Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Teachers’ Guide

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Table of Content

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Scientific education: main obstacles and challenges
This subchapter focuses on the main obstacles and challenges in science education. Our world is facing an unprecedented development of science and technology. The influence of science and technology on our lives will undoubtedly continue to increase in the next years. All aspects of life in modern society have been touched by scientific and technological knowledge and skills, which have invaded the workplace and the public sphere as well as the private sphere and our leisure time. Scientific and technological knowledge and skills have become crucial for most of our actions and decisions. Meaningful and independent participation in modern society assumes scientific and technological knowledge and skills.

However, the increasing significance of science and technology is not accompanied by a growth in students’ interest in these subjects, as educational statistics relating to subject choice in school or enrolment in tertiary education highlight. On the contrary, in many countries, recruitment to scientific and technological studies is falling. Also, in many countries, there is also a growing gender gap in the choice of scientific and technological subjects at both school and tertiary level. Many countries have had a long period of steady growth in female participation in traditionally male fields of study, but this positive trend seems now to have been broken in some countries (especially Nordic countries). The chapter examines the obstacles and challenges science education is confronted with, be they within the classroom, across the school system, or in the larger social arena; it also provides readers with a wide range of suggestions to choose from.

Science education should be an essential component of the learning process. Education policies and systems should:
  • Ensure that science is an essential component of compulsory education for all students;
  • Support schools, teachers, teacher educators and students of all ages to adopt an inquiry approach to science education as part of the core framework of science education for all;
  • Address socio-economic, gender and cultural inequalities in order to widen access and provide everyone with the opportunities to pursue excellence in learning and learning outcomes;
  • Create mechanisms to foster individual reflection and empowerment.
  • Science education should balance requirements of theoretical knowledge and practical skills related to science in order to motivate students to learn.
Online Resources
  • The Chemistry Is All Around Network projectThe Network project, funded by the European Commission intends to promote the studying of chemistry at school by providing teachers with a colelction of experiences and activities mean to help teachers make chemistry accessible an datractiv eto their students.
  • Jonathan Osborne, A Report to the Nuffield FoundationThe report examines the shortcomings in curriculum, pedagogy and assessmenin teaching science in schools. The main challenge the report highlights is to re-imagine science education: to consider how it can be made fit for the modern world and how it can meet the needs of all students; those who will go on to work in scientific and technical subjects, and those who will not. The report suggests how this re-imagining might be achieved.
  • European Commission, SCIENCE EDUCATION for Responsible CitizenshipThis report is aimed primarily at science education policy makers. It identifies the main issues involved in helping citizens to access scientific debate; it proposes a new framework for all types of science education from formal, to non-formal and informal approaches.
  • European Commission, Euridice, Gender differences in educational outcomesThis study is a contribution to the debate on gender in education from the Eurydice Network.
  • UNESCO, Current challenges in basic science educationThe booklet holds that approaches to science teaching and learning are less widespread; it examines some of the challenges for developing science education, which are considered to be different from those facing other school subjects.
  • David D. Thornburg, Five Challenges in Science EducationThese challenges are by no means the only ones facing us – you can come up with many others – but they provide a good starting point for conversations around this truly important topic. Connecting science to other subjects, Science as process of inquiry and real projects, theoretical issues prevail over practical ones, Learning about science as a vibrant human activity, The Shortage of Qualified Teachers
  • Nancy Kober, Overcoming ChallengesThe chapter presents teaches’ point of view about common challenges in teaching science as well as advice on how to deal with them
  • Svein Sjøberg, Science and Technology Education Current Challenges and Possible SolutionsThe chapter describes and analyses some of the challenges facing science and technology (S&T) education. The chapter also offers a critical description of school science and technology education, together with a brief account of some recent international trends.

Table of Content