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Probably the most significant change over previous A-level syllabuses was the introduction of modular courses. Modular courses were advocated because they have certain advantages over traditional courses. Advanced Supplementary AS Levels Advanced Supplementary examinations were introduced in the late s as one way of encouraging the broadening of the curriculum post These examination courses were defined as half the content of an A-level course but at the same academic level.

Originally a wide range of both contrasting and complementary subjects was envisaged. These courses have enormous potential The science curriculum and science in the curriculum 55 for introducing breadth and flexibility into the curriculum but, so far, the response from schools and colleges has been lukewarm for a variety of reasons. A major danger is the possibility of AS-levels being used as a half-way house towards A-levels with the students facing examinations at 16, 17 and 18 years. Another problem for schools is organisational — unless the sixth form is very large it is unlikely that viable AS groupings will be generated unless they can be taught at the same time as the A-level students.

Causes for concern in post science Despite the length and heat of the debate about the post curriculum and the huge efforts to offer alternatives to students, there are still a number of concerns over current provision, many of which apply internationally: a Numbers and conflicting policies Over a period of three decades the numbers of students post taking science and mathematics has been a cause for concern — especially to Higher Education Admissions Tutors.

In practice, the percentage of the total age cohort taking these subjects has remained fairly static at between 5 per cent and 6 per cent. But as the numbers remaining in full-time education post have risen steeply, the proportion of those staying on and studying science and mathematics has dropped. In the meantime, subjects like business studies have seen a massive growth.

There has also been a direct contradiction between the rhetoric of politicians and their policy. However, research by Fitzgibbon suggested that the policy of enforcing national league tables for school exam results has discouraged schools from allowing students to follow maths and science A-level courses, fearing that they might fail. As a consequence, the numbers of students going on to Higher Education in these areas is decreasing. This vicious circle, and the contradiction between rhetoric and policy, is obvious but extremely damaging for the future of science.

As for breadth, many schools have turned to the International Baccalaureate IB to overcome the narrowness of A-level. The IB is an international 56 Science teaching, the curriculum and the nature of science qualification with candidates in 95 countries. Students can take six subjects from different areas of the curriculum e. This lack of esteem occurs in the eyes of teachers, students, parents and even employers.

The move to introduce core or key skills to all post courses may help but the academic—vocational divide is still a large gap to bridge see Hodkinson and Mathinson At present, the post picture with its wide range of qualifications ranging from NVQ to the Baccalaureate does remain something of a quagmire. It is little wonder that employers claim to be mystified by it and that some universities explicitly or implicitly favour applicants with so-called traditional qualifications.

Conclusion The future of post science education looks murky and uncertain. However, what can be said with certainty is that: a Post science courses in the future will need to meet a diverse range of needs, they will need to be flexible perhaps modular , and will need to cater for lifelong learning. References and further reading The evolution of the science curriculum Dunne, D. The science curriculum and science in the curriculum 57 Driver, R. Jenkins, E. Waring, M. Examining the science curriculum more deeply Bloom, B. Claxton, G. Ryle, G. Screen, P. Smail, B. For an interesting discussion on what constitutes a balanced science course see: Kirkham, J.

The post curriculum Fitzgibbon, C. Gadd, K. Hodkinson, P. Jessup, G. Pring, R. Winn, P. Yeomans, D. Young, M.


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The entire issue of Physics Education, vol. Key skills and their place in science Key skills have been growing in importance for a number of years, in the UK and in other parts of the world. More recently they are becoming an explicit element of all subjects in secondary and primary education. In fact, science classrooms primary and secondary provide as good a context as any subject for the opportunity to nurture them. The April issue of Education in Science provides an excellent starting point for further reading in this area, with five short articles on key skills at different phases.

Class teacher to student teacher: They should be able to do it. Student teacher to class teacher: Have they done ionisation energy? Class teacher to class: You did it with me. Before Christmas. Student 1: You might have done it. From a school in Yorkshire, England The thing that struck me about this exchange was that nobody could agree about learning.

