STEP-UP - background and rationale
Science Teaching  in  Europe -  Professional development  - Unified Programme (STEP-UP)
 Leading to
EQUIP: European Qualification for Inquiry in Practice
Draft only - not for circulation

PG 04100910

B1. Scientific and/or technical quality, relevant to the topics addressed by the call
B1.1 Introduction  - concept and objectives
Overall rationale for STEP-UP
Inquiry-based science teaching and education (IBST/E) is seen in the Call (SiS 2010, as vital to improving scientific literacy and the takeup of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.  Following previous Calls and the resulting projects, the policies, practices and resources necessary to implement IBST/E are falling into place across Europe. There is, however, no long-term strategy to sustain teacher engagement with these diverse components, with the result that effort may be wasted and the desired results will not be achieved.
The proposed STEP-UP project addresses this problem.  It will develop a pan-European qualification framework (EQUIP - European Qualification for Inquiry in Practice) for science teachers, and  provide substantial organisational and academic support for teachers taking this qualification.The EC is particularly concerned about science teaching and has produced the Calls which resulted (amongst other things) in S-TEAM as a response to the perceived problems of student disengagement and outdated teaching methods.  Other actions are being promoted by the EC in the fields of teacher competence (EC, 2008), qualification equivalence (EQF) and inter-university collaboration (EHEA).  It therefore makes sense to gather these strands together to produce an integrated project with potential benefits both to European science teachers  and also in a wider sense of developing a European space for teacher education based on knowledge sharing, collaborative action and ethical purpose.
We have four relevant areas of knowledge resulting either from S-TEAM or the current literature:
1. Research evidence on Inquiry based science teaching and education (IBST/E), as pedagogical method
2. National Policies and practices in science education and teacher professional development
3. Teacher attitudes and beliefs concerning science education in general and IBST/E in particular
4. Available pedagogical resources in science education
We know that, in respect of item 1, there is a substantial body of knowledge regarding inquiry and that whilst there are areas of research worth pursuing, there is no single pedagogical problem  in this area which will inspire a magic bullet solution to societal problems as perceived at EU level. We also know that in the policy arena, there is considerable diversity of experience and intention regarding IBST/E.  There is no convincing reason to think that direct harmonisation of pedagogy, curriculum or assessment  is either possible or desirable, even if these were to be brought within the EU remit.
Teacher attitudes and beliefs are, meanwhile, the products of local and national pedagogical fields with a wide variety of contributing factors.  Initial teacher education and in-service training or continuing professional  development (INSET/CPD) are significant components of the pedagogical field for teachers, and the discourses of standards and competences make these areas the focus of significant attention. The recent OECD TALIS report (OECD, 2009) provides much useful data on teacher attitudes to CPD. As with policy, teacher attitudes are shown to be diverse. It is almost unthinkable, however, that CPD will as an issue will fade away, especially if surveys such as TALIS become regarded as indicators of national educational quality in the same way as PISA and TIMMS.
Why national CPD systems are not enough
The TALIS report highlights wide variations in the intensity and participation rates of PD in the countries surveyed. Notably, however, qualification programmes were the least common professional development activity. This may reflect a lack of suitable programmes, low perceived need for such programmes amongst teachers and/or administrators, or a lack of time for systematic, structured programmes.  Furthermore, the report indicates that "individual and collaborative research, informal dialogue to improve teaching, and qualification programmes" were reported by teachers as being the most effective forms of PD (OECD, 2009, p.74).  STEP-UP combines all three of these elements into a unified programme.
Science teaching is an area of PD where European action is especially appropriate, for the following reasons.  Firstly, science itself transcends national boundaries and is increasingly   involved in collaborative activity. Future STEM graduates will work in increasingly multi-national environments and will need an awareness of the international scope of science and technology which is best imparted by teachers who have themselves collaborated across borders.
Secondly, teacher professional development at the national level is affected by short-term political concerns and is often linked to legislative structures or guidelines which have no application in other countries. This may inhibit teacher mobility, which is a long-term EU goal and which is desirable in terms of the development of a highly-skilled and qualified teacher workforce within and beyond the EU itself.
