Referència: HPSE-CT-2002-60055

The IKUITSE project is an Accompanying Measure of the TSER project STTIS (Science Teacher Training in an Information Society, ERB-SOE2-CT-2020). STTIS research results related to the ways in which Secondary teachers implement certain ITs in science courses showed that:

  • Specific training sessions for science teachers are required, in the area of using new technologies that have, as a basis, current psycho-pedagogical knowledge of how learning takes place, and what factors help or hinder it.
  • Highly specific material should be drawn up for teachers, in order to help them overcome detected difficulties, help them to create mental models of how equipment works, and helps them to indicate and justify ways of using the tool in question.
  • Supplementary material should be drawn up in certain fields that have the objective of avoiding or overcoming some of the difficulties that teachers face.
  • Research on teachers should be provided to teacher trainers.

In this Accompanying Measure results of the TSER research project will be used to prepare the CASCADE package: a set of materials for a teacher-training course in the adequate and efficient use new technologies (IT’s) in Secondary schools for Science teaching. The technologies addressed are the most effective and suitable ones for the teaching of science at this educational level: Computer-based laboratories (CBL), Simulation tools and Internet. The materials and resources elaborated in this proposal, despite research-based, will rely also on current suppositions regarding efficient teaching and learning, with the integration of knowledge from different fields: theoretical considerations on education, didactics, communication, visual language, psychology, pedagogy, etc. The aim is to improve the quality of European science teaching using IT’s through the presentation, promotion, implementation and exploitation of this teacher training package CASCADE. To achieve these purposes, CASCADE will be presented and promoted at European level through the implementation of a workshop for European teachers, teacher trainers, researchers in Science Education and policy makers.

Dotació econòmica: 56.000€

Durada: 2002-2004

Altres entitats participants:

  • CRECIM, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), (ES)

Membres del CRECIM participants: Roser Pintó Casulleras, Pilar García Rovira, Maria Teresa Escalas Tramullas.

Informació addicional:

Objectives

The objective of this Accompanying Measure proposal is to make use of the results of a TSER1 research project to draw up a pack with materials and resources for teacher training in the adequate and efficient use of new technologies for teaching sciences in Secondary schools. A relevant feature of the package will consist on the integration and connexion of different disciplinary fields (psychology, pedagogy, informatics, discourse analysis and visual language) in improving the teaching of a subject matter that has great social reputation and demand, but that also has scarce acceptation among students, particularly girls. We are referring to Experimental Sciences (particularly Biology and Physics). The theoretical framework of these materials to be produced will contain current perspectives on teaching and learning, and on those aspects of teacher training that research carried out in recent years has shown to be most effective.

This proposal addresses the problematic of teaching science with computer tools, referred to throughout this document as Informatic Tools (IT’s) because of its implications on society as a whole. It is well accepted that, in a modern technological society such as the European one, scientific and technological literacy is increasingly required for all citizens. Deeper scientific knowledge and the mastery of IT’s, for instance, it’s nowadays a desirable skill for any European citizen. This demands great investment both in technological resources for the school and research in Science Education. The acknowledgement of such needs has already led to diverse initiatives. In this sense, the European Commission and various European Education Ministries have already funded programs to bring IT’s to European schools. However, not enough impact has been felt in schools, and IT’s are seldom used (or else badly so) by students. For Science Education, at all educational levels, the role that computer tools can play is particularly relevant, since they allow real or virtual situations to be to displayed on-screen, as well as showing phenomena and natural processes that constitute the core of the subject matter. But, at present, scientific subjects continue being considered as problematic (poor scientific understanding, decreasing number of people choosing science in higher education, etc.). We could reduce the main reasons for these inefficient outcomes to two, namely:

  1. a) Research studies into the use of IT tools for educational purposes have consisted mainly of stressing the importance and variety of IT tools, but have not focused over much on what might be the most efficient ways of teaching, when using these innovations. This is even more important for Science education where the hardware and software devoted to Science activities need supplementary training and an understanding of their rationale.
  1. b) The enormous influence that teachers have in this process of introducing new technologies has not seriously been taken into account. European teachers, despite being the key factor in spreading knowledge among society, have not received enough training (or appropriate training) to successfully accomplish this new cross-national task, that is, to prepare European citizens for the challenges of the future society. Teachers should be able to select, according to well-founded criteria, whatever software and hardware are appropriate for the different skills that they wish to develop in their students. This will be possible if they receive in-depth training that allows them to detect differences and similarities.

