21/01/2016

Comparing teacher education initiatives supporting students' interest and attainment in STEM studies and careers across Europe

Despite the European economic crisis, most countries in Europe continue to invest in the future by lending political and financial support to increasing students' interest in pursuing science careers, to improving their performance in related subjects at school, and to enhancing their motivation.

A new Scientix report investigates the strategies and measures in place in thirty different countries across Europe.

This report focuses in particular on policies and initiatives in teacher education, based on data retrieved from National Contact Points for STEM education in Europe. A vast majority of the countries observed are paying more attention to improving the provision of professional development for in-service teachers of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects than initial teacher training. A striking 15 out of 16 knowledge and competence areas for STEM teachers are not adequately covered at national level by initial teacher training (according to around 70 per cent of countries), and professional development (according to around 55 per cent of countries). 70 per cent of countries utilise online opportunities for professional development and community building, a significant increase compared to data from 2011 when less than half of the countries had such initiatives in place.

While 80 per cent of the countries consider STEM education to be a priority policy area, the report finds that various countries suffer from a shortage of qualified STEM teachers, with roughly 40 per cent reporting initiatives planned or already in place to address the issue. Measures range from scholarships and loans, to programmes that make it easier for students and professionals with no background in teaching to become teachers.

The report argues that the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) agenda could be usefully embraced more extensively to motivate students to pursue STEM studies and careers. However for this to happen, it needs to be embedded more firmly in national education systems, as currently it remains mostly the concern of academia and the concept is unknown in 80 per cent of countries' school education systems.

"Curricula, pedagogy and assessment methods in STEM education are changing and reforms are taking place to support them. It is essential to offer more long-term support to communities of teachers, in particular through formal and informal peer-based learning opportunities built on partnerships also involving companies and civil society. Formal and informal communities of peer-learning, such as the one that the Scientix project offers, empower teachers and their schools and support a wide implementation of successful pilot initiatives in STEM education across Europe," says Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet.

The previous edition of the current report was published in 2011. This report is the latest edition, and has been written by European Schoolnet (www.eun.org), with the support of the Scientix project - the community for science education in Europe (www.scientix.eu).

See the full report and download related data at: http://www.scientix.eu/web/guest/observatory/comparative-analysis-2015

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