This seminar is presented by visiting academic Associate Professor Mags Blackie, Centre for Higher Education Research, Rhodes University, South Africa and Deakin’s Dr Robyn Yucel, Deakin Learning Futures.

Designing authentic assessment for generalist degree programs such as the Bachelor of Science is challenging. Assessment should be authentic to the task types and contexts where graduates will apply their knowledge and skills in their future work and community interactions. Assessment tasks such as laboratory reports are authentic to scientific research; however, given the diversification of science graduate destinations, the vast majority of B.Sc. graduates in Australia (Palmer et al. 2018) and South Africa (Blackie 2019) do not engage in scientific research practice in their future careers. What can students draw from scientific practice that is transferable to contexts other than scientific research, and how can this be authentically assessed?

In this seminar, we argue that students can develop an understanding of the nature, process and culture of science through reflecting on the practice of science and the epistemic status of the knowledge it produces (Blackie 2022; Yucel in press). A critical perspective on the scientific enterprise challenges the dominant mode of teaching which implies that science is an untouchable canon of knowledge (Blackie 2022). Roy Bhaskar’s critical realist framework of ontological realism, epistemological relativism, and judgemental rationality (Bhaskar 1975) supports a nuanced perspective on science that aligns with the views of scientists (Yucel 2018) and is thus useful to inform the teaching and learning of a critical perspective on science. This seminar focuses on how science academics could draw on their own scientific research to inform the design of authentic assessment that build students’ understanding of the nature, process, and culture of science. Drawing on data generated through conversation with science academics, we will show the importance of reflecting on practice to inform teaching and assessment in science.

This presentation will be held at Deakin Downtown, Level 12, Tower 2, 727 Collins Street, Docklands and online.

Associate Professor Mags Blackie is an associate professor in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning at Rhodes University in South Africa. She holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Cape Town and a PhD in education from Stellenbosch University. She has research interests in medicinal chemistry and tertiary STEM education.

  • Email Twitter @mags_blackie

Dr Robyn Yucel is Associate Director, Learning Innovation at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. She holds a PhD in Higher Education from Deakin University. Robyn’s research is informed by the meta-theoretical perspective of critical realism, which she uses to explore science academics’ views about the Nature of Science. She uses Margaret Archer’s morphogenetic approach to explore the phenomenon of curriculum change in higher education through a study of the interplay between structure, culture and agency.

  • Email: Twitter @RobynYucel

Background reading:

Bhaskar, R. (1975). A realist theory of science. London: Verso.

Blackie, M. (2019). Educating scientists in South Africa in the 21st century. South African Journal of Science, 115, 11–12.

Blackie, M. A. (2022). An examination of the practice of chemistry through the lens of critical realism. Journal of Critical Realism, 21(4), 401-415.

Palmer, S., Campbell, M., Johnson, E., & West, J. (2018). Occupational outcomes for Bachelor of Science graduates in Australia and implications for undergraduate science curricula. Research in Science Education, 48, 989-1006.

Yucel, R. (2018). Scientists’ ontological and epistemological views about science from the perspective of critical realism. Science & Education, 27(5-6), 407-433.

Yucel, R. (in press). Enhancing powerful knowledge in undergraduate science curriculum for social good. Teaching In Higher Education.