Intervention details

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Thinking, Doing, Talking Science

No impact for Primary science
UK Evaluated in the UK

Intervention description

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science is a teacher training intervention which aims to make science lessons in primary schools more practical, creative and challenging. Teachers are trained to develop and teach challenging, enquiry-based science lessons that incorporate more practical activities, deeper thinking and discussion, and sharply focused recording.

The intervention works on the premise that science lessons which are most successful at engaging and motivating pupils and raising their attainment feature more practical activity, deeper thinking, more discussion, less (but more focused) writing and more questioning. Teachers are trained in strategies that aim to encourage pupils to use higher order thinking skills. For example, pupils are posed ‘Big Questions’, such as ‘How do you know that the earth is a sphere?’ that are used to stimulate discussion about scientific topics and the principles of scientific enquiry.

The intervention comprises a series of professional development sessions, support, and resources for primary school teachers. Rather than teaching science simply as a body of facts to be learned, the approach emphasises the principles of scientific inquiry: how to ask good questions and design simple experiments to find out the answers. The aim is not to provide a set of ‘off-the-shelf’ lesson plans to be delivered in schools; rather it is to make teachers more creative and thoughtful in planning their science lessons and to equip them with a repertoire of strategies and ideas that they can use and adapt to suit their context.

The intervention is run as a four day course for teachers with dates for 2019/2020 available in Oxford and York, contact the provider for details.

Evidence Summary

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) ran a trial of Thinking, Doing, Talking Science in 2012 in 40 schools with Year 5 pupils. The teachers in this trial received five days of training. The evaluation found a positive impact on primary science with some indications that the approach was particularly beneficial for pupils eligible for free school meals. 

The EEF then funded a second trial in 205 schools with Year 5 pupils. This trial used a different delivery model for teacher training with new trainers delivering the training for the first time. The teachers in this study received four days of training, not five as in the earlier evaluation. The study found no evidence of impact on primary science and a small amount of progress for pupils eligible for free school meals. 

The studies found a mean effect size of +0.03 for primary science.

The EEF are now exploring options for a scalable model that maintains the impact seen in the first trial. The current version of the intervention is delivered by trainers used in the efficacy trial.

No impact for Primary science
No. of studies 2
No. of students 8,569
Average effect size +0.03

Key research

The Education Endowment Foundation evaluation from 2012 found a positive impact on primary science. 


The Education Endowment Foundation ran an evaluation on a larger scale which found no evidence of impact on primary science.


Key stages

  • Key Stage 1
  • Key Stage 2


Please contact provider for a quote

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