Seven simple rules for science teaching

Articles and resources to support each of the seven rules in the effective, evidence-based principles of the EEF Improving secondary science guidance.

Rule 1: preconceptions – build on the ideas that pupils bring to lessons

Rule 2: self-regulation – help pupils direct their own learning

Rule 3: modelling – use models to support understanding

Rule 4: memory – support pupils to retain and retrieve knowledge

An image showing a teacher holding a string; a student is placing beads on the string, which read Exothermic, Combustion, and Heat + Energy

Asking why builds learning


Questioning helps organise new information

Illustration of male teacher handing an exercise book to a male student; the student is also juggling with two books and a chemical flask that his teacher has previously given him

Reduce cognitive load to build knowledge


Structure tasks to improve learning

Illustration of female student revisiting earlier chapter in book and removing a cobweb from the pages, with other students sat behind her

Revisiting knowledge to improve recall


How to help pupils build long-term memory

Illustration of male student reaching into the depths of his mind to retrieve the answer to chemistry question

Retrieving knowledge already learned


Top tips and best practice for active retrieval, access almost 500 ready-to-use questions on key topics

Rule 5: practical work – use practical work purposefully and as part of a learning sequence

An image showing a male student recording observations about an experiment, while his female colleague is reading about the same experiment in her book; the glassware in the laboratory is linked to the glassware depicted in the girl's book

Maximising learning from practicals


Be clear about the intended outcomes of experiments

An image showing four students running on separate roads towards an intersection where a large electrochemical beaker is placed; each of the 4 students is holding a specific model used to explain electrochemical concepts

Different approaches build understanding


How a variety of practical work improves learning

An image showing a female student dressed in a lab coat, holding a bow and aiming her arrow at the centre of a target shaped like a chemical round bottom flask

Promote understanding with practical work


When experiments build knowledge

Illustration of female student observing a practical experiment whilst also thinking and using scientific reasoning

Why practical work builds reasoning


Develop students’ deductive and inductive skills

Rule 6: language of science – develop scientific vocabulary and support pupils to read and write about science

An image showing a female teacher pointing at a whiteboard and using a magnifying glass to highlight the word "conservation" to the class

Teaching challenging vocabulary


Explore, explain and use vocabulary to consolidate its meaning with your students

An image showing a male student dipping his pen into a conical flask containing ink

Understanding comes with writing


How writing builds learning

Illustration of female student with cable in her hand, blocks of Greek/Latin root words on her right, blocks of English science related words on here left; the cables link the Greek/Latin origins to the English words

How to help students decode science vocabulary


The keys to understanding the language of chemistry

Rule 7: feedback – use structured feedback to move on pupils’ thinking

A graphic image showing a female teacher providing feedback to three students; speech bubbles representing comments can be seen hovering above her, and they are forming the letter A+

Give effective, descriptive feedback


… without a massive time investment

A graphic image showing a male teacher holding a clipboard and assessing the knowledge of a female pupil, using a jigsaw analogy

Understand what your pupils understand


Diagnose your students’ strengths and weaknesses

An image showing a teacher giving feedback to a pupil; the words Fix, Improve and Benefit can be seen as a speech bubble

Improving feedback


How students benefit from feedback

Illustration of male teacher speaking and young male student taking those words and knitting with them, depicting how reflecting on feedback improves results

Why reflection is better than grades


How responding to feedback improves results

What's it all about?

Group of students with a teacher in a school laboratory and classroom

Seven simple rules offered to bolster science education


Practical guidance to make evidence-based teaching accessible

The number 7

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