Meeting 20 (8th Oct. 2013): Schools that make a difference to post-compulsory uptake of science

The next meet­ing will take place on Tues­day 8th October at 7:30pm and will be mod­er­ated by @alomshaha.

Bennett et al. (2013) Schools that make a difference to post-compulsory uptake of physical science subjects: some comparative case studies in in England. International Journal of Science Education, 35:4, 663-689, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2011.641131 (PDF here).

Abstract: This paper presents the findings of the qualitative component of a combined methods research study that explores a range of individual and school factors that influence the uptake of chemistry and physics in post- compulsory study in England. The first phase involves using the National Pupil Database to provide a sampling frame to identify four matched pairs of high-uptake and low-uptake schools by salient school factors. Case studies of these eight schools indicate that students employ selection strategies related to their career aspirations, their sense of identity and tactics, and their prior experience. The school factors influencing subject choice relate to school management, student support and guidance, and student empowerment. The most notable differences between students in high-uptake and low-uptake schools are that students in high-uptake schools appear to make a proactive choice in relation to career aspirations, rather than a reactive choice on the basis of past experience. Schools with a high uptake offer a diverse science curriculum in the final two years of compulsory study, set higher examination entry requirements for further study and, crucially, provide a range of opportunities for students to interact with the world of work and to gain knowledge and experience of science-related careers.

Dis­cus­sion points

  1. How important is it in your school to increase the number of students taking science subjects post-16? Why?
  2. “Schools where science were taught separately at GCSE (triple science) had higher levels of uptake than schools where triple science was not offered”. Why might this be the case? Would you use this as an argument for doing triple science in your school? (Note that: “the provision of a triple science option did not, in itself, appear to have a universally positive effect, rather, there were benefits when it was offered as one of a number of choices”)
  3. “Pupils in high-uptake schools were more likely to make a proactive choice: they were looking towards their future, they saw themselves as in control, and saw the value of studying chemistry and/or physics for their intended career”. If we want more students to study science post-16, should we be making more of the possible career benefits?
  4. Low-uptake schools had “less stringent requirements for science grades at GCSE than high uptake schools”. Could such findings influence your school’s policy on this? Or do you think requiring high GCSE grades is unfair to those who have low grades but want to continue to study science?

With thanks to the Mary Whitehouse and the University of York Science Education Group, who first made us aware of this research and have made the paper available for us to access for this meeting.

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#SciTeachJC: Discrete KS3 HSW

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Meeting Nineteen (7th May): A School’s Experience of the Discrete Teaching of Scientific Skills at Early Secondary Level

The next meet­ing will take place on Tuesday 7th May at 7:30pm and will be mod­er­ated by @teachingofsci.

Grime, R (2012) A School’s Experience of the Discrete Teaching of Scientific Skills at Early Secondary Level, SSR 346 (.pdf)

Abstract: Students at age 11 or 12 took a course where scientific skills were taught discretely rather than in an integrated approach alongside scientific knowledge and understanding. There is evidence that this may be a more beneficial approach for developing scientific skills.

Discussion points

  1. How would the experiences in this case study inform your personal classroom practice? Given the opportunity, would you recommend a similar approach in KS3 across your department?
  2. With changes to controlled assessment at GCSE there is an assumption that many schools are teaching scientific skills in isolation, often with a strong emphasis on the context of the ISA/EMPA/etc. Does the paper support this approach? How could it best be managed for better learning as well as supporting students to achieve good results?
  3. The paper shows how action research at a school level can provide evidence in support of changes. What lessons could you learn from this when considering policy changes in your department?
  4. With the recent attention paid to the use of RCTs to inform education policy, how could the results of trials such as this one be used to inform the design of larger-scale studies? Would it be possible to avoid the outcome measure being used to judge schools rather than interventions?

With thanks to the ASE, who were happy to make the article open-access so we could discuss it. If you are interested in peer-led research – and not already a member – you may be interested in their membership options. These include subscriptions to School Science Review, the source of this article.

 

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Meeting Eighteen (16th April) The Impact of Teacher Subject Knowledge on Student Achievement: Evidence from Within-Teacher Within-Student Variation

The next meeting will take place on 16th April at 7:30pm and will be moderated by @AlomShaha.

