Improving Secondary Science Teaching

Improving Secondary Science Teaching

Improving Secondary Science Teaching

Improving Secondary Science Teaching

Synopsis

Improving Secondary Science Teaching has been written to help teachers both new and experienced reflect on their current practice and consider how to improve the effectiveness of their teaching. The book examines each of the common teaching methods used in science in relation to pupils' learning and provides guidance on management issues and procedures. With underlying themes such as pupils' interest in science and their motivation to learn; how pupils learn science; the type of science currently being taught in school; and the value of educational research; the book includes chapters on: * The improvement process * Planning for progression and continuity * Promoting pupils' learning * Dealing with differences * Making use of information from assessment * Learning about the nature of science This timely book will be of interest to practising science teachers, particularly those who are working to improve the management of science departments or their own teaching practice. It will also be a valuable resource for science education researchers and students on higher degree courses in science education.

Excerpt

Teaching is not to be regarded as a static accomplishment like riding a bicycle or keeping a ledger: it is, like all arts of high ambition, a strategy in the face of an impossible task.

Lawrence Stenhouse (DfEE, 1999:95)

From time to time we all take stock of where we are and what we are doing and make decisions about the future. This is usually an ad hoc process, with the decisions being made on gut feelings rather than any clearly defined strategy. The purpose of this chapter is to examine some of the key tools and processes that will help science teachers evaluate their current practice and plan for improvement. The chapter draws heavily on the school effectiveness and school improvement paradigms, and examines how these impact on the work of the department and the individual teacher.

School effectiveness

The whole notion of school effectiveness is fraught with difficulty. How does one determine what is, and what is not, effective? Is something that is deemed to be effective in one situation going to be equally effective in another situation? A working definition of school effectiveness is:

The extent to which any (educational) organisation as a social system, given certain resources and means, fulfils its objectives without incapacitating its means and resources and without placing undue strain on its members.

(Reynolds et al., 1996:2)

The research into school effectiveness is very well established, and uses sophisticated data analysis to investigate situations and draw conclusions. For example, judgements can be made on the contribution made by the school to pupils' learning by examining attainment in year 7 (Y7) and comparing it with attainment in Y11. Factors such as gender, parental socio-economic status, parental education and parental ethnicity or racial background can be taken into account. In addition to academic outcomes, effectiveness research can provide useful information on factors such as attendance, . . .

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