Finally, projects such as S-TEAM have shown that expertise in science teaching methods is widely distributed across universities, schools and other institutions across Europe.  Accessing this expertise is vital to the aims of the current Call, but the implementation of its results requires shared, cross-cultural understandings which need to be developed through dialogue, preferably involving teachers as well as researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders.
As yet there is little in the way of precedent for the qualification which  STEP-UP provides. its training packages and related items which act as course modules for a professional development qualification at a European level.  This would fit with the European principles for teacher competence, including the suggestion that teachers should be part of a learning organisation, that they should be lifelong learners and that they should be mobile within Europe.  This is also in line with ideas about key competences in Europe:\\\_
EQUIP also fits with the ideas embodied in the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the European Credit Transfer and accumulation System (ECTS). It would carry points according to the EQF level 6 - advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles.
The importance of the EQUIP qualification is that it will be the first to be designed as a European qualification from the beginning, and thus fulfils an important role in one of the EU "Common principles for Quality assurance in higher education..." (EQF brochure p.15):
Quality assurance orientations at Community level may provide reference points for evaluations and peer learning
There are as yet no European structures or organisations for accrediting or administering this type of programme, since the intention of EQF is to bring coherence and transferability to national programmes in a variety of fields, rather than to develop substantive qualifications.  Therefore the national partners will have an essential role in arranging provision and accreditation.  In S-TEAM we are currently accumulating data about professional development programmes across the 15 partner countries.  It would not be difficult to extend this process to the other EU states as well as to international partners. Indeed, we see the outcomes of the STEP-UP project as being applicable to science teacher education and professional development programmes worldwide.
B1.2 Beyond the state of the art in science teaching
The proposed project has to provide value for teachers, whose voluntary participation is vital to its success, for schools and school systems, and for students/pupils.  Teacher value can be created along four dimensions:
1. Enhancing student engagement and achievement through the promotion of more effective practices and resources.
2. Enhancing the careers of science teachers by providing evidence of commitment to personal and professional development
3. Enhancing the quality of the teacher workforce in Europe and beyond by increasing science teacher mobility
4. Enhancing the overall knowledge base of science teaching through collaboration and sharing of research and practice.
The recent TALIS report (OECD, 2009) draws attention to the diverse motivations and constraints experienced by teachers in 23 countries when considering professional development.  In order to take account of this diversity, STEP-UP will operate through national partners who will tailor the basic offerings to local conditions and requirements. Where necessary, translations or locally-originated materials will be developed using the overall principles developed by project work packages.
B1.2.1 Format of the EQUIP qualification and courses
It would be unrealistic at this stage to offer a European masters-level course as a professional development (PD) activity, although it will be possible to develop such a course in the future, e.g. by adding dissertation or research project modules.  The intention  of STEP-UP is to provide an easily-accessible form of PD which addresses the need to alter practices and to share available information within a two-year timescale, within the time available to individual teachers and within the cost limitations of national PD programmes.
Like the European/International Computer Driving Licence (ECDL/ICDL), EQUIP should guarantee a basic level of knowledge and competence in relevant fields. Unlike the ECDL, however, EQUIP will indicate that the holder has engaged in dialogue which potentially changes the nature of the field itself, since this is in the spirit of inquiry-based learning. We know from the experience of (e.g.) the SINUS project in Germany and from the literature (e.g. Grangeat & Gray, 2008) that teacher collaboration is essential to the creation of powerful learning environments.
Although much of the course material could be provided online, with a wiki as the basis of a Europe-wide network for participating teachers and the core of a learning organisation for science education, face-to-face meetings with other teachers and with tutors are an essential element of STEP-UP.
