Mind the gap

Mind the Gap project was an EU supported project implemented within the Seventh Framework Programme in the Science in Society panel. The aim of Mind the Gap project was to improve the way secondary school science is taught in European schools by bridging the gap between theory and practice in inquiry-based science teaching (IBST).

The participating institutes were:

  • University of Oslo, Norway - project leader
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • University of Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Université Rennes2 - Haure Bretagne, France
  • Leibniz Institute for Science Education at the university of Kiel
  • Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany
  • Hungarian Research Teachers Association

What is IBST?

Generally, inquiry-based science teaching may be characterised by activities that pay attention to engaging students in:

(i)                 authentic and problem based learning activities where there may not be a correct answer
(ii)               a certain amount of experimental procedures, experiments and "hands on" activities, including searching for information
(iii)             self regulated learning sequences where student autonomy is emphasised
(iv)             discursive argumentation and communication with peers ("talking science")

These four dimensions of inquiry-based science teaching (i) problem based learning, (ii) experiments and "hands on" activities, (iii) students autonomy and active involvement and, (iv) argumentative communication and dialogues, define the field of IBST of today.

What gaps to mind?

The Mind the Gap network aimed to examine:

  • The gap between theory and practice in inquiry based science
  • The gap between teaching and learning
  • The gap between research, policy and practice
  • The gap between educational policies and in-service training
  • The gap between instructional designs and preferable tools
  • The gap between cognitive demands and available tools
  • The gap between the culture of science and marginalised groups (including girls)
 …as they are related to the use of inquiry-based science teaching in secondary science.

How to bridge them?

The science educators participating in the Mind the Gap network are active researchers related to IBST and science teaching. Their accumulated expertise included research and development in the areas of modern classroom video studies in science, ICT based curriculum (Viten and PEGASE), teacher professional development using IBST (SINUS), the use of argumentation in science teaching (including teaching packages), studies of scientific literacy and citizenship and history of science. The members of the network have been working closely with multiple players in their own countries and internationally in science education, including national science curriculum centres, teacher educators, researchers, teachers, teacher organisations and policy makers. They intended to draw upon these extended networks to help us understand IBST on the one hand, and disseminate findings and results back on the other hand.

 The project's various products such as

  • teaching resources available online and also in booklets to promote good practices in IBST
  • online concept maps comparing approaches to scientific literacy in national policy documents illuminated by short videoclips from real life classroom situations

and supporting events such as

  • seminars (Bristol, Lyon, Budapest)
  • conference symposia, talks and workshops (amongst others at ESERA, Istanbul, 2009)

contributed to finding possible ways that can help to find solutions that may bridge the gaps described above.