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