Policy makers Policy makers

Welcome to the first DESIRE Online Discussion Event for policy makers. The discussion is open from 15 to 17 October 2012 and is moderated by Professor Emilio Balzano from the University of Naples, Italy.

In this event, policy makers are invited to discuss the results of European and national science education projects and their dissemination strategies. During the event we will review various sources in Science Education and explore the potential of new media in informing different target groups about the latest develepment in STEM education.

Each of the 3 days of the event has a specific sub-theme. The sub-theme is introduced in details at 9 am. At 12pm and 4pm policy makers are invited to actively participate in the debate.

The themes of the three days are:

Day 1
The first day will focus on the STEM project dissemination strategies and on what feedback they get from the target audience.

Day 2
On the second day, participants will discuss their experience with applying new methods, tools and partnerships to their practice and will also concentrate on what and why certain media do not work with their audience ( i.e. with teachers or schools)  

Day 3

On the third day I would like you to tell about obstacles or circumstances that prevent teachers from/easy the integration of new tools and methods achieved though European and national project.
Decision makers from different countries are welcome to participate. We are looking forward to include your feedback and opinion in the analysis run by the DESIRE project.

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Meet the expert - Emilio Balzano Meet the expert - Emilio Balzano

Emilio Balzano teaches Physics at the University of Naples Federico II and is active in the field of science education since 1983.

His research activities aim at improving science learning and teaching through permanent training. He is (and was) a member of Steering and Scientific Committee of numerous national and international projects (LES, Piano ISS, Communication in Science, LIGHT, Pencil,  ISWA).

Recently, Prof. Balzano co-ordinated  the FP7 project TRACES. The main outcome of TRACES is a series of findings and recommendations on how to bridge the gap between science education research and actual teaching practice. They are aimed at all actors in science education, mainly researchers, policy makers and teachers in all grades.

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Strategies to disseminate STEM projects
Dear all, welcome to the online discussion. Thank you for accepting the invitation to participate

To stimulate discussion I start with a statement.

Resources and best practices that emerge from science education projects have a poor diffusion in classroom practice. Many reports on STEM teaching show that even if teachers positively evaluate innovative proposals, they are reluctant to adopt change if the proposed innovation does not resonate with their conceptions, beliefs and professional experience.

I invite you to comment, expose your ideas and discussing. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to discussion participants. thanks
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RE: Strategies to disseminate STEM projects
15/10/12 10:50 as a reply to emilio balzano.
Dear Emilio and dear all

I am Katerina Plakitsi, ass. Prof. of Science Education at the University of Ioannina.
I have been involved in several STEM projects into the FP7 and LLP frameworks.
My core idea is that we need more sociocultural approaches to STEM Education if we want to enhance the impact to the science classrooms. This way, and keeping the local local and interacting with institutions like museums/environmental parks as well as with the local community we can increase the exploitation of our STEM projects' results.
Thank you
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RE: Strategies to disseminate STEM projects
15/10/12 11:23 as a reply to Katerina Plakitsi.
I would like to call all of you to be involved to the Special Thematic Section
We schedule to organize a symposium with this topic during ESERA 2013 in Cyprus.
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RE: Strategies to disseminate STEM projects
15/10/12 13:38 as a reply to Katerina Plakitsi.
Dear all,

I'm ciro minichini and work as research associate in the field of physics and mathematics education at university of Naples, Italy.

I think the point Katerina highlighted is very relevant. Maybe one should more in depth reflect about the sociocultural implications in science and maths education.

In particular, I seem the central issue concerns the relationship between everyday knowledge and scientific one, considered as two interfering subcultural systems.

Nowadays, the research and the reflection seem to be not enough oriented in this direction.
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RE: Strategies to disseminate STEM projects
15/10/12 22:02 as a reply to emilio balzano.
Dear Emilio and coleagues,

My name is Ana Maria Marques and I am a full professor in the Physics Faculty at the PUCRS (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul), at Porto Alegre, Brasil.
I have been working in teaching education and participated with some other colleagues from my university (João Harres, Maurivan Guntzel, Valderez Lima and Patricia Woffenbuttel) in TRACES projects.

In my opinion, resources and best practices that emerge from science education projects have a poor diffusion in classroom practice, because teachers are not really involved in these projects as actors.
Usually the academic researchers does not consider teachers conceptions, professional experience and real needs to delineate the innovative proposals.
The delineation of innovative projects in science education should emerge from the school community, anchored in their issues.
This means that the academic community, including students, should be closer to the school since the beginning of teacher training programs.

