Using laboratory experiences to prepare undergraduates for industry
Traditional undergraduate laboratory experiences lead students through recipe-like activities which have little opportunity for investigative or creative outcomes. University laboratory experiences seldom mimic the contexts found in industry where scientists work on complex problems which need speedy solutions whilst considering drivers such as economics, safety, manpower, logistics and environment. Can we reimagine undergraduate laboratories in chemistry to deliver a meaningful curriculum in which students tackle authentic and interesting industry-based investigations, thus motivating them to learn and prepare them for the word of work?
What skills and qualities do new science graduates need to success in the workplace? Who is best placed to identify those skills, employers of the new graduates themselves. What can Monash learn about graduate employability from talking to employers and recent graduates and how canwe embed business awareness and personal skills into an already crowded curriculum?
A creative guide to creative problem solving
There is much research evidence that problem solvers can be described as either ‘experts’ or ‘novices’. We are interested particularly in how undergraduate chemists solve complex or open-ended problems and we have identified some features of expert and novice problem solving. Can we help ‘novice’ problems solvers to become ‘expert’ by designing interventions and ‘training’? Do individuals solve problems differently form groups and what can we learn from them?
There has been much research on attitudes to science and of learning science. We aim to bring these together to develop a tool to probe chemistry students’ attitudes and beliefs about learning chemistry and to see whether this has an impact on their performance or on their career aspirations. The project involves designing and assembling questionnaires and tools and administering it to chemistry undergraduates in Monash, and at other institutions. Analysis will look for correlations with attitudes to careers and performance in the subject.
Developing sign language for chemistry terminologies
We are working with the Deaf community to scope how chemistry terminology is being communicated via sign language. With a view to improving the pipeline of Deaf signing students into secondary and eventually tertiary science studies, this project seeks to establish how chemistry is currently being communicated via AUSLAN, and exploring whether opportunities exist to incorporate signs developed via the BSL Glossary project.
The gendered experience of undergraduate science students in Australia
With the Australian Government recently announcing a decadal plan for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), efforts to close the gender gap in STEM are a top priority for policy makers and researchers. Yet, in Australia little research exists on the gender issues female students face at a university level. This project is currently investigating how gender differences in belonging, science identity and experiences of discrimination for Australian undergraduate science students are impacting their persistence in science degrees.