Nuffield Biology

The Nuffield Science Teaching Project began in 1962. One of the first problems tackled by the project was the teaching of O-level biology, chemistry and physics. Nuffield Biology was planned as a five-year programme up to age of 16. The project team produced a textbook for students and a parallel Teachers’ Guide for each year of the course.

Aims 

  • To develop and encourage an attitude of curiosity and enquiry
  • To develop a contemporary outlook on the subject
  • To develop an understanding of man as a living organism and his place in nature
  • To foster a realisation of the variety of life and of underlying similarities among living things
  • To encourage a respect and feeling for all living things
  • To teach the art of planning scientific investigations, the formulation of questions, and the design of experiments (particularly the use of controls)
  • To develop a critical approach to evidence
  • To develop the a number of key ideas about biology as part of human endeavour.

Key ideas about biology 

  • Biology has been developing over many centuries: there are many unanswered questions about life; our ideas of life may change as new knowledge is obtained
  • That biological knowledge is the product of scientists working in many different parts of the world. Its pursuit is international
  • That it is based not only on observation and experimentation but also on questioning, the formulation of hypotheses, testing of hypotheses, and, above all, on communication between people
  • That developments in chemistry, physics, and mathematics are helping us to make advances in biology.

Structure of the course 

The course was presented in two parts: the first two years which were regarded as introductory, and the remaining three which constituted the next (intermediate) phase leading to GCE O-level. The introductory phase was characterised by a broad general approach to the subject. In the intermediate phase the treatment became more quantitative with greater emphasis on experimentation and reasoning.

Teaching methods

In the preface the project team stated that any course very largely succeeds or fails because of the way it is taught. The writers suggested that how we teach is certainly as important as what we teach. Like other Nuffield courses at the time, Nuffield Biology placed great emphasis on practical work carried out by students. The purpose of this was to encourage a spirit of enquiry. In class practical work the accent was either on using information, techniques, and concepts or on working them out. So these were essentially seen as an investigatory or problem-solving activities. Teacher demonstrations were included as a method of imparting a piece of information, describing a concept or technique, or introducing a point for discussion, without the trial and error confusion that invariably plays a part in class work.

Resources

Nuffield Biology: Year One - Introducing Living Things

The title of the first year of the original Nuffield Biology course is ‘Introducing Living Things’. This makes up the first year of the introductory two-year programme. This introductory phase is characterised by a broad general approach to the subject.

The textbook is highly illustrated in black and white...

Publication date:
1960 - 1969

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Nuffield Biology: Year Two - Life and Living Processes

The title of the second year of the original Nuffield Biology course is ‘Life and Living Processes’. This makes up the second year of the introductory two-year programme. This introductory phase is characterised by a broad general approach to the subject.

The textbook is highly illustrated in black and white...

Publication date:
1960 - 1969

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Nuffield Biology: Year Three - The Maintenance of Life

The title of the third year of the original Nuffield Biology course is ‘The Maintenance of Life’. This is the start of the three-year intermediate programme leading to certification at age 16.

The textbook is highly illustrated in black and white with clear line diagrams, often in three dimensions. It...

Publication date:
1960 - 1969

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Nuffield Biology: Year Four - Living Things in Action

The title of the fourth year of the original Nuffield Biology course is ‘Living Things in Action’. This makes up the middle year of the three-year intermediate programme leading to certification at age 16.

The textbook is highly illustrated in black and white with clear line diagrams, often in three...

Publication date:
1960 - 1969

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