The mascil project’s work on policy relating issues
The work pertaining to policy issues within the mascil project focuses on STEM, an area that is interrelated with the EU strategic priorities in education and training. The priorities concern students’ achievement, the strengthening of the development of key competences and the promotion of equity. Amongst the proposed approaches to achieve the set targets is the promotion of inquiry-based teaching strategies, as a means towards ensuring learners’ acquisition of key and transversal competences, as well as towards engaging more learners in science careers; the opening of schools to the world of work, by the promotion of context-based teaching approaches, which are more likely to help students develop essential capacities for real world settings, like entrepreneurship capacities; the effective initial teacher education and continuous professional development for science and mathematics teachers, as a key requirement for mediating policy intentions to actual educational practice.
The current European policy agenda gives particular emphasis on the improvement of quality and efficiency of educational and training systems, under the scope of of enhancing employability, of promoting active citizenship and of enhancing creativity and innovation (ET 2020). Among other challenges to be addressed for the achievement of this strategic objective is the reduction of low achievement in basic skills, the strengthening of the development of transversal skills and key competences, and the promotion of equity (2015 Joint Report on the implementation of ET 2020 – New priorities for European cooperation in education and training).
The work undertaken in mascil covering 13 national policy contexts with Europe (Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, UK, Spain, Cyprus, Norway, Romania, Czech Republic, Turkey, Lithuania, Austria and Bulgaria) with 2013 as the reference year, concerns analysis of contextual factors at national and cross-national levels. The work addressed resulted in the identification of opportunities and challenges for both national and European levels for the mediation of policy envisions to practice, and allowed for the articulation of recommendations for policy makers and policy making under the in scope of supporting a more widespread uptake of IBL in vocational contexts. Critical factors affecting the process of mediating policy to support the uptake of IBL practices that have been identified include
- Focus of policy priority: Concrete measures and guidelines on how to achieve policy envisions are needed as well as a reconsideration of what policy priorities are communicated at teachers’ levels (wider strategic priorities vs. priorities relating to methods to achieve the former, for example inquiry based-learning and opening schools to world of work).
- Policy coherence: The coherence in policy rhetoric between expectations of students’ learning and expectations of teachers’ training needs to be improved, there is a need of better coordination between educational policies and actors responsible for teacher training.
- Teachers’ capacity building: There is a need for capacity building activities that are aimed at transforming teachers to informed, reflective and engaged mediators of educational change as short-term cycles of training initiatives are often considered as a hindering factor towards ensuring high quality teaching.
- Teachers’ policy ownership: Aim is to fully incorporated Inquiry-based teaching and learning in the school culture and implemented in classrooms. It should be ensured that teachers are involved in such changes and feel ownership of the policy (mechanisms for providing feedback on implementing policies). This can be greatly enhanced through distributed leadership and the widening of participation of school level stakeholders in decision making.
The work conducted and outcomes achieved through an analytical perspective between context and policy intentions can provide the basis for the establishment of dialogic process between research, policy and practice. On such a basis, educational stakeholders may reflect on their own policy context and consider how the aims of strategic policy priorities are not only achieved but also negotiated for further educational improvements.
Teachers‘ perceptions and needs on implementation of Inquiry-Based Learning in a World of Work context in EU countries: outcomes of a qualitative status-quo study
Within the project mascil a quantitative status-quo study was conducted to get information about the needs teachers have regarding the implementation of inquiry-based learning (IBL) in rich vocational contexts. For this purpose we obtained data by administering a questionnaire to teachers in thirteen participating countries (Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Cyprus, Norway, Romania, Czech Republic, Turkey, Lithuania, Austria, UK and Bulgaria). Altogether the questionnaire was completed by N = 1132 teachers. This document summarizes main outcomes of the study accompanied with recommendations for policy making purposes: