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2008 National UniServe Conference
1st October - 3rd October 2008

The University of Sydney
Eastern Avenue, Eastern Avenue

The National UniServe Conference is a three day event held annually at The University of Sydney in the AVCC week in October. Day 1 enables discipline groups to meet and share issues of current importance. Days 2 & 3, the Symposium, provide a platform for presenting and developing high quality research in tertiary science teaching and learning.

Keynote Speakers for the Symposium:

Technologies and the representation of ideas
Professor John Hedberg

Dr John G Hedberg is Millennium Innovations Chair in ICT and Education, Head of the School of Education and Director of the Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre at Macquarie University. He is known for the ICT-based constructivist learning environments he has designed culminating in a British Academy award for an interactive theatre CD- ROM entitled StageStruck. His research has focused upon the role of technologies in engaging students in Mathematics, Science, History and Geography classrooms. In particular, how ICT can support pedagogies, where the digital nature of the tools enable outcomes to be achieved in ways not possible with other tools.

Assoc. Prof. Roy Tasker
The Challenge of Visualising Science: Some Research Findings

After graduating from the University of Queensland in 1978, Roy completed his PhD at the University of Otago, NZ. He subsequently held teaching positions at Brisbane Grammar School, the University of Tasmania, and the University of Adelaide, before being appointed as a Foundation Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney in 1985. He was later promoted to Senior Lecturer (1989), and served as Head of the Chemistry Department (1996 - 1997) and Chair of the Science, Engineering and Technology Courses Management Committee (1998 - 1999). In 1998 he was made an Associate Professor and has primary responsibilities in teaching at first-year level, and research in chemical education using interactive multimedia.

Roy has an interest in how and what students learn using interactive multimedia resources - in particular, learning designs that develop mental models of the molecular world. In the mid-1990s he developed a suite of animations in the VisChem project, and embedded them in videos with teaching resources. Based on his research with students, a website describing best practice was developed. From 1998 - 2001, in partnership with CADRE design, a UWS multimedia production spin-off company, nine interactive multimedia projects have been developed for the international publisher WH Freeman & Co., New York to supplement and complement their chemistry and biochemistry textbooks.

Prof. Michael Jacobson
Agent-augmented Multi-user Virtual Environments and Computational Agent-based Models: Beyond Heat from a Burning Fire?

Abstract: Unlike standing next to a fire, where one automatically gets warm, student experiences in immersive, computational modeling, and advanced visualization environments do not automatically result in enhanced learning of challenging scientific knowledge and skills. Two design research studies are discussed. The first study involved an agent-augmented multi-user virtual environment in which students engaged in science inquiry activities to determine why the virtual 19th century agents were getting sick. The second study explored learning activities that varied the degree of scaffolding provided for using agent-based models of the physics of electricity. The learning sciences theoretical grounding and significant empirical findings for each study are presented and implications discussed.

Michael J. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a Professor and Chair of Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at The University of Sydney where he is also affiliated with the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Cognition. His research has focused on the design of learning technologies to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains. Most recently, his work has explored learning with agent-augmented multi-user virtual environments and agent-based modeling and visualization tools, as well as issues in the learning sciences related to understanding new scientific perspectives emerging from the study of complex systems. He has published extensively in these areas, and currently is co-editor of the Learning about Complex Systems Strand in the Journal of the Learning Sciences. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991.

Discipline meetings

Physics Displine Meeting
Wednesday October 1, 2008
9 am - 6 pm
School of Physics, The University of Sydney
Lecture Theatres 4 and 5
Download Flyer
Psychology Discipline Meeting
Thursday October 2, 2008
3 pm - 6 pm
Carslaw Building
Room 535

Biology Discipline Meeting
Wednesday October 1, 2008
Carslaw Building
Room 535
Download Flyer

Thursday 2 & Friday 3 October

The theme of this year’s UniServe Science Symposium is Visualisation for concept development – a topic we believe (from our discussions with colleagues) deserves a symposium devoted to it. We asked a number of science academics to tell us what they thought Visualisation meant to them as educators. Here are their responses:

Chemistry requires thinking at the imperceptible molecular level, and building an increasingly sophisticated mental model of the structures and processes at this level to make sense of chemistry concepts. Research shows that, without this understanding, misconceptions flourish.

This molecular world can be visualised using simulations, and when that is too hard, you can use animations. The trouble is that these dynamic audiovisual resources are information rich, and investigating how we can assist students to process this information effectively is the basis of my research interests.

Roy Tasker, Chemistry Educator

Students find Biology the easier of the Sciences, because it uses all the sense, but mainly because it can be visualised. But are biology students fooling themselves? Do Biology students believe that because they have the tool of the microscopic that all is concrete and can be visualised? The difficult, BIG concepts in Biology, such as cell biology, respiration and photosynthesis have at their heart abstract sub microscopic chemical processes and this is where students get "stuck". Visualization as a major tool we can use to challenge students alternative frameworks of the Big Biology concepts, so that more students have a fundamental picture of how submicroscopic processes function. If Meyer (Erik) is correct, they will cross the threshold and open a doorway of understanding and comprehension that will lead them to new biological discoveries which may change their life and the lives of others.

Pauline Ross, Biology Educator

Mathematics is the language of physics, but it often requires great expertise on behalf of students to understand what it is saying. So in teaching physics we use Visualization to give a pictorial (or geometric) representation of that mathematics, in order to give students a different, more concrete way of understanding what its means. And in particular, Animation allows them to see how the representation changes over time, hence understanding how the systems they are studying behave .

Physics Educator

Mathematics is at its most powerful when it abstracts the underlying concepts that drive complex physical, biological and other phenomena. But, rather than providing empowerment, the level of abstraction can obstruct learning, due to lack of context or remoteness from familiar intuitions. This is where visualisation kicks in, to save every mathematics teacher's bacon. Without the ability to feel, sense and most especially see relationships and pathways between symbols, their meanings and concepts, the mathematics student will invariably falter, and be unlikely to reach the extended abstract phase of the SOLO taxonomy.

Mathematics Educator
CAll for Abstracts has now closed

The Symposium will also host the presentation of the Pearson Education UniServe Science Teaching Award

Prices for 2008 Conference (Thursday AND Friday) Conference (Thursday OR Friday) Discipline day (Wednesday)
Full $390 $220 Free
Early Bird $350 $190 Free
Non-salaried full-time students $175 $99 Free

Cancellation Policy
Registration cancellations will not be accepted unless made in writing to the conference secretariat, either by mail, fax or email. Cancellations received at least 3 weeks before the conference date will be refunded 50% of the registration fee. No registration refunds will be made after this date other than in exceptional cirmumstances and at the discretion of the organisers. As an alternative to cancellation, your registration may be transferred to another person from your organisation. The secretariat must be advised in writing, at least 48 hours prior to the conference. By submitting your registration, you agree to the terms of the Cancellation Policy. Approved refunds will be processed in October following the conference. Delegates are responsible for their own travel and insurance coverage.

The University of Sydney


Download Full Program
Download Abstracts
2008 Proceedings
2008 Bibliography
Notes FYE Forum


Conference Contact Emails
Registration enquiries uniserveconf@usyd.edu.au
Paper submission uniserveedit@usyd.edu.au

Proceedings and information about previous UniServe Science Symposiums are available at http://science.uniserve.edu.au/pubs/procs/

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