Everyone was uncertain about it. This was an odd state of affairs, because lessons are supposed to be for learning. If not, then what is the point of education? It would be odd if some people produced a newspaper but could not agree what was in it. That makes it elusive to observe and even to think about — and perhaps that is why teaching often has a higher profile than learning in education.

Secondary Science: Contemporary Issues and Practical Approaches

Think of the teaching: what was taught, how well it was taught, who taught it, was it taught scientifically appropriately? Now think of the learning and check the same four questions, substituting learned for taught. In the course of this it will be useful to settle on some working definitions for words like learning, knowledge, understanding and so on, because they are overworked in everyday language and confusions easily arise. A glossary is included at the end of the chapter. Science teachers are used to this problem, with words like power, chemical, animal and so on, which have everyday usage but which need more precise definitions to be used scientifically.

Why theories? But there are two good reasons for science teachers not to fear the T-word. The first is that science itself is full of theories. It is a massive achievement in human theorising; more than that it is an amazingly productive synthesis of thinking and doing.

The second reason for science teachers to be comfortable with theory in education is that they have written quite a bit of it themselves. Why though are some teachers sceptical, even hostile towards educational research? The trouble with teaching is that contrary to some public opinion, it takes a lot of time. After teaching, assessing and doing everything else the job entails, most teachers have neither the time nor the energy to do any in-depth checking or other researching into the effects of their work, the nature of their job, the curriculum or anything else.

Surveys, comparisons and evaluations are very difficult for teachers to carry out at the same time as holding down a full timetable. The problem with this, as Spinoza pointed out over three hundred years ago, is that those who ignore history are condemned forever to repeat it. If teaching is to develop and change in a changing world, there must be a place for reflection and research. Some educators and researchers in education have come to the conclusion that, as a foundation for their activities, they must develop some theoretical ideas as to how children build up their picture of the world they experience.

Glasersfeld 21 Learning in science 63 What can theories offer to teachers? The first thing is that if a theory is any good it should at least add something to common sense. It might do so by extending, reinforcing or even conflicting with common sense. Its perspective may be sharper or its conclusions firmer. It may spotlight differences that to the common-sense view are invisible.

The topics include the following: How do people learn? Do students know any science before they are taught it? How can teachers find out what students have learned? How does mental maturity influence thinking? Can mental maturing be accelerated? Is there more than one kind of learning? Do students learn from practical work?

From discussion? Can we learn how to learn? This chapter is based on the idea that if more could be learnt about how people learn, then pupils and teachers would both benefit. The chapter sets out to give a brief introduction to some theories of learning, to some ideas that children have in science and to some possible approaches for teachers. Suggestions for further reading are given at the end.

Most science teachers are well qualified in science and have completed school science courses with considerable success. Does this show that science teaching and learning are on sound footings? Consider these views: Never. Kyle Unfortunately we must face the bitter truth that most students in schools all over the world do not understand. Gardner a Imagine all the children born in, for example, Britain in Figure 4. Since then it has declined steadily. If you doubt this, select a few adults more or less at random and ask them some science from key stage three of the national curriculum.

It costs a fortune to educate the nation in science as ineffectually as this! Why learning: why not focus on teaching? The most common concern shared by student teachers in the early stages of their qualification courses is survival in the classroom. Will they do what I tell them? Am I covering the curriculum? Is the class properly controlled?

What do I want them to learn? How can I enhance their learning? The more we know about learning the better we can teach. How do people learn? How did you get that way? How come your learning in that field has been successful? What would you pick out as the key factors that have contributed to your successful learning? You might be able to come up with responses to these questions in a matter of seconds. Do your responses have anything to say about teaching? In other words, can anything be learned about effective teaching from your own successful learning?

Much more research would be needed before generalisations were justifiable. But self-reflection is a good start. Their powers of reasoning and their capacity to experience ranges of emotions increase. As they grow they are able to learn new ideas. What kinds of tasks and problems can children solve at different ages? This question was studied in detail by Jean Piaget. According to Piaget, children make meaning for themselves: they learn through actively constructing knowledge. A new experience might be assimilated by a child into her or his current cognitive structure.

