Co-written by Robert Slavin, Cynthia Lake, Pam Hanley, and Allen Thurston
Findings from a new systematic review of research on the achievement outcomes of approaches to teaching science at primary school level suggest that improving outcomes depends on improving teachers’ skills in presenting lessons, engaging and motivating pupils, and integrating science and reading.
The review summarises evidence on three types of programmes designed to improve the science achievement of primary school pupils. The authors conducted a literature search of all articles written between 1980 and 2011, and applied consistent inclusion standards to focus on studies that met high methodological standards. After examining 327 published and unpublished articles, only 17 studies met the inclusion criteria.
The results of these studies show that inquiry-based programmes that used science kits did not show positive outcomes on science achievement, but inquiry-based programmes that emphasised professional development but not kits did show positive outcomes. Technology approaches integrating video and computer resources with teaching and cooperative learning also showed promise. However, in light of the small number of qualifying studies, it must be acknowledged that any conclusions about the findings of these studies can only be tentative.
The full report, and a summarised version, is available on the Best Evidence Encyclopaedia website, www.bestevidence.org.uk