Forces Research Concern over the teaching of the topic 'Forces' continues to be expressed by teachers at both primary and secondary schools. In England and Wales this topic forms a major domain of the Physical Processes section of the Science National Curriculum.

CRIPSAT carried out some preliminary research in this domain as part of the SPACE project in 1988. This work pre-dated the introduction of the National Curriculum and in consequence was limited in its coverage of the sub-domains currently being emphasised.

The latest research, which builds on the earlier work on 'Forces', was conducted throughout the 1996/7 academic year. The programme involved nineteen teachers and their classes of pupils from school years one to nine (Key Stages 1, 2 and 3) within fifteen schools from seven Local Education Authorities in the North West of England.

The collaboration between teachers and University based researchers was an important feature of the research. Teachers helped to develop both the concept probes used to elicit children's ideas and the teaching interventions.

Phases of research included:

* elicitation concept probes, completed by all pupils within the classes;

* individual interviewing, of a sample of six pupils from each class, stratified by gender and ability;

* development of a range of appropriate intervention activities from which teachers selected those best suited to enhance the understandings of their pupils;

* post-intervention concept probes, completed by all pupils, to identify any changes in understanding;

* post-intervention interviewing of the same stratified sample of pupils.

The themes chosen for particular investigation were 'Forces and their effects on movement'. Gravity', 'Friction and Air Resistance', 'Reaction Forces' and 'Multiple Forces'.

The report records children's ideas prior to and following teaching. It also presents the formative concept probes and teaching strategies which aim to help teachers respond more effectively to children's understanding. Sequences of children's understanding are offered which can be used to locate their ideas on a developmental pathway.

The Report was published in early 1998 and is available from Marston Book Services . Read reviews and find out how to purchase this publication here .

In accord with CRIPSAT's philosophy the data will also form the basis from which teacher support materials will be developed.

CRIPSAT, University of Liverpool, 126 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L69 3GR - 0151 794 3270