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Training of Science Teachers in Italy

1Maria Maddalena Carnasciali, 1Laura Ricco, 1Aldo Borsese, 2Irene Parrachino

1Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry:University of Genoa,
2Comprehensive Institute Ronco Scrivia, Ronco Scrivia (Italy)

marilena@chimica.unige.it

Abstract

The paper describes the training that science teachers receive in Italy and underlines the lack of important skills such as pedagogical and educational skills.

Few guidelines to teach science at school are given on the base of the experience of researchers expert in teachers’ training. In particular, the problem of communication between teachers and students is addressed and suggestions are given in order to make it effective, thus minimizing the difference between what the teacher means and what the student perceives.

Few words of cautions are also given as regards to the laboratorial approach: it is a very useful teaching tool to develop the cognitive autonomy of pupils, but it has to be used in the correct way.

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Comments about this Paper

Your comments are welcome


Date: 2014.10.17

Posted by hristo kolev (Bulgaria)

Message: The paper focuses on the insufficient training that teachers in Italy receive. It points out that often teachers know how to manage discipline but lack interpersonal skills. The in-service training is too sporadic and inefficient at that moment.
The authors revise three different in-service training programs for teachers that exist in the country. Yet in the conclusions they point out that the current training proves to be inadequate. They do summarize the pros of the three programs but they don`t say anything about the cons of those particular programs. Instead they continue looking at several aspects that need to be considered in the teachers` training activities in general.
A main topic of discussion is the teachers` ability to communicate properly and use a language that is compatible with today`s students thoughts and believes. The article also tries to distinguish the knowledge by memory and the knowledge caused by deep understanding of the phenomena involved. This is crucial for a successful education because it not only teaches current lessons but it also teaches strategies, methods and skills that could prove to be essential not only in school but also later in life.
It is of great importance that the authors focus on practical laboratory activities as an essential part of science education. This approach helps bring the attention of students and reminds the that although science uses some abstract concepts it remains a practical discipline and could be found all around us and even within us. Having a more practical approach towards science education is always a good idea and brings around positive results. However it is not said whether the teachers` training in that crucial aspect of science education is adequate. Or if the schools around the country possess the equipment needed for laboratory activities.

Date: 2013.11.25

Posted by Mine Özkurt (Turkey)

Message: This article is a well-developed, clear, and direct. It illustrates the Italian situation which is associated with chemistry education by emphasizing the difficulties and inefficiency of teaching training for the educators. It is an eccentric essay which mirrors the compulsory necessity for the training chemistry teachers. It is necessary in your education, in order that you can enhance certain abilities that promotes transmission, comprehending and adjustment of chemical concepts. Everybody must turn to these abilities in different areas such as language, communication, pedagogy, discipline, and work in the laboratory, attending to the reasons of what they acquired not as a simple implementation of a special recipe. Elements to take into consideration for the article are ,from one hand, the fact that the chemistry teacher has to have a good skill to adapt to the moment where it is located and the students who leads. On the other hand, it is significant to be conscious of the appropriate selection of the contents apart from the quantity of the topics to be treated. As a suggestion claimed by the article ,they are some instructions to fulfill when you make up your mind for practicing the learning of the learning of science matters. The instructions are given on the basis of the experiences which researcher experts have in teachers’ training. Especially, the difficulties of communication between the teacher and the student. The kind of language used by teachers is thought to be a barrier to impressive learning as is material which doesn’t give any importance to the children’s interests.That thhe teachers themselves hadn’t been trained to consider in a detailed way or in reflective practice had the meaning that conceptions which aren’t true at all has the possibility that they affected the students. But, one can come over such kind of problems with the help of in-service training.

Date: 2013.07.11

Posted by José Luis Cañavate (SPAIN)

Message: It is an interesting article to make a reflection about the imperative need for the training of chemistry teachers. It is essential in your training, to develop certain skills that favour transmission, understanding and assimilation of chemical concepts. These skills must be addressed in several areas such as language, communication, pedagogy, discipline, and work in the laboratory, attending to the reasons of what they learnt, not as a simple application of a particular recipe.

Aspects to take into account of the article are, on one hand, that the chemistry teacher must have a great ability of adaptation to the moment in which it is located and the students who heads. On the other hand, it is also important to be aware of the proper selection of the contents rather than the amount of subjects to be treated.

As a suggestion proposed by the article, they are some guidelines to carry out when you decide to put into practice the learning of science issues.


