The Level 3 Extended Project: The Perspectives on Science Model

Project – Perspectives on Science
The Level 3 Extended Project:
The Perspectives on Science Model
Dr John L. Taylor
Director of Critical Skills, Rugby School
Chief Examiner, Edexcel Project Qualifications
Director, Perspectives on Science Project
[email protected]
Project – Perspectives on Science
An Example of an Extended Project Programme:
Perspectives on Science (PoS)
A Project course in History, Philosophy and Ethics of Science
From 2004 – 2008 a free-standing pilot AS qualification
Evaluated in 2008 by Levinson et al, Institute of Education
A prototype for the extended project dissertation
2009: PoS style resources developed for other types of EP
Project – Perspectives on Science
Sample titles from the 2006 cohort
“Can the Kyoto Protocol be defended using a philosophical
and ethical approach?”
“Should the UK’s Law on Abortion be changed?”
“Is there a life after death?”
“Is Schizophrenia Genetic?”
“Should the amount of funding in Autism Research be raised
to the amount received by Cancer Research?”
“Are Darwinism and Marxism Related?”
Project – Perspectives on Science
Course Structure
Skills Development
(40 hours)
History of science / research skills
Philosophical frameworks/ thinking skills
Introduction to ethical thinking
Research Project
(80 hours)
Research Proposal /Planning
Writing/ Editing
Project – Perspectives on Science
Timetabling Models
One year
Two year
One term of skills acquisition/ research proposals
One term of research/ presentation training
Assessment around Easter
One year for introductory phase, Research Proposal
development after AS modules
Two terms for research.
Assessment around Easter
One year or two on reduced teaching time.
This can be either a compressed full course or in
some cases straight into research with skills phase
left up to the student. Only recommended with the
most able students with relevant prior subject
Project – Perspectives on Science
Teaching Research Skills
Project – Perspectives on Science
Teaching Thinking Skills
Project – Perspectives on Science
Developing Ethical Reasoning
Project – Perspectives on Science
Facilitating research
“Better a guide at the side than a sage on the stage”
Supervising the research process and rewarding initiative
Project – Perspectives on Science
The Project Proposal
• Student’s choice of research
• A rationale for the project
• An identification of areas of
research to be addressed
• Plan of activities
Project – Perspectives on Science
Research Fields
• The origins of the universe
• The human mind
• The beginning and ending of life
• The mechanistic universe
• Genetics
• Animal welfare
• Scientific revolutions
Project – Perspectives on Science
Scrutinizing Project Proposals
“The most intellectually satisfying and successful projects
are those which are interesting, feasible, sustaining and
focused. Students should be explicitly taught by example
what distinguishes a good research question from a poor
Levinson et al (2008), p31
Project – Perspectives on Science
Project Development
Research Review
Discussion / Development
Conclusion / Evaluation
Project – Perspectives on Science
Presentation of the Project
• Building confidence
• Ensuring authenticity
• Celebrating success
Project – Perspectives on Science
A Joy to Teach..
“I am really enthusiastic about the course. I think it’s probably the most
enjoyable teaching I’ve ever done in my whole teaching career. I think it’s
because for once the students and I are actually exploring knowledge, for the
love of exploring knowledge, rather than trying to prove that Ohm’s Law is
still Ohm’s Law. “
PoS Pilot teacher, quoted in Levinson et al (2008) A Research Study of the
Perspectives on Science AS-level Course, p29
Project – Perspectives on Science
Shaping aspiration
Hugh completed his Perspectives on
Science Dissertation on the mind/body
problem in May 06. His work led him to
explore the overlap between science and
In Feb 09 he wrote, “I'm currently
studying Neuroscience at King's in London
and this year have started a module
called ''Neuroscience and The Mind'' which
is also bridging the gap between science
and philosophy. To tell you the truth I am
loving it!! And I'm also doing quite well in
Project – Perspectives on Science
Preparation for HE
“Part of my coursework was sent with my
Oxbridge application and I think it was a
strength of my application...Philosophical
discussions of both Kuhn and Marx formed a
large part of my interviews and I was prepared
for the rigorous debate by the Perspectives on
Science course. Not only do I believe that the
course aided my application, but now that I am
at Cambridge I genuinely feel that Perspectives
opened up new spheres of inquiry and angles of
approach which I would not necessarily have
explored otherwise.”
Jess (PoS student 2004 – 2006. Jess has now
switched to study HPS at Cambridge)
Project – Perspectives on Science
Building Confidence
"Perspectives on Science (POS) and the Extended Project (EP) allowed
me to develop a variety of skills which are now helping me with
my studies at university. Doing the POS/EP gave me the necessary
skills for researching topics and producing extended essays and
dissertations. In addition, it has given me much more confidence
when doing presentations and when I am involved in discussions
groups and in tutorials. I have appreciated that points of view should
be based upon evidence rather than unsubstantiated ideas. The skills
given to me by the POS/EP are of great benefit to me given the
nature of some of the modules in my degree. I am really pleased
that I had the opportunity to practise these skills before I came to
(Michael, now studying Law and Economics at Leicester)
Project – Perspectives on Science
Project – Perspectives on Science
The Level 3 Extended Project:
The Perspectives on Science Model
Contact for Training / Further Information:
Dr John L. Taylor
Director of Critical Skills, Rugby School
Chief Examiner, Edexcel Project Qualifications
Director, Perspectives on Science Project
[email protected]
Resource Link
Photos courtesy of the Welcome Trust