How the outcomes were achieved

Contemporary Biology and Environmental Science In Education

Deakin University pre-service teachers, specialising in biology and environmental science, worked with teachers and scientists to generate a series of useful resources around contemporary VCE biology.


Dr Peta White, Deakin University.

Responds to ReMSTEP innovation(s):


Specialist science and technology centre collaborations.


Opportunities for students to interact with scientists in world-class research environments.

Key points

  • Deakin pre-service teachers interviewed scientists on a contemporary topic or concept and produced “digi-explanations” or multimedia presentations scaffolding student learning on the topic or concept
  • Pre-service and in-service teachers met with scientists in a workshop setting to plan development of teaching and learning sequences or practical activities based on contemporary science
  • Dr Anneka Veenstra, a Deakin University ecologist, was also interviewed and provided data for insect surveys conducted around Gardiners creek — This information has been crafted into a fieldwork resource for VCE Biology

In the first activity, “digi-explanations” were produced by pre-service teachers (PSTs) as an assessment task within their studies for a Master of Teaching degree. A digi-explanation is a video-based multimedia presentation, which aims to explain one concept. The added complexification in this particular iteration was that students had to interview with a scientist working in the field and chose a concept that enabled showcasing of contemporary science. The project required the PSTs to relate contemporary research to concepts in the senior secondary Biology curriculum. The PSTs sourced a scientist who is engaged in an area of research to assist in the unpacking of the concept of interest.

Science is a process. This work enables school students to see that science can be very exciting, creative, require critical thinking, and reframes it as a possible career choice — particularly as it challenges the traditional conception of how science is practiced.

Dr. Peta White, activity coordinator

These short videos (3–5 minutes) can be used as an aid in the teaching of a concept in the senior biology curriculum. Students also completed an evaluation questionnaire and made short videos of 2–3 students responding to the activity. This project will continue to produce these multi-media resources for wider application across Year 7–12 school curricula, and the assessment task will remain an integral part of the teacher education program in the Senior Biology unit.

The combination of cross-faculty and PST engagement has been one of the best outcomes of this activity. The scientists participating in the activity developed an understanding of how they can contribute to formal classroom environments, grow their capacity to adapt their research and their language to the school-level, and identify appropriate resources and tools to support them.

I think one of the best aspects of the digi[explanation] is that it forces you to think about why you are teaching a topic/concept. It brings relevance to the curriculum both for the teachers and the students. Sometimes teaching science can feel like you are just regurgitating the curriculum. Producing a digi brings perspective.

Participating pre-service teacher

Pre-service teachers found it useful to learn how to productively integrate technology, particular since technology is now a regular part of students’ lives. They were enthusiastic about using these resources and approach for their own classrooms, and felt they were particularly suited to support personalised learning and students learning at their own pace.

Resources created throughout this activity will be made available on the Contemporary VCE Biology website

Learn more

For more analysis download the Activity Evaluation report.

Download report - 125kb pdf

To keep up to date with ongoing ReMSTEP activity at Deakin Unversity head to the STEME Research Group website


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