Seven tips for better science teaching

Recommendations to improve science teaching in secondary have been issued by the Education Endowment Foundation

Martin George

The Education Endowment Foundation has issued seven recommendations for teaching secondary school science

The government-backed Education Endowment Foundation has today issued seven recommendations for improving science in secondary schools.

They are:

1. Preconceptions: build on the ideas that pupils bring to lessons

  • Understand the preconceptions that pupils bring to science lessons. 
  • Develop pupils’ thinking through cognitive conflict and discussion.
     

2. Self-regulation: help pupils direct their own learning

  • Explicitly teach pupils how to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning.
  • Model your own thinking to help pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive knowledge.
  • Promote metacognitive talk and dialogue in the classroom.
     

3. Modelling: use models to support understanding

  • Use models to help pupils develop a deeper understanding of scientic concepts.
  • Select the models you use with care.
  • Explicitly teach pupils about models and encourage pupils to critique them.
     

4. Memory: support pupils to retain and retrieve knowledge

  • Pay attention to cognitive load – structure your tasks to limit the amount of new information pupils need to process. 
  • Revisit knowledge after a gap to help pupils retain it in their long-term memory.
  • Provide opportunities for pupils to retrieve the knowledge that they have previously learned. 
  • Encourage pupils to elaborate on what they have learned.
     

5. Practical work: use practical work purposefully and as part of a learning sequence

  • Know the purpose of each practical activity.
  • Sequence practical activities with other learning.
  • Use practical work to develop scientific reasoning.
  • Use a variety of approaches to practical science.
     

6. The language of science: develop scientific vocabulary and support pupils to read and write about science

  • Carefully select the vocabulary to teach, and focus on the most tricky words.
  • Show the links between words and their composite parts.
  • Use activities to engage pupils with reading scientific text and help them to comprehend it.
  • Support pupils to develop their scientific writing skills.
     

7. Feedback: use structured feedback to move on pupils’ thinking

  • Find out what your pupils understand.
  • Think about what you’re providing feedback on.
  • Provide feedback as comments rather than marks.
  • Make sure pupils can respond to your feedback.
     

For more information, see the full report here.

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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