Metzler, Johannes & Woessmann, Ludger (2010) The Impact of Teacher Subject Knowledge on Student Achievement: Evidence from Within-Teacher Within-Student Variation IZA DP No. 4999 [PDF]

Abstract:

Teachers differ greatly in how much they teach their students, but little is known about which teacher attributes account for this. We estimate the causal effect of teacher subject knowledge on student achievement using within-teacher within-student variation, exploiting a unique Peruvian 6th-grade dataset that tested both students and their teachers in two subjects. We circumvent omitted-variable and selection biases using student and teacher fixed effects and observing teachers teaching both subjects in one-classroom-per-grade schools. After measurement-error correction, one standard deviation in subject-specific teacher achievement increases student achievement by about 10 percent of a standard deviation.

Discussion Points

The questions SciTeachJC will focus on for this chat are:

  • “The results suggest that teacher subject knowledge should be clearly on the agenda of educational administrators and policy-makers”. If subject knowledge is demonstrably critical for teacher quality, should regular subject knowledge CPD be compulsory?
  • What efforts have you made since starting teaching to improve your subject knowledge?
  • Science teachers often teach subjects other than their own (as do many other teachers). Do you think you do a better job in your own specialism?
  • “While there is clear evidence that teacher quality is a key determinant of student learning, little is known about which specific observable characteristics of teachers can account for this impact” – What characteristics do you think are most important in a teacher?

@AlomShaha will be moderating the discussion.

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Meeting Seventeen (19th March) The use of ethical frameworks by students following a new science course for 16-18 year-olds

Reiss, Michael (2008) The use of ethical frameworks by students following a new science
course for 16-18 year-olds. Science & Education, 17 (8-9). pp. 889-902. ISSN 0926 7220 [PDF]

Abstract:

There has been a move in recent years towards the greater inclusion of social and ethical issues within science courses. This paper examines a new context-based course for 16-18 year-olds (Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology) who are studying biology in England and Wales. The course is taught through contexts and has an emphasis on social issues and the development of ethical reasoning. Examination of a sample of reports written by students in 2005 as part of the course‟s summative assessment shows that utilitarian ethical reasoning is used widely and that the other ethical frameworks to which students are introduced in the course – rights and duties, autonomy and virtue ethics – are used substantially less often. In addition, students mostly argue anthropocentrically though many of them argue ecocentrically and/or biocentrically too.

In this paper I discuss the development, implementation and assessment of a way of teaching about social and ethical issues within a context-based course for 16-18 year-olds studying biology in England and Wales, focusing on the ethical frameworks used by a sample of the students on the course in some of their externally assessed examination material. The course in question (Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology) was piloted from September 2002 and launched nationally in September 2005 as a result of approval from the national body charged with making such decisions (the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority). The course is taught through contexts and has a strong emphasis on social aspects of biology and the ethical analysis of biological issues.

Discussion Points

Science does not exist in a vacuum, we cannot teach it as a set of facts, figures, processes and ideas without brining in some context of where it fits in to the real world. Real-life applications are used in lessons to help explain what is being learned as well as to provide stimulus material as to the reason why we are learning about this. As scientific ideas become more involved in how we lead out everyday lives the area of ethics becomes more relevant. Is what science can do right?

Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. – Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park)

The ethical implications of science is part of the KeyStage4 Curriculum and A Level specifications, but do we teach it well in all aspects of science. The area of Bioethics is great for Biology topics but are there opportunities in Physics and Chemistry lessons. In Michael Riess’ paper he outlines the Ethical Framework that is used in the Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology (SNAB) course which is now integrated into the Edexcel A Level post 2009.

To construct an ethical argument one of four possible areas could be used to justify your position

  • Rights and Duties
  • Maximising the amount of good in the world
  • Making decisions for yourself
  • Leading a virtuous life

Could this framework be extended to be used in all the science disciplines?

The questions SciTeachJC will focus on for this chat are:

  • What topics outside of biology do you use to discuss ethics in science?
  • Do you think the SNAB Ethical Framework is good enough to be used in all science/ethics lessons?
  • How do you get students to think about other people’s opinions and viewpoints in class?

@Bio_Joe will be moderating the discussion.

