporated into the unit as the key point of differentiation from the standard unit. This focuses on an active and engaging approach to learning and teaching practices, and a scaffolded approach to the delivery of curriculum to enhance student learning in a supportive environment. This will ensure that students develop foundation level discipline-based knowledge, skills and attributes, and simultaneously the academic competencies required of students to succeed in this unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete and submit three graded assessment tasks. In addition to this, students must obtain an aggregate mark of greater than 50% over these three assessment tasks as well as complete one hurdle task (Assessment 4).

This unit requires students to demonstrate their understanding of the content and by able to apply this to a scientific investigation. Assessment tasks have been designed and scheduled to both facilitate this learning and evaluate its attainment.

Assessment 1 is a series of low stakes assessments providing students with the opportunity to exhibit basic levels of knowledge in key concepts. Assessment 2 allows student to demonstrate a deeper understanding of key concepts as well as critically appraise research methodology. Assessment 3 and 4 allow students to apply all concepts covered in the unit through a scientific investigation.

Strategies aligned with transition pedagogies will be utilised to facilitate successful completion of the unit assessment tasks. For each assessment, there will be the incorporation of developmentally staged tasks with a focus on a progressive approach to learning. This will be achieved through activities, including regular feedback, particularly early in the unit of study to support their learning; strategies to develop and understand discipline-specific concepts and terminology; in-class practice tasks with integrated feedback; and greater peer-to-peer collaboration.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Quiz Assessment

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of unit content through a series of multiple-choice questions corresponding to specific weeks of lecture content.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Mid-Semester Exam

Enables students to critically appraise research methodology in exercise science


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Research Project

Enables students to apply their knowledge of ethical considerations, research methodology and statistical analysis as part of a scientific investigation


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9

Competency (practical skills) examination

Enables students to demonstrate competency in in data analysis and statistical techniques.



GA5, GA8, GA10

Representative texts and references

Baumgartner, T.A. & Strong, C.H. (2013). Conducting and reading research in health and human performance (5th Ed.). McGraw-Hill.

Kerridge, I., Lowe, M., & McPhee, J. (2005). Ethics and law for the health professions (2nd ed.). The Federation Press. 

Peat, J. & Barton, B. (2005). Medical statistics: A guide to data analysis and critical appraisal. Blackwell Publishing.

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