Science Education Research

The main focus of the Science Education research programme is: designing as a pedagogical strategy for concept learning. This focus is elaborated for the different school subjects and for different sub-themes. Apart from this main focus, there is a number of research activities dealing with other relevant topics, such as gamification and the transfer from mathematics to physics learning.

The focus of design for concept learning fits well with the context of a teacher education programme for the individual STEM subjects and some integrated STEM subjects at a university of technology where ample experience in design work is available. It also fits well the current interest in concept learning in the so-called concept-context approach, as design can be considered to be a social practice in which pupils can be involved. Research by, among others, Janet Kolodner has indicated the crucial role of teachers in design-based concept learning. This makes the research topic even more relevant for our teacher education programme. Design situations can be used to evoke cognitive conflicts between pupils preconceptions and scientific concepts (e.g., designing a boat based on incorrect conceptions about sinking and floating will probably lead to sinking boats). Design is also educationally interesting because it can be used for multiple purposes: pupils learn about design, they can apply previously learnt knowledge and also learn new knowledge through the design activity. The core question in the research programme is how design situations can be used effectively for concept learning and also for learning the nature of science and technology.

Most of the research is concerned with secondary education, as this is the school level for which Science Education and Communication educates teachers. There is, however, also a number of research studies that deal with primary education. These studies are done in the context of the Science Hub (Wetenschapsknooppunt) that works on the professionalization of primary teachers for teaching science and technology.

There are relations with the Science Communication research programme, particularly in the topics of professionalization (Caroline Wehrmann) and design of education and communication innovations (Maarten van der Sanden). These will be further exploited in the future.

There is also cooperation with the educational research that takes place in the 4TU Centre of Engineering Education, the Radboud University in Nijmegen and the University of Leiden, all in the Netherlands, and with the Unit of Learning in Engineering Sciences at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden.


Read more on publications by the SEC department: publications SEC.

ENGAGE Project (H2020)

The ENGAGE project is part of the EU Science in society agenda to promote more Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). ENGAGE is about equipping the next generation to participate in scientific issues to change how science is taught. Traditionally students gain an image of science as a body of content, whereas RRI deals with uncertain areas of knowledge, where values and argument matter as much as facts. This shift is hugely challenging. ENGAGE focuses on a more inquiry-based methodology, which gives students  opportunity for self-expression and responsibility for coming to informed decisions.

The ENGAGE professional learning and curriculum development approach goes beyond training events. Its three-stage path will propel teachers in their own inquiry to become expert with RRI: 

  • Adopt,  combines exciting learning materials, online community and online courses and workshops for coaching and feedback.
  • Adapt, offers expert’s toolkit of examples, explanations, anecdotes and activities to help students learn effectively.
  • Transform, provides  open-ended Projects put teachers and students into partnership with practising scientists, to learn about RRI directly.

You can visit the Engage website, register, login and download all the materials and teacher guides. For more info, contact dr. Dury Bayram Jacobs (guest researcher) or read the brochure

Science Education & Communication (SEC)