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National UniServe Science Conference
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The University of Sydney

Registrations now open



This year registrations will be processed via an online system, which is now open.

Day Full Registration Full-time Student
Full Conference (Thursday and Friday) $390 $175
One day (Thursday or Friday) $220 $99
Discipline Day (Wednesday) Free Free
Harbour Dinner Cruise (Wed even) $79 $79

Important conference dates 2009

Call for Abstracts 15 May (closed)
Initial submission of full papers (if accepted) 22 June
Early Bird Registrations Close 31 July
Final submission of full papers 21 August
Discipline day 30 September
Conference 1 & 2 October

Accommodation Guide

Guidelines for Submission of Abstracts
Guidelines for formatting full papers to be published in the Conference proceedings

Guidelines for Reviewers

Conference Contact Emails

General enquiries


Registration enquiries


Abstract & paper submission


Visit the 2008 Conference web page

2009 National UniServe Science Conference
30 September - 2 October 2009

The University of Sydney
Eastern Avenue Lecture Complex, 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 of the conference provide a platform for presenting and developing high quality research in tertiary science teaching and learning.

"Motivating science undergraduates: Ideas and Interventions",

Two streams have been suggested within this theme

  1. Research experiences in undergraduate science Stream 1
  2. First Year university or Year 13? Stream 2

We encourage papers and posters related to other issues and innovations in science education.

Keynote Speakers

This year we are fortunate to have two noted Keynote Speakers:

richard walkerRichard Walker teaches in educational psychology at postgraduate and undergraduate levels in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.

Designing learning environments that engage science undergraduates: Principles from motivational theory and research.



Richard has published a number of journal articles and book chapters on various aspects of learning and motivation. Many of these publications have been developed from a sociocultural perspective. More recently he has, with research students, been involved in the development of a sociocultural approach to motivation. Invited chapters on this approach to motivation will appear in E. Baker, B McGaw & P. Peterson (Eds-in-Chief) International Encyclopedia of Education (3rd Ed) and in T. Urdan, S. Karabenick & F. Pajares (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement: The next decade of research in motivation and achievement (Vol 16) in 2010.


Although there are many different motivational theories, they can be categorised into two main approaches: person in context and sociocultural. Person in context approaches emphasise the individual and cognitive nature of motivation and consider it to be a transaction between the person and their environment. Most motivational theories fall into this category and, taken together, they suggest that student engagement in learning depends upon perceptions of autonomy, control, challenge and a sense of relatedness to others. Engagement also depends upon the extent to which students perceive themselves as efficacious and value the knowledge and skills they are learning.

Sociocultural approaches emphasise the social nature and origins of motivation. These approaches consider that motivation has its origins in collaborative practices, is internalised to become individual motivation, and is externalised in subsequent individual or collaborative activity. These emerging approaches suggest that student engagement will be more effectively motivated in environments in which learning is appropriately scaffolded, and in which positive interpersonal relations and shared understanding are emphasised.

karen burke de SilvaKaren Burke da Silva is a lecturer and the first year coordinator in the School of Biological, Sciences at Flinders University.

Raising the profile of teaching and learning: Scientists leading scientists


One of Karen's main interests in science education is addressing issues of falling student retention and decreased student engagement. Karen has been lecturing for 15 years at the undergraduate level in Canada, England, U.S.A. and Australia giving her an international perspective on course curricula, design and pedagogical approaches. She has played major roles in coordinating teaching and learning activities and her educational research interests include innovation and change in higher education and science education reforms. In 2007 Karen was a recipient of two national teaching awards; a Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contributions to student learning for leadership in the development of an interactive model of teaching focused on engagement and retention in large science based classes, and the UniServe Pearson Education Award for the same project. Karen was the Project Leader of the ALTC funded project 'Raising the Profile of Teaching and Learning - Scientists Leading Scientists', is the Biology representative for ASELL (Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory), and is a member of an ALTC grant looking into student transition to university.


It has long been assumed that expertise, or profound knowledge in subject area, is sufficient for effective teaching at the university level. However, lack of student engagement and failure of students to reach set standards have been found to be associated with an inability of academic staff to teach or to construct appropriate assessment components. With this in mind, students are likely to be given less than adequate instruction, reducing their motivation to engage with subject content. This can result in a higher probability of discontinuation in their chosen course of study. Ultimately, student engagement, success and retention can be affected by motivating non-engaged, uninformed academics and the ALTC project 'Raising the profile of teaching and learning: Scientists leading scientists' has focused on ways to do just that.

For the first time this year we are introducing an Ideas Exchange. A non-refereed round-table discussion aimed to build support and collaboration. See submission guidelines.



For further information contact
Hazel Jones

1997 - 2009 UniServe Connections

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