Evidence for Learning: Improving secondary science

Improving secondary science

Seven recommendations to support schools to improve secondary science.

First Edition


School Phase


This Guidance Report reviews the best available research to offer secondary science teachers, heads of science departments, and senior leaders seven recommendations to improve secondary science.

Science is a powerful lens for understanding the world, and with demand for science-related skills increasing in an era of globalisation and technological advances, it’s important that children and young people, regardless of their background, are confident, capable and enthusiastic about engaging with science.

This Guidance Report focuses on the seven areas where the evidence provides the strongest steer about how to enhance the teaching of science to students in this age group and provides examples of how to apply the recommendations in practice.

  • Recommendation 1: Preconceptions
    Build on the ideas that students bring to lessons.

  • Recommendation 2: Self-regulation
    Help students direct their own learning.

  • Recommendation 3: Modelling
    Use models to support understanding.

  • Recommendation 4: Memory
    Support students to retain and retrieve knowledge.

  • Recommendation 5: Practical work
    Use practical work purposefully and as part of a learning sequence.

  • Recommendation 6: Language of science
    Develop scientific vocabulary and support students to read and write about science.

  • Recommendation 7: Feedback
    Use structured feedback to move on students’ thinking.

Evidence for Learning has produced another Guidance Report Putting Evidence to Work: A School’s Guide to Implementation which can be used as a guide as you plan to implement changes in your school relating to improving science.

Implementation can be described as a series of stages relating to thinking about, preparing for, delivering, and sustaining change. The section Acting on the evidence’ in the Improving secondary science’ Guidance Report, suggests a range of strategies that you might find helpful in planning, structuring and delivering a whole‑school approach to science. 

E4L thanks the Australian researchers and practitioners who provided input to and feedback on drafts of this Guidance Report.

We acknowledge the particular insights of Dr Seamus Delaney (Deakin University) and Michael Rosenbrock (Victorian school leader, STEM teacher and E4L consultant).

This Guidance Report and supporting materials are licensed under a Creative Commons licence as outlined below. Permission may be granted for derivatives, please contact Evidence for Learning for more information.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence.