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Introduction and background
  • he Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Project (LTAS) was commissioned in 2010 by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) as a proactive response to the (then) imminent establishment of a new national regulatory body: the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).
  • The LTAS Project aimed to demonstrate that disciplinary communities could work together to develop learning and teaching standards (defined as learning outcomes) andachieve endorsement and commitment to integrate those standards into educational practice.
  • The LTAS Project for Science was led by Profs Susan Jones and Brian Yates,the ALTC Discipline Scholars for Science, and Dr Jo Kelderas Project Officer, under the auspices of the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS).
  • The project team held 50 consultation workshops at institutions in all Australian states
  • 750 people, including academics, industry representatives, employers, professional societies, students, were involved in workshops.
  • We also ran an on-line survey.

The Science TLOS: core principles

We want our graduates to understand that scientific knowledge is both testable and contestable.

We want our science graduates to be able to frame questions and to execute an investigation.

Where to next?

Implementation of the Science TLOs

The Science TLOs now need to be translated into practice. Our curricula must map to the TLOs, and our assessment tasks will overtly demonstrate, for quality assurance purpose, that our graduates meet the TLOs.

We must ensure that our graduates “have the skills to solve problems with well-defined parameters, as well as tackle more open-ended research questions” ( Science Standards Statement : p.13).

A national imperative

In May 2012, the Office of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, released a major Report on the Health of Australian Science (available at

Surveys of school and university students indicated that most interesting and stimulating styles of

teaching and learning were “student-led research, practical activities, and the study of real-world examples within the student’s sphere of experience” (p.10) .

Professor Chubb has thrown down this challenge to the Australian education sector: “the teaching of science should resemble the practice of science more than it does” (Address to the National Press Club, 23 May 2012).

A national call to arms! New academic standards for Australian science graduates are centred on inquiry. Susan M. JonesALTC Discipline Scholar for Science School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Australia ([email protected])


The Science TLOs ( Science Standards Statement: p. 14) provide us with a curriculum framework that will ensure that our bachelor level graduates can:

“frame a problem so it might be solved in a creative and innovative way by applying scientific method”.

Undergraduate research and inquiry should therefore be the non-negotiable foundations of our university science curricula.

2012 Implementation activities

We (Jones & Yates) convened a workshop for Associate Deans (Teaching and Learning) for Science in February 2012 at which we considered strategies for implementing TLO 3: Inquiry and problem–solving.

This workshop drew on the expertise of Les Kirkup (ALTC National Teaching Fellow & University of Technology Sydney), whose Fellowship topic is Inquiry-Orientated Learning in Science. The outcomes of this workshop are available at:

At the annual ACDS Teaching and Learning Forum, July 2010, we announced that the production of a set of Good Practice Guides addressing each Science TLO is a priority for the next implementation phase.

Science Standards Statement: p. 11

The Science LTAS Project defined an agreed set of threshold learning outcomes (TLOs) for bachelor-level degrees in science.

The TLOs articulate what every Australian science graduate will know, understand and be able to do.

The TLOs are presented in the Science Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement(Jones, Yates & Kelder 2011).

The LTAS Project for Science was funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council and led by Emeritus Professor Christine Ewan.

The Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement is endorsed by the Australian Council of Deans of Science.

The Implementation Project is funded by the Australian Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching.