Broadening Secondary School Science (BRaSSS)
In secondary school, students often focus on only a few subjects. Such narrowness often leads to hyper-specialized training, and it can stifle students’ consideration of big questions that cut across science, philosophy, religion, and history. Broadening Secondary School Science (BRaSSS) seeks to expand students’ views of what science is, helping them draw connections between science and other subjects. Through educational research and professional development for teachers, the project will promote wider views of science and ways to teach it. BRaSSS seeks to answer two key questions:
- Do professional development and classroom materials change how secondary teachers understand and teach science in ways that help them conceive of their subjects more broadly?
- If teachers change their own conceptions of science—as well as their corresponding teaching practices to reflect this broadening—do these changes affect how their pupils see science and its relationship to other subjects?
Methodology and Outputs The project consists of three phases:
- During the first year, we will develop 30 sets of curriculum materials for school biology, chemistry, and physics. We will create two lessons per subject for students ages 11–16.The lessons will adhere to the current UK national science curriculum while using new methods that broaden science classes to involve other subjects.
- We will test the efficacy of these materials in six schools so that we can revise and improve them. Throughout the studies, we will develop detailed pedagogical guidance to help teachers as they put the new lessons into practice.
- Using the tools developed in phase two, we will conduct formal evaluations of the materials at 20 schools, where teachers will receive professional development.
Through mixed methods, the project will collect data and analyze the following questions:
- What factors relate to students being more amenable to science’s compatibility with other subjects, including religion?
- Do innovative science lessons help students ask and find answers to big questions that require connecting science with other subjects?
- Do these lessons increase students’ interest and motivation in science?