CPD taster - Effective A level practical work in biology
This is a CPD taster created to give teachers a better understanding of what to expect when joining one of our secondary science courses. Below you will find a video and a task for you to do in your own time. Once you have done the activity, book on to Effective A level practical work in biology (NY312).
Practical work brings science alive for many students, but how do you make the most of practical work for learning? Throughout secondary science, teachers consider carefully the role of practical work in developing understanding and progression of students’ practical skills. This ensures practical work is successful. Students engaging with practical work at A level have excellent opportunities to develop skills for further study and a range of careers.
In this video, professional development lead Gill Gunnill introduces you to the evidence-based 10 Benchmarks for Practical Science from the Gatsby Good Practical Science report. There are then two short tasks which invite you to use the benchmarks to reflect on your practice and consider if making changes to an upcoming practical could enhance learning by making the practical more inquiry-based.
Task 1: Reflecting on the benchmarks
This short task asks you to consider benchmarks 1-4 and benchmark 8 from the Gatsby Good Practical Science report, and consider where you are on your journey to meeting them. Gill then discusses benchmark 8 in more detail.
- Download the Gatsby Good Practical Science summary for schools.
- Read the benchmarks on page 2.
- Make a note of your strengths and areas for development in relation to benchmarks 1 - 4:
- Planned practical science
- Purposeful practical science
- Expert teachers
- Frequent and varied practical science
- Repeat this for benchmark 8 (Investigative projects). Do you notice any significant differences?
Task 2: Developing inquiry-based practicals
This task asks you to think about how practicals can be tweaked and developed to make them more inquiry and problem-solving based.
- Choose a practical you are planning to do soon.
- Note some changes that you could make to increase the level of inquiry, perhaps thinking about:
- A follow up where students use a technique they have learned to formulate their own question and perhaps gather data to try to answer it.
- A mathematical reasoning element.
- A problem solving element, for example using food tests to identify an unknown substance.
In this summary video, Gill discusses one approach to the task using the root tip mitosis practical as an example. This CPD course will further develop your pedagogical and subject knowledge to enhance the practical elements of your teaching.
Supporting resource: Root tip squash practical showing mitosis.