Lifelong Learning Programme

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PARSEL (Popularity and Relevance of Science Education for Science Literacy)
Consortium of 9 partners from 8 European Countries (University of Ioannina, University of Lisbon, ICASE London, Free University of Berlin, IPN Kiel, University of Tartu, Weizmann Institute Rehovot, Lund University, University of Southern Denmark Odense)
Downloadable material, Teaching modules
Medium, Advanced
Cooperative learning, Peer education, Experiential learning
Fundamental Chemistry, Life Chemistry, Materials Science, Food Science, Health Science, Industrial Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry
Lower Secondary School, Upper Secondary School
Prerequisites: This teaching resource is a collection of files in pdf format and therefore has no special prerequisites.

Contents: Each teaching module/material is composed of the following basic elements: a) a title that describes adequately the proposed teaching activity, b) a list of the learning objectives and competences (to be acquired), c) a descriptive list of suggested student activities in each lesson, d) a teaching guide (often accompanied by teaching notes) offering detailed suggestions for the teaching sequence and e) a list of suitable assessment strategies allowing feedback on the competences that should be acquired.
There exist a total of 54 teaching modules categorized in Chemistry (27), Biology (6), Physics, Science (7) and Mathematics. Most of the modules in Biology and Science are also related to Chemistry. All modules are available in English. 11 modules related to Chemistry are available in Greek and some are available also in Portuguese.

Aims: The modules aim in making the students engage in the analytical/scientific way of thinking via cooperative and inquiry based learning.
The modules are designed to bring out the connection of chemistry with real life phenomena and in many cases present in everyday life. In this way, the teachers are helped to make chemistry teaching more appealing and chemistry itself a popular subject among students. As noted by the developers of PARSEL, the material “is geared to promote learning for responsible citizenry” and for these reasons all modules have “a society orientation using words/situations/graphics familiar to students”.

Task Description and use in class: The modules give specific directions to the students on the experimental and other tasks they should perform in the class/laboratory in order to reach to a conclusion (and acquire new knowledge) via critical thinking and inquiry by working in small teams (2-4 people). In several cases, students are required to do part of the experimental project at home by using easy to find and safe to use materials. Students have to write short reports on their results and/or make short in-class presentations. They are also encouraged to discuss either within the working team or when interacting with other teams or with the teacher, on all issues of concern. The teacher is given directions on how to help students organize their activities and collaborate. The teacher acts mostly as a moderator in the overall process. The module provides also a list of assessment criteria and methods that are easy to use by the teacher.
The teaching modules produced in the PARSEL project are of excellent quality from the point of view of scientific reliability as well as for their pedagogic value. More specifically, the modules provide teachers with an excellent tool for making chemistry an appealing and popular course among students by implementing in a real classroom the inquiry-based teaching approach and by bringing out the “social aspect” of chemistry ie its constant presence and influence of numerous aspects of everyday life.
In fact, recent scientific research has shown that students that have been taught chemistry via the use of the PARSEL modules increase significantly their ability for logical/analytical thinking and more easily assimilate the chemistry concepts.
It should be noted however, that the implementation of the PARSEL modules requires a rather radical change in the attitude teachers have regarding their role in the classroom. The modules adopt a “student-centered” learning approach in which the teacher acts as the moderator. It is possible that (for most teachers) a period of teacher training is required before the teachers are able to successfully implement the new teaching method.
We believe that the most important positive impact of the proposed teaching modules is that students are encouraged to approach all everyday life situations with the scientific approach.
TEI of Ionian Islands

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.02.02

Posted by Jana Žigmundová (Slovakia)

Message: An international project PARSEL which had been implemented in 2006 – 2009 – Popularity and Importance of Science in Education of Scientific Literacy. It is a very interesting project because it shows us a way to popularity and importance of science educationg with respect to development of basic scientific literacy . Modules developed within this project are sets of teaching strategies for mediation of access to science through social and ethic problems. This modules also point out its high potential and value for education of scientific subjects. As with other resources mentioned in the project there is an important question and it is how much it can raise an interest of students in studying chemistry and how much it can help them to understand chemistry. Many modules deal with more subjects at the same time. My opinion is that this project is very helpful for searching and illustrating of possibilities of connections between school and an outside world. Project also shows us that eventhough is chemistry and other scientific subjects taught in school they can be connected with everyday life, but of course this requires an active approach also from students.