Useful Links

Bioethics Education Project

Physics & Ethics Education Project

The Simpletons, a KS4 Science Upd8 activity introducing the ethical framework

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Summary of Meeting Sixteen

Firstly, thanks for all those who took part in #sciteachjc last Tuesday. It was a great start to the year and got quite a bit of attention building up to the meeting not least from one of the paper’s authors:

#sciteachjc discussing RCTs in education as discussed in our Cabinet Office paper http://t.co/2mh508IR via @
@bengoldacre
ben goldacre

Secondly, Alom doesn’t think people read to the bottom of blog posts ;), so I’ll post up the date of the next meeting at the top. The next meeting will be held 12th February and @teachingofsci will be your host. The topic is yet to be confirmed, however we’re aiming to do something that is able to have an immediate impact on your teaching the next day in the classroom.

A summary of the discussion on RCTs: (we had 222 tweets during the hour we were discussing)

@DrRacheal opened with the elephant in the room:

Well, I've got to say, as an "ex" scientist, it beggars belief why this system isn't used already. #sciteachjc
@DrRacheal
Dr Racheal

In reality, RCTs are used in educational research. However it was interesting to consider whether teachers could run them within school.

The responses to the first question: Would you con­sider run­ning or tak­ing part in a ran­domised con­trol trial in your school?

@alomshaha raised the concerns of a few people involved in the discussion:

@ Some people think there might be ethical issues and also practical issues of *actually* carrying out RCTs? #SciTeachJC
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

@ryansecondarysc responded with a similar point to that made in the Radio 4 documentary:

@ @ #sciteachjc ethical issues are overblown though surely. Less ethical to subject all students to a failing method?

This was also backed up by @teachingofsci
#SciTeachJC I think idea in paper, that we do all these different interventions *anyway*, mean it's *more* ethical to find out which work

and @bio_joe
@ @ @ @ it's the teaching practice that's being experimented on not the students #sciteachjc
@Bio_Joe
Joe Wright

Both @teachingofsci and @miss_mcinerney suggested that RCTs might not be appropriate to run within school due to practicalities.

#SciTeachJC one of my thoughts was that it would work best between schools, rather than between classes.

@ @ @ #sciteachjc I agree that ethical issues are overblown; practical issues are more problematic.
@miss_mcinerney
Laura McInerney

This was concurred by others in the discussion. The general feeling so far is that implementing an RCT within a school is problematic.
The idea raised by @bio_joe

Students are given different teachers based on the click of a timetable programme. within an institution can you see who's good? #sciteachjc
@Bio_Joe
Joe Wright

suggested that the different classes assigned to teachers might be suitable as samples, but in general it was felt the sample size would be too small, and that the samples wouldn’t be randomly picked. Indeed @miss_mcinerney made this point:
@ @ @ #SciTeachJC Exactly. Most people place kids in classes carefully based on behaviour dynamics.
@miss_mcinerney
Laura McInerney

and DrRacheal this:
@ @ @ And of course classes are set based on pupil performance, too. #sciteachjc
@DrRacheal
Dr Racheal

What about between schools?

@ #SciTeachJC But different schools often wildly different on many variables. This is more of a quasi-experiment than an RCT.
@miss_mcinerney
Laura McInerney

There were some great ideas about the design of RCTs, mainly between @miss_mcinerney and @teachingofsci e.g.

@ so recruit, pair schools that are as similar as possible, then randomize which receives A/B intervention? #SciTeachJC

@ Why parallel? Why not 'before' and 'after'? E.g. do 1 term w/out then 1 term with? Or compare to previous year? #sciteachjc
@miss_mcinerney
Laura McInerney

I asked:

Could RCTs be done retrospectively? i.e. find settings that have implemented competing methods and study random students? #sciteachjc
@A_Weatherall
Alex Weatherall

but @ryansecondarysc and @miss_mcinerney pointed out that this would no longer be an RCT.
@ #sciteachjc that would be more of a case study than an RCT, as without pre-agreeing measurable outcomes, open to bias etc.

@ #sciteachjc That's quasi-experiment. Can be done, and very usefully, you just need to do stats a little differently to account
@miss_mcinerney
Laura McInerney

and @tom_hartley added
@ + with big data from many schools: hierarchical stats to model effects of school/teacher separately, I think #SciTeachJC
@tom_hartley
Tom Hartley

We focused again on the ethics with question two What con­cerns do you have with the eth­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions of using RCTs in edu­ca­tional research?

