The value of individual work

We have discussed the benefits of group work, but we also need to give students the chance to perform practical work on an individual basis.

One of the major barriers here is the lack of equipment, which means students can’t all undertake practical work at the same time. Some common examples of this might be with electrical circuits or setting up and analysing a cell under a microscope. These practicals can be done with the correct planning, with a few students at time undertaking individual practical work, whilst others might be exploring the theory or working on results. How we plan these opportunities will depend on the resources available, the ability of the individual students and the environment in which it will be undertaken.

Every student needs an opportunity for hands-on practice with equipment. Exam boards, along with universities and further education establishments, would like students to have more chances to perform individual practical work to boost their skill set. Over time, you will also notice an improvement in the confidence of students, as well as an improvement in understanding of the topic they have been undertaking.

Working on an individual basis also allows you to tailor a practical to a students’ individual needs. One way of doing this might be to set up a circus of practicals and directing students to certain ones. It could be some have to set up a parallel circuit, others take measurements of voltage from a parallel circuit, and the rest look at results and make calculations to improve their maths skills.

Adapt

Consider a practical lesson coming up where typically you have required students to work in groups. How might you adapt this to enable individual learning? Would it be possible for students to undertake the practical to develop a particular skill dependent on their individual learning needs?

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This article is from the free online course:

Managing the Practical Classroom in Secondary School Science

National STEM Learning Centre