Date: 2012.10.03

Posted by Anna Pitto (Italy)

Message: The resource, also interesting because produced by 9 partners from 8 different countries, provides a wide range of teaching modules in form of pdf documents.
In my opinion, for a teacher it is certainly useful to have a list of modules very nourished and well separated, searchable by subject (math, physics, biology, chemistry, science) or class level (from grade 6 to 12);
Many of the proposed modules would be interesting to be tested in class: all of them start from everyday life, raise questions to children, offer activities (sometimes laboratory experiences, sometimes literature searches, etc.) to search for answers. The modules are to work in groups, sometimes with something to do at home and at the end generally there is a whole class discussion time. The teacher plays the role of coordinator of the groups.
Certainly the tools are well structured and can be used to increase the interest of students:
- all the topics in chemistry are offered starting from daily matters
- they propose a cooperative work, so students have to be an active role
- in addition to chemistry, there are also other scientific subjects, and many modules that deal with content involving two or more subjects;
I think the resource is useful to show student the link between "school" and "world": the single matter (chemistry) studied at school in a theoretical way is totally unrelated to the real life, but maybe two or three subjects dealt in an active way may shoe the concrete aspect of chemistry.

The resource is innovative. All activities require students to play an active role and not just to listen.
This is not a resource that a student can use independently, because the tasks have to be done with their classmates and with the guidance of the teacher, but I think it can provide a lot of help in terms of motivation, more than many other resources that can be exploited autonomously online.

Date: 2012.09.04

Posted by Carla Morais (Portugal)

Message: Is the teaching resource described useful for you? Why?
Expeditious analysis of the acronym PARSEL - Popularity And Relevance of Science Education for Scientific Literacy – shows the importance of this European Project, whose development took place between 2006 and 2009, given the popularity and relevance of science education, always with a view to developing a solid scientific literacy. PARSEL modules, developed under this project are a set of teaching strategies for science approach through social and ethical problems that show a high potential and usefulness for teaching and learning science.

Do you think it can increase the students’ interest toward chemistry? Why?
Do you think it can help the students to understand better and faster? Why?
Research evidence has shown that students feel more captivated and enjoy learning topics associated themselves, the issues of everyday life, considering factors that promote interdisciplinarity and modern applications, which are transferable to the fruitful functioning in society. Being the objective of the PARSEL modules to increase the relevance and popularity of science teaching in the eyes of students, but at the same time guarantee solid student learning headed for enhancing scientific literacy, such modules were designed to be implemented in three stages:
1) At the first stage, the PARSEL module was introduced to the students through relevant and interesting social issue. The relevance was achieved when the students concluded that there was a link between the title and an ordinary society situation, rather than a formal presentation of a series of scientific terms. Teachers certificated that at this stage, all the students had clearly established the relevance of the problem.
2) Then, teachers could apply the Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) strategy in order to guide and involve the students in the process of obtaining the formal learning. Because it was at this stage that the students acquire the so called scientific ideas, teachers took the majority of the teaching time to explore this phase.
3) Third stage closed the circle of the learning module. This last stage was a consolidation phase of the science learning. This was made by transferring the learning achieved to the initial social issue proposed.

Do you think it propose an innovative didactical approach? Why?
The PARSEL modules are extremely facing for contextualized prospects and engaging in real situations and allow teachers to implement approaches based in IBSE. This is an approach where students are involved in their learning, formulate questions, investigate widely and then build new understandings, meanings and knowledge. The knowledge acquired by the students is new to them and can be used to answer questions, to develop a solution to a problem or sustain a position. The IBSE promotes learning through creativity, scientific problem solving and decision-making procedures socio-scientific.

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.