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Combining subject knowledge and context

Using a context which feels relevant to students can be motivating and help them to see the importance of what they are studying
© National STEM Learning Centre
Was there anything from the quiz that you weren’t sure about or where you think students might have misconceptions? Make a note on your reflection grid for the week.
Now you’ve looked at the subject knowledge for osmosis, how can you best convey this to students?
In a review of 17 experimental studies undertaken in eight countries, Bennett et al. (2007) found that using an interesting or familiar context to set the scene when teaching about scientific ideas results in more “more positive attitudes to science in both girls and boys and reduces the gender differences in attitudes”
The types of context most commonly used are:
  • relevant to students’ lives and interests at present;
  • relevant to situations students may encounter at some point in their lives;
  • related to technological developments likely to be of interest to students;
  • relevant to students’ possible future careers;
and at advanced levels of study:
  • linked to recent scientific research and innovations;
  • linked to industry.
Using a context which feels relevant to students can be motivating and help them to see the importance of what they are studying, help make abstract ideas more concrete, and capture their curiosity.
For some more examples of using contexts when teaching about microbiology, have a look at Week 1 of our Teaching Practical Science: Biology course.

Identify and share

Choose one of the four key biological processes involving osmosis that are summarised on the sheet we introduced earlier:
  • Response
  • Growth
  • Support
  • Transport
Find and share an inspirational teaching context for the process that you have chosen.
© National STEM Learning Centre
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