PublicationsSystematic reviewsSTS approaches
A systematic review of the effects of context-based and Science-Technology-Society (STS) approaches in the teaching of secondary science

What do we want to know?

Most teachers are concerned that many of their pupils do not find science lessons interesting or see the point of what they are doing.  One response to this has been context-based, or Science-Technology-Society (STS) approaches.  It has been argued that this motivates pupils, while developing an understanding of scientific ideas which is as good as that produced by more conventional approaches.  This review aims to establish the strength of the evidence base for these claims and the implications for initial teacher training.

Who wants to know?

Policy-makers; science teachers; those involved in teacher education; those creating science education resources

What did we find?  

  • There is some evidence to support the claim that context-based approaches motivate pupils in their science lessons.
  • There is evidence to support the claim that such approaches also foster more positive attitudes to science generally.
  • There is good evidence to support the claim that context-based approaches do not adversely affect pupils’ understanding of scientific ideas.

What are the implications?

  • This review should be taken into account by those involved in initial teacher training, those who produce teaching materials, and those who set standards.

  • Ofsted should take these findings into account in its judgements on the quality of lessons.

How did we get these results?

Five studies were included in the in-depth review.  The quality of the research was considered to be good.

This summary was prepared by the EPPI-Centre

This report should be cited as: Bennett J, Hogarth S, Lubben F (2003) A systematic review of the effects of context-based and Science-Technology-Society (STS) approaches in the teaching of secondary science.  In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

  
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