Date: 2013.07.11

Posted by Andrés Parra Sánchez (SPAIN)

Message: This article describes the current status of the development of science teaching in Italy and it is divided into two aspects. The first part describes an analysis of the current situation and measures there are underway to improve the necessary training for teaching staff. The second one, examines the two major problems of science education, namely the insufficient scientific communication between teachers and learners in due to several factors and the use of the laboratory to influence in a positive way in a better science education.
Regarding to the first part, there are three plans or projects currently underway: Insegnare Scienze Sperimentali (ISS); Piano Lauree scientifiche (PLS); "Scienze della formazione" (PON). The main problem that is attributed to these programmes is that they are not as effective that would be desirable because they do not have a temporal regularity or are mandatory for all teachers of science.
Considering the second phase, it is focused to the problem of communication in science, reviewing and proposing alternatives in terms of: the scientific language, the precise requirements of the scientific message and motivation that the student should possess to assimilate scientific knowledge. This study impacts greatly, and I think that rightly to the utility adequately develop of laboratory experiences so that they clearly impact on a good scientific teaching way.There is valued here the methodology to carry out experimental work so that the student does not become a mere subject that follow a recipe to the letter, but it is a person to reflect on the task to be carried out, analyzing all aspects and taking decisions neatly.
From my point of view, as sacks of organic chemistry at the University level, I think it is an interesting article that highlights the sad scenario of the teaching and learning in Science, not only in Italy but in many other countries of the environment, such as Spain. Also, I think that a proper, modern and mandatory initial training of the future teacher of science is required and in addition, I believe that attending to programs, updating and specialization of scientific teachers at several level when they are exercising his teaching, are also accurate.

Date: 2013.06.20

Posted by Inforef (Belgium)

Message: The paper is very well structured, clear, practice and direct, all essential characteristics to make the message arrive to destination.
It shows the Italian situation related to chemistry education underlining the difficulties and lack of teaching training for the educators.
The paper contains some practical guidelines to better develop the teacher’s teaching skills, which makes this article a very effective and useful tool.
The guidelines are given on the basis of the experience of researches expert in teachers’ training. In particular, the problem of communication between teachers and students is addressed and suggestions are given in order to make it effective, thus minimizing the difference between what the teacher means and what the student perceives.
The whole article shows relevant issues for chemistry teachers.
Important is the background of the teaching situation in chemistry which is given in the beginning.
In this section is underlined that teachers should have some specific and synergic skills such as disciplinary, educational skills and pedagogic skills along with a degree courses for primary school teachers (“Sciences of Primary Education”) and one-year postgraduate schools (TFA) for secondary school teachers.
The article also describes the national projects on the subject of chemistry like “Teaching Experimental Sciences”(ISS) and “Scientific Degrees Plan” (PLS).
PLS, in synergy with ISS, aims to increase scientific motivation both by involving students in
practical activities and by improving teacher skills; it’s important for the teachers to be aware of which are the policy and the projects carried on in their own field at the nation level.
The third chapter of the paper, giving some clear and very useful guidelines to teach science in school, is maybe one of the most relevant part of the article.
The chapter is divided in two main tasks, the communication and the laboratory approach which both together would make the chemistry a more attractive and interesting subject.
Lately, the conclusion of the paper underline the importance of in-service training that represents an essential tool trough which update the educators in terms of communication skills and technology and practical methods.
The paper underlines the lack of laboratory activities in chemistry education and appreciates the already existing national projects focused on designing and carrying out new educational practices.
The article encourages experiencing new methods in terms of increasing communication skills and practical-technical approaches (laboratory activities).
The communication, at first, which needs to be effective and that has three main contents:
• Language, with the necessity to use words of the common language, and, at the same time, enhancing the linguistic skills of the students;
• Requisites, with the extremely importance of the choice of contents; and
• Motivation that, along with the interest, is a factor that influences the transition from comprehensibility to proper understanding.
The laboratory approach, instead, is a very useful tool for teaching to develop the cognitive autonomy of pupils, but needs to be used in the correct way.
The article gives, apropos, an operative sequence to follow during a laboratorial path that we can briefly summarize in:
• focus on the specific topic that will be dealt with, through the description or presentation of an experience
• individual written work
• written work made by small groups
• presentation of the conclusions by the representatives of each group
• teacher’s considerations about the topic dealt with, additional information and suggestions
At the Italian national level what is missing is the integration of practical activities to the theory.
I think that the practical approach, represented in this case from laboratory activities, is the more suitable method to introduce in the Italian educational system but also the lack of communication skills is effecting the quality of teaching.
Teachers, in fact, often exhibit a good knowledge about their discipline, but also often complain of not having good teaching skills, organizational, interpersonal and communication skills.
Italy provides insufficient training to its science teachers, both with regard to initial training, that with regard to in-service training that should be increased and valorized.

