The Association for Science Education

P4.3 Use of ICT in Science


The developments in ICT over the past two decades possibly represent the greatest opportunities for and challenges to the formal educational process. This article inevitably takes a fairly conservative view since it assumes that schools and teachers will continue to operate in the medium term in the same way they do now, however it provides a comprehensive review of the skills required of the trainee teacher preparing to go into schools where the provision and use of computers and other ICT resources can be highly variable between different institutions. Detailed insight is given regarding the training processes operating within particular institutions and downloads are provided of teaching materials used - to provide stimulating ideas that may be adapted (or rejected) for use elsewhere. A wide range of references is given for reflecting on, accessing and evaluating the use of electronic whiteboards, PowerPoint, spreadsheets and modelling, datalogging and using the internet.

The relevant standards include Q4, Q10, Q13, Q16, Q24-27 although in using and implementing ICT appropriately, evidence may be provided of meeting standards 'across the board'. In particular ICT is likely to become invaluable in efficiently managing and continually updating professional profiles of/for continuing professional development and progression.

Keywords: Information, Communication, Technology, ICT, Skills.


1.0 Standards Relevant to this Section
2.0 Introduction
3.0 Skills
4.0 ICT in Science Education
5.0 ICT at St Martin's
6.0 Resources on the Use of ICT in Science

1.0 Standards Relevant to this Section

The standards have now been revised (2008) although they are now much more generic and less specific. Some of the official publications relating to standards going back to 4/98 are still very illuminating and helpful for interpreting the more general statements. The sections below continue some reference to the 'old' standards - although this article has now been updated.

The relevant Standards have been listed in brief. For a more detailed look, they can be found in the Handbook of Guidance.

  • S2: Knowledge and understanding (now Q14 and Q17)
  • S2.5 (now Q17) They know how to use ICT effectively, both to teach their subject and to support their wider professional role.
  • S2.8 (now Q16) They have passed the Qualified Teacher Status skills tests in numeracy, literacy and ICT.
  • S3.3 Teaching and class management (Q17)
  • S3.3.10 They use ICT effectively in their teaching.
  • R4: Quality assurance (Q17)

All providers must:

  • R4.2 ensure that trainee teachers have access to the books, ICT and other resources they need - relevant to the age ranges and subjects they are training for - to develop trainee teachers’ knowledge, understanding and skills to at least the standards required for the award of Qualified Teacher Status

2.0 Introduction

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in its widest sense involves the use of PCs, OHPs, television and radio but for most people it implies the use of PCs. It is an increasingly important part of teaching. There is impetus from the Government, parents, industrialists that pupils need to learn good ICT skills for their role in society in the future.

There are many reports which highlight the benefit of using ICT in teaching. For example see the review of research evidence in Newton, L R and Rogers, L (2001). Impact2 was a major study carried out between 1999 and 2002 involving 60 schools in England and was one of the most comprehensive investigations into the impact of information and communications technology (ICT) on educational attainment so far conducted in the United Kingdom. It can be downloaded from here.  However, this report also pointed out that there were a significant number of teachers who made little or no use of ICT in their teaching. There were also some literature reviews, available at

Terry and Haydn (2004) and (2005) examined the views of initial teacher trainees on various components of their ‘education’ in the use of new technology to teach their subject. Their results highlighted several issues:

  • Access
  • Availability of a role model; trainees felt that ‘modelling of ICT by the mentor is vital’
  • Negativity about the TDA ICT Skills test
  • Working in groups while acquiring skills. These were seen to be generally helpful in terms of being a time-efficient, congenial and stress-free way of making progress in ICT
  • A role for the HEI - it should provide an overview of what was available, provide encouragement and a clear expectation about the use of ICT in school

One of our tasks as ITT tutors is to train teachers who are confident and competent users of ICT who would be able to use their expertise in their new schools.

There are two issues to be considered on the ITT course: do the trainees have the skills necessary to use ICT confidently and can they use ICT to teach Science? It’s a little artificial but we will look at these two issues separately.

