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Broadening Secondary School Science 2018-2021

Promoting the importance of science in education and how it may relate to other subjects in the curriculum.

Science teacher and pupil
Background

The project aims to promote teaching and learning about the nature and relationship of different forms of knowledge taught and learned in school classrooms, so that students are better equipped to ask and find answers to big questions of meaning, purpose, and reality that bring together science, religion, and other disciplines. The Big Questions in Classrooms theme (funded by the Templeton World Charity Organisation) raises questions about the aims of school science education, the content of the school science curriculum and how school science relates to other subjects.

Funder

Templeton World Charity Foundation

Team

Professor Michael Reiss (Principal investigator/Project director);
Dr Tamjid Mujtaba (Co-investigator/Co-director)

Project dates

September 2018 – August 2021

Aims
  • Focus on how to help teachers and students in England explore and better understand the ways in which school science relates to other school subjects
  • Help students appreciate that science is not an insular subject
  • Create a greater awareness that there are benefits for science and other subjects when science is taught in a cross-curricular way help students and teachers be better equipped to ask and find answers to big questions of meaning, purpose and reality that bring together science, religion and other disciplines.
What the project will do

The four main research questions are whether innovative teaching in school science that takes a more cross-curricular approach than is usual will:

  • produce significant change among students in the perceived compatibility between science and other curriculum subjects
  • shift how students see science
  • make students more positive about their science learning and the possibility of continuing with science, and
  • the extent to which the approach we advocate changes the views and practices of the participating teachers. 

This project concentrates on twenty secondary schools and year groups 7 - 11 (ages 11-16). The focus is on the existing teaching profession (i.e. Professional Development / in-service education / training) and by its completion the project will generate high quality resources that teachers can use. 

Methodology

Data will principally be collected through student surveys, student and teacher interviews, and student homework.

The student interview questions will complement the survey questions, enabling us to obtain richer data, albeit from a smaller number of participants. Semi-structured interviewing will be used and the interviews will ask about: student perceptions of the relevance of science to their lives and society; student interest and motivation in science; how students feel science relates to other subjects; and whether students are open to the broadening of science.