STEM PD Net, European STEM Professional Development Centre Network

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STEM PD Net (2016-2019) is an innovative Erasmus+ project meant to strengthen European collaboration and exchanges among STEM Professional Development Centres in Europe. The project provides selected materials of highest quality to support STEM Professional Development (PD) and develops guidelines and reference materials that are ready-to-use for STEM PD providers across Europe. Furthermore, among the key targets of STEM PD Net is to reflect and promote the organisational development of the centres in each national context and to strengthen the voice of these centres throughout Europe.

STEM PD Net contributes to high-quality Professional Development (PD) for teachers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) on a large scale across Europe.

Nowadays, the need for high-quality STEM teacher PD and the promotion of approaches that allow teachers to deal with complex classroom realities has been recognised. This is evident in policy documents and reports such as the science education report Science Education for Responsible Citizenship, by the European Commission, published in 2015. It is also evident in recent efforts in Europe to establish specific PD centres to promote the PD of STEM teachers. However, these PD centres are not connected to one another and do not exchange their experiences. Hence, the aim of the European Network of STEM Professional Development Centres (STEM PD Net) is to strengthen the position, work and knowledge-base of STEM PD centres across Europe, through transnational exchange and mutual learning in a stable European PD centre network, by linking research with practice and developing ready-to-use guidelines and reference materials for STEM PD providers. Those efforts also contribute to improved quality and relevance of STEM teacher PD on a large scale.

Improving the quality of STEM teacher PD in Europe

STEM PD Net wants to improve the quality of STEM teacher PD in Europe on a large scale by:

  1. Setting up research-based criteria for high-quality PD and enriching these with good-practice examples.
  2. Developing ready-to-use guidelines on how to feasibly measure the success of teacher PD in day-to-day settings, as a tool for quality assurance.
  3. Developing a catalogue for PD providers that showcases examples of good practices explaining how teachers can be prepared to deal with diversity.
  4. Collating a commented collection of STEM PD materials, thus allowing PD providers to easily find and select materials based on their purpose, content, quality and potentials.

Supporting STEM teaching and strengthening PD practice

STEM PD Net wants to support STEM teaching by strengthening partnerships with and among PD practitioners. As part of this effort, the following actions are carried out:

  1. A European STEM PD centre is built as a stable partnership among PD providers.
  2. The national position of STEM PD centres is strengthened, as well as their potential for forming effective local partnerships through their involvement in the European network.
  3. A compendium of PD provider models is promoted, with the aim of establishing new specialised centres in STEM PD across Europe where they do not yet exist.
  4. The voice of European PD centres is strengthened through the development of a set of policy briefings and strengthened partnerships used to communicate with policy makers.

Basic information

Country: Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey

Coordinator: ICSE - International Centre for STEM Education, http://icse.eu/

Partners:
  • University of Klagenfurt, Austria
  • University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • Institute of Mathematics & Informatics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria
  • Ljuben Karavelov School, Bulgaria
  • Texas Instruments Education Technology GmbH, Germany
  • University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
  • Ministry of Education, Culture & Sport, Spain
  • Education Development Centre, Lithuania
  • Prezidento Valdo Adamkaus Gimnazija, Lithuania
  • Linköping University, Sweden
  • University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Turkish Ministry of National Education, Turkey
  • Hacettepe University, Turkey

Programme: Erasmus+

Project Acronym:

Target groups: education authorities, general public, policy makers, researchers, teachers, trainee teachers

Topic: Biology, Engineering, Maths, Physics, Education, Other

Start year: 2016

End year: 2019

Url: http://stem-pd-net.eu/en/

Contact person: Katja Maaß, Email icse (at) ph-freiburg.de

In order to reach the two main goals of the project, namely:

  1. to improve the quality of STEM teacher PD, and
  2. to support STEM teaching by strengthening partnerships with and among PD practitioners,

STEM PD net is subdivided into seven different areas of work (also referred to as outputs).

Output 1: Quality criteria for PD and how to implement them in day-to-day professional development for teachers.

This part of the project focuses on the development of research-based guidelines for high-quality PD in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and beyond.

The aim is to provide a ready-to-use guide for PD providers which outlines current problems with professional development in the area of STEM education, provides research-based quality criteria for high-quality PD, and also provides concrete examples on how to implement these general recommendations in day-to-day PD practice.

