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Popularity and relevance in science education for scientific literacy

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Making science education more popular

The approach to science and technology education is in need of modernisation across the EU. By encouraging more youth to consider the prospects of a career in science, Europe can meet an increasing demand for more scientists and maintain development in this area on a global playing field.

Climate Change and Environment

To enhance the impact of school science on the career aspirations of today’s youth, science in school education has to become more acceptable to society. The 'Popularity and relevance in science education for scientific literacy' (Parsel) project was established to identify how alternative teaching materials could be modified and made available to teachers so as to promote student interest in science. The EU-funded project thus worked to offer an approach that can improve scientific literacy and increase the popularity, relevance and impact of science education through certain teaching/learning modules. Parsel partners put forward an approach to teaching that promotes greater student autonomy, emphasises inquiry teaching and makes use of society context-oriented approaches. This means teachers will need to develop skills for teaching in a wider context - the project’s teaching/learning materials aimed to assist in this regard with modules designed to offer a challenging learning environment and guide students towards self-regulated and challenging learning. The project’s aim to develop or adapt and make available science teaching/learning materials focused on embracing science/technology/society (STS), science/technology/literacy (STL), context-oriented and subject-integrated teaching and socio-scientific issue-based (SSI) teaching. A key feature of the Parsel modules is teacher ownership, so that materials and approaches can be adapted to student backgrounds and particular classroom situations. Examples of how teacher ownership led to planning future module modifications and how teachers used innovative ways to relate the modules to their classroom situation were displayed on posters at the final Parsel conference. The consortium’s approach to supporting and involving teachers helped to enhance their comprehension of ideas related to science education and the process of implementing various creative means for their introduction. With Parsel modules being implemented in each partner country for small groups of teachers, around 600 students were introduced to this new way of teaching and learning science. However, this seemingly small focus enabled the project to support changes, facilitate teacher ownership and deal with uncertainty and difficulties in implementation. The positive acceptance of materials in the project’s participating countries opens the way to their wider dissemination into other European countries and beyond. For example, certain Asian countries have already expressed an interest in implementing Parsel modules, with some already having been translated into Chinese and implemented in certain schools. The Parsel initiative proved a worthwhile strategy for supporting and engaging teachers and promoting teaching/learning modules that will encourage greater student interest and thus enhance scientific literacy. The network of researchers and practitioners that was established shows promise for continuing the project’s work beyond its duration. The website, will also help in this regard as an online platform for developed material, ideas exchange and further development of the Parsel approach, modules and strategies.

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