A collection of links and resources from a Science Day with the West Somerset Research School and day 1 of the Science Course from the Norwich Research School. Slides for the Norwich Science course (day 1) are here 

You can also listen to a podcast about the whole report with Sir John Holman and Emily Yeomans (the authors) and also me here

Memory and retrieval


I wrote a post on memory and Science teaching with loads of links and resources here  .

Retrieval practice can be a powerful way of helping students retain and later access things they’ve learned. This beautiful graphic comes from Efrat Furst’s site.


There are many ways to introduce retrieval practice into lessons, and this article by Adam Boxer is a really good introduction to how and why you might use it in Science. The article includes a retrieval roulette resource, and he’s also collected roulettes from other teachers here.



…but the main point is to understand how and why it is effective, so you can tweak what you do, rather than ripping everything up and starting again.


Extraneous cognitive load and practical work

In W Somerset, I introduced Cognitive Load theory and the Split attention effect. It’s worth considering whether you are expecting students to hold information in their working memory while they interpret a diagram.


David Paterson has been looking at the impact of using practical sheets with integrated instructions (to reduce extraneous load), and you can read more (and download the sheets) here, Adam Boxer has also produced some here.


Intrinsic cognitive load and Shed Loads of Practice

Using worked examples or partially solved examples that take pupils through each step of a process reduces the cognitive load at first, but it’s important to remove this help with time.


Rosalind Walker has produced textbooks with lots of practice questions for each topic she teaches in Physics and Adam Boxer has also written “mastery” booklets here. He’s also produced them for all the AQA required practicals. Pritesh Raichura has written a beautiful post about how and why he designs Biology textbooks, with some examples to download here.


Metacognition: making the implicit explicit and the tacit deliberate



I wrote about metacognition and self-regulation previously and Lauren Stephenson has written two good posts about metacognition and Science education here and here.


On both days, we talked about how students need more support in the early stages, when supporting them with metacognative strategies, and then they gradually need less support. I gave the analogy of cycling with my kids, and turning right. I narrate all my thinking and decisions at the moment, because I want them to be able to do this without me one day. But for the moment, they need my support.



Feedback: it’s not (just) marking… and marking isn’t (always) feedback


I think one of the most important things I ever read in recent years was A Marked Improvement. And this article by Dan Beech is really useful on how to help students reflect on feedback, rather than just look at their grade and forget it.

I also think Harry Fletcher-Wood’s book: Responsive Teaching is  excellent at exemplifying the research. The table below is an example of how he summarises the research into different questions you can consider or ask: