Grants awarded: Assessing Practical Science Skills in Schools and Colleges

Project summaries of Wellcome grants awarded under the scheme ‘Assessing Practical Science Skills in Schools and Colleges’. This scheme is a partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and Royal Society.

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Assessing practical skills in GCSE science

Project leads: Judith Bennett, University of York, and Christine Harrison, King’s College London

Since 2016, students’ practical science skills have been assessed through written examinations only. 

We want to explore what impact this has had, and look at how GCSE written examination questions could be designed to differentiate between students who have undertaken practical activities, and students who have only read about them, for example.

Our study will involve developing a series of classroom interventions in which students experience a practical activity through either:

Students will then complete written examination questions relating to the interventions.

Enhancing summative assessment of practical science: a systemic approach

Project lead: Sibel Erduran, University of Oxford

Scientists use different approaches, techniques and materials when they do experiments. This allows them to observe and measure phenomena, and use this information to reach conclusions. However these aspects of practical science aren’t always reflected in GCSE examinations.

We will review existing practice to inform the design of a new robust, scalable and reliable assessment tool(s) that can be used to measure students’ understanding of different aspects of practical science, and how they work together. The assessment tool(s) will be designed to be used widely, including by teachers and exam boards.

Any new assessment tools that we develop will be tested and refined in collaboration with a diverse range of teachers and students.