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EDST512 Science Education

Unit rationale, description and aim

The science curriculum is a critical learning area for primary students, focused on the development of rich understandings of important concepts and processes, the contribution of science to culture and society, and its numerous applications to our daily lives and potential futures. It is essential for all primary teachers to be equipped with substantial knowledge not only of this content, but also of the unique and most effective pedagogical processes to optimise the development of scientific knowledge, understandings, and skills for all students.

The aim of this unit is to develop pre-service teachers’ understanding of teaching science in the primary school, with particular reference to the role of science education in developing capabilities for critical problem-solving and informed decision-making based on evidence. Students will have the opportunity to extend their understanding of selected science concepts and enhance their understanding of enquiry-based ways of working scientifically, as emphasised within the Australian Curriculum: Science. In addition, pre-service teachers will develop the skills needed to plan relevant, engaging and safe learning experiences for students, based on current theories of learning and the needs of diverse learners. 

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 - Critically reflect on current understanding of the nature of science, scientific knowledge and its development, through the lenses of theories of knowledge (including multiculturalism and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges), epistemology, learning theory and personal beliefs and experiences (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 2.1)

LO2 - Identify and apply a range of inquiry-based pedagogical strategies that promote engagement and scientific thinking for a diverse range of primary-level students, with explicit focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives (GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.4, 2.5, 4.1)

LO3 - Synthesise curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge to design, implement and evaluate a sequence of learning experiences for primary school students of varied abilities, based on critical understanding of current views of learning in science with understanding of the literacy/numeracy demands within the Australian Curriculum: Science syllabus (GA4, GA8; APST 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.6, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.6, 4.2)

LO4 - Appraise and design procedures for the management of science learning environments and resources, including ICT, that demonstrate an understanding of the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes ensuring safety, responsibility and equitable access to opportunities for all learners (GA5, GA10; APST 3.4, 4.1, 4.4, 4.5, 7.2)

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 

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

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


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.

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.

3.1 Set learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics.

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.

4.4 Describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements.

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.

7.2 Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.


Topics will include:

  • Current understandings of the nature of Science, including Western and Indigenous ways of knowing in Science
  • Examination and use of the Australian Curriculum: Science, including Cross-Curricula Priorities and General Capabilities as they pertain to the Australian Curriculum: Science Learning Area
  • Theories of learning in Science in primary school settings
  • Strategies for developing Science Inquiry skills in students
  •  Programming, lesson planning, classroom management and safety in Science
  • Issues of equity in Science education, including engaging and supporting diverse learners
  • Evaluation practices for learning sequences/programs

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, and encourage active participation. Engagement for learning is the key driver in delivery of this unit which is offered in online mode. A range of teaching and learning strategies will be employed to facilitate knowledge and understanding of contemporary pedagogical approaches to engaging diverse students in primary school settings. Strategies will include synchronous and/or asynchronous digital engagement in interactive learning activities and experiences; discussion forums and group work; directed reading activities; and ICT as a pedagogical tool for engaging in scientific disciplines and inquiries. Online learning activities and resources will develop pre-service teachers’ skills in critical analysis and reflection in order to strength capabilities to draw on theoretical, practical and safety considerations in developing and delivering quality learning sequences in Science.


150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 36 hours. Directed study might include online lecture and tutorial materials, workshops, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed so that the pre-service teachers can progressively achieve the Course Learning Outcomes and the Professional Standards and is consistent with University assessment requirements (

The assessment tasks and their weightings allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate the course learning outcomes by demonstrating academic and professional standards through achievement against the unit learning outcomes. The Curriculum Studies units in this course focus on developing understanding of and skills in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment for a selected discipline with reference to the primary learning areas of the Australian Curriculum. Emphasis is given to demonstrating professional knowledge of the content and how to teach it (APST 2), and professional practice in planning and implementing learning (APST 3) and assessing learning (APST 5) in the selected area. In this unit the assessment focuses on applying pedagogical content knowledge to inquiry-based learning in Science for diverse learners in primary contexts. The assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development in demonstrating pedagogical practice in:

applying knowledge and skills to develop a learning sequence for teaching a selected Science topic to young children (Task 1 Part A); use of appropriate classroom management and differentiation procedures (Task 1 Part B); making, moderating and justifying judgements of learner performance to assess learning and recommend next steps in teaching (Task 1 Part C). The secondary assessment (ePortfolio) is intended to allow pre-service teachers to showcase their developed knowledge and understandings related to Science curriculum and pedagogy.

The total assessment will be equivalent to 5,000 words.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Learning Sequence, Teaching Presentation and Reflection.

Part A (25%)

Learning Sequence (Group task)

Collaboratively design a short learning sequence in the area of Physics, Chemistry, Biological Science or Earth and Space Science, for a particular stage of child development. The learning sequence will demonstrate synthesis of curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge, integration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives, and an understanding of the literacy/numeracy demands of the Australian Curriculum.

Part B (15%)

Video Demonstration (Individual task)

Video demonstration of a learning activity (drawn from the learning sequence developed for Part A) that demonstrates use of appropriate teaching and classroom management strategies (including differentiation), and an advanced understanding of how children learn science.

Part C (10%)

Critical Reflection (Individual task)

Critical reflection of learning activity, including suggestions for future improvement and potential modifications.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10

Assessment Task 2: ePortfolio

ePortfolio – of ideas and school observations that showcase knowledge and understandings related to science curriculum and pedagogy, addressing all of the learning outcomes for the unit. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Curriculum: Science Science (Version 8.4) | The Australian Curriculum (Version 8.4)

Recommended references

Espinoza, F. (2011). The nature of science: Integrating historical, philosophical and sociological perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Fitzgerald, A. (2012). Science in primary schools: Examining the practices of effective teachers. Sense Publishers.

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

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

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.). Routledge; Taylor and Francis.

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

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

Skamp, K., & Preston, C. (Eds.). (2018). Teaching primary science constructively (6th ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.

Venville, G., & Dawson, V. (2020). The art of teaching primary science (2nd ed.). Allen & Unwin.

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