IS IMMUNOLOGY WORTHY TO BE TAUGHT AND LEARNED AT SCHOOL?
Immunology is a relatively young discipline which has had a rapid and increasing development in the last 30 years. It focusses on the study of the different aspects related to the immune system having an important impact on health and disease issues. International surveys showing comparative data reveals it as one of the hot research topics including cutting-edge issues of public interest such as autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivity, immune deficiency, transplants, etc.
Knowledge-based societies recognized education as the main driving force of economic and social progress, identifying science literacy as an important goal. Within the science education community there is a wide preoccupation for connecting the science which is taught at school with the science which is needed to deal with daily life situations, as well as to ensure the education of responsible and well-informed citizens able to contribute to the debate of socio-scientific issues.
Taking into account the previous arguments the main purpose of this work is to study the presence and the importance of immunology in current science education. The final aim will be to develop a proposal to enhance the learning of topics related to the immune system at school, as a way to promote science literacy on some relevant socio scientific issues.
The work presented herein is part of a wider one embedded within a PhD project which intends to explore and analyze how topics related to immunology are taught and learned in Upper Secondary School in the European Union.
This paper focusses on the two first stages of this research project: the analysis of current Upper Secondary School curricula looking for connections with immunology and the study of recent standards tests and public exams to inquiry about how often this topic is assessed.
Some previous results from the analysis of our national context will be presented and discussed, as well as a review of the role of Immunology in regional final assessment tests.
Results coming from this study can be used to outline the state of art in relation to the teaching and learning of immunology and constitute a good starting point for further research aimed to improve science literacy.