A recent TSER project of the 4th Framework, with the acronym STTIS 2 (Science Teacher Training in the Information Society) studied how teachers use IT’s in their teaching of science. The results of the project showed the main factors influencing the unsuccessful use of IT’s, and once again provided evidence that the use of computer tools, per se, is not significant in improving students’ learning. The STTIS project offers certain research-based guidelines for future teacher training programmes to avoid such problems. From the STTIS results, it is also shown that providing teachers with powerful and efficient IT’s followed by some general training, despite being necessary, is simply not enough for improving their teaching, and therefore, in the desired improvement in students’ learning of science or the mastering of IT’s. Science teachers need training that is far more specific, in which they learn how to integrate the use of these new tools within their teaching of Science.

Due to the inefficient research/practice relationship, that is, due to the gap between educational research outcomes and their application in classrooms, these research results about how best to teach and learn with IT’s are not producing any real change in current practices. The aim of this proposal, therefore, is to ensure that the important educational research-based outcomes reach the teaching community directly.

The package presented in this proposal will encompass the TSER STTIS project results with theoretical considerations on effective teaching and learning and efficient teacher-training perspectives.

This Accompanying Measure proposal is made within the structure of the Fifth Framework Programme, within the Third Call for Key action “Improving the Socio-economic knowledge base” published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 24th July 2001 (IHP-KAI-2001-1). In agreement with the objectives of the Key Action, this proposal foresees that a significant factor in improving European citizens’ quality of life is the fact of their being self-sufficient, capable of living according to the requirements of their times, and to use and understand the technology that is within their reach. To have an effect upon the scientific and technological literacy of all European citizens is a task that can only be undertaken from within the ambit of compulsory education, and so our proposal gives its fullest support to investment in teacher training for science teachers in the use of IT’s, with the aim of thus reaching the population as a whole. The greatest possible diffusion of new technologies is that carried out from within the school, making it clear, then, that the role of new technologies in teaching is fundamental. As the Key Action, “Improving the Socio-economic knowledge base” within the thematic framework Technology, Society and Employment emphasises, the role of innovation in education and training is one of the topics of interest in the European Union.

Specifically, our proposal is framed within Part I of the Third Call, in the Theme 1: The challenge of socio-economic development models for Europe, since the proposal lies within the general area of an interest in the quality of life experienced by European citizens, in harmony with the economic growth being experienced by the European Union. Citizens who are adapted to the information society, to the new technologies that surround them, etc. can have a greater quality of life within the European society. (It is certain for themselves as well for the consequences of the EU’s economic growth) Furthermore, in this sub-theme, the role of formal education and training in the issues of knowledge dissemination in the learning society is deemed to be of particular interest. In a society in which life-long learning is truly necessary in order to adapt to future changes, proposals that concentrate on how to carry out such learning, and to ensure its extension and availability to the citizenry as a whole, are powerfully relevant. This current proposal undertakes such an approach in two specific ways. First, by proposing the training of teachers in accordance with the needs of European society, and based on the results of cross-national research into the subject under discussion. And second, by undertaking this training on the specific area of Informatic Tools, which are in themselves potential sources of life-long self-learning. In a society in which, for example, Internet is both commonly used and generally felt to be ‘controllable’, this resource represents a considerable advantage through which to inform the public at large, and to teach other similar technologies, etc.

The type of Accompanying Measure to which our proposal belongs is Measure 3: Information, communication and dissemination activities, including scientific publications and activities for the promotion and exploitation of results and the transfer of technology. This measure includes activities of evaluation and the exploitation of the TSER programme results, which are, in our case, the results from the STTIS project. Suitably for the Measure 3 specifications, the teacher training package that we plan is a product that includes materials and resources in different formats (documents, cd-roms, data bases, interactive web-sites) for different targeted addressees (in-service and pre-service teachers, and teacher trainers).

[1] STTIS project: Science Teacher Training in an Information Society, co-ordinated at European and national level by Dr. Roser Pintó, the applicant of the present Accompanying Measure.

[2] See note one

Expected Benefits

This proposal has expected benefits at different levels.

