Undergraduate Learning in Science Project

The Undergraduate Learning in Science Project (ULISP) is an interdepartmental collaboration at the University of Leeds carrying out research into undergraduate learning in science. Of particular interest are students' views about the nature of science and how these influence their learning. Research findings arising from the project are being used to inform new teaching strategies leading to improved undergraduate learning.


From the start of their university courses undergraduate science students are required to engage in experimental work, data analysis, tutorial discussions and problem solving. All of these activities require the student, at some level, to think and act as a scientist. Teaching staff have an implicit understanding of what this means based on their experience as active researchers. However, students will not necessarily share these views about science. ULISP researchers have examined undergraduate science students views about the purposes of science, the relationship between data and scientific knowledge, and the social processes of science. In many cases students' views are strikingly different from views held by professional scientists within their discipline. Furthermore, these views about the nature of science are seen to constrain student learning about the concepts and procedures of science.

Project Publications

Papers in research journals

Redfors, A. and Ryder, J. (2001) University physics students' use of models in explanations of phenomena involving interactions between metals and electromagnetic radiation. International Journal of Science Education, 23 (12), 1283-1301.

Ryder, J. and Leach, J. (2000) Interpreting experimental data: the views of upper secondary school and university science students. International Journal of Science Education, 22(10), 1069-1084.

Leach, J., Millar, R., Ryder, J. and Séré, M-G. (2000) Epistemological understanding in science learning: the consistency of representations across contexts. Learning and Instruction, 10(6), 497-527.

Ryder, J. and Leach, J. (1999) University science students' experiences of investigative project work and their images of science. International Journal of Science Education, 21(9), 945-956.

Ryder, J., Leach, J. and Driver, R. (1999) Undergraduate science students' images of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 36(2), 201-219.

Book chapters

Ryder, J. (2002) Data interpretation activities and students' views of the epistemology of science during a university earth sciences field study course, in Teaching and learning in the science laboratory , pp. 151-162, Psillos D and Niederrer H (eds.) (Kluwer).

Reports from the Undergraduate Learning in Science Project

Working Paper 1. A perspective on undergraduate teaching and learning in the sciences (Leach, Ryder & Driver, 1996) [ISBN 0 904421 72 4].

Working Paper 2. The Research Project Study: Design and Methodology (Leach, Ryder & Driver, 1996) [ISBN 0 904421 73 2].

Working Paper 3. Final year projects in undergraduate science courses (Ryder, Leach & Driver, 1996) [ISBN 0 904421 74 0].

Working Paper 4. Undergraduate science research projects: The student experience (Ryder, Leach & Driver, 1996) [ISBN 0 904421 75 9].

Working Paper 5. Undergraduate science research projects and students' images of the nature of science (Leach, Ryder & Driver, 1997) [ISBN 0 904421 767].

Working Paper 6. Three case studies of student and supervisor experiences during undergraduate science research projects(Ryder & Leach, 1996) [ISBN 0 904421 77 5].

Working Paper 7. A survey of students' and supervisors' experiences of research projects in undergraduate science courses(Ryder & Leach, 1996) [ISBN 0 904421 78 3].

Working Paper 8. A summary of research findings and recommendations arising from the Research Project Study (Ryder & Leach, 1996) [ISBN 0 904421 805].