3 Evaluating the effectiveness of a practical activity

Pause for thought

Think of two practical activities that have worked well with your students. What type of activity were they? What did you see that made you think they were particularly effective?

This unit is about adapting the way you plan and carry out practical work to make it more effective. But how can you judge the effectiveness of a practical activity? Is an effective activity where:

  • everyone is following a set of instructions and getting the expected results?
  • everyone learns how to carry out a particular technique?
  • students are surprised by what they observe and have to rethink their understanding of what is happening?

You can only judge the effectiveness of an activity against intended learning outcomes. The first step is to be clear about what you want from an activity, then decide what you will look for as evidence during or after the lesson.

Activity 4: Developing your planning and in-class practice

This activity will help you to develop your planning and in-class practice.

You will use a checklist to evaluate the effectiveness of an activity against intended learning outcomes in your lesson plan.

  • Look at the activities in the Class IX textbook chapter on gravitation. Select one activity that you would like to work on.
  • You will also need Resource 3. This includes a list of suggested key purposes or outcomes for an activity
  • Think about how you intend to use your chosen activity as part of your teaching sequence for gravitation. What is its key purpose? What types of outcome or outcomes do you want from it? For example, is the key purpose to help recall, improve practical skills or evaluate evidence?
  • For each key purpose or outcome, the checklist provides one or more questions to ask yourself. Before you add these to your lesson plan, you need to decide when you will get the evidence to answer the following questions:
    • Will you observe as your students are working?
    • Will you need to question students as they are working, or in a plenary session?
    • Will you need to look at your students’ written work?
  • Add these extra notes to your lesson plan.
  • Carry out the activity using your modified plan.
  • After the lesson, review your evidence. How effective do you think the activity was, based on your evidence? What would you change before you do this activity again?

2 Using an investigative approach in practical work on gravitation