Ana Maria
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RE: Strategies to disseminate STEM projects
16/10/12 04:39 as a reply to emilio balzano.
María Cecilia Gramajo

Dear all:

I´m an associate professor of the physics department of the Exact Science Faculty of the National University of Salta (Argentine). I have participated in TRACES Project and the focus of my research work is Physics Teacher training (initial, in service and continuous). In our research group we strongly believe in the effectiveness of teachers involvement in innovative projects and researches if we want to really change real teachers practice at schools. We think that the research projects and innovative proposals need to be planned in a way based in real teachers needs, doubts and interests. In our Case Studies this was the case and teachers involvement was really interesting. It is true that we need to reach a bigger audience if we really want to change Science Education in our countries. And this involvement is connected with better working context, social recognition and a better salary on one hand and better schools, with internet access, good libraries, buildings and so on. This should be policy makers duties. The question is: Are these really their preoccupation??.

Sorry for the delay of my contact. It was a great idea Emilio to maintain open the discussion till tomorrow. I have read all that was already told in this discussion and agree with Ana María from Brazil comments.
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RE: Strategies to disseminate STEM projects
16/10/12 10:24 as a reply to emilio balzano.
Concerning the topic of the second day, I would like to mention that during the last ten years I have created new curricula, new educational software, new educational sites. I also tried to make science attractive by my cooperation with astronomers, museums and social media. But the impact is very low. Teachers use to say that their salary do not permit them to apply innovations. According to my experience by interacting with teachers, policy makers and school cuncelors, I propose two things
1. The goverments have to provide motives to teachers to be involved to. And if there is no money, they have to give academic and vocational motives.
2. We need one period of time to develop out projects and the same period to disseminate it among teachers. Also, we need to educate/ train mentors and they will disseminate the results in their turn.
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RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
18/10/12 03:50
I agree totally with Michela and Silvia and other that expressed themselves in more or less the same way. We need to work in both directions: to valorize teachers work and their involvement in innovative programmes and researches on one side, and generate a real recognition of Educational research both, at the highest level (universities, financing agencies) and in schools, that is to say at de governmental level. If science educational research is not valorized, teachers won´t have never the conditions and interests on innovative programs and researches and the practice of science education won´t notice of their results and recommendations.

I´m very sorry that my participation was so poor. I lost yesterday discussion and lost the opportunity of relating our interesting experience during TRACES Field Actions in our context, and so on.

Thank you Emilio and colleagues for the invitation and opportunity. Hope we can have a better interaction in another opportunity. Greetings!!!!
RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
17/10/12 20:49
I strongly agree with Silvia and with her Utopia. As she wrote we need to promote actions in several directions: we need to support and to to involve teachers, but we need also to ask for the recognition of educational research, and for orienting educational research to educational practice. In many countries, and Italy is one, educational research is not really valued, not at school as a teacher quality, not at the universities.
An European position on this point could be an important policy move: research is an intrinsic component of education. If education want to be effective while contexts and students competencies change, continuos innovation and teachers longlife learning are needed, and this is not possible without research.
The Silvia proposal of having a structural support by territorial lab, specialised in STEM and connected i suppose with educational research centres and museums, is very important. But they need minimum a 10 years implementation in order to become a structural component of the school system.
Also web sites could be useful, not just as 'repository' but as a stimulus for action and cooperative work.
RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
17/10/12 20:29
I totally agree that the conditions in which the teachers work in their schools are probably the most important factor that should be changed to attain the goal of improving the quality of education, of science education in particlar; the real problem is that this goal is "proclaimed" in the formal documents but is not coherently pursued through decisions and moves that affect the concrete school environment.
Whilst the focus is always put on the teachers, the Head of the school institute has a very important function in supporting or hindering the innovation. I think that the selection of these professional figures should be done with great attention to their crucial role in promoting change and they should be always directly involved also by researchers when promoting reasearch-action projects. The responsibilities of the Head do not end in just giving their agreement to innovative projects, or to educational programs offered by exernal agencies: they consist in an active participation with pedagogical competences, in managing the organizational aspects, in making the teachers a community which shares objectives and policies.
RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
17/10/12 14:12
I agree with Michelina Mayer on the need to work on two directions:

“We need to work on both directions: with a 'contamination' strategy involving more group and more teachers, and with a systemic strategy fighting for change some of the conditions of teachers work (more time for study and research, for following training courses, for participating to projects...) and for achieve more visibility and recognition for innovation in science education.”

Without this, the proposed innovation will remain isolated.
In several schools in Italy, the teachers involved in innovation projects are always the same. On the other hand, for example in southern Italy, due to lack of funds, schools often are forced to join the projects to do ordinary activities. I know of many situations where projects fail to engage the whole school and more active teachers are even isolated.

External stimuli are needed but I think that teachers must build themselves, working with other teachers and researchers, proposals for educational innovation: without experimentation and research is impossible to adopt any proposed change.

Policies should recognize the experimentation and the joint planning of learning activities as a structural part of teachers’ practice and provide appropriate resources in terms of time, spaces and training.

So the question we must ask is how to involve central and local institutions and policy makers in the education system with the aim of recognizing the needs of teachers and schools.