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Theme editorial: Science during primary–secondary transition

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Sue Collins and Michael J. Reiss

Extract: The issues and challenges for pupils and teachers raised and discussed in this special issue of School Science Review on science during primary–secondary transition have exercised the minds of teachers, researchers and education departments in many countries for decades. The underlying aim of science education for pupils during transition from primary to secondary schooling continues to be continuity and progression in their learning.

Oh no, not this again! Improving continuity and progression from primary to secondary science

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Martin Braund

Extract: Progression and continuity are cornerstones of the National Curriculum for England and yet it seems these slip after pupils transfer to secondary school, causing pupils to regress in science. Part of the solution is to provide continuity with challenge without repeating what has already been experienced and achieved. This article describes bridging work in science and how it was received by pupils, with some suggestions on how to get the most out of these approaches.

Science learning in the outdoors to support primary–secondary transition

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Karen Kerr

Extract: This study provides additional insight into how outdoor learning can be used as a vehicle to address transition issues. It analyses the benefits of outdoor learning through the use of shared learning days with pupils in transition phases across all the cited outcome categories: cognitive, affective, interpersonal/social and physical/behavioural. The article argues that a carefully designed programme of outdoor ‘shared learning days’ with pupils in both phases working together is a sound model to help address the recommendations arising from specific transition issues through the delivery of aligned outcomes and impact from learning science outdoors.

A bridge too far: the decline in shared science activities during primary–secondary transition

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Maurice Galton

Extract: This article reviews the use of ‘bridging units’ in science to improve curriculum continuity during transition from primary to secondary school. Based on research evidence collected over several decades, it suggests that the use of these units rose to a peak around the time of the millennium, but that in recent years few schools have continued with these curriculum initiatives. The reasons for this decline are explored.

Joining up the thinking: how science ‘learning progressions’ could address problems inherent in primary–secondary transition

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Michael Allen

Extract: Dips in pupils’ science attitudes and performance when they transfer from primary to secondary school in England are well established. They have been related to a variety of factors, including repetition of science content at year 7 and differences in the pedagogical approaches taken by primary and secondary teachers. One potential way forward would be to use data from research studies that have surveyed how pupils’ science thinking develops across key stage 2 (7- to 11-year-olds) and key stage 3 (11- to 14-year-olds). These ‘learning progressions’ can provide continuity that takes into account pupils’ changing science concepts over the transfer period and so help ease transition.

‘Scientists are not always right, but they do their best.’ Irish children’s perspectives of innovations in science teaching and learning

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Colette Murphy, Mary Mullaghy and Alice D’Arcy

Extract: Research globally has shown that many children lose interest in science towards the end of primary school and throughout the post-primary phase. This article explores children’s experience and views in Irish schools that have adopted innovative practices that aim to empower, excite and inspire children in science. One of these focuses on explicit teaching of the nature of science, using an inquiry-based science approach. The second involves a 25-week programme whereby scientists and primary teachers co-teach ‘rocket science’ through games, experiments and challenges. Children’s views are used to suggest some recommendations, which may help to improve their experience of science during transition from the primary to the post-primary phase.

The use of CASE to bridge the transition between primary and secondary school science in Ireland

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Lorraine McCormack

Extract: This article describes how the Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education (CASE) programme was implemented in the final year of primary school and the first year of secondary school in a number of schools in Ireland. The original CASE programme, pioneered in the 1980s, proved successful in its aim to develop the science-reasoning abilities and achievement of 12- to 14-year-old pupils in the UK. The effectiveness of the programme, delivered in the primary–secondary school transition context, is reported in this article.

Fostering classroom assessment in science: the importance of transitions

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Chris Harrison

Extract: When teachers ask questions or devise activities that encourage pupils to talk, they set up opportunities for assessment. To act on these data, teachers need to convert judgements into decisions about next steps and guidance for pupils on how best to move their learning forward. This is a complex process that requires skill and action, both for the teacher and the pupils. This article considers how classroom assessment functions for science in classrooms in England. It explores some of the opportunities and dilemmas that might occur in the current and developing school assessment frameworks in an attempt to raise issues that teachers might need to consider as they implement new assessment systems in their classrooms.

Assessment processes in science across the primary–secondary interface: an Australian perspective

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Keith Skamp

Extract: Assessment guidelines in the Australian Curriculum: Science are outlined after the status and practice of science is overviewed. Available, but dated, empirical reports of teachers’ assessment processes and procedures across the interface are compared. Current assessment practices are inferred from indirect research data. Two Australian professional learning initiatives, Primary Connections and, at the secondary level, Science by Doing, may be changing the ‘face’ of science education. How primary teachers implementing Primary Connections are assessing pupils is outlined. Similar data do not exist for Science by Doing, but its potential impact on teachers’ assessment practices is presented. Implications for a smoother science assessment transition for pupils are suggested.

Learning about the nature of science using algae

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Hans G. Edelmann, Thilo Martius, Achim Hahn, Kirsten Schlüter and Stefan H. Nessler

Extract: Enquiry learning and teaching about the nature of science (NoS) is a key element of science education. We have designed an experimental setting for students aged 12–14 years to exercise enquiry-learning skills and to introduce students to the NoS aspects of creativity and imagination. It also illustrates the impact of carbon dioxide on the growth of algae. Students stated hypotheses, planned experiments and analysed the data, becoming familiar with the NoS aspects mentioned above. The sessions consisted of: an initial 2 hour session to propose hypotheses and predictions and to design the experiment; a 3 hour session to establish the experimental set-up; and a 2 hour session for analysis and interpretation. A well-planned and disciplined class timetable is essential.

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