A new report, published by the Education Endowment Foundation, has described a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a programme that aims to make science lessons more conceptually challenging, more practical, and more interactive. The report found the approach, called Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS), appeared to have a positive impact on attainment.
The trial involved 41 schools in England, 20 acting as a control group, with 655 Year 5 pupils from the other 21 schools receiving the intervention. Their teachers received four days of professional development across 18 months, with training in a repertoire of TDTS strategies aiming to encourage pupils to use higher order thinking skills. For example, pupils are posed ‘Big Questions’, such as ‘How do you know that the earth is a sphere?’ that are used to stimulate discussion about scientific topics and the principles of scientific enquiry. The teachers were also given time to work on TDTS with colleagues.
The evaluation, carried out by the IEE, found that overall Year 5 pupils in schools using the approach made approximately three additional months’ progress. The programme had a particularly positive effect on girls and on pupils with low prior attainment, as well as a positive impact on pupils’ attitudes to science, science lessons, and practical work in particular.
National test data will be used to assess the English and mathematics outcomes of participating pupils and to measure the long-term impact of the approach, and a final report will follow in 2016.
The study is one of ten new reports published by the Education Endowment Foundation.