Science Self-Testing Toolkit
The Science Self-Testing Toolkit (SSTT) is a suite of five evidence-informed, content-free strategies to be used and deployed by teachers, students and parents at Key Stage 4 (KS4). These five strategies are:
- Pre/post tests
- Mind-mapping tests
- Structured note taking
- Cumulative quizzing
These approaches encourage students to engage in active retrieval of knowledge throughout the curriculum, as well as during revision. The implementation of the intervention was facilitated by a number of support activities, including two external training days held by Hub schools, in-school short training sessions (‘cascading’), in-school coaching, after-school briefings and updates for teachers (‘twilight sessions’), and parent engagement sessions.
The Science Self-Testing Toolkit aims to increase the amount of pupil self-testing in Key Stage 4 science study.
This project is jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust as part of our Improving Science Education Round. The pilot of SSTT was funded because the programme at the classroom level is fully developed, but has not yet been tried in schools outside of those that the development teams work at. The training for other schools has never been implemented, and it was be important to see if it was sufficient to enable other schools to adopt the approaches.
Students responded well to the intervention, but some strategies were perceived as more effective and enjoyable than others. Students with higher self-efficacy had a more positive experience than students with lower science self-efficacy. Some strategies in the SSTT are close to usual practice (flash card revision). Heads of science and science teachers responded well to the intervention, both in terms of attitudes and behaviours. Support activities were faithfully implemented and the cost of SSTT is low.
Despite the above-mentioned strengths, further consideration must be given to a few issues to make a trial feasible, as the conditions of implementation were more favourable than what they would be in a trial. These issues include: the innovativeness of the intervention, clarity over the target year group and duration of the programme , the frequency and use of the SSTT, and the responsiveness of schools and teachers to the evaluation.
The EEF has no plans for a further trial of the SSTT.
Full project description
The core intervention evaluated in this report is a Science Self-Testing Toolkit (SSTT). The developers of SSTT were three Research Schools— Kingsbridge, Durrington, and Huntington. These schools acted as local 'hubs'. Each hub recruited three other schools to deliver the SSTT bringing the total number of pilot schools to 12. 2,100 students took part in the pilot. The intervention was delivered in school by science teachers, led by heads of science, and supported at home by parents.
SSTT is a suite of five evidence-informed, content-free strategies to be used and deployed by teachers, students, and parents at Key Stage 4 (KS4). These five strategies are:
- pre/post tests;
- mind-mapping tests;
- structured note-taking; and
- cumulative quizzing.
These approaches encourage students to engage in active retrieval of knowledge throughout the curriculum, as well as during revision. The implementation of the intervention was facilitated by a number of support activities including two external training days held by hub schools, in-school short training sessions (‘cascading’), in-school coaching, after school briefings and updates for teachers (‘twilight sessions’), and parent engagement sessions.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the implementation of the intervention. Our research explored the profile of participants, participants’ usual practice, evidence of promise, the feasibility of integrating the SSTT into the Year 10 science curriculum, the feasibility of delivering support activities, the cost of the project, and the intervention’s readiness for trial. The original evaluation protocol was significantly modified to make the evaluation proportionate to the scale of the intervention and reduce the burden on participants. We collected data by means of interviews, observations, desk research, and an online student survey. The pilot ran between January and July 2019. The project is jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust as part of our Improving Science Education Round.