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A national soil science curriculum in response to

the needs of students, academic staff, industry,

and the wider community

Key Outcomes from the Project :

• Develop learning outcomes for soil science topics and subjects taught by the
consortium, including feedback from students and stakeholders (employers)

• Consensus on the teaching and learning practices and effective contextual


• Report on limitations and missing capabilities in learning and teaching

• Use feedback from staff, students, graduates and employers, from surveys
and at forums to move towards curriculum revision.

• Move towards and national curriculum enabled by a tried and tested platform

• Propose the establishment of a national soil science education group as part

of Soil Science Australia
The Forums
Methods Overall Approach

Community Consultation

•Three surveys

•Three forums

Crucial for developing the

soil science community of
Stakeholder Engagement

• Focused on arriving at a consensus by considering;

• Different models practiced at each institutions

• The fact that curricula are often content driven

• Diverse employer, graduate and professional interests/needs

Forum 1

• Academic staff reflecting on their current practices, personal learning,

experiences, and the feedback from their current students.

• Outcomes
Forum 1
Melbourne University Sydney University

100% 100%
90% 90%

% of Hours Face to Face

% of Face to Face Hours

70% Lecture 70% Lecture
60% Tutorial 60% Tutorial
50% Laboratory 50% Laboratory
40% Excursions 40% Excursions
30% Presentations 30% Presentations
20% 20%

10% 10%

0% 0%
Introductory Intermediate Advanced Introductory Interm ediate Advanced

Level Level

Western Australia

90% • Solving the problem is solving
% of Hours Face to Face

70% Lectures
the client’s problem
60% Tutorials
• Problem-based learning (PBL)
30% Presentations
N.B. Data is only indicative and represents
Introductory Interm ediate Advanced
the units of study mode of teaching up to 2010
as institutions have made
changes to their respective curriculum since
Forum 1

Presented at the 19th World Congress of Soil Science, as a paper entitled Producing the Thinking Soil Scientist
in Brisbane 2010. Was awarded Best Oral Presentation – over 35 yrs, by the Australian Soil Science Society Inc.
Forum 2

• Further reflections on learning and teaching in response to the feedback

obtained from graduates and employers (surveys and in person)

• Outcomes
• Proposal for joint units of study & national field unit
• Soil Science Teaching Principles

Presentation of a curriculum developed for

The Mining Council of Australia
indicated shared issues
and how a National Curriculum
has been successfully
implemented for their discipline
over time
An initiative of the Mining Council of Australia incorporating:

Analogous to the Mining Council of Australia’s
initiative. Why it all began for them?
 A decline in the number of mining engineering schools offering a full
four year program
 A decline in the number of graduates
 A decline in the number of mining engineering academics and an
corresponding increase in average the age of mining engineering
 A decline in the number of students completing PhDs on mining
related topics.
 Opportunity for an innovative approach to engineering education
An initiative of the Mining Council of Australia incorporating:

What was needed?
Moving towards initiating or achieving these

We agreed on shared topics

 Agreed Curriculum of shared core and elective courses

 Curriculum is reviewed collectively each year.
 Video Conferencing, new lecture spaces and related technologies
Identified and used an LMS
 Shared Learning Management System (LMS) enabling easy sharing of topics

 Peer Assessment strategy, including formative and summative

feedback Developed and adopted a strategy

 A decline in the number of students completing PhDs on mining

related topics.

Have a similar issue re for soil with respect to local students

Forum 2
Forum 2

• Soil Science Teaching Principles

• Uniqueness
• Fieldwork
• Jargon
• Active Learning
• Connections
• Systems
• Communication
• Authentic Learning
• Feedback
• Assessment
Forum 2
• Graduates are proficient in 5 areas;

• Identification, understanding and application of the unique properties and

process of Soil Science

• The role, context and relationships of Soil Science to other disciplines and
society as part of interrelated systems

• Identify problems and design contextual solutions

• The ability to coordinate and function within and between relevant groups
and effectively communicate results

• Manage self for personal development and lifelong learning

The first relates to the discipline, the second focuses on the discipline as part of a system, the third on its application, and
the fourth and fifth are concerned with the ability of the individual to communicate the discipline and their on-going learning
Forum 3

• Implementing joints units of study for students at different institutions based on

learning and teaching reflections and stakeholder input.

• Outcomes
• Guidelines for on-line learning
• Topics developed for units of study

• http://guava.edfac.usyd.edu.au/agrimoodle/
Highlights and Recommendations

• Highlights

• Strength of the soil science community of practice

• Development and acceptance of the TRIL Model which should be used as a
guide when developing units of study
• Development and publication of Soil Science Teaching Principles
• The utilisation of sequential action-learning cycles to develop the outcomes,
a methodology not commonly used in this discipline to stimulate reflection
and learning
• Development and implementation of cross-institutional topics for units of
• Forums that were effective, engaging and learning experiences
• Willingness of forum participants to engage in reflective practice
• Participation of external learning and teaching experts for other disciplines
CBoK: Core Body of Knowledge