Handbook

Conclusions

The global analysis of the EGPs prepared by PPs, as well as the global analysis of the cross-implementation of the Ws allow us to draw some conclusions about the main objective of our project i. e. the development of appropriate pedagogical materials for TTs by comparing and contrasting local experiences of teacher education.

The comparison of results coming from very different educational contexts and involving TTs that were trained according to various national curricula (following specific and often diverse traditions) is not easy. Moreover, although the Project tried to integrate different points of view and approaches, some characteristics of the different workshops prepared by PPs look very different, since they are anchored in very different ways to look at instruction and learning. For this reason, we will synthesize the various conclusions, resulting from the different experimentations, by considering the following points: 1) the adequacy of the proposed learning materials in order to stimulate the development of teaching competencies; 2) the role of the international interaction in the development of appropriate competences in TTs.

1)    Did the proposed Ws trigger the acquisition of competences?

Although the main objectives of all the Ws were focused on the acquisition of competences connected to PCK, many difficulties arose from the implementation of the teaching/learning activities in the local experimentations as well as in the cross-implementations1.

PCK The background hypothesis intended PCK as a kind of knowledge resulting from the integration of SMK and PK (see figure) and effectively carried out by means of a confrontation with the CK.

The different curricular background of the TTs who attended the Ws during the mobility program meant it was necessary to go into detail about content knowledge, as well as give further explanations regarding the kind of pedagogy supported by the teaching/learning materials used. Moreover, some TTs were not accustomed to the proposed tools; therefore, it was necessary to organise appropriate familiarization activities. All the PPs pointed out that, even though the basic concepts of PCK were highlighted within the workshops, these subjects were not addressed in as much detail as planned. Some PPs mentioned that the PCK research (using the questionnaires) was an interesting effort but that the particular set-ups only emphasized some case dependent conclusions, since, in every country, the interpretation of the questions was different. Perhaps, the complexity of this kind of research has been underestimated, since this type of research could only be relevant and interesting if the questionnaires were better translated to suit the different educational backgrounds of the partners. Many PPs pointed out the need to end every W-Section with a short discussion, involving TTs, dedicated to the analysis of PCK competences dealt with in the Section activities.

However, the PPs' general feeling was that all Ws contributed to showing TTs that possessing basic knowledge of scientific topics is not enough in order to be a good science teacher. He/she must be able to communicate such knowledge to pupils in order to give them a meaningful understanding of reality; this involves having a set of well-defined competences.

2)    Did the international working group format contribute to the TTs' acquisition of competences?

All PPs agreed that the TTs' mobility seemed to be a great experience for all of the participants (TTs and trainers): TTs were very motivated, fun to teach and therefore enjoyed a very good working atmosphere. However, during all workshops in all countries, several difficulties appeared, which were based, in most instances, on the TTs' heterogeneous prior knowledge and competencies e.g. with respect to physics and mathematics content, practical lab work, English language skills, use of learning theories, teaching practice, IT skills, etc. PPs pointed out that TTs also had very different expectations at the beginning of the workshops, concerning the content and the complexity of the addressed physical/mathematical concepts and didactical issues. However, in the majority of cases, the trainers have been able to create activities stimulating and satisfying each TT in the group.

The fact that the TTs were used to very different teaching approaches led to various disagreements concerning the approach of the proposed learning activities as well as the projects developed by the TTs themselves. However, this difference of opinion usually resulted in several very interesting group discussions concerning this issue, which were beneficial to all of the participants.

An important obstacle was the lack of sufficient knowledge of English for the majority of TTs. However, during the four weeks the level of English increased, the anxiety to speak diminished and the TTs' cooperation begun to give good results.

At the end of each workshop TTs were supposed to test their developed materials (two or three classroom activities) in an in-service school in the host country. This gave some TTs a lot of extra stress because they had to deal with a lot of different factors (a new didactical environment, the language, pupils they didn't not know, demands of the teachers of the schools, etc). However, the majority of PPs evaluated this experience as extremely formative for TTs, but some PPs concluded that perhaps the materials developed by the TTs could be better evaluated using peer assessment.

Despite the various difficulties described above, all the activities seemed to be quite successful, since all of the TTs declared to have benefited from the lessons during the workshop as well as from the various group discussions. This became especially noticeable within the monitoring meetings, when the TTs had the chance to openly express their opinions.

Moreover, all PPs said that they had had a lot of fun teaching during the workshop and sharing their culture and that they had gained a lot of new experiences themselves. This fact made all PPs comfortable with the idea of having participated in an extremely valuable experience for young TTs.


1 Local implementation involved the experimentation of the local pedagogical materials with TTs coming from different countries; cross implementation involved the experimentation of pedagogical materials prepared by a different PP.


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