The Science department at Belmont City College has long valued the importance of higher order thinking skills in improving student performance. After discussions with the Graduate School of Education at the University of Western Australia and with the support of the management team within the school, the Science department has successfully trained six teachers and implemented the Thinking Science Program, with our Year 8 cohort in 2013. This year will be an eventful and dynamic one, given that the program has already been rolled out to our Year 9 cohort as well.
The Thinking Science Program delivers a total of thirty lessons over a two year period and works in tandem with the Australian Curriculum. The activities in each of these lessons are devised with the purpose of stimulating thinking, problem solving and developing reasoning skills. The pedagogy of each lesson is comprised of five core pillars: setting up the conflict or problem, opportunities for focused construction, small group/whole class ‘thinking’ and bridging. Prior to the implementation of the program, the Year 8 students were administered the baseline test in 2013, using a Piagetian Science Reasoning Task (SRT). A follow up SRT will be administered to students at the conclusion of the two-year program in 2014.
The Thinking Science Program is in its fourth year, with more than 30 schools all over WA and other parts of Australia involved in its implementation. The program is rooted in the thinking of Piaget and the constructivist theory of learning. Data from the first school to complete the program in Australia is promising and has been published in the prestigious International Journal of Science Education in June 2012. The paper reports improvements to students’ thinking and their attainment levels in Science and cross curricula improvements in Mathematics and English, long after the cognitive acceleration intervention period has ended.
The Thinking Science Program has resulted in even closer collaboration between the Science teaching staff and laboratory technicians at Belmont City College. The program has run smoothly in most part thanks to the efforts of Damen Bradbury during 2013. Our laboratory technicians Patricia Gilbert and Indira Manawadu have meticulously prepared all the resources required to effectively implement the program. Of course at the end of the day it is all about our students. Hearing them say, “That was too much of thinking in one lesson”, is pleasing to the teachers involved in the program. It means the objectives of the ‘Thinking Science program’, are being realised.