@oldandrewuk was concerned about whether teachers would be happy to take part in an RCT:

@ @ @ #sciteachjc There's a difference between teachers trying what they think might work & a formal...
@oldandrewuk
Andrew Old

@ @ @ ...experiment organised by outsiders over-riding teacher's professional judgement. #sciteachjc
@oldandrewuk
Andrew Old

@ #sciteachjc My concern is that teacher's would be made to persist with methods they see failing, in order to test them.
@oldandrewuk
Andrew Old

@dfalc agreed:
#sciteachjc a teacher s professional judgement may be compromised and have a negative impact on student learning
@DFalc
DFalconer

@Bio_joe pointed out that :
@ @ in medical trials if the drug is doing really badly then they will stop the study, evalutaion is key #sciteachjc
@Bio_Joe
Joe Wright

and I added:
RCTs are usually done in medical trials after they've been shown not to have a negative effect. Find out which is best #sciteachjc
@A_Weatherall
Alex Weatherall

@miss_mcinerney made the point that

@ #sciteachjc There's also evidence to suggest that if teachers don't agree/believe in the intervention it's less likely to work
@miss_mcinerney
Laura McInerney

to which I coined a new phrase (we think)

@alomshaha asked

@ Are there any examples of good RCTs which have been done in education? @ #SciTeachJC
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

I highlighted some that I’d seen, but hadn’t had a chance to read fully:

and @teachingofsci said:
#SciTeachJC a lot more is happening in the US it seems - see http://t.co/axzVqrBc for some discussion.

@bio_joe asked
I would like to hear from a teacher that has been involved in an education RCT. What actually happened. #sciteachjc
@Bio_Joe
Joe Wright

Final question: Which educational intervention would you like to see more evidence for, in the form of RCTs (or other methodology)?

@alomshaha suggested his favourite topic:

@ Practical work in science 😉 #SciTeachJC
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

and @Bio_Joe

but we descended (no thanks to me) into a discussion on ensuring that teachers were aware of any research that had been done and the lack of open availability to research.

#sciteachjc Research has to be made easily available to teachers and policy makers (SLT or gov). We must know why?
@A_Weatherall
Alex Weatherall

Otherwise we are just going through the motions of implementation. http://t.co/eVOHwP2R #sciteachjc
@A_Weatherall
Alex Weatherall

#SciTeachJC *yes* - clearing house of ed research summaries, classroom ready, funded centrally for us all.

@ #sciteachjc I agree. (In fact, I wrote something similar in a blog for @ http://t.co/hM1SMM94)
@miss_mcinerney
Laura McInerney

Here is a selection of the links posted by @teachingofsci during the discussion

There are loads of other valid points that were made, and @bio_joe, @oldandrewuk and @ryansecondarysc carried on the discussion afterwards. In all a good start to the year, and remember the next meeting on the 12th February. (Did you get to the bottom of the post?)

Here is a full Storify archive compiled by @eyebeams (thanks):
http://storify.com/eyebeams/rct-discussion-on-sciteachjc

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Meeting Sixteen (15th January 2013): Randomised Controlled Trials in Educational Research

Happy New Year!

It’s been 6 months since our last meeting. Both @Alby and @AlomShaha have been unavailable to run the club over the latter half of 2012 and the autumn school term is traditionally a long and stressful term so, despite a few false starts, we’ve not been able to get things up and running again. Until now.

The first meeting of 2013 (15th January at 7:30pm) is inspired by the documentary on Radio 4 last week, where Ben Goldacre discusses using evidence to inform policy, concentrating on how suitable randomised controlled trials (RCTs) might be when used in as evidence for social policies in areas such as crime and education. This programme can be downloaded before Friday 11th January from here http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/r4choice. It’s not possible for us to distribute this podcast after this time as it contravenes BBC policy so download it as soon as possible.

There are some useful papers we could discuss however we suffer from the usual problems  i.e.: a lack of open access to research papers. So for this meeting, we will look at the paper written for the Cabinet Office by Dr Ben Goldacre, Professor David Torgerson et al:

Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials.

Haynes L., Service, O., Goldacre, B., Torgerson D. (2012). Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials. Cabinet Office Behavioural
Insights Team
http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/test-learn-adapt-developing-public-policy-randomised-controlled-trials [download .pdf]

The paper doesn’t concentrate exclusively on RCTs in educational research, but there are some examples within that do suggest that RCTs should be used to form education policy.

