The Performing Sciences


  • Ruth Aston University of Melbourne
  • Terrence Damian Mulhern University of Melbourne
  • Rinske Ginsberg University of Melbourne
  • Sarah French


Science education, science communication, arts education, drama, performance, assessment practices, student engagement, peer feedback, teaching and learning


A group of students enrolled in the Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne undertaking the core 2nd year subject Molecular and Cellular Biomedicine (BIOM20001) chose to participate in a physical performance-based assessment (The Performing Sciences). As part of the assessment activity, participating students were supported to design and deliver a performance that explicated and elaborated a concept or process from the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology topic within the subject, using one or more of the following performance genres: text, physical performance, performance art or interpretive dance. The project engaged teaching staff from the biomedical sciences and the performing arts to develop interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches to teaching and learning. Participant responses to the student experience reflection survey indicate that the project effectively facilitated student learning of the course concepts, encouraged interaction between students and promoted student engagement. The findings suggest that involving students in collaborative, creative and non-traditional forms of assessment in university science education allows students to develop important transferable skills, as well as foster their intrinsic motivation to learn science.

Author Biographies

Ruth Aston, University of Melbourne

Research Fellow Centre for Program Evaluation Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Terrence Damian Mulhern, University of Melbourne

Senior Lecturer Director of Teaching and Learning Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology School of Biomedical Sciences University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

Rinske Ginsberg, University of Melbourne

Lecturer Victorian College of the Arts Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

Sarah French

Lecturer Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education