Efficient investments in education has been identified as one of the keys to maintaining and expanding EU's global position, and developing new ways of teaching and learning are important. Furthermore, prioritizing STEM subjects is seen as necessary as they are part of the “key foundations for further learning”.
In addition, teachers and teacher educators alike continually face new demands that require them to develop their skills, not least to facilitate the needs of the 21st-century skills they are expected to help their students at all levels to acquire. Therefore, there is a need for support for teachers and trainers to take on new approaches to teaching and learning and use new technologies to support and facilitate this.
The science subjects pose problems or obstacles for a large number of students in European schools. School science subjects are considered “hard” and require high levels of abstraction. As a result, there has been a decline in young Europeans’ interest in the science subjects both during their education and as career opportunities. At the same time, across Europe, science subjects suffer low attendance and are often chosen away by students as soon as possible. This serious problem reverberates up through the educational system, leading to universities eventually lacking qualified student cohorts. Therefore, recent policy papers recommend reforms in the approach to how science is taught in the school system. Inquiry-oriented approaches are recommended to make the learning of science more like the practice of science.
This project addresses the above concerns by contributing to developing and implementing innovative science education in order to enhance the quality of science teaching/learning and student attitudes and motivation. AR-sci will develop a more student-centered approach facilitating an inquiry-oriented teaching, collaboration and active learning, and a visualization of the often hidden processes that are central to understanding science. This will be done through the introduction of Augmented Reality (AR) and a development of a needed pedagogical approach to its uses. AR makes possible active, collaborative learning as well as interaction with and visualization of central science knowledge.
Thus AR-sci has the dual aim of 1) developing and testing an innovative, called-for approach to science teaching and 2) giving students a more positive view of and attitude to science, thus helping enhance and promote science education across Europe by motivating students otherwise prone to giving up on science.
To sum up, then, addressing Europe's needs for changes in science education to ensure the development of STEM key competences and the intake of students in science-related career paths, this project will describe a supplementary, new and innovative approach through a design guideline for science teachers and others interested in the field.
Partners in the project are 2 university colleges, a university, a research center and 2 schools. The project will first carry out an intensive needs analysis across a broad spectrum of areas, and next, materials will be developed in three “waves”: first by the HE partners, school partners sparring, then by school partners and teachers, and finally, students will be involved as producers. Co-creation and user involvement will be very much present in the projects working methods. The materials produced in the project will be piloted in three iterations, and materials will be available as OER on the Jorum platform.
The expected impact of the project is renewal of science teaching. The changes here will be made possible through the project’s targeting of all levels in the educational system, albeit in different ways and through different channels.