To complement the paper here are some other open reference materials that are available:

Questions to discuss during the meeting are :

1. How well would the methods described in the paper work in your school? Would you consider running or taking part in a randomised control trial in your school? Why or why not?
2. What concerns do you have with the ethical considerations of using RCTs in educational research?
3. Do you agree with Ben’s assertion (in the documentary) that RCTs provide better evidence (“the gold standard”) than other methods of research for social sciences.
4. Which educational intervention would you like to see more evidence for, in the form of RCTs (or other methodology)?

The meeting is Tuesday, 15th January 2013 at 7:30pm UTC, to be moderated by @A_Weatherall. Remember to use the hashtag #sciteachjc during the discussion.

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Meeting Fifteen (17th July): Literacy in Science

The title is not a typo; we will not be discussing scientific literacy, a theme we have discussed several times (but if you want more, I strongly recommend Alice Bell’s refreshing suggestion that this one isn’t just for teachers to worry about.)

Rather than an academic paper, these two articles discuss the effective use of literacy skills in science classrooms. Based on research and experience with young American students in the equivalent of Key Stage 2 and early Key Stage 3, the authors emphasize the need for much greater deliberate teaching of scientific vocabulary. Between the two short articles, suggestions are made for teaching both content knowledge and the ways in which we justify our knowledge, highly relevant for scientific method work.

Ross, D., Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2009). The art of argumentation. Science and Children, 47(3), 28-31. Download .pdf

Grant, M., Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2009). Science literacy is > strategies. Clearing House, 82(4), 183-186. Download .pdf

  1. These papers are focused on younger students. How do the ideas apply to the age groups you teach?
  2. Do you already provide writing frames or templates to promote discussion of scientific methods and the use of reasoned argument? If not, how would you adapt the examples given for distribution to students or as displays in your lab?
  3. Do you use any specific texts or sources when providing wider reading opportunities to students? How do they respond to this? How do you assess their progress?
  4. Do we take too much for granted in terms of students’ literacy development? How can this be addressed at a classroom, department and school level?

Tuesday 17th July at 7.30, to be moderated by @teachingofsci.

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Archive: Meeting Thirteen

Hi everyone and welcome to this weeks #SciTeachJC on Student Attitudes to Science Education with your host @ http://t.co/bDK93uqE
@SciTeachJC
Science Teaching JC

Please remember to add #SciteachJC to your tweets so they can be read by all participants.
@SciTeachJC
Science Teaching JC

Hello #SciTeachJC, I'm a Physics teacher at a state comprehensive in London.
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

Hi, I'm a biology teacher in post 16 education also studying for my MSc in science and education #SciteachJC
@Bio_Joe
Joe Wright

joining #SciteachJC more as a parent who's son has been turned right off science since starting secondary school
@smurfatik
Fiona Luna

The paper has been highly cited over the years but is now quite old ('03) do you think the findings are still relevant? #SciteachJC
@SciTeachJC
Science Teaching JC

Hi #SciteachJC, I'm a science teacher at a comprehensive in Berks. A Biology specialist at A level.
@DrRacheal
Dr Racheal

"single most important to improve science education would be recruitment & retention of able, bright enthusiastic teachers" #SciTeachJC
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

I found myself agreeing with a lot of the paper as I read it, have things changed at all? #SciteachJC
@Bio_Joe
Joe Wright

my son's experience says it is very relevant - he finds the curriculum dull & repetitive & his teachers uninspiring #SciTeachJC
@smurfatik
Fiona Luna

Hi #SciTeachJC, I'm a chemistry teacher at secondary level and did a MA in Science Education at King's a few years ago.

@ I actually think that the situation has changed quite a bit since the data in the paper were published. #SciteachJC

@ Suspect line about students only being able to name dead scientists might now be changed to "...and Brian Cox" #SciTeachJC 😉
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

RT @: #SciteachJC about to start...
@flimsin
Tamsin Edwards

@ what do you think has changed most? #SciteachJC
@SciTeachJC
Science Teaching JC

@ I TOTALLY agree with you from my experience as an internal AST, this is the issue my students bring up #SciteachJC
@DrRacheal
Dr Racheal

son also says labs are uninspiring but that is often down to what the teachers choose but teacher is biggest impact for him #SciTeachJC
@smurfatik
Fiona Luna

@ That's a great quote, where is it from? Any research I could refer to for a policy doc I'm putting together? #SciTeachJC
@DrTomCrick
Dr Tom Crick


@ they know Jim Al-Khalili too which is more than can be said for our SLT (post 16 FE) #SciTeachJC
@mariamush
mariamush

@ It's from the paper we're discussing for tonight's #SciTeachJC: http://t.co/gM5WgUzw
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

@ @ Alom once said to me that English teachers write, Art teachers paint but science teachers get by #SciTeachJC
@jimbobthomas
James Thomas

RT @: @ they know Jim Al-Khalili too which is more than can be said for our SLT (post 16 FE) #SciTeachJC
@alomshaha
Alom Shaha

@ more recent figures show numbers studying A level sciences increased. Still work to do but not such doom as in paper.#SciteachJC

@ When you say labs do you mean decor or practical activities? #SciteachJC
@DrRacheal
Dr Racheal

@ Thanks--sorry for jumping into the middle of #SciTeachJC! Interested from a computer science perspective, especially for ITT/CPD.
@DrTomCrick
Dr Tom Crick

@ yes number have increased but there are still students who are turned off science at a young age #SciteachJC
@SciTeachJC
Science Teaching JC

@ @ We have such a fertile field to seed by explaining the reality of science education.#SciTeachJC
@jimbobthomas
James Thomas

#SciteachJC attitudes don't seem have changed significantly since the paper was written. Recent interview with some 13 year olds says not.
@brendanaylor
Brenda Naylor

@ no I didn't; I looked at data up to 2008 in my MA dissertation though. #SciTeachJC

@ he says they do few practicals & the work they do is dictated to them and lab sheets (he is doing triple sci btw) #SciTeachJC
@smurfatik
Fiona Luna

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Meeting fourteen (3rd July): Attitudes towards science

Jonathan Osborne, Shirley Simon & Sue Collins (2003): Attitudes towards science: A review of the literature and its implications, International Journal of Science Education, 25:9, 1049-1079 [download .pdf  234kb]

Abstract:

This article offers a review of the major literature about attitudes to science and its implications over the past 20 years. It argues that the continuing decline in numbers choosing to study science at the point of choice requires a research focus on students’ attitudes to science if the nature of the problem is to be understood and remediated. Starting from a consideration of what is meant by attitudes to science, it considers the problems inherent to their measurement, what is known about students’ attitudes towards science and the many factors of influence such as gender, teachers, curricula, cultural and other variables. The literature itself points to the crucial importance of gender and the quality of teaching. Given the importance of the latter we argue that there is a greater need for research to identify those aspects of science teaching that make school science engaging for pupils. In particular, a growing body of research on motivation offers important pointers to the kind of classroom environment and activities that might raise pupils’ interest in studying school science and a focus for future research.

This paper is still the most read and most cited paper from the IJSE and was in the top 10 most cited papers in Science Education Research according to Min‐Hsien Lee, Ying‐Tien Wu & Chin‐Chung Tsai, 2009 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500690802314876).

Key Conclusions:

  • Students are alienated by school science a subject that has an increasing significance in personal and societal life.
  • Research has identified this alienation as a problem but has little to say about a solution.
  • Research suggests that good teaching and situational interest will improve student motivation
  • Students desire opportunities for more practical work, extended investigation and discussion
  • A better understanding of what science classroom activities that enhance student motivation is needed; the paper suggests that tasks need interest, importance and utility.

Discussion Points:

  • This paper is influential but quite out of date now, how relevant are the findings and conclusions today?
  • Is there anything missing from this paper that should be examined to understand student attitudes towards science?
  • Are there any issues that we now have a better understanding of?
  • Student interest in science lessons declines when they start secondary school, how can we as teachers stop that from happening?
  • p1067 lists common aspects of teaching that are perceived to be effective, do you agree with that list? Is there anything you would add?
  • “Science is a superb and dazzling hall, but one which may be reached only by passing though a long and ghastly kitchen” How can we as teachers make the kitchen less ghastly?

Thanks to Professor Jonathan Osborne for input on these discussion points. You may also wish to read this update paper (Attitudes Toward Science (Update) Osborne,Simon & Tytler) sent to me by Professor Osborne, the major element of it has been a focus on identity to try and explain the paradox of a society which is so dependent on STEM but which fails to engage many young people.

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