Rationale and design process
It is generally accepted that practical work is an essential part of effective science education. Empirical research, however, does not suggest that practical work necessarily improves learning. This depends on the pedagogy employed in practical science lessons. Initiatives such as the SCORE/ASE funded Getting Practical projecthave raised some important issues around how practical work is used, and the barriers and drivers to good practice.
The Practical Work for Learning project was developed in 2012 to build on these initiatives and to complement the three Nuffield practical websites – Practical Biology, Practical Chemistry, and Practical Physics.
The design process
Many different pedagogical approaches could be applied to practical work. This project explores three of these; Argumentation, Model-based inquiry, and Science in the workplace.
The following design process was used to develop materials to support practical science lessons using each of these approaches:
For each approach, a summary was produced encompassing the key findings of related research, possible implications of the research for practical work and suggested interventions. These summaries are available on the research page of this site.
The research informed the development of a small selection of exemplar resources, demonstrating the approaches in the context of practical work.
Feedback from trialling in 22 schools was used to improve the content and presentation of the teacher guidance and resources before publication.
All teaching resources have been safety checked by CLEAPSS.