A Critique of The QCA scheme of Work by OLUWATOYIN LADITI, PGCE ScienceThe underlying objectives of the QCA scheme of work for KS3 Science are designed to:1. build on their scientific knowledge and understanding from key stage 2 and make connections between different areas of science; 2. use scientific ideas and models to explain phenomena and events; 3.
understand a range of familiar applications of science; 4. think about the advantages and drawbacks of scientific and technological developments for the environment and in other contexts, considering the reasons for different opinions; 5. carry out investigations of different types, on their own and in groups, making use of reference sources and evaluating their work; 6.
communicate what they did and its significance; 7. learn how scientists work and the importance of experimental evidence in supporting scientific ideas. According to QCA, the KS3 programme of study represents a shift in emphasis away from content towards scientific process and how science works. Knowledge of conceptual and factual information is important, it states, but the range and content statements are now more open to interpretation. The QCA indeed performed a great feat in detailing the various facets that contribute to the study of science.
The entire unit structure brings into the focus or at least provides pointers to the entire world around us and how we can initiate a systematic study.In addition curricular links with other subjects namely, English, Mathematics, ICT and PHSE provide the much required context in which science can be learned and practiced. These links can be seen to serves as ???bridges??™ to the actual application of science in the real world. For example, the knowledge of speed, acceleration, braking force etc. with knowledge of the highway-code or responsibilities as a citizen are effectual in engaging learners interest or the study of genes and moral/ethical issues such as genetic screening or embryonic research.As an avid propagator of the constructivist learning approach, I would like to see stronger links with other subject areas such as the discovery/inventions timeline in history, rocks in geography and other interests such as the philosophy of science, autobiographies of inventor etc.
This viewpoint inspires me to reconstruct objective two to read ???Introduce scientific ideas and models to through phenomena and events.??????Phenomena and events??™ in this case provides the interface or starting point for drawing the student into a scientific discussion in a manner that is suggestive rather than intervening.In the light of the QCA would also need to consider the value of applied science in the life of the early learner. Objective four requires the student to merely ???think about the advantages and drawbacks of scientific and technological developments for the environment and in other contexts, considering the reasons for different opinions.??™ Once again, scientific and technological developments should be considered a foundational infrastructure for learning. Students should be instructed to study, research, investigate and build on the process of technological developments. The scope and breadth of this study should be enlarged and given priority in the curriculum.
Was ???Star Trek??™ based on mere imagination, prophecy or some possible inquisition to life on other planets What about a recent headline that reads ???Why Popeye may have been right about spinach??? – New Scientist 7 May 2008 or the invention of water-based fuel by Rudolf Gunnerman.I would imagine that these technological trends could serve to engage the early learner in the run up to the more detailed scientific postulations and theories as highlighted by QCA in the statement ???Delving into key ideas can stimulate pupils curiosity and help them to make connections between different areas of science.??? Where these issues are reserved for the older learner as mere evidence of scientific theories, they should be introduced as a broader foundation for unravelling of science and stimulating the highly sought after investigative skills. In conclusion, the inability of the scheme of work to be clear about priorities in the light of assessments viz-a-viz the objectives is still very vague. Though the aim of scientific enquiry framework requires that ???Pupils need to recognise, describe, use and apply key scientific ideas to explain abstract phenomena even when they appear in unfamiliar contexts???, the current approach and assessments provided by the scheme may not be the best for helping the department to translate wider ambitions such as improve knowledge and understanding.