Credit points


Campus offering

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EDSI100 Science in Our World


EDST444 Science Curriculum and Teaching 2

Unit rationale, description and aim

Research from the 1970s has revealed the prevalence of alternative conceptions in science that do not align with current scientific understanding. Pre–service teachers need to have a solid understanding of these alternative conceptions, held by both children and adults, in order to be able to teach science constructively ie from students’ prior knowledge base. Reconstructing scientific knowledge to better align with common scientific understandings will support children in making informed decisions about local, national and global issues.This unit contributes to the recognition of your responsibility to the common good, the environment and society. Pre–service teachers will develop knowledge and understanding about primary students’ alternative conceptions, why these belief systems are in place, and how to address them in primary school classrooms. Assessment in all of its forms will be used to identify and monitor changing patterns of thinking including personal reflective practice and other relevant strategies to advance pre–service teachers own correct scientific understandings.

The aim of the unit is to allow pre–service teachers to demonstrate the values, knowledge, skills and attitudes of a competent and confident teacher of science, as prescribed by the Australian Curriculum: Science, to primary school children.

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 - Explain the development of alternative science conceptions in children (GA4; APST 1.1)

LO2 - Illustrate the teacher’s role in eliciting children’s alternative conceptions prior to undertaking a contructivist learning sequence (GA5; APST 1.1, 1.5)

LO3 - Analyse research findings which demonstrate students’ alternative science conceptions (GA4, GA8; APST 1.2)

LO4 - Evaluate teaching and learning approaches with primary school students to advance their understandings and learning in science where alternative conceptions have been identified (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.4)

LO5 - Design a teaching and learning sequence which works with an identified common alternative science conception within the Australian Curriculum: Science, (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.6, 5.1, 5.2, 5.4)

Graduate attributes

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

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 


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

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

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

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.

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.

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

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

5.2 Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of providing timely and appropriate feedback to students about their learning.

5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.


Topics will include:

  • The origins of alternative science conceptions as understood through theories of child development
  • Alternative science conceptions drawn from research
  • Alternative science conceptions aligned to content in the Australian Curriculum
  • Current theories in science pedagogies of addressing alternative conceptions
  • Theories of learning which are appropriate to the primary science classroom for addressing alternative science conceptions
  • Practical workshops which model activities and learning sequences appropriate to the primary science classroom for addressing alternative science conceptions
  • Techniques for eliciting alternative science conceptions
  • Assessment techniques to monitor the developing of alternative science conceptions
  • Evaluation and design of learning sequences for addressing selected alternative science conceptions in primary school settings

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy for this unit is based on a Constructivist approach that recognises that learning builds on pre-existing understandings and is shaped by a learner’s sociocultural context. In line with the chosen learning and teaching strategy, this unit includes content delivery designed to encourage active learning and engagement, and teaching methods designed to consolidate the learning of content, apply knowledge to problem-solving tasks and develop analytical and evaluating skills. The learning and teaching strategy is achieved through a range of learning activities such as reading, reflection, discussion, and engagement with webinars, podcasts and video resources.

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.

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 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.

On Campus

Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.


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 unscheduled

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not 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.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Pre-service teachers are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions and receive regular and timely feedback on their learning. They will have an opportunity to attend facilitated synchronous online sessions with peers.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

Minimum Achievement Standards

In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to submit all assessment tasks and achieve a pass grade in each task 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Bibliography

An annotated bibliography of

  • 5 research articles which have researched the prevalence of alternative science conceptions in primary school children
  • 3 research articles which have researched the prevalence of alternative science conceptions in teachers of primary school children



GA4, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Evaluation of Teaching Resources

Choose a teaching resource in primary school eg Primary Connections, which explicitly works from students’ alternative conceptions. Evaluate the resource in terms of its

  • Identification, for teachers, of common alternative conceptions held by students
  • Method(s) of eliciting those conceptions
  • Methods of challenging those conceptions so as students will better align their conceptions with current scientific understandings
  • Theoretical or evidence-based approaches


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 3: Learning Sequence

Prepare three short learning sequences aimed at moving students from their alternative conceptions to more common scientific understandings in different substrands of Science Understanding in the Australian Curriculum: Science F-6.

Profile elicitation techniques and assessment strategies in each sequence



GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

ACARA Australian Curriculum, Science:

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

Recommended references

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

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

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

Harlen, W. (2015). Working with big ideas of science education. 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.). Routledge; Taylor and Francis.

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