A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

Assessment for learning and ideas about science

C21 in action by Windfall DigitalAssessment for learning can help students to develop their understanding of ideas about science.

The ‘Assessment for Learning and Ideas about Science’ resource is designed to clarify the relationship between teaching and assessment of Ideas about Science. It helps teachers to provide guidance to students on their progress in knowledge and understanding of Ideas about Science.

Resources to help students learn

There are Key Assessed Tasks for each of the 6 Ideas about Science in the 2006 OCR specification.

IaS 1 Data and their limitations

IaS 2 Correlation and cause

IaS 3 Developing explanations

IaS 4 The scientific community

IaS 5 Risk

IaS 6 Making decisions about science and society

Development of the resources

In October 2006 a small group of Twenty First Century Science teachers met to discuss how Assessment for Learning approaches could be applied to the teaching and learning of Ideas about Science. The meeting was chaired by Peter Robinson, SNS consultant for Bury LA, and Jenifer Burden, Co-director for Twenty First Century Science at the University of York Science Education Group.

The pilot group decided to look at GCSE Science modules in two ways:

  • to review each module for activities that offered opportunities for Assessment for Learning approaches;
  • to develop a Key Assessed Task to help students identify their progress in the Ideas about Science taught in a particular module.

In producing pilot Key Assessed Tasks, teachers started by using Appendix F of the OCR GCSE Science specification as guidance to the expected outcomes for Ideas about Science. Teachers designed a task taking no more than one hour to complete, which they felt would be appropriate for students who had completed some or all of a particular GCSE Science module. They wrote a ‘progress ladder’ to help students identify their next steps in grasping concepts in a particular Idea about Science. Then they trialled the Key Assessment Task with one or more groups of students.