To address the project goal the ELITe partnership will work towards the achievement of three objectives:
To deepen understandings on the requirements for STEM teachers’ competence development at national levels, as conceptualized and expressed by policy makers, policy mediators and practitioners.
A wide variety prevails across European countries on current approaches to teachers’ competences (EC, Education and Training, 2013). General guidelines about the competences required for teaching are usually embedded in the national curricula and autonomy is then left to university or college providers to develop and apply detailed competence requirements in teacher education programs accordingly. The argument put forward in ELITe, is that efforts to stimulate teachers’ competence development through professional learning opportunities need to be place-based, taking into consideration the various interpretations and understandings not only among the different EU educational systems, but also among different stakeholders in each country.
To develop, deploy and evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative methodology for STEM teachers’ flexible and reflective professional learning for competence development.
Current prevailing approaches in initial and continuous training programs focus on subject knowledge, pedagogy and “practice“(classroom-based training) (EC, Education and Training, 2015). Such approaches, fail to recognize that teachers’ dispositions towards learning and teaching - and as a consequence their practice - are highly influenced by the way teachers have received training themselves. Knowledge and skills on/about teaching is developed by teachers themselves, as they use theory and research to reflect upon their practices in professional learning communities (Hagger &McIntyre, 2006). In addition, formal and traditional forms of in-service training such as courses, workshops and conferences currently prevail in most educational systems. However, many teachers either do not find suitable professional development or cannot attend due to conflicting work schedules (OECD, 2009). In the ELITe project we provide flexible professional development opportunities in which the training methodology has a prevailing role, embedded on the concept of “change as professional learning perspective”, which sees teachers as reflective practitioners, responsible for their own learning.
To support the uptake of the proposed innovative professional learning methodology by teacher training curriculum stakeholders, for better alignment of policy envisions relating STEM education to actual practice.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is currently defined as ‘creative education to foster the future needs of society (Sutcliffe, 2011). STEM educators – under the Research and Innovation (RRI) policy agenda- are expected to equip students as future citizens to understand socio-scientific issues, applying science knowledge, ethical values and inquiry skills to form evidence based opinions (EC, 2015). In addition there are expected to aspire science related careers to students and support students develop positive attitudes towards science. In the ELITe project, the thematic of the professional learning activities for STEM in-service teachers will reflect current policy orientations under the RRI agenda on the role of STEM education and help teachers to model key competences required (knowledge, skills and attitudes) in order to help students to acquire them.