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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsMARK LANGLEY: Welcome to the question and answer session on the teaching practical chemistry course. We hope you've enjoyed the course and found it useful, and we certainly enjoyed reading the comments that you've made as we've gone through the course together. We have a couple of questions to have a look at today, which come from Chloe and from James as well. And they're both on the very similar ideas, which is about students not being able to follow practical instructions and the several ways that we can look at this-- one of which is how we state the practical and its purpose which we discussed during the course.

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 secondsIf we're very tightly focused on what we want students to do and they know what they have to do to achieve it, then that can help them stage their practical work. Other things that can be done include staging practicals out, so just slow practicals, which James mentions in his question. This is where you do one thing as a demonstration, go and get students to go and repeat that action, come back to see the next step, and keep doing that. And for some students that can be useful introduction or where something is particularly tricky to do. However, if you do all practicals like this, students will not be able to make progression.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 secondsWhat you might do is such as in the copper sulfate making that we did during the course is what activities can you do to demonstrate, get students to have a go at then potentially explain why they've done it then move on to the next step. So it's not just a case of repeating what the teacher does but actually linking very carefully into what they've done. What we might also look at in lessons is getting students to reorder practical instructions themselves as maybe a series of work calls that we produce for them.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 secondsAnd then as they do each step, they move it to one side and potentially annotate as to why they've done that step then move on to the next part. So they're learning the sequence as they go and they're working their way through a checklist. That can also be used in the flip lesson style environment where you have students attempting to reorder practical work or work out the missing step before they come to the lesson so they're prepared and ready to go.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsThere is also an excellent video available in week three of our managing the practical classroom in secondary science course, which looks at a teacher explaining how they put the practical work into steps and sequence it for students to be more effective. Some of the other things that have come up during the course are about the time required to do practical work, which we have also had in discussions addressing about how you might shorten practical work to focus on just one or two key components and also the fact that some awarding bodies, exam boards, expect certain ways of practical to be done.

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 secondsHowever, the more opportunity students have to see different ways of doing things, such as multiple ways of addressing electrolysis with many different solutions they're more likely to be able to understand the process and be able to tackle questions in any form that appear in the exam.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 secondsThank you very much for the time that you've given for this course. We hope you've found it useful, and we look forward to seeing you on other courses run by STEM learning on the future and platform.

Q&A with Mark

The Q&A sessions on courses from the National STEM Learning Centre provide you with the opportunity to ask more about the course content and issues from your own classroom practice.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Chemistry

National STEM Learning Centre