An investigation into secondary school teachers' and pupils' perceptions of science pedagogical activities in different teaching spaces.

UoM administered thesis: Doctor of Education

  • Authors:
  • Aleksander Jedrosz


Using case study and a mixed methods approach this study considers the perceptions of secondary school teachers and pupils about the location and space in which science lessons are taught and how different lesson venues impact on pupils' behaviour and learning. Activity Theory is used as a conceptualisation. The science lesson is the Activity at the centre of this and consideration is given to the different influences that different factors have on the lesson. New-build schools of the 21st Century, many of which were built as part of the Building Schools for the Future (DfES 2003, 2004) initiative were often designed with limited specialist science accommodation and this impacts on where else science teaching happens. Three schools were identified in the north-west of England where teaching occurs in the three distinct and different types of accommodation: school science laboratories, open spaces where multiple groups of pupils can be taught simultaneously by individual teachers and generic classrooms. After initial approaches to the three science departments a total of 14 teachers and 293 were recruited to take part in the research. Field work data were collected in a range of modes: photography, individual teacher interviews; small group pupil interviews and lesson visits during which activity data were collected. Pupils in the classes that were visited also completed a questionnaire and a total of 293 of these were collected. Findings suggest that though teachers understand the role of practical work in the science curriculum the inclusion of practical tasks in the lessons visited was limited; though more practical activities were incorporated into school science laboratory based lessons little practical work happened when lessons were based in open spaces and none when lessons were timetables in classrooms. Teachers state a preference to teach in laboratories for a range of reasons including: ability to engage with practical activities; the enclosed space of the laboratory reduces/eliminates extraneous distractions/noise when compared to teaching in open spaces; it feels appropriate to teach science in specialist accommodation. Pupils overwhelmingly enjoy science lessons especially when practical work in included and so have a preference to being taught in science laboratories. Using the conceptualisation of Activity Theory and considering the various factors that affect an Activity it is clear that the Tools/Artefacts, the venue, are/is the most influential single factor when it comes to teachers planning science lessons and pupils engaging in these. Recommendations for the management of open spaces for teaching science are offered for a range of time scales including immediate action, gradual actions which require some planning and distant, long term, actions as well as it a range of levels embracing whole school, departmental, individual teacher level and pupil level.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2016