Welcome to my page.
plr.jpg
A little about me -
I am currently Head of Science and Director of Specialism at Alcester Grammar School, an 11-18 mixed school in Warwickshire. We have a selective intake 11-16 and a large comprehensive intake post 16. Here I teach Science KS3 and 4 (AQA Science A) and A-level chemistry (Edexcel).

I gained AST status in January 2002, CSciTeach status in September 2008. I was a Lead Practitioner for the SSAT for the Getting Practical program, APP in science and The New GCSEs.


Action Research interests

How do pupils 'see' diagrams?

How can we make pupils more independent learners?

Evaluating the benefits of wikis

How can we help pupils to revise more effectively?

How do pupils prepare for exams? (Should we invest in new text books?)

Effective use of exercise books

At our PALAVA meeting on 30th January I outlined recent data I had collected on how my students were revising and preparing for examinations.

The data shared was collect by questionnaire (see attached - please comment and help me to improve it). Data was collected from 49 16-17 year old pupils who are in their 1st year of their UK A-level courses.

The first question was an open response question to ask them how they would learn a body of information. I asked this as many of the students are above the national average ability and did not have to learn much material for their GCSE examinations as they understood ideas as we covered them in lessons. The AS examinations in the summer may be the 1st time that for many of them they have to actually sit and learn material before they will be able to apply it to exam questions.

The graphs show the responses to the questions asked.

How do you learn.png

There was an approximate 50:50 split between students reporting that they would just 'read' through their revision guides and those who reported that they would 'make notes' about the work. A small number of students 6% reported that they would watch a video (Youtube clip) about the topic and 1 student said that they would make a mind map.

My action research goal is to develop more active revision strategies for pupils to help them to engage in their learning.


From my previous work on the use of exercise books I have been thinking about what students record in their note books and the resources we provide for them to help them to develop their understanding of a) key ideas and b) examination techniques.

The responses to being questioned about resources the students used to help them to revise their work as shown below. The data collected showed that very few students are referring at all to their exercise books / own class notes and that the majority of respondents relied on their bought revision guides and past papers. Those who reported to 'making notes' to help them to revise, when further questioned in follow up interviews, stated that they made notes from their revision guides. These responses will lead me to again question what I am asking my students to record and how we are using their note books.


how do you revise.png

‘Think-aloud’ is a protocol that has been used to gather data in product design and development, in psychology and a range of social sciences. It asks participants to ‘think aloud’ and say what comes to them as they complete a task, which might include what they are feeling, descriptions of what they are looking at, doing etc.

Members of the PALAVA group have done some very interesting work on this in terms of pupils ideas about scientific phenomenon and Dave Marsh has some fascinating work in this area.

Explain Everything is an interactive screencasting whiteboard app which allows the user to write, draw, record and explain ideas. Files can then be exported in Export as MP4, MOV, PDF, PNG or XPL project files.

Whilst students may be able to make or import an existing presentation by drawing and highlight over the top while verbally explaining, I have been exploring the potential of this app as a research tool where I have given students pre-prepared templates to open on an iPads and asked them to view and ‘talk aloud’ about the image seen in an attempt to learn more about their thinking processes to support their reflection and my feedback and ongoing assessment and development of their skills.

Tinzmann et al. 1990 described how as students think out loud , they gradually internalize their dialogue; it becomes their inner speech, the means by which they direct their own behaviours and problem-solving processes

My work so far has been with A-level students. A simple slide showing part of an examination question has been presented to them and I have asked them to ‘think aloud’ their initial thoughts about the question presented to them, whilst they have recorded their thoughts for my analysis later. I am currently collecting data to analyse and exploring the use of the Explain Everything APP as a tool to facilitate this collection.



Follow this link to learn more about this app and its potential


Interesting articles:

Tinzmann et al 1990 http://methodenpool.uni-koeln.de/koopunterricht/The%20Collaborative%20Classroom.htm

Lewis, C. H. (1982). Using the "Thinking Aloud" Method In Cognitive Interface Design (Technical report). IBM. RC-9265.

Kuusela, H., & Paul, P. (2000). "A comparison of concurrent and retrospective verbal protocol analysis". American Journal of Psychology (University of Illinois Press) 113 (3): 387–404.