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Euro­pean Commis­sion
School Directors, Researchers, Teachers, Policy Makers
Over 10 pages
Concerned about the declining interest of young generations in science studies, Michel Rocard, former prime minister of France and MEP, was called to chair a research group addressing this issue. The results of the study, started in 2006, highlighted that in order to invert the trend there is a need to radically change science teaching models. As this challenge nowadays is getting even more topical, it may be of use to refresh the main findings and recommendations the Rocard report, entitled "Science Education NOW: A Renewed Pedagogy for the Future of Europe" , pointed out.

Main findings

- A reversal of school science-teaching pedagogy from mainly deductive to inquiry-based methods provides the means to increase interest in science.

- Renewed school’s science-teaching pedagogy based on IBSE provides increased opportunities for cooperation between actors in the formal and informal arenas.

- Teachers are key players in the renewal of science education. Among other methods, being part of a network allows them to improve the quality of their teaching and supports their motivation.

- In Europe, these crucial components of renewal of science teaching practices are being promoted by two innovative initiatives, “Pollen” and “Sinus-Transfer”, that are proving themselves capable of increasing children’s interest and attainments in science. With some adaptation these initiatives could be implemented effectively on a scale that would have the desired impact.


- Recommendation 1:
Because Europe’s future is at stake decision-makers must demand action on improving science education from the bodies responsible for implementing change at local, regional, national and European Union level.

- Recommendation 2:
Improvements in science education should be brought about through new forms of pedagogy: the introduction of inquiry-based approaches in schools, actions for teachers training to IBSE, and the development of teachers’ networks should be actively promoted and supported.

- Recommendation 3:
Specific attention should be given to raising the participation of girls in key school science subjects and to increasing their self-confidence in science.

- Recommendation 4:
Measures should be introduced to promote the participation of cities and the local community in the renewal of science education in collaborative actions at the European level aimed at accelerating the pace of change through the sharing of know-how.

- Recommendation 5:
The articulation between national activities and those funded at the European level must be improved and the opportunities for enhanced support through the instruments of the Framework Programme and the programmes in the area of education and culture to initiatives such as Pollenand Sinus-Transfer should be created. The necessary level of support offered under the Science in Society (SIS) part of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development is estimated to be around 60 million euros over the next 6 years.

- Recommendation 6:
A European Science Education Advisory Board involving representatives of all stakeholders, should be established and supported by the European Commission within the Science in Society framework.
The importance of the present document lies in the research carried out by a group of expertise from the European Commission to find out solutions to the problem of the increasing decrease of students in the subjects of science and maths observed in Europe in the recent years. The aim of this group of expertise from the European Commission was to answer the following questions: “Can this situation be modified? ¿Can we find concrete examples of efficient measures?
In their research, this group of expertise noticed there is a general decrease in the interest for science, and that it’s probably due to the way it is tough. From this point, they proposed several recommendations which should be taken into account in order to increase the motivation of our pupils. Among the most important we can highlight the following points: a) rather than focusing on the withholding of information the teaching of science should mainly concentrate on concepts and methods b) the participation of women the field of science should also be more considered.
In the report they confirm that science based on research methods offers greater options of cooperation as well as the fact that teachers play a crucial role in the process. Moreover, there are two initiatives which are achieving an increasing interest and better results on the part of science students: Pollen, which promotes pedagogical techniques based on the research, and Sinus Transfer, which focuses on an experimental approach and stresses the teachers’ professional development. Among the common aspects of both projects special attention is given to the development of networks of teachers.
Finally, the document highlights the importance of the involvement of local administrations to speed up the process of change as well as the creation of a European Consulting Committee on Scientific Education, with the participation of every part involved in the teaching process, in order to study and support any new initiative that may arise in the near future.
CECE – Spanish Confederation of Education and Training Centre

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.10.13

Posted by I. Morales (Spain)

Message: This document is essential to everybody who wishes to learn about the problems of science education in Europe. In this report we can read which are the problems in chemistry and science teaching: lack of interest of students and the need of renewal of science education. This document shows us that the correct way to solve the lack of interest in the scholar science: inquiry-based methods, teachers developing of teacher skills, teachers working together in networks, and the governments support to Science Education. The report notes that many initiatives in Europe actively contribute to renewal in Science Education. Like Polen or Sinus Transfer.The document shows aspects of Sciences teaching that can be really useful for Secondary teachers and some of the possible solutions including a description of necessary teaching approaches. From my point of view, this document is interesting and relevant and it can enrich our view of the teaching of Sciences.

