The Association for Science Education


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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.

Stories from the classroom: using pupils’ questions to develop science teachers’ learning

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Jon James

Extract: Pupils’ questions can play a powerful role in helping them to develop conceptual understanding, but can also provide a stimulus for teacher learning. This article presents a series of stories that illustrate the challenges of capitalising on pupils’ questions, given the complexity of decision-making required in the science classroom and the current accountability pressures that teachers experience. The project highlights the crucial role that teacher educators and mentors can play, as ‘critical colleagues’ for early-career science teachers, in encouraging and opening up opportunities for teacher learning in the classroom.

The vital role of basic mathematics in teaching and learning the mole concept

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Alka Mehrotra and Anjni Koul

Extract: This article focuses on the importance of activity-based teaching in understanding the mole concept and the vital role of basic mathematical operations. It describes needs-based training for teachers in a professional development programme in India. Analysis of test results before and after the training indicates that teachers improved their understanding of the concept of the mole and became more confident in teaching this concept and handling mathematical calculations.

Droning on about the weather: meteorological science on a school-friendly scale

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Phil Murphy, Ashley O’Neill and Abby Brown

Extract: Meteorology is an important branch of science that offers exciting career opportunities and yet is not usually included in school curricula. The availability of multi-rotor model aircraft (drones) offers an exciting opportunity to bring meteorology into school science.

Using outdoor adventure settings to teach physics

Issue: September 2016 362

Author: Claire Aspinall

Extract: A key challenge when teaching physics is to equip students with the ability to apply the concepts to real-life situations. Students do not learn by information alone; they are affected by their environment, their social setting, how their body and mind feel and the interactions between these different aspects. This may explain why wild places and adventurous activities can lead to transformative learning. It also raises the question of how we can harness this knowledge to teach core physics topics that students may struggle to relate to in a school science laboratory.

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