Research Review Series

This means that science is dependent on mathematics, but the opposite is not true. Collaboration between departments should therefore not be taken for granted by leaders because mathematics teachers have less to gain than science teachers. Strong support from senior leadership teams is therefore necessary to make sure collaboration takes place when subject leaders create and refine curriculum plans. Acquiring disciplinary knowledge is an important goal of the national curriculum. It includes learning about the concepts and procedures that scientists use to develop scientific explanations which, in turn, have implications for the status and nature of the scientific knowledge produced. Best Evidence Science Teaching is a large collection of free resources for secondary school science.

Without a strong sense of the discipline, it is also easy for high-stakes assessment, either through its absence or presence, to distort what is taught. The school science curriculum sets out what it means ‘to get better’ at science. Expertise in science requires pupils to build at least 2 forms, or categories, of knowledge.

This must be coupled with subject-specific feedback, so pupils know how to make progress in learning the science content. A second role of assessment is to prevent pupils from forgetting what they have learned. Research shows that when pupils retrieve knowledge from memory, over extended periods of time, this increases the likelihood that it will be remembered. A third role of assessment is to check that pupils have reached specific curricular goals. This is known as summative assessment and must be carefully used to ensure that its high-stakes nature does not lead to curriculum narrowing and/or increase unnecessary burden on staff and pupils.

Research shows that experts are better than novices at suppressing misconceptions, as opposed to not having them. First, pupils will not only need to know why a scientific idea is correct, they will also need to know why their misconception is scientifically wrong. This will require pupils to take a metacognitive perspective at times, where they reason about their concepts. Research suggests that drawing on previous conceptions from the history of science is helpful here. This allows pupils to see how their initial conceptions mirror those of early scientists. Second, pupils will need repeated opportunities in the curriculum, in a range of contexts, to practise activating the scientific conception while suppressing the misconception.

This includes making sure pupils are aware of the limitations of models and shortcuts. It is therefore important to recognise that disciplinary knowledge, like substantive knowledge, is underpinned by knowledge of procedures and concepts . The curriculum therefore needs to break down complex disciplinary practices, such as drawing graphs, validating experimental data or using a thermometer, into their component knowledge. The curriculum can then outline how pupils’ disciplinary knowledge advances over time.

However, research shows that not all schools have enough science technicians. Indeed, schools in areas of higher social deprivation tend to be worst affected. Despite the evidence supporting retrieval practice, teachers need to pay careful attention to ‘what’ they are asking pupils to retrieve. It must be focused on the right details and not ‘destroy the shaping of content that makes it memorable’. Pupils are not expected to learn disciplinary knowledge only through taking part in practical work – disciplinary knowledge should be taught using the most effective methods. Research is therefore clear that it should not be assumed that pupils will acquire abstract, and often counterintuitive, ideas simply by taking part in a practical activity.

However, research identifies that many science curriculums present teachers and pupils with an arbitrary collection of topics introduced in an ad-hoc fashion. Pupils then fail to develop any conceptual frameworks through which to organise and make sense of their scientific knowledge. Often, this type of curricular thinking identifies interesting things for pupils to do without rigorous scientific content.

We recommend completing the compulsory modules FSE and WIE in the first year and UR and dissertation/report in the second year. During term time students are expected to study between hours per module, per week, preparing for and participating in seminars/lectures, and engaged in independent study and research. Learning hours continue outside term and full time study on the MA and would amount to 40 hours a week over 45 weeks. CENTURY have just been awarded the ASE Green Tick and to celebrate being awarded a Green Tick for their secondary science content, CENTURY are… Marcus Grace is Professor of Science Education and former Head of the Education School. He is a doctoral supervisor and teaches on undergraduate, Masters and postgraduate initial teacher training programmes.

This is because it introduces pupils to the objects, phenomena and methods of study. However, research identifies that practical activities are often carried out with insufficient attention to their purpose. This means that it is often unclear whether a specific practical activity is helping pupils to learn a concept or whether it forms a goal of instruction. Evidence suggests that high-quality practical work has a clear purpose, forms part of a wider instructional sequence and takes place only when pupils have enough prior knowledge to learn from the activity. High-quality practical work is therefore dependent on a well-sequenced curriculum that specifies what pupils are learning and builds on what came before. Sequencing disciplinary knowledge needs to first take account of its hierarchical nature and then the progression of substantive knowledge.

This decline in the status of primary science is particularly concerning given the importance of these foundational years in influencing pupils’ scientific aspirations and future learning. IFST has an ongoing project to align food science resources to the sciences curricula and encourage their use and integration in the curriculum, through discussions with educational stakeholders. For more information and if you would like to support this activity, please contact us at Whereas traditional teaching methods have failed to engage many students, especially in developed countries, IBSE offers outstanding opportunities for effective and enjoyable teaching and learning.