3.0 Skills

All trainees need to be able to pass the TDA ICT skills test. The TDA website gives information about the necessary skills and there are demonstration tests which trainees can try

The trainees will arrive with differing skills. The first task is to find out what their skills are and what they need help with for example most people will be fairly good at word processing but few will have much experience of using databases.

This can be done by carrying out an ICT audit. (For an example of an audit, visit the following website An online document works best as the results can be collated as the forms are filled in. This would give you an idea of who needs help with what and what sessions you may need to organise. The website has an online audit of ICT skills for primary and secondary trainees. There is an audit at the start of the course and one at the end. There are also support materials. There is another example of an online audit at

A decision needs to be made whether the skills’ sessions are run generically or by each subject. There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems. For example running them in subjects may mean that you can make them directly relevant to Science teaching but it may mean you have small groups. You may also have to consider whether there are suitable experts within your subject area and whether the sessions are voluntary or compulsory. Getting the trainees to work in small groups would be beneficial as they can help each other.

4.0 ICT in Science Education

In the ITT National Curriculum for the use of ICT in subject teaching (Download 4.0a) there are three key principles which trainees should to consider:

  • Does the use of ICT support good practice in teaching the subject?
  • Does the use of ICT in a particular lesson or sequence of lessons relate directly to the teaching and learning objectives in hand?
  • Does the use of ICT either allow the trainee or the pupil to achieve something that could not be achieved without it; or allow the trainee to teach or the pupils to learn something more effectively and efficiently than they could otherwise; or both?

Trainees also need to look at practical considerations before deciding whether ICT should be used e.g. teaching objectives that could be met very effectively if a suite of computers were available in the classroom might not be attainable if there is just one stand-alone computer or even an interactive whiteboard. An important consideration is whether a particular use of ICT may significantly LESS effective than a first-hand practical, demonstration, visit or investigation although ICT may be useful to enhance all of these.

One of the most important things we can do in this area as in many others is to ensure that our own skills are up-to-date and we can act as role models for the trainees. We need to include effective use of ICT in our sessions and be able to give some specific examples of where use of ICT might enhance the teaching of a particular topic. We could also model the use of software and hardware that we expect them to use in school. This does raise the issue of financial resources. What do you buy? Do you know what resources your partner schools use? I believe that this should be a non-issue as if your trainees become confident users of ICT, they will not be phased by having to learn the use of different software or hardware.

There is advice available on use of ICT in Science for primary and secondary. The TDA also produced some exemplification materials both for primary science (Download 4.2) and Secondary science (Download 4.3).

This documentation (Downloads 4.0a, 4.0b and 4.0c) is from Circular 4/98 and has been included as it has the most explicit set of statements and is still very useful. This was confirmed during a meeting with the TDA.

To encourage debate about use of ICT in Science teaching, trainees can be presented with a series of scenarios (For an example of scenarios, see Download 4.0d) where ICT has been used and asked about their views on whether it was a good use of ICT. They can also be asked to prepare lesson plans which include the use of ICT and justify their use.

The trainees should be encouraged to look at the use of ICT early on in their placement. Here is a checklist of questions that they can use while planning for the use of ICT in a lesson while on TP.

  • Does this lesson address something that is educationally desirable?
  • Does the use of ICT in this lesson allow you and the pupils to achieve something more effectively than otherwise?
  • Do you have the personal confidence and competence for this use of ICT without it detracting from the effectiveness of the lesson?
  • Do the pupils have the personal ICT capability to be able to apply the ICT without it detracting from their learning of science?
  • Might the use of ICT mask pupils’ attainment in the subject?How will you assess the success of the lesson?
  • How will you assess the learning in science where ICT has been used?
  • Are you familiar with the school's equipment, how it is distributed and booked?
  • Do you know whether the computers are networked?
  • Do you know the acceptable use policy for ICT adopted by the school?

