New Science Teachers' Network
The purpose is to build a network that can support the newly educated science teachers in the upper secondary school in developing a teaching practice based upon the field's experiences, and subject matter didactic research.
Project participants: Jens Dolin, DSE, Claus Jessen, Ørestad Gymnasium, and Bjarke Skipper Petersen, Ørestad Gymnasium, and external lecturer at DSE
Duration: November 2009 - October 2011
Funding: The project is financed by the Ministry of Education, DSE and the participating schools.
Newly qualified science teachers in the upper secondary schools face a great challenge. They have finished a long, research-based study programme which has strengthened their academic focus, and they have participated in professional postgraduate teacher training for upper secondary school teachers. From then on, they are to build a teaching pratice in their subjects which implements the reform's complex objectives. It is a long process, under great time pressure and workload, to build well-functioning courses, and under that pressure it can be tempting to fall back upon traditional methods. A lot of these can, of course, be well qualified, but research shows that a lot of traditional teaching can seem demotivating for the students and besides, a lot of traditional science teaching will not consider goals such as competences and general education. The teachers' first years of teaching are therefore critical to building an appropriate teaching practice.
A network should be able to support the teacher under such process and with that, secure a high quality in science teaching. At the same time a network could make working as a teacher in the upper secondary school more attractive by increasing the job satisfaction and supporting the development of a personal teacher's role. This will keep the newly qualified teachers in the upper secondary school.
Overall purpose is to build a network that can support the newly qualified science teachers in the upper secondary school during their first years in developing a teaching practice based upon the field's experiences, and subject matter didactic research.
Through the network, a series of goals can be satisfied:
- To facilitate the transition from working with science to teaching science.
- To create a forum for exchanging experiences across different types of schools, and school cultures and through that, create a synergy effect between the schools.
- To create a forum for discussion and introduction to new teaching reforms and teaching materials in science.
- To maintain the new science teachers in the upper secondary school by developing a forum for linguification of academic, personal, and social challenges in their job.
Department of Science Education (DSE) is in charge of planning, developing, and completing the project. DSE has great experience in planning, coordinating, leading, completing, and evaluating projects in connection with youth educations. This includes co-operation with DASG (Danish Science Gymnasiums), development and completion of the Faculty of Science's Inspiration Day for teachers at upper secondary schools, bridge building, etc. DSE has also been involved in a series of EU projects, e.g. about encouraging scientific literacy through inquery based science education (Mind-The-Gap project), supplementary training of teachers with development of new forms of teaching in natural sciences (Science-Teacher Education Advanced Methods) in mind. DSE will therefore be able to deliver research-based input to the subject matter didactic research to the network. Besides, DSE will function as a gatekeeper to the Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen, and in that way draw researchers into the network where appropriate.
The participants of the network are natural science teachers at upper secondary schools, who have finished professional postgraduate teacher training for upper secondary school teachers during the last three years (at the beginning of the project). The teachers has to be employed at schools participating in the project. There is a point in implementing teachers from the different kinds of upper secondary schools (stx, htx and hf), and teachers with as many subjects as possible from the same school are prefered. These schools are to be within one hour of transportation of DSE for transportational reasons. There are room for approx. 15 teachers.
DSE organises a web platform for communication and uploading of material.
The participating teachers will get compensation for hours lost due to participation in the project.
It is a point of relevance that the contents are decided by the participants, so that it can be an actual support in their everyday life. DSE will in addition to that suggest topics, which are naturally included, e.g.
- Teaching based on investigation - what is it and how can it actually be carried through?
- Integration of field and laboraroty work in teaching
- Implementation of the newest natrural science topics in teaching
The students' prerequisites are taken into account as a central factor in the topics. The students' academic ballast from primary and lower secondary school and their interests will be investigated, typically in co-operation with the relevant primary and lower secondary schools.
Plan of activities
At the first introductory meeting the participants' expectations and wishes are studied. DSE will introduce means of communication, there will be formed groups who can meet between the network meetings, and the first academic topics will be determined.
There will be network meeting with external speakers and exchange of experiences between the groups approx. every second month, i.e. five network meetings during a year. The groups meet as needed.
Spread and evaluation
The network will build a bank of teaching programmes and didactical considerations, which are accessible for a broader audience.
The achieved results are communicated through articles.
The work of the network will be evaluated continuously with adapting to the participants needs and wishes in mind. After the first year the network will be evaluated for good.