Ideas, Evidence and Argument in Science (IDEAS) 2004

Directors: Jonathan Osborne, Sibel Erduran, and Shirley Simon

The team conducted ESRC-funded research with teachers on how to enhance the quality of argument in school science. This revealed the lack of models of good practice.

The IDEAS project produced resource materials to support the teaching of ideas, evidence and argument in school science education. This included fifteen sample lessons which could be used by teachers wishing to try out some or all of the approaches. The pack also included ideas for professional development based on a series of video clips showing teachers trying out the lessons.

The learning goals of the IDEAS lessons were different from most school science lessons. Traditionally, most lessons emphasise activities to help school students understand the concepts and ideas of science – conceptual learning goals. IDEAS lessons give more priority to the following.

  • Cognitive learning goals: engaging in scientific reasoning by constructing an argument and evaluating the arguments of others – developing students’ ability to reason and think.
  • Epistemic learning goals, exploring and answering the questions 'How do we know?’ ‘What is the evidence for believing that this scientific idea is correct?’
  • Social learning goals: developing students’ skills in using scientific language appropriately, learning how to interact within a group, and how to listen to one another.

Inservice-training materials, with resources pack and accompanying videos showing exemplars of good practice. 

Also on the web

Resources will be available to download from the National STEM Centre soon.