Quality Science Education: Where do we stand? Guidelines for practice from a European experience

This is the concluding manifesto that presents the results of the SETAC work in the form of recommendations for practitioners working in formal and informal science learning institutions. It has been consciously built to constitute a consultation document on current, consolidated views about science learning and active citizenship, to which the SETAC project contributes further understandings and tools. To do this, the choice has been to take arguments from both the field and SETAC and present them in a direct and concise way so that users are able to find a list of points which present the state-of-the art and guidelines for practice.

Almost all contents are taken from key bibliography and from the SETAC products in their original form. For each argument there is the link to the source from which it is taken, that can be immediately downloaded. Readers interested in knowing more to find the entire documents in the links included in the text.

Read more and download the document
- english
- italian

Teaching and Learning Scientific Literacy and Citizenship
in Partnership with Schools and Science Museums

The purpose of this paper is to bring together research on learning and teaching in science – especially for scientific literacy and citizenship – with new insights into museum didactics in order to inform innovative ways of creating museum exhibits and visits and develop new ways of linking formal and informal learning environments. Knowledge from different domains that have evolved substantially over the past few decades is brought together with the intention of setting up some relatively concrete guidelines for arranging visits to science museums.
First we examine new understandings of science learning in relation to the questions of why young people should learn science and what kind of science they should learn. We touch upon issues of scientific literacy and citizenship, dialogical processes, the nature of science, and inquiry-based teaching among others. Secondly, we relate our reflections on teaching and learning in science to their implications for science museums and centres. As an overall conclusion museum exhibits and activities need to include both the content and processes relevant to the given science, thus including opportunities for discovery and understanding of both aspects of science. Furthermore, we describe some design principles in accordance with our reflections and conclusions; e.g. critical issues-based exhibits, the five-step process of reflection, and immersion and multisensory interactions.
Finally, we discuss how to get full benefit of museum visits for pupils and we put forward some guidelines, in relation to a concrete exhibit, for designing experiences at science museums and centres.

Download the document (english)

About misconceptions

One of the issues addressed by SETAC - when studying about, and working on, the development of a new pedagogy as well as teaching and learning resources for schools - is children's misconceptions. In particular, our interest focuses on how misconceptions influence work in the classroom as well as understanding in science and technology. This document lies at the basis of the project work giving some fundamental principles and notions on this issue.
Starting from the works of Piaget and Vygotski, the theories of constructivism and socio-constructivism argue that every pupil develops spontaneous solutions to a problem posed, for example when he or she tries to understand how an object works or why a phenomenon happens. Teachers and museum educators need to take them on account when building experiences that keep the child, rather than knowledge, at the centre of the learning experience.
The document also presents some examples of conceptions given by children of 10-11 years in primary school. It finally considers the same issue in the museum context.

"About misconceptions" © (Copyright 2009 SETAC. Acknowledge source when using)

Download the document (english)

Using authentic questions with students in a museum setting

Authentic questions can be a powerful tool when working in science education. Museums and science centres are settings in which authentic questions have a strong potential both as ways of explorings objects or phenomena and as ways of engaging students’ own knowledge and experience.
The document presents a work carried out with school students during the SETAC project aiming to identify the modes and the strategies through which authentic questions can be used by formal and informal educators.

Download the document (english)

Students’ motivation in science

It has become commonplace knowledge among science educators that students’ interest and enjoyment of science are declining as they progress through the grades. The empirical research in SETAC aims to draw attention to students’ attitudes and motivation as some of the major factors influencing students’ achievement and participation in science and science- related issues. The research in SETAC was designed to frame the development and the testing of SETAC activities, resources and learning environments.
At first, a scientific analysis was be conducted to offer a detailed view of students’ attitudes towards science and science-teaching with a particular focus on SETAC topics and methodology. To this end, a survey of students was carried out the partners. As a second step, the research analysed selected activities investigating the impact of a particular activity on students’ attitudes and students’ motivational processes during these. This may help to identify the most effective features of learning environments. Ultimately, the report may also provide some evidence that science education has the potential to improve attitudes towards science and heighten the motivation to learn science as a key prerequisite for lifelong engagement with science and active citizenship.
Download the report (english)