Piaget believed that although cognitive development in children is a continuous process, it does not take place smoothly, at a steady rate. He identified 66 Practical approaches to science teaching Figure 4. Children of school age have normally reached either the concrete operational stage or the formal operational stage. Concrete operational thinking involves processes such as classifying, sorting and ordering objects. The child has developed ideas of conservation and reversibility; when a ball of Plasticine is moulded into a new shape and then rolled back into a ball, the child may know that the amount and weight of Plasticine remain unchanged through the cycle.

Driver 55 illustrates the type of inferential logical problem that might be solved at this cognitive stage: if water in beaker A is hotter than water in beaker B, and water in beaker B is hotter than water in beaker C, which beaker has the coldest water in it? Formal operational thinking is associated with the use of hypothetical models for the purpose of explaining things. It is characteristic of situations involving several variables and also of the use of the mathematical notions of ratio and proportion.

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The significance of these cognitive stages of development for science teachers, then, is that some forms of learning cannot be achieved until children reach the formal operational stage. Learning in science 67 It has been argued that familiarity with the idea of stages of cognitive development will allow teachers to devise approaches to the science curriculum with greater insight Shayer and Adey Piaget was educated as a biologist and his view of knowledge as adaptively useful to an individual clearly draws on his science background. The idea of knowing as adapting has been extended by Glasersfeld; this is explored in the following section.

But this is not the only direction in which the connection between biology and thinking has developed. For further reading in this field see, e. The question was: Is space full of aether? Aether was an attractive idea because it gave a sense of absoluteness to space and it helped to overcome difficult puzzles such as how light travelled through space from the sun to the Earth.

A famous experiment by Michelson and Morley in was designed to show the effect of the Earth moving through the aether. No effect was found. Within twenty years Einstein proposed that we cannot detect absolute physical properties of space; the only properties we can detect are relative ones. There are some similarities between the evolution of these ideas in physics and those in some fields of psychology and philosophy.

Another name for this model of teaching is the tabula rasa or blank slate approach; it used to be commonplace in undergraduate lectures. The inductive realist view has been seriously challenged by numerous writers for many years. Glasersfeld Nor is it something that is passed about in immutable form. This includes scientific knowledge. Radical constructivism has both strong supporters myself included and vigorous critics. As with any serious challenge to tradition, it has prompted a range of reactions from curiosity and excitement to anxiety and hostility.

To sample the views of both supporters and critics of constructivism, see the journal Science and Education; the whole of volume 6, numbers 1 and 2, January is devoted to the topic. Learning in science 69 4 Vygotsky and Bruner: Learning with a little help from friends No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main. John Donne, c. Up to now, intellectual development and knowledge construction have been considered from the point of view of the individual. But we are a social species, the more so by virtue of our possession of language.

Is this significant? Do interpersonal processes influence how and what we learn? Therefore, whatever we scientists do as we do science has validity and meaning, as any other human activity does, only in the context of human coexistence in which it arises. For Maturana, we exist in language, experience takes place in language and we know what we know through its constitution in language. Maturana may be regarded by some as holding a radical view but the underlying point, that knowledge is constructed by individuals through interpersonal processes, is now shared by many people.

Jerome Bruner stressed the importance of language in cognitive development nearly thirty years earlier. Around this time, the work of L. Vygotsky began to appear in the West, having been suppressed for two decades in Russia. The implication is that meaning is constructed not only through processes operating on individuals — such as the stimulation of senses or the mediation of prior knowledge — but also through processes of social communication. He used to test their capabilities by asking them to attempt various tasks. The result would be another profile, with generally higher values in the measured domains than when the child worked alone.

One account of this Vygotsky, 86 70 Practical approaches to science teaching Figure 4. The arrows in Figure 4. Since a central issue in teaching is the promotion and guidance of learning, the effectiveness of teaching could be judged according to how it assists or otherwise the construction and direction of these arrows.

