Supports change in the way physics is taught in Romanian schools, from the formal and abstract model to investigation-based learning.
The number of students in science or technology higher education has constantly decreased since 1990. Although the number of students in general exploded in the past 15 years, applications for STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics) represented only 25% of the total in 2011, as opposed to 68% in 1990.
Moreover, academics see that mathematics and science skills have also decreased. International tests also show low performance in secondary education STEM subjects: most students are at or below level 2 (out of 6 possible) in PISA tests.
Among the causes for this lack of performance is the way these subjects are taught in most schools, using abstract concepts and memorization. The students’ interest in these subjects thus decreases, until it disappears completely.
The interest in STEM subjects is a foundation for the further development of knowledge and skills, which are necessary for a successful career in industries connected to technology and innovation. At school and outside of school, STEM education must bring an understanding of scientific concepts and encourage children to be curious and innovative.
The program for “Physics Curriculum Reform” aims at changing the way physics is taught in Romanian schools, from an abstract approach to an inquiry-based method, which is more and more used for teaching STEM all over the world.
In 2011, RAF funded a pilot program to create a first corps of teachers who experimented and supported the new teaching method, so that curricular reform becomes a process that is assumed from within the profession. All throughout the pilot project, lesson plans for the whole physics curriculum were designed, and then tested in classrooms, which led to a significant increase in students’ performances.
The pilot also allowed for the mentoring and training of more than 1,400 teachers to use the new teaching methods.
The current stage of the program supports the initial corps of teachers and those who took part in the pilot program to improve teaching methods and develop techniques, ideas and materials continuously.
The program has two main objectives:
- To consolidate the use of these methods and create a cooperation platform for all of those 2,500 teachers.
- To support the initial corps of teachers to take over responsibility for future development of the program.