Group work in elementary science: towards organisational principles for supporting pupil learning

C.J. Howe, A.K. Tolmie, A. Thurston, K. Topping, D. Christie, K. Livingston, E.K. Jessiman, C. Donaldson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Group work has been promoted in many countries as a key component of elementary science. However, little guidance is given as to how group work should be organised, and because previous research has seldom been conducted in authentic classrooms, its message is merely indicative. A study is reported, which attempts to address these limitations. Twenty-four classes of 10–12-year-old pupils engaged in programmes of teaching on evaporation and condensation, and force and motion. Both programmes were delivered by classroom teachers, and made extensive use of group work. Pupil understanding progressed from pre-tests prior to the programmes to post-tests afterwards, and results suggest that group work played a critical role. Organisational principles are extrapolated from the findings, which could be readily adopted in classrooms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-563
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • science education
  • primary school pupils
  • group work
  • classroom dialogue

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