About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1027-1034
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain

THE INTERNATIONAL PROJECT "KIDSINNSCIENCE": A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE TO ADAPT AND EXPERIMENT INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE EDUCATION

L. Cassata, M. Mayer, E. Torracca

Università degli Studi RomaTre (ITALY)
The research was carried out in Italy as part of the international project “KidsINNscience: Innovation in Science Education - Turning Kids on to Science”, a collaborative research project funded by the European Commission, involving ten partner countries and running from November 2009 to July 2013. The project investigated how to transfer innovations in science and technology from one country to another in order to develop teaching and learning adaptive strategies and to facilitate the innovation of curricula. Innovative practices (IPs) in science and technology education - ranging from pre-primary to upper secondary school and covering a broad range of subjects and topics - were collected in each of the participating countries; the IPs were selected according to defined quality criteria, adapted and implemented in a field trial by teachers in mainstream schools, and finally evaluated in terms of transferability, feasibility and effectiveness. Cultural diversity, gender aspects and activity-based and learner-centred approaches were explicitly addressed in all phases of the project.

In Italy 8 schools of different levels and 19 teachers were involved in the field trial: each of them chose one IP, adapted it to the needs of their pupils and tested it for two years (2009-10 and 2010-11). Some of the IPs provided generic ideas for innovation, and thus required a major adaptation process; others were more strictly designed and only needed minor adaptations. The IP “Cooking with the Sun” was chosen by Laura Cassata, one of the authors of this paper, mainly because of its clear operational protocol, and was successfully experimented in two junior high school classes. The instruments designed, built and tested by the students were able to cook only a few types of food, but the IP aroused the pupils’ interest thanks to the practical nature of the activity, and it proved to be an excellent example of how internet could change the learning and teaching processes at school.

Our results allowed us to answer some of the main questions addressed by the project. We confirmed that the inquiry-based, activity-based and learner-centred approaches motivate both teachers and students, but, especially in secondary schools, they require more time than may be available, which raises questions regarding their feasibility in Italian schools. As for the inquiry- and activity-based learning, our results also call for a deeper reflection on cultural and gender differences.

Moreover, for an inquiry-based learning to be effective, teachers need to be prepared to work in uncertainty and to welcome the students’ proposals. This approach can be supported by a community of practice, where teachers from different schools and levels may discuss any doubts they have and find help from academics when they need it.

Another outcome of our study regards the transferability and adaptation of innovations: an IP may offer interesting insights and new ideas but, besides the fact that it may have been planned in a different country for a different school system, it will always need to be adapted to each teacher, student, classroom and school, as too many variables are involved for an IP to work well, and no strict protocol can foresee them all. Once again, a community of practice could facilitate the adaptation process and allow a faster and more effective transferability of innovations between different countries as well as between schools and teachers on a national level.
@InProceedings{CASSATA2013INT,
author = {Cassata, L. and Mayer, M. and Torracca, E.},
title = {THE INTERNATIONAL PROJECT "KIDSINNSCIENCE": A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE TO ADAPT AND EXPERIMENT INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE EDUCATION},
series = {6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2013 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-3847-5},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {1027-1034}}
TY - CONF
AU - L. Cassata AU - M. Mayer AU - E. Torracca
TI - THE INTERNATIONAL PROJECT "KIDSINNSCIENCE": A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE TO ADAPT AND EXPERIMENT INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE EDUCATION
SN - 978-84-616-3847-5/2340-1095
PY - 2013
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2013
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2013 Proceedings
SP - 1027
EP - 1034
ER -
L. Cassata, M. Mayer, E. Torracca (2013) THE INTERNATIONAL PROJECT "KIDSINNSCIENCE": A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE TO ADAPT AND EXPERIMENT INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE EDUCATION, ICERI2013 Proceedings, pp. 1027-1034.
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