Evidence-based secondary science guidance published

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Secondary science teachers can harness common misconceptions to improve pupils’ learning, new guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) suggests.

An EEF report, published last week and compiled by a panel of teachers and leading experts, finds that almost all pupils develop their own explanations for science concepts before they learn about them in lessons.

However, their ideas about things like “how plants grow” or “how we see things” don’t always align with scientific understanding. As such, it says that teachers should work to uncover the specific misconceptions their pupils hold through class and group discussion, before moving on to challenge these.

It is one of seven recommendations in the report, which is intended to help secondary schools give pupils – especially those on the Pupil Premium – a good grounding in science and an interest to lead them on to further study. A second recommendation in the report focuses on developing pupils’ scientific vocabulary to support them to read and write about science. The five remaining recommendations are:

  • Using models to develop understanding.
  • Developing children’s abilities to self-regulate aspects of their learning.
  • Supporting pupils’ memory skills, so that they can retain and retrieve knowledge.
  • Using experiments purposefully.
  • Using structured feedback to move on pupils’ thinking.

As in other subjects, there is an attainment gap in science between poor pupils and their peers. Previous EEF research has found that the biggest predictors of pupils’ attainment in science are their levels of literacy and their scientific reasoning ability.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF – which curates the popular Teaching and Learning Toolkit resource – said: “The attainment gap in science may not be as well-documented as the gap in English and maths, but our earlier research has shown that it’s just as pervasive.”



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