My EBM Christmas Wish

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That school teachers receive better support from the EBM community, enabling them to take advantage of opportunities to teach EBM & critical thinking skills within the science curriculum.

Sarah Pannell

Sarah Pannell

Blogging in advance of Evidence Live, Peter Gill said:

“In order to safeguard evidence-based medicine for the next twenty years, it is imperative to foster the development of young leaders, including students, academics, entrepreneurs, clinicians, economists, political scientists, sociologists, journalists, patients, analysts, accountants, and others.”

For me, “others” starts with pupils in schools.

These “others” are reached through teachers, teaching the science curriculum. The difficulty is, as Lena Nordheim and her colleagues discovered in their study of Norwegian science teachers, opportunities to introduce critical thinking skills are often missed. Another significant problem is the dense factual content of the curriculum, particularly at GCSE level (pupils aged 14-16).

GCSE exams are starting to test students’ critical thinking skills, for example by asking students to evaluate data provided on a particular topic, but students need opportunities to practise these skills during the taught curriculum. This will reduce the frequency of comments like the below, which comes from this AQA IGCSE Biology Examiner’s Report, published following the 2015 summer exam series: “Students were presented with a thoroughly scurrilous piece of journalism… Unfortunately, nearly half of the students found the evidence compelling and were unable to offer any criticism of it.”

So how can the EBM community help?

At CEBM, we are currently working on a project that will identify existing, or develop new, resources that can be easily linked to existing curriculum topics. Unlike other projects, such as the Sense About Science “Ask for Evidence” lesson plan and Collins’ Bad Science for Schools lesson plans, our resources are designed to be integrated into existing lessons. This will allow teachers to continue teaching the content they need to cover, whilst providing relevant examples to develop critical analysis skills in their students.

In addition, we are also looking at other ways to support teachers, such as the delivery of workshops in schools, and training for teachers who are keen to find out more about EBM.

So here’s my real Christmas wish – if you have any ideas for topics that you think would make a great short task, email me!


Sarah Pannell is a CEBM Honourary Fellow and Biology Teacher at Lingfield Notre Dame School.

One comment on “My EBM Christmas Wish

  1. Hi Sarah – I’m the Australian librarian who went to TEBM15 last year. To make this wish achievable, school libraries and librarians need to be properly funded and integrated into mainstream classes just as they are in academia. Librarians can teach information literacy and critical analysis of textual information, along with English teachers too. Needs a integrated approach!

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