Understanding Students' Experiences After Incorporating Indigenous Perspectives in a Postgraduate Science Communication Subject.

inScience Press
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Education and New Developments, 2022, Vol 2022
Issue Date:
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Many Australian universities have recently incorporated Indigenous graduate attributes into their programs, and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is no exception. This project aimed to investigate students’ perceptions and experiences of learning about Indigenous Knowledge systems and culture while developing science communication skills. Advanced Communication Skills in Science is a core subject in the Master of Science program at UTS. An existing assessment task, a three-minute thesis style oral presentation, was reworked to include the Indigenous Graduate Attribute (IGA) developed for the Faculty of Science. Students researched an aspect of Indigenous Science, an area of emerging interest for cultural and scientific understanding, and a mechanism for empowering Australia’s diverse first nations peoples. They then presented their key message in three minutes using a single PowerPoint slide. This task allowed students to demonstrate an awareness and appreciation of multiple ways of developing understandings of nature while enhancing their ability to understand the role of science communication in the modern world. Students were surveyed at the beginning and end of the semester to establish their Indigenous Science conceptions and reflect on their experiences. Students demonstrated an outstanding ability to integrate appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, experience, and analysis into a key message. Most students reported greater familiarity with concepts such as Indigenous Science and provided richer definitions of what this means. When asked if understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and cultural practices might impact their practice as a scientist, many felt their perspective had changed and that reflecting on their cultural values and beliefs had improved their cultural capability. Most students responded that this subject challenged (at least to a degree) some firmly held assumptions, ideas, and beliefs.
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