Output 2: Measuring the impact of PD activities

This part of the project focuses on the often neglected complexity of evaluating the short- and long-term effects of a particular PD initiative. Evaluation of PD programmes is often restricted to the level of content and satisfaction of participants, and a broader set of evaluation approaches needs to be elaborated.

The aim is to provide a ready-to-use guide for PD providers which outlines the challenges in evaluating PD effects, which presents and values standard methods for evaluation and innovative, formative, methods built into PD activities, and gives recommendations for a feasible and purposeful evaluation of PD courses, including evaluation of impact on teachers effectively using innovative approaches that include dealing with diversity.

Output 3: Taking advantage of learner diversity: Jointly facing the challenges to improving STEM education in Europe.

This part of the project focuses on the topic of diversity in STEM classrooms, for example socioeconomic backgrounds, competence levels and migrant backgrounds. Teachers experience big challenges when dealing with the situation and providers of PD for teachers need to cover diversity in their activities and programmes.

The aim is to provide a catalogue of appropriate lines of action for PD providers in order to support teachers in using integrative approaches in STEM teaching.

The catalogue elaborates on current challenges when dealing with diversity in STEM classrooms, demonstrates good examples on how to teachers can deal with diversity in that context, and showcases good examples of PD activities and organisational development of PD centres that can offer opportunities for teachers to meet the challenges and benefits of diversity.

Output 4: Commented selection of STEM PD materials

This part of the project focuses on materials for professional development (PD) in the STEM area, ready-to-use for PD providers. Relevant existing materials are identified, presented and commented.

The aim is to provide a ready-to-use collection of materials for PD in the STEM area. The collection is commented in relation to the quality criteria for PD identified in another intellectual output of the project. The collection is also accompanied by basic information about the materials presented (for example purpose, content, target group, and available classroom materials), comments on teaching approaches promoted and whether diversity is addressed, and PD providers’ experiences of using the materials.

Output 5: PD centre models: context, mission, structure and activities.

This part of the project focuses on models, challenges and success factors that lead to improvements in STEM teacher PD.

The aim is to provide an accessible and illustrative compendium, describing the different possibilities available when setting up a centre for PD in the STEM area. The compendium includes a structured overview of possibilities of PD centre organisation and activities, selected descriptions of PD centres with examples of their activities, as well as an analysis of their weaknesses, strengths and challenges, and a review of challenges and recommendations on developing influential PD centres and possibilities to overcome challenges.

Output 6: Interactive Web portal

This part of the project focuses on information about the project and the associated network of centres for PD in the STEM area, and dissemination and accessibility of the project’s outputs.

The aim is to provide a Web portal which contains information about the project’s partners, and about associated STEM PD centres, project progress reports, information about past and upcoming dissemination events, and all materials produced as intellectual outputs in the project.

Output 7: Policy briefings

This part of the project focuses on the relation and cooperation between policy makers and centres for PD in the STEM area.

The aim is to convey the STEM PD centre network activities and key messages to policy makers. This is accomplished through three kinds of policy briefings. The first presents the background and rationale for setting up the network, and the possibilities the network offers for policy makers. The second presents different models for STEM PD centre organisation and activities. The third policy briefing deals with implementation of PD in the STEM area and how quality in PD initiatives can be assured and measured.

In order to reach the two main goals of the project, namely:

  1. to improve the quality of STEM teacher PD, and
  2. to support STEM teaching by strengthening partnerships with and among PD practitioners,

STEM PD Net will carry out the following actions:

  • Provide a ready-to-use collection of materials for PD in the STEM area. The collection is accompanied by basic information about the materials presented (for example purpose, content, target group, and available classroom materials), comments on teaching approaches promoted and whether diversity is addressed, and PD providers’ experiences of using the materials.
  • Provide a catalogue of appropriate lines of action for teacher PD providers in order to support teachers in dealing with diversity in STEM classrooms.
  • Offer a ready-to-use guide for PD providers including quality criteria for PD and suggestions on how to implement them in day-to-day professional development for teachers.
  • Provide a ready-to-use guide for PD providers, which outlines the challenges in evaluating the impact of PD, which presents and values standard methods for evaluation and innovative, formative, methods built into the PD activities, and gives recommendations for a feasible and purposeful evaluation of PD courses, including evaluation of impact on teachers effectively using innovative approaches that include dealing with diversity.

At various national multiplier events, teachers and PD providers are invited to work collaboratively on the different working strands of STEM PD Net.

 

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