CPD taster - Effective A level practical work in chemistry

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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 chemistry (NY313).  


How do you make the most of practical work for learning at advanced level, whist also engaging your students in the subject?

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.

  1. Download the Gatsby Good Practical Science summary for schools.
  2. Read the benchmarks on page 2.
  3. Make a note of your strengths and areas for development in relation to benchmarks 1 - 4:
    1. Planned practical science
    2. Purposeful practical science
    3. Expert teachers
    4. Frequent and varied practical science
  4. Repeat this for benchmark 8 (Investigative projects). Do you notice any significant differences?

Task 2: Developing inquiry-based experiments

This task asks you to think about how experiments can be tweaked and developed to make them more inquiry and problem-solving based.

  1. Choose a titration you are planning to do soon.
  2. 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 a real-life scenario. You may want to look at the suggestions in the Teacher notes that accompany the Royal Society of Chemistry Titration screen experiment for some ideas on how to apply titrations to different contexts.

Next steps

In this summary video, Gill discusses one approach to the task using a real life scenario for acid-based titration as an example. This CPD course will further develop your pedagogical and subject knowledge to enhance the practical elements of your teaching.

Book your place on Effective A level practical work in chemistry (NY313).

Show health and safety information

Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

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