The Education Endowment Foundation has published an evaluation of an inquiry-based learning intervention – CREST Silver Award.
Delivered by the British Science Association, the CREST
programme aims to help pupils engage with science, technology, engineering and
maths (STEM) subjects by allowing them to develop their own project ideas.
Eighty secondary schools in London and the south east took part in the trial,
involving 2,810 Year 9 pupils (ages 13–14). While CREST can normally be
delivered by any STEM department in the school, for the trial, CREST was
delivered by the science department in each school. Schools had the flexibility
to decide how they would deliver CREST (for example, as a whole class activity
or as a STEM club) and when they would run the programme (during school, after
school, lunch break, or during class time). Pupils were expected to complete 30
hours of project work in total.
The independent evaluation by NatCen found that pupils who took
part in the programme made no additional progress in science achievement (as
measured by the Progress Test in Science) compared to similar pupils who were
not offered the programme (effect size = -0.01). Nor was there any evidence
that the CREST Silver Award improved self-efficacy in science or increased the
percentage of pupils aspiring to a STEM career; however, small positive impacts
were found for pupil confidence and attitudes toward school.
Silver: Evaluation report (December 2019), Education
Findings from a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that immigrant children study more maths and science in high school and college, which means they are more likely to pursue STEM careers.
Marcus Rangel and Ying Shi looked at the trajectories of more than 286,000 children born outside the US, and who moved to the US before age 16, using nationally representative datasets including the 2010-2016 waves of the American Community Survey, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the National Survey of College Graduates.
They found that among US-born children, about 20% of college students major in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). However, among those born outside the US – particularly those who moved to the US after age 10, and don’t come from English-speaking or northern-European countries where the native language is linguistically close to English – this number is much higher, with around 36% majoring in STEM subjects.
The authors suggest that older children who immigrate to the
US from a country where the native language is very dissimilar to English may
choose subjects that rely less on language skills and build more on skills they
are relatively more comfortable with, such as maths or science. The study found
that children arriving after age 10 earn approximately 20% more credits in maths-intensive
courses than they do in English-intensive courses. This focus then continues
throughout college, which in turn leads to pursuing a career in a STEM field.
patterns of skill acquisition and immigrants’ specialization in STEM careers
(January 2019), Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, volume
116, no. 2
With the increasing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) curricula comes the need for evidence backing these programmes. One such science programme is The BSCS Inquiry Approach, a comprehensive secondary school science approach based on three key concepts: constructivism, coherence and cohesiveness. The materials are built around the 5E process (engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate). Teaching focuses on evaluating pupils’ current understanding and using inquiry methods to move them to higher understandings. Each of the science disciplines (physical science, life science, earth science, and science and society) is composed of four chapters that repeat common themes, which advance over a three-year period. Designing and carrying out experiments in small groups is important in all topics. Teachers receive seven days of professional development each year, including a three-day summer institute and four one-day sessions, enabling sharing of experiences and introducing new content over time.
To determine the effects of The BSCS Inquiry Approach on pupil achievement, BSCS conducted a two-year cluster-randomised study of the intervention that compared pupils in grades 10–11 (Years 11–12) in nine experimental (n=1,509 pupils) and nine control secondary schools (n=1,543 pupils) in Washington State in the US. A total of 45% of pupils qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. At the end of two years, the BSCS pupils scored higher than controls (effect size=+0.09, p<.05) on the Washington State Science Assessments.
Source: An efficacy trial of research-based curriculum materials with curriculum-based professional development, Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, BSCS