The purpose of scaffolding in the building trade is to support the process of construction, not to support the structure itself. This is a much broader notion than the functional object described above: e. In the typical classroom children are taught to view the major activities in the ZPD — working together, imitating that produces something other than mere repetition, collectively changing the total determining environment into something that is not predetermined, reshaping the existing tools of language and play into new meanings and discovery — as illegitimate.

This contrasts sharply with the idea that learning can take place until it reaches limits imposed by the current level of development, a view associated with Piaget. In a systemic view it is not a characteristic of the child alone but rather it is an aspect of the large, complex system consisting of the child and her or his environment. Meaningful learning contrasts with this because it results in knowledge that is not superficial or arbitrary but is well connected with other knowledge.

Teaching and learning secondary science: contemporary issues and practical approaches

Rote learning, on the other hand, occurs if the learning task consists of purely arbitrary associations. Ausubel et al. Learning can, for example, be both meaningful and rote, depending on context. In school, children sometimes learn to use technical language in skilful, socially meaningful ways, without having any technical understanding of the words. Pupils then adopt them because of their efficacy, not in the solving of scientific problems, but in satisfying the teachers. Dreyfuss and Jungwirth 51 There are traps for the unsuspecting teacher here. Over the next few days we had stories and drawings of bridges, walls, portal frames, triangles and arches.

Finally I suggested we finish off with doors, windows and lintels. I drew a brick wall with a hole in for a window. I drew another wall with a window hole and a space above for a lintel. Ausubel contrasted this with Learning in science 73 Table 4. Both of these learning situations have been sharply criticised. After a period in the s and s when discovery learning was fashionable in science education, it has gone out of vogue. Memory is essential: without it there can be no learning. If we can theorise about how we remember, some useful implications for teaching may arise.

White and Gunstone developed this approach further. Attention seems to me to be necessary for learning. The question of just how much attention in needed is interesting. When asleep we learn how to cope with the edge of the bed so as not to fall out; this suggests a minimum level of attention for learning. If we were drunk, however, this level of attention may not be feasible! I think the answer is because it is unnatural. Curiosity is a human characteristic. We inherit a roving attention, which is adept at scanning the environment. Particular things capture our attention naturally: movement, change in environment, unusual or surprising things, attractive and interesting things, and so on.

It sometimes surprises me how much attention some teachers manage to get given the competition! Attention may not be enough. People obviously pay attention when driving or riding a bike but they can rarely provide much detail about a completed journey. If, say, you knew you were going to be asked how many traffic lights you stopped at or whether there was a post box on a particular corner, you would focus your attention on that particular issue. In the cognitive domain which includes much of school science for anything more than superficial learning to occur, engagement is necessary.

It was observed earlier in this chapter that learning is widely regarded as a process of constructing.

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New knowledge is sometimes said to be constructed by synthesising current experiences and current knowledge. I prefer to think of the new knowledge as emerging from thinking about current experiences and about current knowledge, with the thinking itself influenced by current knowledge. I include conscious and nonconscious thoughts in this. If this all seems rather abstract, hold on to the central point: learning arises from making constructions between the present and the past.

We learn all the time. It is in our biology to do this. Educational research and classroom teaching have both tended to focus attention on cognition. But there are those who argue that the affective domain cannot be ignored. We can explore this now. The idea that people have different intelligences in different fields such as maths, art, personal interaction, sport and so on has been around for several years e.

Gardner b. Schools have focused on cognitive intelligence, however, rather than other fields. As the view has grown that the affect strongly influences cognition, there have been calls for greater attention to be given to emotional intelligence, motivation and student self-image.

In one study described by Salmon , some children were asked to attempt some school-type tasks. The standard they achieved while pretending was markedly higher! No, for two reasons: i this chapter contains my selection of significant theoretical views on learning and other people may have made other selections or may view mine differently; ii this is a rapidly developing field and new ideas are currently emerging.

As Edelman puts it: We are at the beginning of a neuroscientific revolution. At its end, we shall know how the mind works, what governs our nature, and how we know the world. Indeed, what is now going on in neuroscience may be looked at as a prelude to the largest possible scientific revolution, one with inevitable and important social consequences.

