X Close

Institute of Education Blog

Home

Expert opinion from academics at the UCL Institute of Education

Menu

Rules of engagement: 5 takeaways for research impact from the award-winning ASPIRES project

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 July 2019

 

Tatiana Souteiro Dias and Emily Macleod

Collaboration with individuals and organisations beyond academia for the benefit of society is an increasingly important part of research teams’ activities. But how can academics achieve this when there are so many competing priorities? For Professor Louise Archer, Principal Investigator of the ASPIRES/ASPIRES 2 project – who received the 2019 ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize Panel’s Choice Award this week – investing time and effort in building long-term relationships based on trust and respect is one of the answers.

The multiple award winning team of ASPIRES, a longitudinal research project studying young people’s science and career ambitions from age 10 to 19, shared their successful impact strategies as part of the first IOE Impact Meet-up, a new series of workshops bringing together experts, doctoral students and early career researchers from the IOE to discuss how to make authentic impact a key (more…)

Evolution: as a religious professor of science education, I believe we should rethink how we teach it

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 June 2019

Max4e Photo/Shutterstock

Michael Reiss.

Evolution is near universally regarded by the scientific community as a cornerstone of modern biology. Treating it as anything other than incontrovertible fact can therefore incur the wrath of scientists, who highlight the extensive depth and breadth of robust scientific evidence supporting the theory.

But the fact is that a large number of young people are reluctant to accept evolution. In the UK, 10 to 15% of students feel this way. The percentage is even higher in many countries – in the US, a country with a high proportion of practising Christians, it’s as high as 40%.

As both a professor of science education, with research expertise in evolutionary biology, and a priest in the Church of England,

(more…)

It’s time to ‘open up physics’ if we want to bring in more girls and shift the subject’s declining uptake  

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 August 2018

Rebekah Hayes. 
Despite numerous campaigns over many years, getting more students to study physics after GCSE remains a huge challenge. The proportion of students in the UK taking physics at A level is noticeably lower than those studying other sciences. This low uptake of physics, particularly by girls, has implications not only for the national economy, but for equity, especially as it can be a valuable route to prestigious, well-paid careers.
The latest research from ASPIRES 2 explores why students do or do not continue with physics by focusing on students who could have chosen physics, but opted for other sciences instead.
ASPIRES 2 is a 10-year longitudinal study, tracking children’s science and career aspirations from ages 10–19. This briefing focuses on data collected when students were (more…)

Improving science participation: Five evidence-based recommendations for policy-makers and funders

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 May 2018

Science Capital Team. 
To continue with science post-16, young people must achieve certain levels of understanding and attainment. Crucially, they must also feel that science is a good ‘fit’ for them – that science is ‘for me’.
Drawing on more than five years of research conducted by the Enterprising Science project in classrooms and out-of-school settings, the team have developed five key recommendations for policy-makers and funders who want to broaden and increase young people’s engagement with science. These recommendations are set out in Improving Science Participation, a new publication (more…)

What kinds of activities will encourage more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to keep studying science?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 March 2018

Tamjid Mujtaba
I have worked on a range of projects as a mixed-methods researcher over the years although none as quite exciting as  Chemistry for All,  a longitudinal project funded in 2014 by the The Royal Society of Chemistry. Why is it exciting? Because I am confident that both the research design along with the sentiment of  The Royal Society of Chemistry to tackle inequality in post-16 Chemistry participation will produce well-grounded evidence based policy recommendations.
The Royal Society of Chemistry have funded a £1 million five-year project with the main purpose of finding ways to widen participation in chemistry. Colleagues at the IOE and I are collaborating with partner universities to determine the effectiveness of a number of long-term innovative activities developed for schools with low (more…)

Science and mathematics education for 2030: vision or dream?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 July 2014

Michael J Reiss
After three years of work and nine commissioned reports, the Royal Society has published its vision for science and mathematics education. It may not push Luis Suarez or Andy Coulson off the front pages but this is a most impressive document that deserves to have a major and long-lasting impact on UK science and mathematics education policy.
The committee that produced the report features a list of intellectual and society heavyweights – if you don’t have a knighthood, a dameship or a Nobel Prize or you aren’t a Fellow of the Royal Society, that may explain why you weren’t invited to sit on it. Behind these titles sits a huge amount of expertise and very considerable passion to improve education.
The Vision aims to raise the general level of mathematical and scientific knowledge and confidence in the population by focusing on changes to how science and mathematics are taught to 5- to 18-year-olds. Some of its recommendations are already taking place, at least to some extent – for instance, that teachers should be trained to engage fully with digital technologies – but others are more contentious.
For example, the report calls for a move away from the current A level system to a Baccalaureate. Such a move would benefit not only science and mathematics but other subjects too. However, I won’t hold my breath to see if it happens – and it will certainly require a change of government. People have been calling for A levels to be replaced by a system with less early specialism for longer than I can remember.
The report also calls for the establishment of new, independent, expert bodies to provide stability in curriculum and assessment and allow teachers space to innovate in their teaching. Following the bonfire of the quangos after the last General Election, the need for such bodies has become clearer than ever. But who is to pay for them? This is not a report overburdened by economic analysis (there isn’t any). Perhaps the Royal Society and other funders need to step in and establish something akin to the successful Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which manages to be independent yet shapes national policy and practice.
Science and mathematics education are in a fortunate position in the UK, compared to many other subjects. Industry clamours for more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates and technicians and the UK is an acknowledged world leader in STEM research. A decade ago, work by David Sainsbury, Alan Wilson, John Holman, Celia Hoyles and others helped turn around a long-running decline in the numbers of 16-year-olds choosing A levels in mathematics and the physical sciences. Let’s hope this report takes those successes to the next level.