Date: 2013.06.13

Posted by Miroslav Prokša (Slovakia)

Message: This paper presents the training of teachers who teach science courses in primary and secondary education in Italy. Paper presents the current situation in Italy, concerning the in service training of science teachers. Authors suggest that the in service training of the science teachers in Italy is insufficient, but at the moment three different in service training programs were prepared. The main problem with these three programs, is that they are sporadic and not compulsory for all science teachers. The key point of these three programs is the interaction between school teachers and university researchers. All programs are financed by the Italian Ministry of Education. The in-service training of science teachers for primary and secondary school, provided by three different projects. The first is national project “Teaching Experimental Sciences” (ISS) and is about primary science education is an essential part of the development of students’ interests in science. Research and the collaboration with colleagues and experts is necessary and very useful for the professional development of in-service teachers.The second is national project “Scientific Degrees Plan” (PLS) and is addressed to upper secondary school. The project aims to increase students’ scientific motivation not only by improving teacher skills, but also by involving students in practical activities and is about planning and production of new tools for a more effective teaching of chemistry.The third is national program ‘PON Science Education’ and is very brief described. It is blended training model provides opportunities for improvement of teachers’ ICT skills, which are important for teachers’ professional progress. The common for all three programs is the need to provide innovative materials relevant to and in language appropriate to the student. The authors recommend the use of experimental work where students are involved in the design of the experiment, carrying out the experiment followed by analysis and presentation of the results. This improve the ability of the student to express their point of view and to reflect on their own learning through comparison with other students’ work. Paper stress the importance of laboratory teaching chemistry and science in general. It is proposed that students should participate in the design of the experiment and subsequently perform the experiment on their own, collect data and analyze the data. In each project partner country is clear that the laboratory approach is a very useful instructional strategy for chemistry teachers. The usefulness of laboratory teaching is enhanced by the fact that it makes use of the experimental method for finding the solution to a problem. The experimental method is the basic research method of all physical sciences. Laboratory teaching is important because it gives students the opportunity to develop cognitive and psychomotor skills and creates better conditions for the application of collaborative teaching/learning processes.


Date: 2013.05.30

Posted by Rositsa Dimkova (Bulgaria)

Message: The paper considers training of Natural Science teachers in Italy. It has been found out that there is shortage of important skills, both pedagogical and educational skills, which impedes communication between teachers and students. Teacher training is at high level but it is quite chaotic and insufficiently structured. The bad image of chemistry is due to the fact that teachers are not able to present sophisticated and abstract concepts in an interesting and understandable way.
The paper presents a description of the pedagogical and educational skills which should be possessed by Chemistry teachers. The problems referring to teaching Chemistry are viewed in relation to the communication between teachers and students. The teacher should present to the student the sophisticated and abstract teaching content in a comprehensible way. However, not all teachers are able to do that.
A solution to the problem is proposed - participation in specialized training within programmes such as ISS and PLS funded by the Ministry of Education, where school teachers design, test and improve new practices and methods along with university teachers. PON programme is a similar one. It is part of a broader teacher training programme, which aims at encouraging the use of innovative methods and technologies.
The paper does not propose new or non-traditional methods and technologies but it views the role of the laboratory approach by means of which students design the experiment, carry it out, collect data and analyze the results. The operational sequence which should be observed during the experiment is presented. This approach allows the students to express their viewpoints and to compare them with those of their peers and teachers. The selection of appropriate teaching content is considered as an extremely important factor which is often neglected without any ground at the expense of the method.
This paper does not present directly the application of ICT in teaching but it indicates that the proposed teaching model integrates on-line activities. It is recommended to establish centres for initial and current training at national level with the support of all institutions.

Date: 2013.05.25

Posted by Theodoros Vachliotis (Greece)

Message: Why is this paper relevant?
This article describes the situation regarding science teachers’ training in Italy. It highlights the lack of pedagogical and teaching skills of the teachers, which according to the authors is due to the inadequate initial and in-service available training.
The article provides some guidelines that are based on the experience of Italian researchers and which could be taken into account for science teaching. Special attention is given to the problem of student-teacher communication and some proposals are made for improving it. In addition, the usefulness of laboratory teaching is also highlighted and special emphasis is given to specific requirements that should be met in order to make this teaching approach really effective.

