Education & Social Work

The SciTeach Centre: A Hub for Innovation and Research in Science Education in Luxembourg

The SciTeach Centre at the University of Luxembourg works with teachers and experts in science education to research innovative approaches to teaching science in the unique educational context of Luxembourg’s primary schools.

Supporting innovative science instruction in primary schools

Internationally there is an acknowledged need for enhanced science teaching that increases the quality of science education at primary school level. Furthermore, it is widely recognised that primary school teachers are often poorly-prepared for teaching science and may lack confidence in their capacity to engage students in science investigations. In Luxembourg, these challenges to primary science teaching are compounded by several structural factors. Firstly, due in part to trilingual schools which focus on teaching children in German, French and Luxembourgish, the percentage of time devoted to teaching science is lower than in neighbouring countries (10% of teaching time at primary level (Andersen, Siry & Hengesch, 2015)). Secondly, the majority of primary school teachers have not studied science since their mid-teens and are therefore often far removed in time from their last opportunity to learn science. Thirdly, the demographics of Luxembourg’s student population are rapidly changing, with current figures indicating that 63% of primary-aged students speak a language other than the languages of instruction at home (MENEJ, 2016). Learning science in a language one is also working to master can cause difficulties, since subject areas such as science are often linked to language proficiencies for reading and writing about science. Furthermore, PISA test results have revealed that, in later years, immigrant students are well behind their Luxembourgish peers in science (Boehm et al., 2015). Fourthly, since the adoption of a national competency-based curriculum (Plan d’études 2011), there has not been a systematic focus on developing curricular materials that support the teaching of these science competencies in ways that address these emerging needs.

The competency-based approach to science education, combined with the changing demographics of Luxembourg’s student population, creates a need for high-quality research-based instructional materials to support primary science teaching, coupled with professional teacher training to support changes in teachers’ delivery methods. 

Involving Luxembourg primary teachers 

To begin to address these issues, the Science Teacher Resource Centre (SciTeach Centre) was opened at the University of Luxembourg’s Belval campus in 2016, thanks to an FNR-funded PSP Flagship grant and the support of the Luxembourg Ministry of Education, Children and Youth and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The initial project’s start-up funding resulted in a resource centre at the university that provides professional development for serving teachers and houses an expanding collection of science teaching materials available for loan to teachers. Teacher training courses are held on campus and designed to provide support for teaching competency-based science to primary-aged students. Participants include both new and experienced teachers as well as student teachers enrolled at the university. Developed by a team of researchers and teachers, the courses are designed to be relevant to the national context and grounded in best practice, with a focus on facilitating competency-based science investigations in multilingual classroom contexts.

A diverse range of research is being conducted through the SciTeach Centre and shared at international conference venues and in internationally relevant research journals. Current projects are examining the use of collaborative methods in teacher training and exploring the use of practice-based science teaching methods when working with children who are not yet proficient in the languages of instruction. 

Visit the SciTeach Centre

Latest News

SciTeach Center expands activity across country

During the first three years, the SciTeach Center has developed a resource collection of science instruction materials, including books and teaching resources (science models, DVDs and kits of classroom materials). The team established collaborations with actors in informal education, teacher education, and science education and serves as a resource for the University’s Bachelor of educational sciences students.

Expansion and digitalisation

The University will continue to fund the activities of the SciTeach Center in the coming years, with support from the national education ministries. In addition, the FNR’s Promoting Science to the Public scheme and the Institut de formation de l’Éducation Nationale (IFEN) are funding the new initiative, Sci2School. This new project will expand the professional workshops of the Center to several strategic locations across the country, especially intended to reach those with less access to on-campus offerings in Belval. Making pedagogical resources for teaching science available online is also a major component of the Sci2School project.

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