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Developing explanations, argument and decisions in science

Practical strategies to improve pupils' progress by developing their skills in explanations, argument and decisions (EAD).

This section supports the development of the use of models, arguments and explanations to understand science and justify decisions. You may find this section helpful to improve the scores your pupils gain in GCSE questions that assess their ability to:

  • apply skills, knowledge and understanding of science in practical and other contexts (assessment objective 2)
  • analyse and evaluate evidence, make reasoned judgements and draw conclusions based on evidence (assessment objective 3).

To develop the written expression of an argument, see 'Developing extended writing skills for GCSE science'.

This resource develops understanding and application of skills addressed in the following GCSE criteria for science:

  • the nature of science and its applications, and interrelationships between science and society
  • the relationships between hypotheses, evidence, theories and explanations
  • evaluate claims based on science through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions
  • communicate in scientific contexts
  • science is an evidence-based discipline
  • the collaborative nature of science as a subject discipline and the way new scientific knowledge is validated
  • how scientific understanding and theories develop, and the limitations of science.

The following are supported:

These steps tables offer:

  • a four-stage approach proven to support pupils in developing their skills in an aspect of practical enquiry skills
  • criteria to support identification of pupils’ current progress and identify next steps
  • exemplification in a Key Stage 4 context.

These tables are designed to support planning for learning, not planning for assessment, and can be used to support progression in learning and to encourage increased progression to post-16 science courses.

The steps are not levelled or graded, as securing progress to a particular step in an individual aspect would not lead to the attainment of a particular overall grade. You could use the tables to:

  • judge a pupil’s starting point within each aspect to gain a holistic view of the learning needs of that pupil in GCSE science
  • support progress as far as possible in the identified aspects by suggesting opportunities to take the next learning step.

Some pupils will progress further in some aspects than others and will be more able to achieve higher overall outcomes in their science GCSE courses.