10 SES 04 B, Teaching Science (Part 1)
Paper Session: to be continued in 10 SES 06 A
The past International surveys on Science Education (PISA 2006/2009 and TIMSS 2007) indicated a low level of performance between Italian students, with an evident decrease from primary school to lower secondary school students to 15 years old. Especially low have been the results in the South of Italy regions. As a reaction to these results, the Ministry of Education launched a National Operational Programme (PON), oriented to the South of Italy teachers and co-funded by EU (European Social Funds) and entrusted the task of planning and implementation to the National Institute for Educational Innovation, Documentation and Research (INDIRE).
The PON for Science was originally directed to the lower secondary school teachers (students’ age 11-14) where the decrease of performance was more evident. PISA, TALIS and TIMMS data gave evidence that one of the reasons for the low students performance was the lack of teachers training in active, collaborative and inquiry based methodologies.
The training courses prepared and implemented by the INDIRE Staff under the direction of a Scientific Committee, composed by Researchers and Teachers Associations representatives, were:
Inspired by national and European documents and experiences, as the Rocard Report (2007), the Nuffield Report (2008), the National group for the Relevance of Scientific Culture Documents (2007), the ‘Teaching Experimental Sciences’ National Training Plan (2010);
Aimed at building teachers capacity to develop Students Scientific Literacy – as defined by PISA framework – and students Scientific Competencies as defined by the European Recommendations (2006);
Based on an in-depth analysis of the Italian Science Curriculum;
Taking care of the experiences of science education researchers and teachers associations in order to re-organize their materials and experiences and to produce ‘exemplary learning activities’ and teachers ‘resource materials’;
Giving a central role to hands-on practices, overcoming the dominating ‘encyclopaedic approach’ and integrating other teaching methodologies such as conceptual maps, care of spontaneous conceptions, narrative and collaborative techniques, etc.;
Using a variety of training methodologies in a ‘blended model’ where at distance features (forum, expert discussions, sharing of products,…) are integrated with in presence meetings (where experiments are performed, class activities planned, results achieved discussed) promoting the construction of local ‘professional communities of practice’.
In addition to the more common Science teaching/learning areas offered at these ages (Energy, Transformations, Living the environment, Earth and Universe), 3 transversal areas where added in order to take care of some of the emergent results and suggestions coming from science education research:
History of science. In collaboration with the History of Science Museum of Florence specific learning activities and videos have been proposed. The rationale is the need to introduce the historical evolution of science, and then “to guide students to appreciate the significant similarities and differences in the historical evolution of such diverse and yet interdependent disciplines” (Italian Science Curriculum guidelines, 2012);
Education for Sustainability, as a way to offer examples of the real challenges for science education when compared with real life situations, aiming at building “an interest in ethical issues and respect for both safety and sustainability...“ and to develops ‘citizenship competencies’ (LLL Key competencies, European recommendations, 2006) ;
- Evaluation and assessment of the competencies, as a fundamental tool for change: in fact if the assessment remains the same, it is very difficult to change the teaching/learning habits. The PISA framework was proposed as the basic framework not only to assess competencies but also to describe the competencies that each activity aims at building. For each proposed learning activity, a testing unit (inspired by PISA or TIMSS) was prepared, avoiding the traditional request of memorization of facts and names and looking for competences.
AA.VV. (2010) Il Piano ‘ Insegnare Scienze Sperimentali’ ( ‘ISS Plan -Teaching Experimental Sciences’) Annali della Pubblica Istruzione 5-6/1, Firenze: Le Monnier. Michael O. Martin, Ina V.S. Mullis, Pierre Foy (2008) TIMSS 2007, International Science Report, TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College National group for the relevance of Scientific Culture (2007) Working document, http://archivio.pubblica.istruzione.it/argomenti/gst/documenti.shtml J. Ogborne & J. Dillon (2008) Science Education in Europe: Critical reflections, A report to the Nuffield Foundation, London: the Nuffield Foundation OECD (2007), Executive Summary PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World, available under: www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/13/39725224.pdf; OECD (2009), TALIS, Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments, First Results from TALIS, available under , http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/17/51/43023606.pdf OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: Executive Summary, available under: www.oecd.org/dataoecd/34/60/46619703.pdf OECD (2010), PISA 2009 results: what students know and can do. Volume 1, Available under www.oecd.org/dataoecd/.pdf OECD (2010), PISA 2009 results: Learning trends. Volume V. www.oecd.org/dataoecd/ .pdf European Parliament (2006) Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning M. Rocard, Peter Osermely, Doris Jorde et al. (2007) Science Education now: a Renewed Pedagogy for the future of Europe, European Commission, Directorate Generale for Research
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