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
Phases of research included:
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
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
. Read reviews and find out how
to purchase this publication
In accord with CRIPSAT's
philosophy the data will also form the basis from which teacher
support materials will be developed.