We have a four level structure of reciprocity within EQUIP:
1.  Reciprocity between schools and teachers
2. Reciprocity between schools and universities
3. Reciprocity between universities, local authorities and national systems
4. Reciprocity between national systems and the European level
B1.2.2 Learning outcomes/learning objectives
The course leading to EQUIP will be intended for in-service teachers with at least two years teaching experience.  Different versions will be available for primary and secondary teachers, with further subdivisions at a local level if necessary (e.g. subject specialist, lower/upper secondary etc.).  The high level learning outcomes will be as follows:
Participating teachers will:
1. demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the principles of  inquiry-based or investigative methods.
2. be able to apply IBST in a variety of subject contexts, age and ability groups
3. Have a working knowledge of current research in IBST/E
4. Be able to design curricula and assessment methods around IBST principles
 Who will provide tutoring and assessment?
Tutoring will be carried out at national level by staff attached to partner institutions, who themselves will be accredited as course tutors by the International Centre for Science Teaching (ICST). Assessment will be carried out at national level and will be largely formative and portfolio-based, using features of the chosen Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), including the use of video-based reflection.  Peer assessment and self assessment will feature in course design.
Schools will have a substantial role in providing practice opportunities, participative tuition, mentoring and support. This will be achieved through existing school-university partnerships established by partner institutions.
Accreditation, course design and course content
It is of course important that the qualification is recognised and accredited at national level. It will be the responsibility of national partners to manage the accreditation process in an appropriate manner, depending on their own regulatory frameworks.
The process of accreditation and course design would itself have a role in developing common understandings on a number of issues around IBST/E.  These issues include, but are not limited to:
1. Nature-of-Science (NOS) studies as a basis for shaping attitudes to science
2. Scientific literacy and its use as a tool for promoting classroom debate and situated learning through the introduction of topical issues such as climate change.
3. The role of argumentation and dialogic teaching in science
4. The use of ICT in science classrooms, especially as a means of accessing resources from beyond the local context.
5. Cross-curricular work involving science and a range of other subjects,
6. The question of pupil diversity (gender, religious, ability and ethnic) in relation to science
7. Subject differences within science
The course design process will require intensive effort in the first six to twelve months of the project, including the use of national and international workshops to enable collaborative processes.
Adding value to existing projects
The precursor project to STEP-UP is S-TEAM (Science-Teacher Education Advanced Methods). Most of the S-TEAM outputs or deliverables comprise training packages and related items such as DVDs showing examples of classroom practice in science or mathematics teaching. These are targeted at various audiences but most will be intended for, or adaptable to, professional development (PD) situations. From what we already know about teacher professional development, it is clear that provision across Europe is highly variable, ranging from voluntary participation to full-scale requalification schemes. Whilst PD is relevant to all teachers it is especially important in science (or STEM) teaching where there are tensions between subject knowledge and pedagogy, especially where science degrees are the basis for teaching qualifications, with or without additional teacher education or training.
The proposal is based on the use of S-TEAM training packages and other materials as the basis for a programme in science education, designed primarily for science teachers but with a strong connection to teacher education, i.e. an element of 'training for trainers'.  It will be driven by the desire of the EC to spread Inquiry-Based Science Teaching & Education (IBST/E) across Europe but will be informed by the more nuanced perspectives gathered by S-TEAM partners and the Mind the Gap project.
From the existing training packages we have the basis for two kinds of module:
1) Core competences such as argumentation, collaborative working, dialogic teaching, scientific literacy skills and motivation
2) Specialised competences such as the use of drama, computer animations, Nature of Science, school-university collaboration etc
B1.2 Quality and effectiveness of the coordination mechanism and associated work plan
Organization and management - the work packages
The STEP-UP project will have the following work package structure:
1. Management (HUT)
2. Course Development (CYCO)
3. Teacher recruitment and liaison (UNIVSTRATH)
4. Resource management (TLU)
5. Indicators and Evaluation (FSU)
6. National partner group (NTNU)
The overall management of the project, including financial management, will be the responsibility of WP1, led by HUT.  WP1 will have a management board comprising the coordinator/project leader, the project manager, project administrator, work package leaders and at least three other nominated members from partner organisations.  It will report to the EC, to (a) nominated external evaluator/s and a reference group from stakeholder organisations.
