Marcus Grace is Professor of Science Education and former Head of the Education School. He is a doctoral supervisor and teaches on undergraduate, Masters and postgraduate initial teacher training programmes.
His main interests centre around learning and teaching about socio-scientific issues, particularly biodiversity conservation, health and wellbeing and environmental issues, and outdoor science education.
He is Co-Director of LifeLab, a purpose built classroom at Southampton General Hospital which helps teenagers learn about making healthy choices for themselves and for their future children.
Marcus is Chair of the Academic Committee of ERIDOB (European Research in Didactics of Biology), and Chair of the UK Biology Education Research Group (BERG), a Royal Society of Biology special interest group. In recent years, Marcus has received science and health education related research grants from AstraZeneca, BUPA, the UK Department for Education, the Research Councils UK, the Wellcome Trust, the Education Endowment Foundation, the European Union and the World Universities Network, among others. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biological Education and the International Journal of Science Education, and he has researched and published widely on education for socio-scientific issues with colleagues in the UK, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Sweden and the US.
Awards and memberships
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
- Chair of the European Researchers in the Didactics of Biology (ERIDOB) Academic Committee
- Chair of the Biology Education Research Group (BERG) a Royal Society of Biology special interest group
- Associate Editor of the Journal of Biological Education
- Guest Editor of 2021 Special Issue of School Science Review
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- The science and values underpinning education for biodiversity, sustainable development and citizenship
- Adolescent decision-making, and teaching and learning about socio-scientific issues
- Outdoor science education
- Engaging young people in biodiversity conservation and health and environmental issues
Achieving sustainable health behaviour change in adolescents
This is a three year cluster-randomised controlled trial funded by Bupa to evaluate the methodology used to deliver the partner LifeLab programme in Southampton and the LENScience programme in Auckland. Both programmes combine school-based and university/hospital-based activities for teenagers aimed at producing sustained change in health-related attitudes and behaviour. Its novelty derives from educational research on how to promote science literacy for health, using an interactive approach which makes learning context-specific, relevant and student-centred. It includes hands-on activities and interactions with university/hospital research scientists. Students and their teachers access real ‘stories' of science, and explore underlying socio-economic influences on health behaviour. Interaction with ongoing research allows students to enter the culture of science. Activities include measuring cardiovascular effects of exercise, carotid artery wall thickness, bone density, muscle function, placental transport and extraction of their own DNA to explore how lifestyle affects gene function. In pilot work, improved health-related attitudes and behaviour were observed in adolescents, and they were seen to act as agents of change within their families.
Talk To US
Talk To US is a three year project funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) which aims to develop engagement between Southampton University and local secondary schools, and motivate young people from a diversity of backgrounds to be excited about cutting-edge research and raise their aspirations for further study and future lives. Early career researchers will have opportunities to develop their transferable skills through training and by working with school students. The initiative also aims to engage teachers in ways that have maximum impact on teaching quality and learning. The University of Southampton’s Education School is working with Bitterne Park School in Southampton and Wildern-Hounsdown Teaching School in Hampshire, which are recognised for their outstanding performance. The partnership will also encourage involvement of schools which seldom engage in university outreach activities. The project involves researchers from across the University in Education, Medicine, Engineering, Oceanography, Chemistry and Biological Sciences. It aims to:
- provide professional development for teachers to help them build a research culture for themselves and their students
- provide professional development for university researchers on how best to engage with teenagers
- link research activities with the school curriculum
- encourage school students to share their experiences of carrying out research projects, through an end of year exhibition of their work.
The Wonder of Nature
The focus for this project is designing, implementing and evaluating ways to improve public connection and engagement with nature. Drawing on evidence-based research, we are working in partnership with the National Trust at their Mottesfont Estate in Hampshire, to test an innovative model for engaging people with nature, both emotionally and cognitively. The outputs include a pedagogical toolkit for designing and delivering 'Discovering Nature' walks for those with minimal knowledge and experience of nature. These walks are complemented and enhanced by the development of an online and face-to-face community of interest for those with a common interest in nature at the site (such as visitors, outdoor guides, countryside rangers and local experts).
Cross-curricular inquiry-based learning about socio-scientific issues
This project is being carried out in partnership with the Japanese Ministry of Education and is investigating how English and Japanese secondary students engage in argumentation and decision-making about socio-scientific issues. History and Science curriculums both encourage inquiry-based learning approaches, and this study explores whether students' perspectives and the nature of their discussions depends on the disciplinary context.
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Marcus has taught on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules within the following programmes:
- BSc Education
- MSc Education
- Secondary Science PGCE
- Non-formal Mathematics & Science Learning Centre (MSLC) courses
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Before working at Southampton Education School, Marcus taught science at comprehensive schools in London and was Headteacher at a Berlitz school in Tokyo.
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