Which parts of this paper underline relevant issues for chemistry teachers? Please, indicate what kind of issue is highlighted by the authors and why it is important for chemistry teachers.
There is no doubt that the laboratory approach is a very useful instructional strategy for chemistry teachers. As highlighted in the paper, the usefulness of laboratory teaching is enhanced by the fact that it makes use of the experimental method for finding the solution to a problem. The experimental method is the basic research method of all physical sciences. In my opinion, laboratory teaching approach is important because it gives students the opportunity to develop cognitive as well as psychomotor skills. In addition, it creates better conditions for the application of collaborative teaching/learning processes, which subsequently leads to the development of the affective sector.
The issue of student-teacher communication affects all teachers (not only those teaching science). According to the article, there are three topics which are directly related with this type of communication: the language employed by the teachers, some prerequisites such as the knowledge background and certain skills that the students should have developed, and finally student interest and motivation. Language is the basic communication tool. If students do not understand the language employed by their instructor, communication becomes difficult. The paper proposes that the teacher could start by using as many common words of everyday life as possible and gradually pass to more rigorous scientific terminology, in an effort to help students develop their language skills. For the prerequisites, the authors propose that teaching should adapt to the cognitive level of the students so that communication can be maintained. As far as student motivation is concerned, it is stated that it influences understanding to a large degree. If students do not find a good enough reason to learn, they will usually not try hard enough to achieve understanding and learning. In this way, it is proposed that specific strategies and approaches that enhance student motivation should be identified and adopted by the teachers.

Does the paper suggest and encourage to experience different approaches and methods for teaching and learning chemistry? Please, indicate what method is more suitable for your National context.
Except of the communication issue, the paper also focuses to the importance of laboratory teaching chemistry and science in general. It is proposed that students should participate in the design of the experiment and subsequently perform the experiment on their own, collect data and analyze the data. In addition, students should be given the opportunity to express their views and compare them with the ones of their classmates, and also to discuss what they did and thought of during the experimental activity. In general, the student should participate actively in the process and not just execute the specific steps of a ready made “recipe”.

Date: 2013.05.24

Posted by Ioanna Karachaliou (Greece)

Message: This paper refers to the training of teachers who teach science courses in primary and secondary education in Italy. Chemistry teachers are presented as good masters of the content but with limited ability for attracting student interest by applying attractive and original teaching methods. This is mostly attributed to the lack of suitable skills by the teachers which is related to their inadequate training both pre and in-service.
The teacher training programs in Italy aim at the improvement of the level of scientific knowledge of the students via the improvement of the teaching methods employed. They are however sporadic (not systematic) and not obligatory.
The paper authors give special emphasis to the issue of effective student-teacher communication during the teaching process and to the issue of the correct application of the laboratory teaching approach. Both themes are very important in chemistry teaching: the language employed so that the student understands the message that the teacher wants to transfer is of central importance especially if one takes into account the need to connect the miscroscopic explanation with the mascroscopic reality; the laboratory approach is also of central importance and has to be treated not as a “recipe application” but as a method for finding solutions to problems via experiment design, data collection and analysis by the students themselves. In addition, the laboratory should provide the opportunity for discussion and exchange of opinions between the students who need to learn to work in small groups.
The paper does not make reference to innovative approaches to chemistry teaching, neither to the use of ICT.
In conclusion, it is proposed that there is a requirement for the establishment of teacher training centers, whose staff will be consisted of experts in curriculum design and didactics, pedagogy and psychology, and which will be continuously updated.

Date: 2013.05.22

Posted by Milena Kirova (Bulgaria)

Message: The paper emphasizes three aspects related to science teacher training. Three specific and synergic teacher skills’ domains are described in brief in the first part. The authors underline their opinion of insufficient pre-service chemistry/science teacher training on these skills.
The in-service training of science teachers for primary and secondary school, provided by three different projects in Italy, is presented in the second part of the paper. The activities of the national project “Teaching Experimental Sciences” (ISS) are very important. Primary science education is an essential part of the development of students’ interests in science. I find that the action research and the collaboration with colleagues and experts is necessary and very useful for the professional development of in-service teachers.
Planning and production of new tools for a more efficacious teaching of chemistry are part of the results of the national project “Scientific Degrees Plan” (PLS), addressed to upper secondary school. The project aims to increase students’ scientific motivation not only by improving teacher skills, but also by involving students in practical activities.
The national program ‘PON Science Education’ is described in brief. Its blended training model (activities in presence and on-line) provides opportunities for improvement of teachers’ ICT skills, which are important for teachers’ professional progress.
The activities in these three projects are useful and applicable for in-service teacher training in different countries.
The third part of the paper is focused on two problems of chemistry education: the problem of communication and that of the use of laboratorial approach in science and chemistry education. Communication is discussed in three main contents: the language, the requisites, and the students’ interest and motivation. The authors suggest an interesting point of view and means for overcoming learners’ difficulties.
The laboratorial approach is a well-known and very useful tool for development of the students’ cognitive autonomy. Its main operative elements are presented in the paper, but examples of its application in chemistry education would be more useful for teacher training.
The paper offers interesting and useful information for educators and policy makers in the field of science education.

