What enables successful open-ended practical investigative work at A Level?

Lynda Dunlop, Maria Gertrudis Wilhelmina Turkenburg, Kerry Jane Knox, Judith Merryn Bennett, Aba Aba Adebanjo, Martin Hampshire, Tanya Hunt, Simon Moore, Simon Poliakoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Gatsby Good Practical Science report (Gatsby, 2017) identified opportunities to carry out open-ended investigative projects as one of ten benchmarks for good practical science. However, there is currently no requirement for post-16 students in England to have access to such opportunities as this is not required by A-level specifications (the most common post-16 qualification in England). Nevertheless, some teachers incorporate open-ended investigative work into post-16 teaching. Drawing on in-depth semi-structured interviews with 12 teachers, enablers of and barriers to open-ended investigation are identified, and the ways in which several teachers have successfully implemented such work are demonstrated through vignettes. Ways that teachers can use and value open-ended project work within current A-level specifications are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-57
Number of pages8
JournalSchool Science review
Issue number380
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

Cite this