New EEF guidance report published: Improving Secondary Science
Seven practical recommendations focused on improving science teaching, particularly for disadvantaged pupils
Almost all pupils develop their own explanations for science concepts before they learn about them in lessons.
But their ideas about things like ‘how plants grow’ or ‘how we see things’ don’t always align with scientific understanding, according to new guidance for improving science teaching published today by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
However, the report suggests that teachers can harness these common misconceptions to improve pupils’ learning.
To be published on 24th January 2020Download PDF get_app
Special Educational Needs & Disabilities
To be published on 6th December 2019Download PDF get_app
Improving Social and Emotional Learning in Primary Schools
To be published on 20th September 2019Download PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Pop Quiz - What’s the best way to start a lesson?Download PDF get_app
Content Specialist (Multiple Locations) (open)
We are recruiting for four specialist positions, covering: Literacy/English, Numeracy/Maths, Science and Learning Behaviours (behaviour, self-regulation and metacognition).Download PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Teacher Choices Trials - our new approach to researching questions teachers want answers toDownload PDF get_app
Guest Blog: The Vital Importance of Vocabulary in MathsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: The Best Laid Plans of Secondary LiteracyDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: How the EEF identifies our Promising Projects (and what we do next)Download PDF get_app
Three new programmes added to list of EEF Promising ProjectsDownload PDF get_app
Learning Language and Loving It (TM) - The Hanen Program® for Early Childhood EducatorsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants - what have we learned so far about supporting schools to put evidence into action?Download PDF get_app
EEF publishes first scale-up evaluations
Evaluating campaigns to promote effective use of evidenceDownload PDF get_app
Suffolk Challenge Fund
Partnership with Suffolk County Council’s Raising the Bar programmeDownload PDF get_app
New EEF podcast looks at working memory
Trialled and Tested: Working MemoryDownload PDF get_app
Ensure explicit connections are made between learning from everyday classroom teaching structured interventionsDownload PDF get_app
Adopt evidence-based interventions to support TAs in their small group and one-to-one instructionDownload PDF get_app
Use TAs to deliver high quality one-to-one and small group support using structured interventionsDownload PDF get_app
Ensure TAs are fully prepared for their role in the classroomDownload PDF get_app
Use TAs to help pupils develop independent learning skills and manage their own learningDownload PDF get_app
Use TAs to add value to what teachers do, not replace themDownload PDF get_app
TAs should not be used as an informal teaching resource for low attaining pupilsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Can a programme that works also widen the attainment gap?Download PDF get_app
EEF publishes new evaluation reports, including findings from ‘growth mindsets’ approachDownload PDF get_app
EEF announces major expansion of Research Schools Network
10 schools across England win funding to support school improvement in their regionDownload PDF get_app
Foreign language learning and its impact on wider academic outcomes: A rapid evidence assessment (closed)
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is commissioning a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of the best available evidence on the impact of foreign language learningDownload PDF get_app
Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools
Seven recommendations related to reading, writing, talk, vocabulary development and supporting struggling students.Download PDF get_app
Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools: 7 recommendation in new EEF report
New guidance on improving literacy in secondary schoolsDownload PDF get_app
Provide high-quality literacy interventions for struggling studentsDownload PDF get_app
Combine writing instruction with reading in every subjectDownload PDF get_app
Develop students’ ability to read complex academic textsDownload PDF get_app
Provide targeted vocabulary instruction in every subjectDownload PDF get_app
Prioritise ‘disciplinary literacy’ across the curriculumDownload PDF get_app
Strengthen the link between the Pupil Premium and teaching, says new EEF guideDownload PDF get_app
Find out how to improve outcomes in maths for 7-14 year oldsDownload PDF get_app
New guidance published for post-16 leaders to maximise the impact of their Learning Support AssistantsDownload PDF get_app
Improving Behaviour in Schools
Six recommendations for improving behaviour in schoolsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: There’s a clear need for schools to have consistent and clear behaviour policiesDownload PDF get_app
Improving behaviour in schools: 6 recommendations in new EEF reportDownload PDF get_app
Tailor targeted approaches to meet the needs of individuals in your schoolDownload PDF get_app
Use simple approaches as part of your regular routineDownload PDF get_app
Use classroom management strategies to support good classroom behaviourDownload PDF get_app
Teach learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviourDownload PDF get_app
Know and understand your pupils and their influencesDownload PDF get_app
Sir Kevan Collins to step down as Chief Executive at the Education Endowment FoundationDownload PDF get_app
New EEF trial results: +3 months’ boost for primary pupils’ maths resultsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Evidence in the absence of impact - lessons learnt from applying neuroscience in the classroomDownload PDF get_app
“The EEF has revolutionised education research within and beyond England” - Children’s MinisterDownload PDF get_app
School Choices: Understanding the impact of school-level decisions and policies (closed)Download PDF get_app
New EEF podcast looks at Embedding Formative Assessment
Trialled and Tested: Embedding Formative AssessmentDownload PDF get_app
Supporting school improvement in the regions
Our approach to engaging and supporting more schools, especially those serving areas of disadvantageDownload PDF get_app