Date: 2013.05.19

Posted by Tsechpenakis Anastasios (Greece)

Message: The authors of the paper present the current situations of in service training of science teachers in Italy.
The reader could divide the paper into two parts. The first part, deals with a thorough presentation of the current situation in Italy, concerning the in service training of science teachers.
Although the authors suggest that the in service training of the science teachers in Italy is insufficient, nevertheless, at the moment three different in service training programs are “on the air”!!! The main problem with these three programs, is that they are sporadic and not compulsory for all science teachers. The striking point of these three programs is the interaction between school teachers and university researchers. All programs are financed by the Italian Ministry of Education. The first training program (Teaching Experimental Sciences), addresses teachers of primary school and of the two first classes of secondary school. The other two programs (Scientific Degrees’ Plan and National Program of Science Education) address the teachers of upper secondary school. The great improvement of scientific literacy as a result of these programs, has led to the year after year renovation of their financing.
At the second part of this paper the authors deal with the two major problems about science education. The authors identify the insufficient communication between school teachers and students as a major problem when it comes to understanding science. Science language, ability to understand what is proposed and motivation constitute different aspects of the communicational problem.
The other problem about science teaching involves the laboratory approach. Being in a laboratory or presenting an experimental exercise, does not “do the trick” unless the students are actually involved. The science teachers must understand that it is another thing the explanation of a phenomenon and another its description. One great suggestion (concerning the students’ involvement) is about the individual written work of each pupil after the experimental work. After that, pupils of each group compare the individual answers provided and try to reach a unique shared answer for the group. In this way, everyone is involved in the final result of each group. Finally a representative of each group presents the findings to the class.
As a conclusion, the reader understands that from 2005, Italy has started to implement some national in service training programs for science teachers, that provide so far satisfactory results. Although there is a need for these programs to become compulsory for every science teacher, yet it is a promising beginning.

Date: 2013.05.07

Posted by Angela Gammell (Ireland)

Message: This paper describes and discusses various aspects of in-service training of science teachers in Italy. It describes the in-service programs available, the benefits of suitable experimental work and the need for ongoing and continuously updated in-service training that is available on a national basis.
Low scientific literacy levels, a crisis in technical and professional schools and the poor image of chemistry as a school subject (difficult and boring) were the motivating reasons for the authors to examine this topic. The poor image of chemistry was attributed to the inability of teachers to present abstract concepts in an interesting and relevant way rather than a lack of expertise in the field and so the training given to teachers was examined. The type of language used by teachers is mentioned as a barrier to effective learning as is material that does not engage the interest of the student. The fact that many teachers had not been trained to think critically or in reflective practice meant that any misconceptions held by the teachers may well be passed onto their own students. Such problems could be addressed through inservice training.
In-service training programs called ISS and PLS which involved teachers in designing, testing and refining new practices and methodologies in collaboration with university researchers / other experts were seen as effective and successful. Continued funding from the Ministry of Education was given as proof of this. Another program called PON set out to improve the quality of science teaching and hence of learning. It is part of a larger program dedicated to the training of teachers. It sets out to provide and promote the use of innovative methodologies and technologies.
The common thread throughout all three programs was the need to provide innovative materials relevant to and in language appropriate to the student. The authors recommend the use of experimental work where students are involved in the design of the experiment, carrying out the experiment followed by analysis and presentation of the results. This enhances the ability of the student to express their point of view and to reflect on their own learning through comparison with other students’ work. The authors point out that it is important that both teacher and student can differentiate between describing a phenomenon and explaining the phenomenon.
The overall conclusion is that the inservice training available is of a good quality but is sporadic and not sufficiently structured. It recommends the setting up of interdisciplinary centres across the country for both initial and inservice training. These centres should offer up to date training to teachers of all levels. While no facts or figures are given regarding the impact of these inservice programs on the image or uptake of chemistry specifically its conclusions as to the need for continuous good quality inservice training cannot be faulted.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.

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