Canberra Skeptics Lecture: Science in the classroom: the influence of people’s beliefs

Speaker: Merryn McKinnon

Date: Saturday, 7 September 2013

Time: 1:30 – 3:00pm

Location: CSIRO Discovery Centre, North Science Road, Acton ACT

Free Admission

The upcoming elections and the latest budget have placed school education reforms high on the public agenda. As politicians and practitioners work to improve the quality of education for every Australian child, we need to examine if the proposed reforms are actually addressing one of the key influencing factors – teachers’ beliefs about the subjects they teach. The quality of teachers tomorrow will largely depend on their experience as students today. This is especially true in science.

This talk will examine the influence of beliefs and early experiences in science in both beginning and experienced teachers, and also illustrate one way in which these beliefs can be addressed if we truly wish to achieve reform in science education.

Merryn McKinnon is a research associate and lecturer at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University. Her doctoral research examined the self-efficacy beliefs of primary school teachers in science, and how these could be influenced by professional development from institutions outside the formal education sector. Her research has since examined the science teaching beliefs of foreign teachers working in the United Arab Emirates, and the influence of cultural beliefs on academic behaviour in higher education. Merryn’s ongoing teaching and research interests relate to the presentation of science in the media, the role of student personality in their degree choice, and identifying best practice in teaching and assessment in science communication studies at university.


Canberra Skeptics Incorporated is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking. For further information about us, including our podcast “The Hansard – Canberra Skeptics Record of Reason,” please visit our website

There will be a networking function following the lecture.  This will be held in King O’Malley’s Irish Pub, 131 City Walk, Civic.