Educational Technology Research Group: Research and development for next generation science and engineering practices

​The fields of science, engineering and ICT are considered as one of the key sources of economic growth in a long term perspective but also, as the Europe 2020 Strategy points out, they can play a central role in preparing pupils to act as responsible citizens in a modern society ( The underlying thought behind these visions is that science should not be understood solely as a body of knowledge and learning science as appropriating that knowledge, but also, and even more importantly, as practices that are important for any citizen in today’s society.

In Finland, the new curriculum emphasizes inquiry and technological skills in an attempt for science education to become more responsive to the needs and ambitions of society and reflect its values; but also from the perspective that in Europe, Finland is among the countries with the lowest level of ICT use in schools. Similarly, in the United States, Next Generation Science Standards describes science and engineering practices (eg. developing and using models, using mathematics and computational thinking, and engaging in argument from evidence) needed by citizens in modern society (NRC, 2012).

Despite these visions a continuous decline in students’ interest towards science topics has been recorded over recent years and science and engineering are not among the first choices for young people’s careers (Rocard, 2007; TIMMS, 2011). One of the potential origins for this gap, in both traditional (e.g., textbooks) and contemporary (e.g., real and virtual hands-on laboratory activities) science teaching approaches, which may have contributed to the decline in students’ interest could be that they have focused mostly on content and not on process and practices and on engagement and sparking and sustaining interest.

These notions form the basis for the research that is done within the Learning & Interest in Science Group. The members of the group are involved in research that aims at investigating how to transfer these visions into practices that can be implemented in (Finnish) schools.

The activities within the programme overlap and cross fertilize each other and can roughly be divided in two main categories: