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Threshold learning outcomes for a microbiology major


Burke, C and Cain, H and Coleman, N and Grando, D and Hughes, M and Johanesen, P and Lategan, J and Lloyd, M and Markham, J and Mohideen, M and Waller, K and Wang, J, Threshold learning outcomes for a microbiology major, Microbiology Australia, 37, (2) pp. 93-97. ISSN 1324-4272 (2016) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Microbiology Australia

DOI: doi:10.1071/MA16031


The concept of National Guidelines for Microbiology Curricula was workshopped at the inaugural meeting of EduCon (the ASM Microbiology Educatorsí Conference) in 2014. Subsequently, an ad hoc special working group was formed at the 2015 EduCon to formulate National Guidelines for the threshold learning outcomes of Australian undergraduate microbiology curricula. The group, through discussion and several iterations, developed draft threshold learning outcomes for microbiology majors based on the Science Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement and informed by the curricular guidelines of the American Society for Microbiology.

In this context, microbiology is taken to mean study of any or all microorganisms. Collectively, the group agreed that a major in microbiology should demonstrate significant learning of the key concepts of microbiology (see Merkel et al.) at an advanced undergraduate level and recognised that there are diverse course structures that could enable this outcome. Commonly, the course structure would require completion of four units of microbiology at years 3 (single degree) or 3 and 4 (double degree) depending on the degree undertaken; however, one of these units could be replaced with a complementary science unit. A capstone unit of microbiology in which students demonstrate critical evaluation and synthesis of a microbiological topic should be included. These standards would necessitate that assessment tasks be linked to each of the learning outcomes and should show progressive development throughout the major. To help Australian academics validate that their students have reached these threshold learning outcomes, each subcategory will be progressively linked to curriculum learning resources that will be available with these guidelines at an EdSIG website hosted by the ASM. Additionally, a list of some current microbiology majors at Australian universities will provide examples of what subjects might be included in a microbiology major.

The draft threshold learning outcomes were discussed and supported by the National Examinations and Qualifications Board of the ASM at their December, 2015 meeting and subsequently by National Council in February 2016. The draft threshold learning outcomes were then circulated to the state branches and to all members of EdSIG for comment. The threshold learning outcomes for a microbiology major presented here are the outcomes from these discussions. It is not the intent of EdSIG that ASM would accredit microbiology majors nor to exactly define curricula, but rather to give guidance to Australian academics on what ASM considers that a microbiology graduate should able to do whilst working professionally as a microbiologist.

Item Details

Item Type:Contribution to Refereed Journal
Keywords:microbiology major, learning outcomes
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and curriculum
Objective Field:Assessment, development and evaluation of curriculum
UTAS Author:Burke, C (Dr Chris Burke)
ID Code:111061
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2016-08-29
Last Modified:2017-12-14

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