Jane Essex reviews this skills booster which illustrates the role of HSW aspects
GCSE science skills booster
London, UK: Collins 2011 | Pp120 | £5.99 (HB) | ISBN9780007457304
Reviewed by Jane Essex
This book is a timely development in the wake of the agreement between exam boards on the technical terms to be used for the key concepts in How Science Works (HSW). This cross-specification text seeks to illustrate the role of different aspects of HSW by illustrating them with relevant stories. These range from Ig Nobel Prize-winning research to the work of the Islamic scholar Ibn al Haytham. The book uses a range of such contexts, the majority of which will be credible to students of the target age.
It is an attractive book, of a standard of presentation that is at least on a par with other GCSE textbooks. The layout is clear, illustrations attractive and the headings make the development of concepts transparent to the user. The newspaper format of parallel columns helps to break the material down into manageable portions, which enhance its accessibility.
The best feature of the book is that it clearly shows the links between a good range of science case studies and the HSW framework, against which the book's sections are indexed. The book should encourage staff to consider anew the opportunities to work HSW into existing curriculum topics.
The book will be reassuring to the many teachers who did not experience any explicit teaching about the processes of science themselves and who may lack confidence in developing their students' thinking about them. It is clearly written and well-structured for such users. It will, I think, act as a useful framework for departments looking to ensure that HSW is well integrated into all aspects of the GCSE, rather than 'bolted on'. It would make a useful reference text, or the basis of worthwhile 'cover' or 'out-of-lab' lessons. The dual focus on the key terms and study skills development will provide useful additional support for teachers and students.
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