Profiling our Students’ Learning Orchestrations to Evaluate the Biology Curriculum


  • Rosanne Quinnell School of Life and Environmental Sciences The University of Sydney
  • Elizabeth May Faculty of Science The University of Sydney
  • Yvonne Davila University of Technology Sydney
  • Mary Peat


We have identified the major shifts in individual student study orchestrations over the first semester of a university biology course. We offer evidence that our curriculum, designed and taught by generalist biologists, has engaged generalist degree students. Professional degree students have not engaged with this course to the same level and many were demonstrably dissonant. At the end of semester, dissonant students, from both generalist and professional degrees, demonstrated little engagement with the curriculum, which is consistent with previous reports of the high degree of disengagement of first year students. The challenge to improve the engagement of students in professional degrees and to address the tendency towards dissonance and disengagement by our first year students is discussed and improvements in engagement are likely to be aided by systems that allow students to assess for themselves their approaches to study and conceptions of discipline development over the course of their degree.

Author Biography

Rosanne Quinnell, School of Life and Environmental Sciences The University of Sydney

Associate Professor School of Life and Environmental Sciences






Research Articles