The future position of the European Research Area obviously depends on successful excellence building. The key competencies needed today are self motivated and self directed learning strategies, team-working and communication skills and above all the ability to differentiate, select, apply and replace information from the immense and daily growing global knowledge base. Excellence building in science has a very central function for successfully positioning Europe in international research activities and for assuring economic progress and wealth.
The plurality of national school systems, didactic traditions and curricula produces a diversity of knowledge levels and skill profiles. Reform and harmonisation programs are being pressed, since it became obvious, that one of the essential factors for the prosperity of the European Economy will be to equip generations of tomorrow with adequate knowledge resources and learning skills.
One very promising model of new learning designs is the model of Research-Education-Cooperation (REC). REC improves the teaching quality in applying up to date didactic approaches and they raise motivation, performance and ownership of the students in a significant way. Research institutions are interested to be part of that collaboration projects and programmes for example because of the close cooperation with schools. To work alongside with the schools may help to attract talented and motivated students.Objectives
The overall aim of Form-it was to contribute to the promotion of interest of young people in science and to qualify them for a critical and complex way of thinking and learning. Form-it focused on:
- Supporting the collaboration among institutions running RECs by setting up a European network of experts in science education and education research.
- Increasing the efficiency of national and European science education strategies by identifying and promoting the success factors of Research and Education Cooperation Projects (RECs) in Europe.
- Raising the awareness for the essential framework conditions for initiating, realising and embedding REC.
- Increasing the commitment of policy-makers and other decision-makers in educational issues by promoting the value of the implementation of REC.
- Supporting the development of joint EU research projects related to "Science and Society" by identifying relevant research questions on Research and Education Cooperation as a new model of science teaching.
Form-it brought together European institutions, initiatives and partners in REC projects with the aim of empowering all those involved. Form-it achieved this by means of three main activities:
- Analysing REC in consortium countries: Based upon a survey in all eight participating EU countries a Catalogue of Good Practice Examples of Research and Education Cooperation was developed. More than 120 participants discussed the concept of quality criteria underlying the good practice examples at the International Conference: "Bridging the Gap between Research and Science Education", Vienna, from 12th-14th March 2008.
- Networking in expert working groups, at workshops and at the International Conference: Networking activities were realised to exchange national experience in science education, to develop a joint strategy for Research and Education Cooperation in Europe and to build up strong partnerships for future cooperation and research in this area.
- Increasing public awareness for excellence in science education: Detailed knowledge on innovative REC activities in Europe was disseminated to encourage the implementation of modern science education.
The essential questions that Form-it dealt with are:
- What general conditions are necessary to provide high-quality cooperation?
- How is collaboration organised? What partnership models exist?
- Why are many projects successful - but others not?