Director's Colloquium

Research into Practice: Potential and Pitfalls in Visualising the Invisible

Roy Tasker

Professor Roy Tasker
Prime Minister's Award for University Teaching 2011
University of Western Sydney

A deep understanding of science requires the ability to imagine invisible models such as molecules, forces, and fields to explain the observable world. Only then do abstract symbols, formulas and mathematical relationships become meaningful communication, and fundamental concepts become ‘internalised’. All science requires seamless movement between observable, imagined and symbolic thinking levels.

Thinking at these levels can be facilitated through learning designs – sequences of learning activities with specific learning outcomes. In this presentation I will show how a simple, but powerful, evidence-based cognitive model for how we learn can be used to inform learning designs. Examples will focus on the use of molecular-level visualisation using both animations and simulations in chemistry. The guiding principles, potential and pitfalls of visualisation will apply to any discipline.

Roy Tasker graduated from the University of Queensland in 1978 and obtained his PhD in synthetic inorganic chemistry at the University of Otago in 1982. Following teaching positions at Brisbane Grammar School, the University of Tasmania, and the University of Adelaide, he was appointed as a Foundation Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney in 1985. He is now Professor of Chemical Education with primary teaching responsibilities at first-year level, and research interests in the use of molecular-level visualisation and interactive multimedia for learning chemistry.

His interests are in how and what students learn in chemistry using interactive multimedia resources – in particular, from learning designs that develop student mental models of the molecular world.


Refreshments will be available in the RSPE Tearoom, Oliphant Building #60 from 12:00


Event recording

Date & time

Thu 7 Jun 2012, 12.30pm



Staff, students and public welcome