The longer-term expected output would be that of improving the scientific and technological literacy of European citizens through improving the teaching of science and technology by European Teachers. Two important and non-obvious ideas are assumed:

First, the understanding, knowledge and mastery of Science and IT’s of European students increase when taught in more effective ways.

Second, the most efficient way of improving the quality of European education is to improve the quality of European teachers.

The proposal is addressed to contribute to real changes in European Education because it is designed to reach the classrooms directly, improving the knowledge that all European citizens will have about science and about the use of new technologies. It is not only a matter for future professional scientists, but for all citizens. If Europe should be competitive, it should not allow its citizens to ignore or fail to master these innovations and technologies. European citizenry as a whole has to be prepared for the forthcoming challenges in an Information and Knowledge base society.

At a shorter-term level, the expected output is to improve the quality of science teaching when using IT’s through the improvement of teacher training. It implies investment in the design of teacher training programs since many studies are already evidenced that simple talks from experts are not enough or appropriate procedure for a real learning. This Accompanying Measure is intended to specifically address the main problems that teachers have found, related to their use of IT’s, some of them detected through the STTIS project. Training programs with IT should have to be address to gain:

  1. Technical background and skills in IT’s
  2. Educational knowledge about how to teach Science using IT’s
  3. Expertise in strategies to make room for new technologies in their teaching
  4. Sensitivity to students’ difficulties related to the use of IT’s

 

An expected benefit of the proposal will be a useful package (to be called CASCADE package) to prepare workshops for teacher training. It will be a clear gain for Science teacher trainers to have a coherent and carefully elaborated set of documents, activities and images to be used for their forthcoming teachers. These materials, resonant with the most updated theories on Science Education, will have the potentiality of a cascade effect. A teacher will be easily able to become expert and so, teacher trainer for other colleagues.

Teachers who follow this teacher-training package are expected to overcome the above difficulties and to improve their teaching, thereby ensuring an increase of their students’ scientific literacy and their mastery of IT’s.

Moreover the production of a teacher training package CASCADE to improve the quality of Science teaching using IT’s, it is planned the organisation of an European Workshop to disseminate it and, therefore, to contribute to raise the scientific and technological literacy of European students’ in the Informatics and Science fields.

Scientific description of the proposal

This Accompanying Measure proposal is inscribed within the Fifth Framework Programme, in the Third Call for Key Action “Improving the Socio-economic knowledge base” published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 24th July 2001 (IHP-KAI-2001-1) in order to carry out those tasks referring to the Part 1 Subject 1 Research Theme: The challenge of socio-economic development models for Europe. The tasks foreseen for this Accompanying measure are framed within those of the Measure 3 type: Information, communication and dissemination activities.

The Accompanying Measure that we propose to carry out is based on certain premises that require explanation, and that are the result of the specific background pertaining to the research team that would be responsible for carrying it out, and that are also derived from the results of a TSER project: STTIS Science Teacher Training in an Information Society: ERB-SOE2-CT-2020. We now outline these premises:

  1. The educational and learning acts are processes that are more complex than is sometimes borne in mind, as they require the coming together of many different factors (teachers’ beliefs about learning and understanding, personal values, social context, external and material constraints, etc).

Several studies (SAS-study, Science and Scientists, Sjoberg, S. 2000) have highlighted the fact that in many European countries, particularly those that are considered as more developed, the interest in scientific knowledge is low, and this is more the case amongst girls than amongst boys. Science and Technology plays currently a very important role in our society, and, in the future society, scientific and technological information is likely to play an increasingly more important role not only for the expert in the field, but for all citizens, as part of their lives. We cannot, therefore, allow this situation to continue, and this proposal would like to contribute by offering resources to improve the situation.

Amongst people who are not in close contact with the educational world, it is fairly frequently held that the only requirement for class incorporation and improvements in teaching are that new equipment, new material or better instructions be made available. It is as if there is the belief that, in order to overcome a lack of interest in the Sciences (to say nothing of their outright rejection), it is enough to present new teaching resources such as a new textbook, new software or some sort of new-fangled lab equipment.

