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Science Education CUrriculum REsearch

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Boosting mathematics, science and technology in the EU

An EU-funded project has advanced research that can help improve mathematics, science and technology (MST) curricula and their implementation. The goal is to better enable stakeholders in preparing children for future careers in MST.

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The EU falls short of its global competitors regarding the number of MST graduates, a field in which women are also sorely underrepresented. The 'Science education curriculum research' (SECURE) project sought to close this gap and also thus contribute to Europe's knowledge-based society. Seeking to make MST more accessible and enjoyable for all children, SECURE's approach envisions helping youngsters to maintain a strong interest in MST and understand its important societal role. To achieve a balance between training future scientists and meeting broader societal needs, education in MST is considered highly important for training specialists and experts who promote scientific and technological innovation in society. At the same time, basic scientific competencies and a positive attitude towards the role of science in society are important for all Europeans. SECURE compared MST curricula in 10 EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom) as they are intended by the authorities, implemented by teachers and perceived by learners. The focus was on children aged 5, 8, 11 and 13, and on bridging the gaps between kindergarten, primary school and middle school. Researchers used questionnaires and interviews to gain insight into the perceptions of MST teachers and learners about the curricula. They then analysed, compared and contrasted their findings. Actively engaging a transnational expert group of research and curriculum development institutions contributed to the valorisation strategy of the research outcomes. This helped to improve on the project's final outcomes. Project members communicated and shared research findings and conclusions through articles, presentations and meetings (which were both scientific and for the general public). To promote a keen interest in MST, SECURE collaborated with schools to organise science events for learners of all ages, who were given innovative learning tools and materials. The project's scientific research has resulted in various recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders involved in curriculum development and teacher education. The recommendations centre on how MST curricula and their delivery can be improved. SECURE used national and international conferences as well as written materials to deliver the recommendations to policymakers and stakeholders.

Keywords

Mathematics, science and technology, science education, curriculum research, knowledge-based society, science in society

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