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Mapping the evolution of science education

A multidisciplinary and cross-national research project has advanced a better understanding of the role of physics textbooks in the establishment of science education.
Mapping the evolution of science education
Funded by the EU, the EUROTEXTBOOKSCIENCE project examined the status and characteristics of physics textbooks in relation to the evolution of pedagogy and research in the field. The analysis spanned the period from the time of the establishment of secondary education in France (1802) to the present day. Project researchers also considered the influence of major educational reforms introduced in France, Spain and the United Kingdom in 1902.

The project's innovative approach incorporated interdisciplinary methods and attention to internationality, a focus on pedagogy, and a particular consideration of the material culture of science and education. Deliverables include the production of four journal special issues, two historiographical and methodological chapters for reference publications, five book chapters, seven papers in refereed journals and one book. Most of the publications were authored by a single Marie Curie Fellow, and some in collaboration with other researchers.

Project activities included attendance at international conferences, and the organisation of three conference symposia and an annual seminar series. EUROTEXTBOOKSCIENCE organised Europe's first research school devoted to the study of visual representations in science and the research group Science and Technology in the European Periphery (STEP).

EUROTEXTBOOKSCIENCE introduced new methodological approaches, marked by the study of visual representations in science, and expanded on the range of national case studies. The latter included American and Latin American case studies, and research at the Library of Congress in Washington in the United States. This international approach also led to the development of a research cluster on cross-national, comparative and transnational history of science, technology and medicine.ċAnother project accomplishment was the development of a new professional e-list known as H-PhysicalSciences.

The project has made a considerable contribution to a new history of the emergence of physics in Europe, and extended capabilities for reflecting on the design of current science and education policy.

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