  1. Great hopes have been attached, in recent years, to IT’s in science courses, particularly those tools able to facilitate lab work. There can be no doubting the progress made in the presentation of IT’s and in improvements seen in their design. But in spite of significant effort being made in this ambit, little progress has been seen in applying knowledge about knowledge-construction to directing the ways in which to carry out an adequate implementation of such tools in the class.
  2. Science teachers have received teacher training based on aspects of both Science and Psychology & Teaching, but these facets tend to be unconnected. On the other hand, knowledge of computers tends only to have been acquired in a highly operative/pragmatic context, through trial and error or in specific computer sessions that are not characterised by their having a constructivist view of learning. (See figure 1)This all means that, as above-mentioned STTIS project results show, two types of behaviour are produced:

– Very slight use of IT’s, as a tool for class improvement, within the courses

given. IT’s are not fully naturalised in Science courses.

– Whenever teachers try to use IT’s in their classes, a number of distortions and

contradictions are given rise to, in terms of their usual character as teachers.

  1. Improvement in Science teaching currently receives support from a wide range of research institutions, particularly the prestigious ESERA & NARST, and from certain international journals that enjoy the highest index of attention (IJSE; JRST; SC). The results of research into Science Education that has been undertaken in recent decades has allowed us to elaborate a corpus of particular knowledge that both complements and underlines studies from related fields. Nevertheless, these results have not been made widespread, having remained within the domain of the researchers themselves.

Yet it is obvious that Research into Science Education has to feed back into the daily task of Science Education. Research results must be of use to teachers; they must help the evolution of teaching within these disciplines. It is of little use to draw up highly pertinent research into Science Education if no one attempts to foresee the ways in which this is then to reach our teachers.

  1. 4. The transmission of research results, and ensuring that these reach teachers, is a delicate and difficult task, for a number of reasons. It is delicate because we need to bear in mind one of the realities that has been amply observed and affirmed: simply explaining something orally or audiovisually is not enough to guarantee that the listener/viewer learns or assimilates it. It is difficult because each teacher knows his or her reality perfectly well, knows their own conditioning circumstances, and will not easily accept the ingestion from outsiders if that simply serves to accentuate their insecurity. We should not forget that, as several studies have shown, Primary and Secondary teachers often feel their work to be poorly recognised, and find the social consideration that they receive to be unjust.
  2. 5. On-going teacher training has too often been limited to telling them what they should be doing in their classes, or to supplying them with new teaching materials to use. The reasons underpinning why they should take change onboard, change in their ways of doing things, change in routine, orientation, etc., tend not to be made explicit. Knowing the reasons behind conduct modification turns out to be an essential factor if the aim is, in fact, to modify conduct. We need to offer justifications to teachers, and not simply instructions.
  3. 6. Research for the STTIS project made manifest the factors that intervene in the ways in which IT’s are used in class.

From the STTIS research results relating to the ways in which Secondary teachers implement certain ITs in science courses, it can be seen that:

  1. a) Specific training sessions for science teachers are required, in the area of using new technologies that have, as a basis, current

psycho-pedagogical knowledge of how learning takes place, and what factors help or hinder it.

  1. b) Highly specific material should be drawn up for teachers, in order to help them overcome detected difficulties, help them to

create mental models of how equipment works, and helps them to indicate and justify ways of using the tool in question.

  1. c) Supplementary material should be drawn up in certain fields that have the objective of avoiding or overcoming some of the

difficulties that teachers face.

  1. d) Research on teachers should be provided to teacher trainers.

All this leads us to define, within this Accompanying Measure, the following fundamental objective: to use the results of a TSER research project to prepare the CASCADE package: a set of materials for a teacher-training courses in the adequate and efficient use new technologies (IT’s) in Secondary schools for Science teaching. The technologies addressed are the most effective and suitable ones for the teaching of science at this educational level: Computer-based laboratories (CBL), Simulation tools and Internet. The materials and resources elaborated in this proposal, despite research-based, will rely also on current suppositions regarding efficient teaching and learning, with the integration of knowledge from different fields: theoretical considerations on education, didactics, communication, visual language, psychology , pedagogy, etc (See figure 2). The aim is to improve the quality of European science teaching using IT’s through the presentation, promotion, implementation and exploitation of this teacher training package CASCADE. To achieve these purposes, CASCADE will be presented and promoted at European level through the implementation of a workshop for European teachers, teacher trainers, researchers in Science Education and policy makers.

Informatic tools for improving scientific Knowledge