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EDST272 Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment in Science Education 1

Unit rationale, description and aim

In order to plan and deliver lessons that promote learner engagement and enhance student learning, intending secondary teachers need knowledge and understanding of the senior secondary curriculum, along with theoretical frameworks and pedagogical approaches that are emblematic of teaching in their chosen teaching areas, including teaching/learning that responds to the high-stakes assessment that is a usual feature of senior secondary schooling.

In this unit, pre-service teachers will consider the place of Biology Education in contemporary Australian society, and the senior secondary Biology Education curriculum, in particular. They will explore a range of evidence-based approaches for curriculum development and alignment and plan for effective teaching and learning, including formative and summative assessment. Pre-service teachers will learn approaches for building knowledge of Biology Education and how to provide constructive feedback and reporting. They will learn approaches for engaging senior secondary learners and to meet the learning needs of diverse students in the senior secondary years. They will further develop skills to shape the dialogic talk of the classroom. Pre-service teachers will formulate unit and assessment plans in order to demonstrate a knowledge of curriculum, learning and assessment theory. They will assemble a resource folio to demonstrate the capacity to collect, create and critique resources for effective teaching and learning and to link with the curriculum. They will investigate issues and considerations of curriculum implementation as found in the practical reality of schools.

The aim of this unit is for the pre-service teacher to develop their pedagogical content knowledge through becoming familiar with the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary for teaching Biology Education at a senior secondary level.

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 - Analyse key ethical and moral perspectives associated with the teaching of science and synthesise to formulate a philosophy for the teaching of Biology based on research into teaching and learning in Science (GA2, GA3, GA4; APST 2.1)

LO2 - Demonstrate understanding of and apply the aims, content, structure, outcomes and theoretical concepts of the Biology Syllabus at senior secondary levels, together with related mandatory policies for its implementation; (GA5, GA8; APST 2.1)

LO3 - Evaluate, generate and implement appropriate lesson sequences for assigned content areas including the identification of prior learning, provision for first-hand and second-hand learning experiences, incorporation of ICT, employing strategies to enhance student literacy, and teaching strategies that promote independent learning and teaching strategies that promote independent learning (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.6, 3.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.5)

LO4 - Examine a wide range of resources including relevant state-based Syllabus and Curriculum Support Documents, Sample Unit Plans, school-based texts and items from professional and other associations (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 2.2, 2.3, 2.6, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3)

LO5 - Analyse the relationships between learning task design, student learning and expertise, higher-order thinking, assessment, feedback and reporting in Biology, and apply to the development and modification of own teaching practice (GA4, GA5; APST 2.3, 5.1, 5.2)

LO6 - Evaluate teaching strategies for basic Biology concepts, including those which are commonly misunderstood (GA5, GA8; APST 1.5, 3.2)

LO7 - Experience, evaluate, synthesise and develop a range of teaching strategies and resources, in selected Syllabus mandatory exercises, with consideration of diverse learner needs and including risk assessments where appropriate (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.3, 1.5, 4.1)

Graduate attributes

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 

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


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.

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.

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.

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

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.

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.


Topics will include:

  • the definition of ethical and moral values associated with the teaching of Biology, leading to the formulation of a philosophy for the teaching of biology based on research into teaching and learning.
  • factors in the educational context of Biology (international, national, state, territory and local levels) including curriculum policies and perspectives that shape the identity of Biology Education in Years 11-12
  • the concepts, substance and structure of senior secondary curriculum content in Biology
  • contemporary understandings of the unique ways in which students learn in Biology
  • specific professional practices and key pedagogical approaches related to teaching and learning in senior Biology contexts, and their theoretical underpinnings, with modelling/deconstructing of teaching strategies, first-hand investigations and second-hand investigations
  • alignment and coherence in content, learning outcomes, pedagogy in curriculum programming in Biology Education with a focus on Years 11-12, including the identification of prior learning, provision for first hand and second-hand learning experiences and teaching strategies that promote independent learning
  • guided construction of programs and teaching resources for sample core syllabus units will be followed by independent planning and preparation of teaching resources for part of a senior secondary core unit.
  • the relationship between reflexive learning and effective concept formation to foster creativity, build promote problem solving and foster critical thinking in Biology Education
  • catering for a diverse range of learners in Biology
  • the need for a greater range of literacy skills in the senior secondary Biology course/s will be addressed by preparation and planning explicit strategies to teach these skills
  • specific teaching strategies and issues related to Indigenous students in Biology Education
  • effective use of a range of resources for the teaching area, including ICT’s and technologies specific to Biology
  • classroom management in Biology and the impact of curriculum rigour, engagement, participation and inclusion on learner behaviour
  • general principles of, ethical practice in, and ways to assess student learning, provide effective feedback, make consistent and comparable judgments, interpret student data, report on student achievement in assessment in senior secondary Biology, including Examination construction and a focus upon the elective units
  • maintaining student safety in this curriculum area including risk identification, management and legislative requirements 
  • resources and sources of professional learning for teachers, including professional associations, external professionals, community representatives and support networks.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit applies a social constructivist approach to develop the pre-service teacher’s understanding of effective pedagogies through active engagement and collaborative learning. The pre-service teacher will build an understanding of teaching strategies through critical reading, lecturer modelling, discussion, and practice in tutorials. The pre-service teacher’s skills of professional communication and ability to work collaboratively will be practised through group work. The pre-service teacher’s teaching skills of planning and assessing, and his/her ability to locate and synthesise information, will be developed through designing a curriculum appropriate for a Biology Education context. The pre-service teacher will continue to gather and reflect upon evidence of attainment of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Graduate.

