Deeper Thinking

Deeper Thinking trains science teachers to teach year 10 pupils how to use SOLO Taxonomy and metacognitive approaches in order to improve their performance in GCSE science and, in particular, in two types of GCSE question: required practicals and the extended answer question. Developed by Biggs and Collis (1982), SOLO Taxonomy breaks down stages of learning into five steps (pre-structural, uni-structural, multi-structural, relational and extended abstract). Pupils are taught these five steps and encouraged to apply them to their scientific knowledge and to structure their responses through them. In addition, pupils are taught a series of connected metacognitive approaches, including concept mapping and constructing success criteria.

Each school will identify a leader for the implementation of the project and this person will be trained in key elements of the approach through a one-day training event. All schools will then receive three departmental twilight training sessions that will be attended by all teachers teaching GCSE science.

Why are we funding it?

Deeper Thinking is a programme that deploys self-regulation and metacognitive strategies, approaches that derive strong support from evidence. As the EEF’s Improving Secondary Science guidance report explains, several large correlational studies, alongside intervention studies, show strong links between self-regulation and attainment in science. Evidence also suggests that low prior attainers benefit more than high prior attainers, so explicitly teaching these strategies may help to close the attainment gap.

More broadly across other subjects, a number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses analysing the effect of metacognition and self-regulation have consistently found large positive impacts. The majority of metacognition projects evaluated by the EEF have also found positive impacts.

Carmel Education Trust have piloted Deeper Thinking in 6 schools in the North East and North Yorkshire. Exploratory analysis of pre and post-tests suggests a potentially positive impact on science outcomes.

This project is jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust as part of our Improving Science Education Round. 

How are we evaluating it?

Deeper Thinking will be evaluated as a pilot in 12 schools in the North East by a team from Alpha Plus. The evaluation will aim to determine whether the pilot demonstrates evidence of promise, whether it is feasible, and whether it is ready for trial. 

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2020.