Dr Michael Bulmer
Dr Michael Bulmer
Project: The Advanced Study Program in Science…enhancing the science experience at UQ

Project Team: Dr Elizabeth McGraw, Dr Robyn Evans, Dr Joanne Blanchfield, Dr Michael Bulmer (pictured), Dr Nick Lavidis, Dr Paula Myatt, Dr Helen Byers.

The Advanced Study Program in Science targets high achieving students. It challenges them and encourages them to expand their career horizons, offering an enriched program of study throughout their undergraduate science degree. It aims to strengthen the link between teaching and research, which has traditionally underpinned the Bachelor of Science at The University of Queensland, by extending the availability of research experiences to earlier years of the degree. It contributes to the fulfilment of an aspiration that the University’s science degree should offer a distinctly different experience from that offered by non research-intensive universities in this country.

The program enhances students’ undergraduate experience through small group interaction with other students and exposure to creative thinkers across many disciplines. It also provides insights into the research culture, through individual mentoring and access to research laboratories, not generally available until late in the undergraduate career. An interesting spin-off of the program is that ideas are exchanged in both directions, between lecturer and student to their mutual benefit. A core benefit of the Advanced Study Program in Science is the building of a learning community, and methods to strengthen this community are constantly monitored.

Feedback from students participating in the program has been extremely constructive and positive in all aspects. It is clear that its success has been instrumental in attracting high achievers to this University. Students feel privileged in gaining exposure to research so early in their degrees. The introduction of recent science and top scientists to first year students compels them to make links between their course work and the research being discussed, and they find this to be a very positive source of inspiration and career guidance. They appreciate the new perspectives and networking opportunities the program presents.

The program also provides a stimulating and innovative environment for academic staff to consider new teaching strategies which they have taken out into their mainstream teaching activities. Classes provide a rare opportunity for staff to observe at first hand how others teach and to reflect on the perspectives of their colleagues in other disciplines.

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