The teaching and learning strategy described above will use an appropriate selection of approach, including, for example:

  • Weekly face-to-face lectures and/or online lectures (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Hands-on tutorials and discussions that promote peer learning
  • Microteaching opportunities
  • Self-directed reading and research
  • Collaborative learning opportunities

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed so that the pre-service teacher can progressively achieve the course learning outcomes and the professional standards. The Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment units in this course focus on pre-service teachers acquiring content knowledge and developing the skills to assimilate conceptual knowledge in order for that knowledge to inform skills that will be applied in practice.

The two assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development. By completing Task 1 the pre-service teacher will apply knowledge of assessment strategies. In Task 2 pre-service teachers develop a program of work for senior students over a period of time.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1:

Design and make a resource to support student learning of abstract Biology concepts relevant to the first year of senior Biology

Using Slowmation OR 3D model making, develop a resource for teaching a concept from the Biology senior secondary syllabus. Demonstrate:

  • explanation of the concept including all associated misconceptions concepts;
  • succinct and logical progression of ideas;
  • critical evaluation of the resource.


LO2, LO7

GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2:

Sequential Lessons for Conceptual Change in the senior secondary course modules


  • description and analysis of the context of the unit, including syllabus topic area, aims, assessing prior learning, and identifying learner needs;
  • links to Biology curriculum documents;
  • activities to engage learners;
  • strategies to identify, challenge and alter misconceptions;
  • practical and ICT components;
  • strategies for assessing learning and providing feedback;
  • resources and references.


LO2, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 3:

Preparation for teaching topics relevant to Biology in the final year of secondary schooling

Part A: Group Presentation

Part B: Individual Written Submission.

Showcase the learning and teaching of an identified senior secondary Biology option.


  • discussion of 2 or more recent developments in Biology.
  • demonstration and first-and second-hand investigations;
  • demonstration of in-depth knowledge of SENIOR SECONDARY exam structure, topics and questions;
  • assessment tools;
  • appropriate resources and strategies, including ICT and relevant websites, to meet the identified strengths and needs of diverse learners and to promote critical and creative thinking.


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6, LO7

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Relevant State and National Curriculum documents.

Alford, D., & Hill, J. (2011). Excel preliminary biology. Glebe, NSW: Pascal Press.

Bird, S. et al (2014). Nelson biology units 1 & 2 for the Australian Curriculum. South Melbourne, Vic: Nelson Cengage Learning. These are the uncorrected page proofs for the Australian Curriculum courtesy of Cengage Publications.

Brotherton, J., & Mudie, K. (2013). Heinemann biology HSC (Teacher Edition). Sydney: Pearson.

Brotherton, J., & Mudie, K. (2013). Heinemann biology preliminary (Teacher Edition).Sydney: Pearson.

Brown, J., Murcia, K., & Hackling, M. (2013). Slowmation: A multimodal strategy for engaging children with primary science. Teaching Science 59(4), 14-20.

Chidrawi, G., & Hollis, S. (2010). Biology in focus: Preliminary course. South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning.

Chidrawi, G., & Robson, M., with Hollis, S. (2010) Biology in focus: HSC Course. South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning.

Day, A. (2014). The structure of scientific examination questions. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: SpringerNetherlands.

Humphreys, K. (2013). Dot point preliminary biology. Marrickville, NSW: Science Press.

Humphreys, K. (2013). Dot point HSC biology. Marrickville, NSW: Science Press.

Kloser, M. (2013). Exploring high school biology students’ engagement with more and less epistemologically considerate texts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(10), 1231-1257.

Mudie, K., & Brotherton, J. (2013). Heinemann biology: Preliminary. Sydney: Pearson.

Reiss, M. (Ed).(2011). Teaching secondary biology. London: Hodder Education The Open University.

Treagust, D., & Tsui, C-Y. (2013). Multiple representations of biological education. Perth, WA: Springer.

Van Rooy, W. (2013). Bat virus downunder: The Hendra virus and its relationship to native fruit bats, horses and humans – learning and teaching opportunities for classroom practice. Teaching Science 59(4), 39-45.

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