Date: 2012.10.03

Posted by Caterina Bignone (Italy)

Message: This paper shows the European Commission report (Michael Rocard, 2007) about the analysis of the decay of interest for scientific subjects in young European students.
The Rocard report is important, even if it is not with particular reference to chemistry, because it:
Underlines the problem of decay of interest for scientific subjects into the European context;
Underlines possible consequences;
Underlines possible causes;
Underlines possible solutions;
Underlines possible recommendations to carry them out;
Underlines solutions already carried out.
This paper explains the causes for students’ lack of motivation not to study chemistry in particular, but to study scientific subjects more in general, like: improper teaching methodology, incomplete teachers’ scientific background in primary schools in particular, frequently more interest given to contents then to notions and methods, excessive quantity of contents and too much abstracts and lacking collaboration between teachers. All these causes concern the teaching process and I believe that will be useful to evaluate the students’ lack of motivation to study chemistry but also to motivate teachers and experts to adopt better teaching methodology to motivate students.
The paper reports some projects about experiences in motivating students to study scientific subjects in general for example:
Pollen&Sinus – Transfer: already successfully tested in Europe
IBSE – Inquiry-Based Science Education and PBL – Problem-based Learning: where the teaching methodology is based on the investigation that encourage questions, a better understood of phenomena and problem solving.
These methods are daily relevant in teaching practice. IBSE methodology, in particular, results more demanding but on the other side more satisfying for teachers, better and more interesting for students.

Date: 2012.09.11

Posted by Brian Dillon (Ireland)

Message: This report highlights an alarming decline of interest among young people in science and mathematics in recent years. It expresses concern that if this decline is not reversed the consequences for Europe will be an inability to innovate and a lack of quality in research. The European Commission has in this study asked an expert group to look at a cross-section of initiatives and to draw from them elements of good practice which could bring about a radical change in young people’s interest in science studies.
Though there is an acceptance that the reasons for this lack of interest are complex there is firm evidence to indicate a connection between attitudes towards science and the way science is taught. The Eurobaromter Study 2005 reports that only 15% of Europeans are satisfied with the quality of science classes in school. It believes that traditional formal science education can stifle the natural curiosity of young children. It also notes that many primary school teachers lack knowledge and self-confidence in science and take a traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach rather than inquiry based methods that require deeper science understanding. Another report “Europe Needs More Scientists” comes to similar conclusion. It concludes that Science Education is failing because teaching is too abstract, without sufficient time to experiment, observe or interpret.
The report notes that many initiatives in Europe actively contribute to renewal in Science Education. These are usually small-scale relying on a combination of dynamic teacher, working in tandem with parents, companies, scientists, researchers and university students. As these projects rely on the motivation and goodwill of a few individuals, they haven’t the ability to scale up due to budgetary pressures, and the risks to their permanence and sustainability are high.
I agree with the reports view that primary school corresponds to the time when children have the strongest sense of natural curiosity and it is the right time to first tackle deficiencies in science education.
Crucial to any change are teachers skills and I support the recommendation to further develop teachers’ skills in pedagogy and content.
Initiatives that include a large diversity of practices in science teaching are welcome, in particular problem-based inquiry process, hands-on activities, teamwork and independent work on open-ended questions.
What is most assuring are examples of good practice (Pollen, Sinus-Transfer) which show that improved practice is not solely about complicated experiments involving costly equipment. Inquiry-based science education (IBSE) would face serious hurdles if educators were to believe that it was dependent on a having a level of resources which may not exist in the classroom.

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.