University of Technology Sydney

60001 Principles of Scientific Practice

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Description

This subject introduces students to the major themes of contemporary science and inquiry-oriented experimentation, and has been designed to be applicable to all science disciplines. Students learn how science formulates and address problems, and are introduced to the critical scientific tools of empirical data and its handling, experimental design, and the scientific argument. This material is presented within the broad context of critical professional skills required for a successful career in any research-oriented field of science. Students are encouraged to be self-motivated, work in a timely fashion and understand the importance of professional behaviour.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Understand and apply the scientific method
2. Reflect on the importance of autonomy, ethics, professional identity, creativity and innovation as essential attributes for employability
3. Demonstrate organisational and planning skills for effective collaboration
4. Apply quantitative analysis methods to data sets and present findings using a range of visual tools and techniques.
5. Develop written, visual and oral communication skills to convey scientific information to diverse audiences
6. Retrieve and analyse the primary scientific literature specific to their discipline
7. Demonstrate curiosity, personal reflection and engagement with feedback, including self and peer assessment as a path to ongoing learning in professional life

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • Apply: Demonstrate knowledge of discipline relevant topics (1.1)
  • Analyse: Explain the basic applications of discipline knowledge within context (1.2)
  • Synthesise: Integrate discipline knowledge and apply it to key processes (1.3)
  • Apply: Investigate effective application of experimental design and sampling for hypothesis testing (2.1)
  • Analyse: Develop critical thinking skills including critiquing, interpreting and questioning scientific evidence (2.2)
  • Synthesise: Apply the scientific method to real world problems and evaluate experimental outcomes (2.3)
  • Apply: Participate in team based data collection, recording and management, with an understanding of ethical limitations (3.1)
  • Analyse: Use an appropriate range of techniques to investigate data and test hypotheses within the context of the workplace (3.2)
  • Synthesise: Explain the impact and role of science in addressing current and future challenges within the context of the workplace or wider community (3.3)
  • Apply: Develop tools and aptitudes that create flexible and adaptive approaches to learning within a discipline context (4.1)
  • Analyse: Source and reflect on multiple sources of information to develop innovative solutions to real world problems (4.2)
  • Apply: Demonstrate interpersonal communication skills with peer and professional colleagues (5.1)
  • Analyse: Identify and practice appropriate communication approaches using a variety of methods and media (5.2)
  • Synthesise: Create effective communication protocols to convey appropriate scientific information to a range of audiences (5.3)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The subject provides the students with the knowledge and skills to prepare them to practice as a professional scientist by developing the following graduate attributes:

2. Research, Inquiry, and Critical Thinking

The ability to frame hypotheses using the scientific method, to solve problems through experimental observation, and to test current scientific knowledge through critical evaluation and data analyses.

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibility

Throughout this subject you will develop, employ and integrate a range of skills within a professional context, autonomously and collaboratively. You will also develop generic skills such time management, personal organisation, teamwork and negotiation. An awareness of the ethical space in which you will operate is also developed. The subject will develop your understanding of how science underpins society and its application in the professional context. Critical discussions during workshops around complex, topical issues in science will be explored and assessed, with opportunities to research, identify and engage with current and future challenges affecting you as scientists.

4. Reflection, Innovation and Creativity

Numerous opportunities to engage in reflection and develop the ability to make effective judgments about one’s own work and the work of others will be available to you. You will be encouraged to undertake self directed, curiosity motivated learning beyond the formal classroom environment.

5. Communication

Extensive development of written and oral communication is presented through a series of scaffolded and structured activities. You will be provided with formative feedback on written communication skills early in the semester. Your oral communication skills will be developed during the workshops and the Skills Interview task which emphasises the importance of employability. You will also gain experience in presented a formal scientific presentation when presenting the results of your inquiry oriented task.

Teaching and learning strategies

You will attend a series of workshops and practicals in this subject, complemented by a series of interactive online 'engaged learning' activities to introduce you to the key theoretical knowledge needed to actively participate in workshop discussions and group activities. You will be required to complete the ‘engaged learning’ activities, available through UTSOnline, prior to attending workshops. At the conclusion of the workshops, a post workshop exercise is completed to consolidate your workshop learning experience. Feedback on your progress is available while completing the engaged learning activities and during practicals and workshop activities.

During the practical sessions you will work collaboratively on an inquiry oriented practical exercise. This will require a multidisciplinary approach. The practical sessions will allow you to develop important skills in managing a laboratory experiment, including maintaining a record of your experimental procedure.

You will also engage with resources such as REVIEW (software packages for receiving feedback) and SPARKPlus (software package for report benchmarking and peer assessment).

An aim of this subject is to help you develop academic and professional language and communication skills in order to succeed at university and in the workplace. To determine your current academic language proficiency, you are required to complete an online language screening task, OPELA (information available at https://www.edu.au/research-and-teaching/learning-and-teaching/enhancing/language-and-learning/about-opela-students). If you receive a Basic grade for OPELA, you must attend additional Language Development Tutorials (each week from week [3/4] to week [11/12] in order to pass the subject. These tutorials are designed to support you to develop your language and communication skills. Students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade.

Content (topics)

Specific topics to be presented throughout the semester will include:

  1. Introduction to PSP and Modern Science
  2. Reading and Evaluating Scientific Literature
  3. Experimental Design
  4. Interview skills and career development
  5. Presentation and Analysis of Scientific Data
  6. Communication in Science
  7. Scientific Writing and Literacy Skills
  8. Ethics in Science

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Workshop Component

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibility

4. Reflection, Innovation, Creativity

5. Communication

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

2, 5 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 5.2

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 30%
Criteria:

Students will be assessed on:

  • Quality of personal reflective practice
  • Written communication skills
  • Ability to engage with autonomous learning

Assessment task 2: Employability Skills Interview

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibilty

5. Communication

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

2 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 5.1

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 15%
Criteria:

Students will be assessed on:

  • Quality of oral communication skills
  • Ability to reflect on importance of employability skills

Assessment task 3: Inquiry Oriented Exercise

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

2. Research, Inquiry and Critical Thinking

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibilty

4. Reflection, Innovation, Creativity

5. Communication

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 55%
Criteria:

Students will be assessed on:

  • written report (criteria – application of the scientific method, communication skills, data analysis skills, ability to retrieve and incorporate scientific literature) - 30 marks
  • peer and self assessment of group performance (demonstrated ability to undertake a collaborative activity) – 5 marks
  • individual lab note book (communication skills) -10 marks
  • group presentation on project outcomes - 10 marks

The written report component of this assessment task will be assessed for English language proficiency. You will be directed to further language support after the completion of this subject if your language is below the required standard.

Minimum requirements

You are expected to attend all workshops and practicals. Attendance is critical to achieve the subject learning outcomes for this subject.

Any assessment task worth 40% or more requires the student to gain at least 40% of the mark for that task. If 40% is not reached, an X grade fail may be awarded for the subject, irrespective of an overall mark greater than 50.

You must obtain an overall mark of 50 or greater to pass the subject.

It is a requirement of this subject that all students complete OPELA. Students who receive a Basic grade in the OPELA task are required to attend Language Development Tutorials in order to pass the subject. Students who do not complete the OPELA task and/or do not attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will recieve a Fail X grade.

Required texts

All readings and materials will be made available to students. There is no specific textbook.