What Works Centre users 2019 survey: we’d like help understanding how people make judgments and decisions.Download PDF get_app
10 new Research Schools wanted to boost EEF’s regional workDownload PDF get_app
New EEF guidance report published: ‘Using Digital Technology to Improve Learning’Download PDF get_app
Using Digital Technology to Improve Learning
Four recommendations on using digital technology to improve children's learningDownload PDF get_app
Technology can play a role in improving assessment and feedbackDownload PDF get_app
Technology offers ways to improve the impact of pupil practiceDownload PDF get_app
Technology can be used to improve the quality of explanations and modellingDownload PDF get_app
Consider how technology will improve teaching and learning before introducing itDownload PDF get_app
Social care: new project will use EEF trials to gain insights into educational interventions for vulnerable young peopleDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Teacher training - the challenge of changeDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: How do we make EEF trials as informative as possible?Download PDF get_app
EEF Blog: 10 top tips for school leaders and governing boardsDownload PDF get_app
New EEF guide to support school governing boards publishedDownload PDF get_app
Guide for governing boards
A quick way into the evidence we make freely available to all schools, to support better-informed discussion in governing boards.Download PDF get_app
Early-career support: online teacher developmentDownload PDF get_app
Three new EEF initiatives to improve teacher retentionDownload PDF get_app
Review of evidence on early years and KS1 maths teachingDownload PDF get_app
Kevan Collins in Public Finance: ‘Early years policy should tackle the social mobility divide’Download PDF get_app
EEF Blog: When does an EEF-funded project become promising?Download PDF get_app
375 schools and nurseries in the north of England wanted to take part in new trials
Sending parents tips and activities by text one of four trials announced in partnership with Shine and DfEDownload PDF get_app
According to the 'Improving Secondary Science' report, put together by a panel of teachers and leading experts, teachers should have a clear understanding of the common misconceptions in the area they’re teaching so that they know the issues that are likely to be problematic for their pupils. Teachers should also work to uncover the specific misconceptions their pupils hold through class and group discussion, before moving on to challenge these.
While these preconceptions can be hard to shift, presenting pupils with compelling evidence that contradicts them can be a good way to move thinking on. For example, many pupils find it hard to understand that the space between gas particles is empty and will often say it is filled with ‘air’, ‘dust’, or ‘bacteria’. However, showing that it is possible to compress a gas, for example by pushing down a syringe, is a good way of opening a discussion about what this means about the spaces between gas particles.
Building on pupils’ preconceptions is one of seven recommendations in today’s report designed to support secondary schools to provide every pupil – but particularly those from disadvantaged homes - with a high-quality and well-rounded grounding in science and an interest that may lead them to further study. Improving Secondary Science reviews the best available research to offer science teachers practical classroom suggestions.
Previous research by the EEF and the Royal Society found that there is a gap in science outcomes between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates at every stage in the education system. The gap first becomes apparent at Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7) and only gets wider throughout primary and secondary school and on to A-level.
This earlier research found that it is not lack of motivation to learn science that is contributing to the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off classmates. Analysis of attainment data found that the biggest predictors of pupils’ attainment in science are their levels of literacy and their scientific reasoning ability.
A second recommendation in today’s report focuses on developing pupils’ scientific vocabulary to support them to read and write about science. According to the report, “learning science involves learning a whole new language and it is important that you develop pupils’ fluency in that language.”
While pupils need to learn scientific words like photosynthesis or carbon dioxide, they struggle most with familiar words that have a different meaning in science. The report recommends that pupils are explicitly taught words that have a different meaning in science - like valid, random or spontaneous – so that they can understand and interpret scientific texts.
The other five recommendations focus on:
- Using models to develop understanding
- Developing children’s abilities to self-regulate aspects of their learning.
- Supporting pupils’ memory skills, so that they can retain and retrieve knowledge.
- Using experiments purposefully.
- Using structured feedback to move on pupils’ thinking.
Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
Many pupils come up with their own explanations for the science concepts they meet on a daily basis, before they learn about them school. While these misconceptions are often difficult to shift, teachers can use them to challenge their pupils. Giving them compelling evidence that contradicts their own ideas can be a great way of boosting learning.
This is one of seven practical recommendations in today’s report focused on improving science teaching, particularly for disadvantaged pupils. The attainment gap in science may not be as well-documented as the gap in English and maths, but our earlier research has shown that it’s just as pervasive
Notes to editors
- The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a grant-making charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust (now part of Impetus–The Private Equity Foundation), with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education. The EEF is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £96 million to test the impact of 160 projects reaching over 10,000 schools, nurseries and colleges across England, and involving more than one million children and young people. The EEF and Sutton Trust are, together, the government-designated What Works Centre for Education.
- The full report will be available here, from 0001 on Friday 21 September 2018.