When applied to science teaching, this prompts the following questions: do children have any ideas in science and if so, what are they like? As shown in Figure 4. Osborne and Freyberg 6. Another study reported by Osborne and Freyberg used cards like those shown in Figure 4. What happens to the light? The year-olds had studied light as a science topic and they could define terms like refraction and reflection reasonably well.

Learning in science Figure 4. Source: Holding et al. What makes the water go into the syringe? Explain as fully as you can. The watter is therefore sucked in. Again, these responses show different views from those held in the scientific community but this time there is evidence of a clear, coherent alternative idea, namely that suction is an active causative agency.

Some of these more commonly occurring ideas will be familiar to teachers. The journal School Science Review is another good source. It contains strands of astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science and physics. In contrast with this the typical degrees held by science teachers and student Learning in science 79 teachers are narrow.

I have yet to meet a student teacher who has been justifiably confident in all strands of the key stage 3 science curriculum for most 11—14 year olds. Many experienced science teachers have gaps in their curriculum knowledge. Knowing about the gaps is half the battle. From newly qualified science teachers in Britain are required by the Department for Education to have found and filled their gaps at key stage 3 during their teaching courses.

Responsibility for this falls in large measure on the student teachers themselves, because of the short time spent in university or college and because of the teaching commitments of staff in schools. One way of identifying gaps that has been used successfully by student teachers is to use the diagnostic questions described in the previous section.

Here are some for you to try. As it travels up, what do you think happens to: its speed? Its acceleration? The force on it? What do you think is in the bubbles?

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Source: Osborne and Freyberg Before tackling the diagnostic questions the student teachers had self-assessed their knowledge by going through the national curriculum. Compared with the self-assessment, the diagnostic survey was far more informative and useful in highlighting the gaps that the students needed to fill. Teachers, on the other hand, referred to such connections as if they were self-evident. Tasker noted that this particular mismatch was liable to lead to off-task and possibly disruptive behaviour. Something that the teacher regards as trivial may be regarded as highly significant by the students and vice versa.

One instance from my own teaching arose with the use of digital ammeters. I wanted to show the same current on either side of a bulb and I duly got readings such as 0. Some students saw the difference and concluded that current is indeed used up in the bulb! I have used analogue meters ever since. Learning in science 81 Teaching: what learning about learning teaches about teaching Anything that is known about learning has potential implications for teaching.

That is the subject of this section. The basic question is this: how can knowledge about learning help make teaching more effective? In this section I will stick with the belief that learning involves constructing connections and I will adopt a broadly constructivist view.

Secondary Science: Contemporary Issues and Practical Approaches – Bóksalan

Glasersfeld points out the benefits of this: The most widespread effect has been achieved by the very simple constructivist principle that consists in taking whatever the student produces as a manifestation of something that makes sense to the student. This not only improves the general climate of instruction but also opens the way for the teacher to arrive at an understanding of the student.

Glasersfeld Driver and Bell , working in the context of the school science curriculum, identified a set of key points which they referred to as a constructivist view of learning. The construction of meaning does not always lead to belief. Individuals are purposive beings who set their own goals and control their own learning. Some constructed meanings are shared by many students. For a short, readable discussion of this constructivist view of learning see Scott This apparently simple idea could have very significant implications for teaching and also for parenting and for some of the ways in 82 Practical approaches to science teaching which we try to persuade people to change their views.

I do not believe that these environments create two types of learning processes, one active and one passive, because I think that learning is essentially an active process. But different environments can and, I believe, inevitably do result in the construction of different kinds of new knowledge. An appropriately designed learning environment can focus learning; it can help to concentrate the energy of knowledge construction towards a particular domain of thought and experience.

In an inadequately designed learning environment, children still have intellectual energy and they still construct new ideas, but the focus is uncertain — Learning in science 83 it could be the carbon cycle but it could equally be determined by any of a whole spectrum of personal needs of each individual child. Neither of the environments described above can be guaranteed to bring about meaningful science learning, because this depends on more than the environment.