Download P4.3_4.0a 'Use of ICT in Subject Teaching'
Download P4.3_4.0b 'Use of ICT in Primary Science'
Download P4.3_4.0c 'Use of ICT in Secondary Science'
Download P4.3_4.0d 'Scenarios'

5.0 ICT at University of Cumbria 

There is a qualificatory skills’ development module in ICT at University of Cumbria. The skills covered range from word processing and using email to using databases and designing webpages. The materials for this are available online (in PDF and Word Format), as a CD or a book*. The module is compulsory for all the primary trainees at St Martin’s. There are 10 X 2 hour sessions covering all the areas. There are exercises and assessment tasks associated with each area and by the end trainees produce a portfolio as evidence that they have achieved the skills. The course has been a little frustrating for those who already have the necessary skills and we are aiming to make it more flexible so that students concentrate on areas where they have weaknesses.

Drop-in sessions are also organised for those who need extra help. These are open to all trainees and they can drop in whenever there is a topic that they need help with.

The situation for Secondary trainees is different. Undergraduates do a skills audit at the start and are expected to draw up an action plan to develop their skills with the help of their tutor. Generally, they are expected to use the online materials or go to the drop-in sessions.

The secondary science course approximately 10 hours of ICT skills related to their use in Science teaching. In the first session, there is a short presentation (Download 5.0a) and all trainees carry out an audit. Based on this, several sessions are organised. Trainees are encouraged to work co-operatively and to share their skills and resources. If they need extra assistance, they are encouraged to use the online materials and the drop-in sessions mentioned above. Individual tutorials are arranged if necessary. By the end of the year, trainees are expected to produce a portfolio of materials showing the development of their skills. This includes a look at social, moral and ethical issues. (Download 5.0b).Trainees also have the chance to review software and websites. (Download 5.0c). This is based on a form produced by BECTA and used by our Geography Department. One of the activities they are asked to carry out in school is to look at the resources available within the school and the Science Department as this will have a bearing on their planning and class management. (Download 5.0d).

Datalogging has always presented a difficulty as there are lots of different types of dataloggers available in College but only one or two of each. To get round the difficulty of organising whole group sessions, local schools have been approached to organise sessions. Last year, the trainees had sessions with a supplier, Philip Harris. Apart from doing the sessions, they offered us equipment for a discount. However, other suppliers will do similar sessions as I found out by asking them at the ASE meeting.

As part of their assessment, the Science PGs are expected to write a scheme of work incorporating use of ICT. (See Download 5.0e).  Download 5.0e contains some examples of work done in subject methodology sessions.

* If you are interested in purchasing these materials, please contact David Murray ( at University of Cumbria
Download P4.3_5.0a 'ICT in Science'
Download P4.3_5.0b 'ICT Booklet'
Download P4.3_5.0c 'Review Forms'
Download P4.3_5.0d 'Assessment'
Download P4.3_5.0e 'Use of ICT in Subject Methodology Sessions'

6.0 Resources on the Use of ICT in Science


  • Byrne J, Sharp J (2002) Using ICT in Primary Science Teaching. Learning Matters
  • Dickinson D. and Jarvis T. (2001) Data Handling in Primary Science University of Leicester: SCIcentre 
  • Feasey R and Gallear B (2001) Primary Science and Information Communication Technology Hatfield: ASE ISBN 0863573193
  • Frost, R. (2000 revised) IT in Primary Science Hatfield: ASE ISBN 0952025736
  • Frost, R. (2001 revised) Data logging in Practice Hatfield: ASE ISBN 0952025744.
  • Frost, R. (2000 revised) Data logging & Control Hatfield: ASE ISBN 095202571X.
  • Frost, R. (2000 revised) IT in Secondary Science Hatfield: ASE ISBN 0952025728.
  • D. Sang & Frost, R. (2005) Teaching Secondary Science using ICT London: Hodder Murray
    (Roger Frost’s books are supported and extended by his web site which has articles about ICT, sensors, science and software)
  • Newton, L R and Rogers, L (2001) Teaching Science with ICT. London: Continuum

Interesting Articles

ICT Audit

  • SWELTEC audit - online and printable version
  • Online ICT audit - Cardiff School of Education

Electronic Whiteboards

Powerpoint Presentations



Reviews and Evaluations

(All the websites referred to in this module were downloaded in late February 2009)

Section Prepared by:
Aftab Gujral, University of Cumbria

Published: 23 Sep 2005, Last Updated: 02 Mar 2009