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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsWelcome to the Teaching Practical Science programme and this course focusing on the biology curriculum for 14-16 year olds. I’m Gill Gunnill and I’m the Biology Professional Development Leader at the National STEM Learning Centre. This course is designed for teachers of biology, supporting you to develop your practice in improving student learning through practical work.

Skip to 0 minutes and 28 secondsWe will cover three core topics: enzymes, microbiology and microscopy. Through examples from these topics you’ll explore approaches to teaching the subject based upon sound pedagogy and share your experience in the classroom with others. This week we are going to discuss the importance of learning outcomes and sharing success criteria. Biology practicals can be quite long from beginning to end. How often have your students just got a full set of results and then the bell goes. You’ve had no time to access the learning against the learning outcomes and you ask the students to write it up for homework. Is there a way we could organise practicals for a better or wider range of outcomes.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsWe start with enzyme practicals and consider how the learning outcomes you are focussing on will affect the way you plan and deliver the lesson. So, is there more to biology practical work than looking at onion cells?

Is there more to biology practical work than onion cells?

From Galen’s anatomical discoveries nearly two thousand years ago, to William Harvey’s discovery of double circulation, to the mapping and sequencing of the human genome… Experimentation in biology has led to huge leaps forward in our knowledge and the impact that these developments can have on our everyday lives.

Practical activities allow our students to ask their own questions, find out the answers themselves, consolidate scientific concepts and develop transferable investigative skills.

This course is designed for teachers of biology, supporting you to develop your practice in improving student learning through practical work. Through examples from selected topics you’ll explore approaches to teaching the subject based upon sound pedagogy and share your experience in the classroom with others.

The course is led by Gill Gunnill, Professional Development Leader, and Karen Hornby, Science Specialist, from the National STEM Learning Centre.

Over the next three weeks you will look at the following areas:

  • Practical work for 14-16 year olds in the topics of enzymes, microscopy and microbiology.
  • Contextualising practical work in biology to the everyday environment.
  • How progression in practical work impacts on students’ learning.
  • Assessment of learning through practical work, specifically by effective use of learning outcomes.
  • Approaches to teaching practical science that can be applied to other topic areas.

If you would like to join in with the practical work, you can download the equipment list (PDF).

This week

This week we are looking at how we assess the effectiveness of practical work in biology. We will be focusing on how practical work can be adapted to achieve different learning outcomes.

The activities this week will support you to:

  • Vary the range of learning objectives in practical work
  • Plan practical activities to allow students to achieve the learning objectives
  • Reflect on the effectiveness of practical activities

Course support

Gill and Karen will be on hand between 5 March - 28 March 2018 to support each of the three weeks from the course start date. Access the profiles of the course team and follow them to keep up to date with their comments. At the end of the course there is also a Question and Answer (Q&A) session with Gill (see step 3.11 for the recording).

If you’ve joined us after 28 March, then there are three ways you can get support in this course:

If you’re new to online learning, or new to FutureLearn, you may find the How it works guide helpful. The Crowdsourced Guide to Learning and Six tips and tools for social learning on FutureLearn may also be of interest.

Tasks and discussions

As you progress through the course you will be asked to undertake several tasks each week. You will have the opportunity to:

  • Create resources to use in your classroom.
  • Experiment with strategies with your students.
  • Share ideas for behaviour technique and approach with others.

Tasks are titled as such and are highlighted with a vertical line in the left-margin - like the one against this paragraph. The first tasks of this course are at the bottom of this page.

Technical support

If you need any technical support use the Support button that should always visible at the bottom right of your screen to report a problem. If you are accessing the course using a small screen device, the Support button may not be displayed in which case email feedback@futurelearn.com. If you wish to get in touch with the National STEM Learning Centre about this course, please contact onlinecpd@stem.org.uk.

Discuss

Is there more to biology practical work than looking at onion cells? For our first discussion, say hello and share what you think is the purpose of practical work in biology.

Task

When you complete a step on the course, click ‘Mark as Complete’ at the bottom right. This helps you keep track of your progress. Mark over 90% of the course steps complete and you’ll be eligible for a Certificate of Achievement when you Upgrade.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Biology

National STEM Learning Centre

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