WP2 will be responsible for the initial course design and ongoing improvement through user feedback and external review. It will draw on the extensive experience of CYCO in the S-TEAM project, where CYCO was responsible for an extensive suite of professional development materials. Overall course development activities will comprise:
1. Provision of an evidence base and theoretical frameworks to underpin course development, through synthesis of existing research and learning from S-TEAM and other relevant projects
2. Writing introductory materials to be used across the project.
3. Ensuring compliance with relevant European policies and guidelines in respect of credit transfer, competence standards and lifelong learning principles.
WP3 will be responsible for teacher recruitment and liaison.  It will ensure that the project is widely publicised and that information is easily available to teachers.  It will ensure a uniform admissions process in conjunction with the national partners.
WP4 will work closely with the European Central Information Provider (ECIP) and with existing developers and projects in the area of online resources for science teaching, including S-TEAM. Its role will be to select, evaluate and modify suitable materials for use on the courses at national level, including the creation of translations where this cannot be done by ECIP.
WP5 will be responsible for internal monitoring and evaluation of the courses and other activities, including the development of suitable indicators and instruments.  Wherever possible, these indicators and instruments will be used formatively, as well as providing data relating to project effectiveness.
WP6 comprises the national partner group which will include all participating countries. Each national partner will constitute a sub-package responsible for;
1. Liaison with national accreditation and quality assurance organisations, to create a National Partnership Framework.
2. Local aspects of recruitment and publicity, e.g. running or attending events
3. Communicating with schools and reaching targets for recruitment
4. Handling financial aspects at local level, e.g. teacher replacement costs or travel expenses
5. Setting up a national support centre for prospective and enrolled teachers taking the course
 B1.2.2 Work Plan
The tasks of the project will comprise. in sequence:
1. An early-stage series of national workshops to alert policymakers in partner countries to the project and to establish connections to local professional development activities (WP6).
2. The development of a course outline and supporting materials at a pan-European level, including the development of parallel language versions (WP2). This will involve agreeing a common set of principles for inquiry-based teaching, a common set of learning objectives and an assessment framework (WP5).  International workshops will be held to facilitate this process.
3. The organisation of a first-wave course, to run for two years from M12 of the project
4. A launch event will be held around M12, to which participant teachers and policymakers will be invited.
5. During the first wave course, partners will carry out extensive evaluation and monitoring to facilitate continuous improvement in response to user feedback
6. In M24, the second iteration of the course will start
7. In M36, the first cohort of participating teachers will graduate with EQUIP qualifications and the third cohort will begin, inaugurating the operational version of the course.
8. By M42, a sustainable business model will be in place and a final conference will wind up the STEP-UP project.
Longer term business model
The qualification will necessarily involve teacher education institutions at the national level, since these already possess the necessary staff, expertise and facilities.  The missing element is capacity, since existing institutions are serving a ever-expanding and more tightly controlled teacher education sector, often with limited resources.  The qualification therefore needs to have a financial structure which will not impact upon existing resources, and if possible, should provide an additional income stream for participating institutions. In the development phase, the project will be able to fund the necessary activities and short-term staffing required to bring the qualification into the field.
In the longer term, however, it will be necessary to develop a sustainable business model.  This moel is described in more detail in section B3. In outline, an International Centre for  Science Teaching will be established in one of the partner countries. The Centre will administer the overall direction of the qualification, keep abreast of relevant research and coordinate the national partners.  It will be funded through a licensing system for the national partners, who in turn will fund their activities through payments for course participation, whether provided by state agencies or individual teachers.  The Centre will be hosted by a partner institution and  will have full-time staff.
