An Introduction to Science Education in Rural Australia

By Lyons, Terry | Teaching Science, September 2008 | Go to article overview

An Introduction to Science Education in Rural Australia


Lyons, Terry, Teaching Science


Here's a challenge. Try searching Google for the phrase 'rural science teachers' (1) in Australian web content. Surprisingly, my attempts returned only two hits, neither of which actually referred to Australian teachers. Searches for 'rural science education' fare little better. On this evidence one could be forgiven for wondering whether the concept of a rural science teacher actually exists in the Australian consciousness.

OK, so Google is not (yet) the arbiter of our conceptions, and to be fair, there aren't many hits for 'urban science teacher' either. The point I'm making is that in Australia we don't tend to conceptualise science teachers or science education as rural or urban. As a profession we are quite mobile, and throughout our careers many of us have worked in both city and country schools. But that's not to say that rural science teaching isn't conceptually or practically different to teaching in the city.

**********

In other parts of the world, rural science education is definitely a concept. A similar Google search for 'rural science teachers' in Canada returns two pages of results. In the USA, the National Science Foundation has initiated a program focusing solely on rural science education (e.g. Horn, 2004; Education Development Centre, 2003), and the latest edition of the Handbook on Science Education has an entire chapter dedicated to Rural Science Education (Oliver, 2007). In China the government has even enshrined the popularisation of science and technology in rural areas into law (2), and as part of its modernisation plan is pouring large amounts of money into rural science education programs.

Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at rural science education in Australia. This edition of Teaching Science showcases a small selection of the 125 projects so far supported by the National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR Australia). SiMERR Australia was established through a federal government grant in 2004 to support rural and regional teachers, students and communities in improving educational outcomes in these subject areas. With university-based 'hubs' in every state and territory, SiMERR Australia is a national organisation able to work closely with rural education stakeholders at the local level.

This article provides an introduction to rural science education. It looks at definitions of rurality, and how many schools and students actually constitute rural primary and secondary school education in Australia. It overviews some of the key issues facing rural science education, including student achievement, school culture and student aspirations. Finally, the article introduces the SiMERR Australia projects from Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales profiled in the journal. We are grateful to ASTA for the opportunity to present a cross-section of our projects in Teaching Science, and hope that all teachers of science, regardless of school location, find something of interest in these articles.

Rural, regional or remote?

The terms rural, regional and remote are often used loosely and interchangeably. A primary school in Bunbury (WA) and another in Lightning Ridge (NSW) might both be described as rural, but the degrees of rurality are very different, as are the community contexts. If we look for technical definitions of rurality, we find that different organisations and government departments use different classifications, adding to the confusion. Some use the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), others use a version of the Accessibility/ Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA). Some researchers use postcodes or Local Government Areas to differentiate, and many reports simply use the terms 'urban' and 'rural' without any definition.

In an attempt to standardise reporting for schools, the Ministerial Committee on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) decided in 2001 to adopt a reporting framework called the MCEETYA Geographical Location Classification (MGLC) (Jones, 2004). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

An Introduction to Science Education in Rural Australia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.