- Scientist - Partnerships (TSP):
a tool for professional development
COMENIUS 2.1 Action (Training of School Education Staff)
traditional science teaching is ineffective to prepare students
adequately for life´s complexity in a science and technology
based society. Teachers´ professional knowledge and empowering
contextual learning environments for students seem to be key
factors for improvement.
We propose a systemic approach. We will start by building a
partnership between teachers and scientists, and integrating
both teachers and students in authentic research environments.
For this purpose we have activated a well established network
of research institutes all over Europe, working on carbon dioxide
and climate change. Institutions of higher education in teacher
development and local schools have agreed to establish local
projects with research institutes. Target groups are science
teachers and their students in secondary schools. Teaching and
learning activities are agreed upon in a bottom-up approach,
focused on improving teachers´ abilities to use external
learning as a tool for development, student learning and scientist
abilities to communicate with the public.
Outputs will be modules for in-service and pre-service teacher
training that could be integrated into the various national
education systems, based on best practice. Work is organised
as an iterative ongoing process for 3 years. Learning processes
and outcomes are analyzed by qualitative and quantitative means.
Rationale and background
In view of life's complexity in a science and technology-based
society, it becomes more and more crucial that students as the
future citizens are capable of understanding science, and be
able to cope with a fast changing world. Factual knowledge is
not sufficient. Understanding science requires complex cognitive
abilities of individuals. These are being discussed in science
education research as abilities for critical and reflective
thinking, focussing on results-oriented, rational and logical
thinking, which lead to a personal decision (e.g. Zoller 2000
). International comparative studies like PISA 2002 show,
however, that such higher order cognitive competencies of students
are average or below average in most European countries.
To prepare school graduates for an active role as responsible
citizens, active learning tasks should be offered to students
with a wide range of possibilities for decision making, action
taking and valuing in true to life situations.
Traditional teacher preparation programs have not been very
effective to prepare teaching staff for the corresponding change
in teaching methodology. In order to enhance the quality of
teaching and learning processes, the proposal is focused on
teacher professional development. It aims at changing teaching
activities into learning activities of students. It will be
organized "on-the-job" in order to make it meaningful
to both students and teachers in different European countries.
We are going to involve teachers and students in a European
network of scientists working on the problem of climate change.
They will be involved in authentic learning outside the classroom,
in a research environment, and have a chance to develop their
understanding of science by getting involved in real research.
At the same time, teachers will have to be prepared by supporting
in-service courses for a new role-taking as moderators and facilitator
of science education, since in the course of the project they
will have to organise learning for their students in an external
learning environment at a research institution.
The problem of climate change in Europe and worldwide as influenced
by emissions of carbon dioxide is chosen as the general topic
for all participants. It is well established in most curricula
of secondary schools in Europe, and project activities could
easily be incorporated or adapted to meet local school conditions.
Overall aim and specific objectives
Overall aim is to identify the needs of science teachers to
prepare them for teaching authentic science, according to national
and local conditions. Specifically, we devise bottom-up approaches
and identify evidence-based best practice for integrating teacher
development, student learning and school development into innovative
project work with research institutions. Improve student learning
by involving them in practical tasks in authentic research environments.
Improve teaching methodology of teachers and design innovative
learning environments. Integrate external learning into schooling
on a regular basis. Development and adaptation of appropriate
teaching methodologies as well as teaching materials.
The project is an innovative systemic approach to teaching and
learning of science and teacher professional development. It
is focused on improving teachers´ abilities to use authentic
external learning as a tool for development, improving students´
individual learning, and improving scientists´ abilities
to communicate with the public. It will be organised as a professional
partnership between teacher education, science research and
schools, starting bottom-up at teachers´ and students´
A particularly new and challenging asset of this proposal is
the close connection with two large European research projects
on climate change, CarboEurope and CarboOcean, in which more
than 100 institutes from 17 countries are working together to
investigate the carbon cycle on land and ocean respectively.
As part of their contractual obligations in the field of science
& society, these two FP6 projects have together launched
the "CarboSchools" initiative in 2005 (see www.carboeurope.org,
www.carboocean.org, www.carboschools.org). Carboschools promote
partnerships between global change scientists, secondary school
teachers and their students in order to raise young people's
awareness of the local and global consequences of climate change,
to encourage them to discover the scientific research and to
act locally to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
The FP6 budget of CarboSchools, limited to development of educational
resources and training of climate change scientists, has no
resources for teacher training activities : this Comenius project
will provide highly complementary means to respond to the training
needs arising on the field when teachers start partnership projects,
and to fully exploit the great potential of two major European
scientific networks on an issue of high societal and educational
relevance, climate change.
By getting involved in a European network of schools and science
institutions, teachers and students will be able to recognize
the various ways of social perspective taking with respect to
scientific research. Teachers and students participate actively
with researchers in the process of personal decision making
with respect to the question: What are we to do in order to
deal with global climate change? Locally and globally? And communicate
Pedagogical and didactical approaches
Teaching and learning will be organised along common guide lines
for Lifelong Learning such as (Sterling 2000 ),
Contextual (in touch with the real world, particularly
Holistic (relating to the learning needs of whole persons
Multi- and transdisciplinary (emphasising on new territory
between the disciplines)
Empowering (an engaged and participatory process)
Innovative (drawing inspiration from new thinking and
practice in a variety of fields including the educational field).
Direct involvement in research laboratories will be the foundation
of every project and cannot be substituted by just a visit of
a researcher coming to school to talk about science.
Target groups and expected impact
Target groups are science teachers (in-service; pre-service),
students, and scientists.
The benefits for teachers will be:
Increase the relevance & quality of science teaching
by integrating authentic learning at research institutionsLearn
more about research processes and scientific methods, access
original research data, update factual knowledge, put more evidence
in the links between syllabus & society issues. Gain access
to experiments and demonstrations that would not have been possible
in the classroom. Bring "fresh air" in the classroom;
for the students, scientists have a different status than the
usual teacher; Increase the students' motivation in science
classes and add life to the dry theory of textbooks.
Fulfil new curriculum requirements (e.g. transdisciplinarity,
project work) and gain experience in interdisciplinary group
work with other teachers. Through European cooperation, learn
from teachers from other countries and make pupils learn foreign
languages in the frame of real communication situations.
Benefits for students will be:
Discovering and better understanding scientific research,
its methods and its results by doing concrete project work devoted
to the problem of global climate change. Experience science
learning at school meaningful by acting in the society and sharing
the results of school project work with a wider public.
Benefits for scientists will be:
Improve communication skills related to a specific target
audience (here young people) with the help of teachers; Learn
from the pupils' spontaneity to identify the key questions for
normal people. Support a process in which young people will
be not only beneficiaries of this exchange, but also intermediaries
for a wider public to which they will pass on what they have
01.10.2006 - 30.09.2009
 Zoller, U. (2000). HOCS in the STES Context - An Imperative
for the Disciplinarity-Transdisciplinarity Paradigm Shift.
In: R.Häberli, R.W.Scholz, A.Bill, & M.Welti (Hrsg.),
Transdisciplinarity: Joint Problem-Solving among Science, Technology
and Society. Work-book II: Mutual Learning Sessions. (S.143-144).
Zürich: Haffmans Sachbuch Verlag.
Sterling, S. (2000). Issues within and challenges beyond environmental
education. In: European Commission - Directorate-General for
Environment (Eds.), Environmental education and training in
Europe. Brussels, 3 and 4 May 1999 Conference proceedings. (S.61-69).
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European
of the TSP-conception (incl. contacts) as pdf-file (108