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Innovation in Science Education - Turning Kids on to Science

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An adaptive approach for science and technology education

An EU-funded collaborative project explored new means of transferring innovative approaches/practices in science and technology education from one educational context to another, even across national borders.

Digital Economy

A European Commission Specific International Cooperation Action (SICA), the 'Innovation in science education - Turning kids on to science' (KIDSINNSCIENCE) project was set up to facilitate more innovative science and technology (S&T) education. Targeted elements of S&T education include supporting equity amongst learners, raising student interest, and enhancing scientific literacy. The underlying assumption was that an innovative practice (IP) in one country or educational context can be applied elsewhere if it meets agreed quality criteria and can be adapted to local circumstances and conditions. To determine how to successfully transfer IPs, KIDSINNSCIENCE posed a series of questions related to teaching and learning strategies. They investigated motivation, similarities and differences, and successful application in the different contexts of the 10 partner countries. Over a period of almost four years, researchers analysed and compared strategies for innovating curricula and for S&T teaching and learning in Austria, Brazil, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland. Diversity and inclusiveness, gender equity, and activity-based and learner-centred approaches were a primary focus throughout the project. Two cycles of field trials were conducted in around 100 schools, involving more than 180 teachers and reaching over 4 000 learners. The research team found that an adaptive approach involving teachers and accounting for the context and conditions in their classrooms is crucial for successful IP transfer and implementation. Field trials were evaluated in terms of feasibility and effectiveness. This exercise showed that teachers and learner motivation can be increased through learner- and activity-centred teaching as well as integration of real-life contexts. KIDSINNSCIENCE formulated main patterns of strategies for structural change in S&T education. Among others, these cover support for teacher education, availability of teaching materials, integrating everyday contexts/life aspects, choice of different curricula contents and methodologies. Project findings were presented through journal publications, and at conferences and national events. On the whole, KIDSINNSCIENCE outcomes facilitate more creative functioning within an education system, provide support for incorporating more active learning systems in S&T education, and improve students' performance and interest in S&T.

Keywords

Science and technology, science education, educational context, teaching and learning, adaptive approach

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