 table 1.2b deliverables list by date and work package
Del. no.    WP no.    Nature    Diss. level    Del. Date
1.1    project website/wiki            PU    M1
2.1    Course outline for consultation            RE    M9
2.2    Course outline - final            PU    M12
3.1    Course brochure and publicity materials    WP3        PU    M12
4.1    Course materials package    WP4        PU
5.1    Assessment and evaluation package    WP5        RE
6.1    National workshop programme    WP6
6.1.0    National partnership framework    WP6        RE    M12
national partner sub-packages
6.1.1    NPF - Belgium            RE
6.1.2    NPF - Cyprus
6.1.3    NPF - Czech Republic
6.1.4    NPF - Denmark

 Budget and allocation of resources
A substantial proportion of the budget will be allocated to teacher support, either as teacher replacement costs, where teachers are seconded to the project, or for travel and other costs related to course activities.
We anticipate an overall budget of c.€5m, allocated as follows:
WP    Personnel    Travel     Other
National partners
Czech republic
 B2.2 The Consortium as a whole
The consortium has been formed with the intention of providing the widest possible geographical coverage for STEP-UP, reflecting our anbition to provide a world-class science teaching qualification.  In addtion to the EU member states and partner countries, we have involved countries such as Georgia and Dubai in order to provide links to emerging education systems in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.
The STEP-UP project is led by Hacettepe University (HUT)in association with Gazi University (GU).  As the Turkish partners in S-TEAM, these institutions have demonstrated that they can participate effectively in European actions within SiS and FP7. They have also hosted the 2009 ESERA conference, widely regarded as the largest and most successful ESERA to date.  Turkish coordination of the STEPUP project reflects the size and scope of the Turkish education system, an increasing level of international collaboration generally, and a desire to bring Turkish science teaching and teacher education up to world standards. Through S-TEAM activities,  a strong political consensus on the future direction of science teaching and teacher professional development has emerged.
As members of the successful S-TEAM consortium, HUT and GU will be able to draw on a wide range of expertise to drive the STEP-UP development process.  Participation in S-TEAM and now the proposed STEP-UP project has the benefit of providing increased research and project management capacity within a dynamic and expanding education system. International collaboration with other states in the Near East such as Cyprus and Israel will have long-term benefits for all partners.

B2.2.1 Language issues
The project partners speak a wide range of languages and whilst its operating language will be English, there will be many teachers who need to learn and collaborate in other languages.  Second-language proficiency is of course a desirable outcome in itself and we wish to avoid reverting to situations where teachers interact only in their first language. It is therefore proposed that collaborative activities will be run in a series of language sub-groups.

 B3 Impact
The introduction of a pan-European qualification in science teaching is a unique approach to the widespread dissemination of IBST/E as demanded in the Call.  Its strength lies in four main areas:
1. Teachers themselves will invest time and in some cases money in the qualification and therefore have a vested interest in using it effectively.
2. The structures required to implement the qualification provide continuity and a basis for continuing and sustainable dissemination of IBST/E.
3. It is easy to understand the stable concept of a qualification
4. The collaborative structure and research evidence base of such a qualification can remain dynamic and subject to continuous improvement.
B3.1 Sustaining the impact
The qualification will necessarily involve teacher education institutions at the national level, since these already possess the necessary staff, expertise and facilities.  The missing element is capacity, since existing institutions are serving a ever-expanding and more tightly controlled teacher education sector, often with limited resources.  The qualification therefore needs to have a financial structure which will not impact upon existing resources, and if possible, should provide an additional income stream for participating institutions. In the development phase, the project will be able to fund the necessary activities and short-term staffing required to bring the qualification into the field.
In the longer term, however, it will be necessary to develop a sustainable business model.  An International Centre for  Science Teaching will be established in one of the partner countries. The Centre will administer the overall direction of the qualification, keep abreast of relevant research and coordinate the national partners.  It will be funded through a licensing system for the national partners, who in turn will fund their activities through payments for course participation, whether provided by state agencies or individual teachers.  The Centre will be hosted by a partner institution and will have full-time staff, including a director and at least one senior researcher responsible for collating the latest findings in science education research.  It would also be desirable for the Centre to support a small cohort of postgraduate students, undertaking original research in relevant areas.

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