As to which is the better designed, each will have its supporters. In much the same way, activity is not, in itself, any guarantee of meaningful science learning. Students may be on their feet in a laboratory, handling scientific apparatus, talking and listening to each other, writing observations and so on but this guarantees very little about the nature of the learning that is taking place, as Tasker observed. Activity may be necessary for some forms of knowledge construction but it is by no means sufficient.

In particular, as is pointed out by Driver and elsewhere in this volume, science practical activity is rarely an end in itself: Many. Pupils need time to think around and consolidate the new ideas presented to them. After all, they may have developed their own ideas as a result of many years of experience. It is unlikely that they will easily adopt new ways of thinking as a result of one or two science lessons. What is being suggested is not a return to a more didactic teaching, but an extension of the range of types of activities in science classes.

Driver 83 In one respect, the currently established practical approach to school science in Britain stands out for having legitimised learning through social interaction, since pupils almost always carry out experimental work in small groups and it is generally accepted that they will talk to each other in the process. Whether this talk results in meaningful learning in science depends greatly on the design of the practical task and its context in the lesson.

Practical tasks which are designed on a recipe basis, or with the principal aim of simply occupying the class, are likely to result at best in rote learning — and if that is what is wanted then there are surely better ways of promoting it. Would you agree that there is more than one way to cook a potato? One way may suit one person and another may suit another. Some may like chips today and mash tomorrow. The approaches in this section are not in competition or opposition, any more than chips are in opposition to mash. They are alternative teaching approaches, all based on understandings about learning.

The psychological background is that if somebody experiences a surprise or a novelty, they may try to make sense of it in terms of what they know already. But if they cannot manage this, they may amend their knowledge to make new sense of the novelty. Here is an illustration: some children connect an electric bell to a battery.

They can hear it ringing loudly and see that the arm of the bell is moving. The teacher then produces a second, similar bell inside a glass jar. Everyone can see that the bell is connected to a battery and that its arm is moving like the first bell, but it can only just be heard. Why is this? First cognitive conflict.

Pupils might assimilate the experience by suggesting that the glass is stopping the sound or that the arm is not hitting the sounder. The teacher, who has earlier pumped air from the jar, opens a valve to let air back in and the bell can now be heard clearly second cognitive conflict. This is harder to assimilate! The intention is that pupils will accommodate a new idea, in this case that air can carry sound. Scott et al. Cognitive conflict is a good strategy but it is not infallible. Some students presented with a surprise may just want to switch off.

Some students may have their ideas shaken but not stirred enough for them to make an instant switch to a new conceptual belief. They may need time to digest and reflect on what they have experienced. They may need further evidence to persuade them to adopt a new belief. Other students, especially those used to struggling with science, may feel threatened by the uncertainty of cognitive conflict.

This may cause them to entrench, to cling firmly to a position, not because of its scientific plausibility but because it is there, something to hold on to. Then look away. Can you remember the three letters? Try it again with more. What is your short-term memory capacity? In a study which is famous for the simplicity of its conclusion, Miller found that most people can cope with roughly seven bits at once. Above that, errors creep in.


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  • So how do we recognise complex things, with many more than seven bits? We learn how to make mental economies. Consider the two patterns in Figure 4. The patterns are drawn from exactly the same elements, eight lines of different lengths. Why is the second pattern so much easier to recall? We chunk information about it into a few bits. There are very many connected ideas in science. Teachers find it much easier than children to take overviews of topics. That is because teachers have learned to use bigger chunks.

    But when it comes to teaching, the skill is to find learnersized chunks. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Routledge, Condition: New. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Jerry Wellington ; Gren Ireson. Publisher: Routledge , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:.

    Synopsis About this title This book provides a comprehensive and critical guide to the new and experienced teachers on the teaching and learning of science. This book is an introduction to the issues and practicalities of using multimedia in classrooms - both primary and secondary, This book is designed specifically for students training to teach ICT as a curriculum subject at secondary level. It develops Please note that the Lexile measures for a small population of books have been recently updated.

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