Robert Brooks

Leading Practitioner

Knowledge acquisition in Science – Part 1

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At the forefront of our minds as Science teachers, we need to think about the importance of knowledge acquisition for our students.

For students to gain both the lower and the higher grades in Science examinations at GCSE and A Level, they need to have the basic building blocks of knowledge so that they can answer the lower order questions, such as recall. Knowledge is also essential in the higher level questions where learners have to apply their knowledge to an unfamiliar context for instance.

So how do we get students to remember what they are taught in Science from as early as Year 7?

First of all, do not mistake the idea of knowledge acquisition with just lower order recall tasks in Science lessons. Every Science lesson must be challenging and stimulating for the students and, as a teacher, you have to carefully think about the activities you have planned for your lesson to successfully achieve this.

When planning, ask yourself whether or not this activity could actually be done at home by the students without your support. At home students could be learning basic facts, reading material or watching a video clip before the next topic being taught. Students should not be arriving to a lesson knowing nothing about a topic as this will waste at least 10-15 minutes of lesson time introducing the bigger picture which could have been done already by the student. This promotes independent learning skills. An example of a PAE (planning, applying and extending) document for a BTEC Level 3 Applied Science course is below:


Students need to be prepared for their learning in the lesson where they can carry out challenging activities under the direction of their Science teacher, such as tackling difficult exam questions, practical activities, debates and learning revision techniques to help them with their consolidation of knowledge and understanding at home. This is all to do with the idea of ‘flipped learning.’

In my next post, I will be talking about the importance of knowledge testing at the start of every Science lesson and how to successfully implement it.


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