Primary science education in Australian universities: An overview of context and practice

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Stagnating test scores, underwhelming student scientific literacy and declines in post-compulsory science enrolment are major issues in Australian science education. Universities are central in improving science education, as a relatively small group of 33 higher education providers can directly influence generations of primary teachers responsible for foundational science learning. Since this is a major review of primary science practice at Australian universities, factors including, but not limited to, changing employment conditions, shifts in study modes and an ever-expanding research literature base need to be considered in a more contemporary review. This paper aims to describe the reported primary science practices, challenges and strengths of Australian teacher education programs through semi-structured interviews and online surveys with 17 academics and analyses of public materials on university websites. Thematic analyses reveal noteworthy diversity in approaches, united by authenticity and student-centred learning. Key strengths included robustness of educational approaches, relevance and teaching team compositions. Key challenges included time, external pressures, resources and student capacity. These nuanced findings will be discussed as they relate to teaching and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1735-1759
Number of pages25
JournalResearch in Science Education
Issue number6
Early online date18 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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