Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Teaching Chemistry about 'Stevia' - A Case of Cooperative Curriculum Innovation within PROFILES in Germany

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Teaching Chemistry about 'Stevia' - A Case of Cooperative Curriculum Innovation within PROFILES in Germany

Article excerpt

Introduction

One of the central foci of activity in the PROFILES-project at the Uni- versity of Bremen is to associate with school reform in the State of Bremen (one of the 16 states making up Germany) in the field of science education. In 2010, the State of Bremen implemented a school reform through the establish- ment of a new type of secondary comprehensive school: the Oberschule. In the Oberschule, science in the lower grades of secondary education (grades 5-8, age range 10-15) combines the previously independent disciplines of chemistry, biology and physics into one subject, namely 'science'. At present, textbooks and official curriculum materials for teaching integrated science following the new syllabus are still unavailable. This means that since 2011, the science teachers in the State of Bremen have been developing their own curriculum materials for their teaching requirements.

Unfortunately, most science teachers in Bremen are not trained in more than one of the science subjects, such as biology, chemistry and physics. The teachers feel they themselves are not particularly competent and self-confident enough in developing integrated science curriculum materials, especially in the areas where they consider themselves being non-experts. The University of Bre- men, therefore, took the initiative to help science teachers in Bremen in their reform and curriculum implementation efforts within the PROFILES project (Schindler et al., 2014). PROFILES-Bremen assists the reform by forming net- works of teachers and helping them in the development of their curricula and teaching practices in accordance with the philosophy of PROFILES (Bolte et al., 2011). The joint curriculum development aims on contributing to teachers' continuous professional development. It takes into focus promoting teacher's self - efficacy in different identified educational areas, including the implemen- tation of socio-scientific issues-based science education, the promotion of in- quiry learning, and fostering general educational skill development (Bolte et al., 2012; Holbrook & Rannikmäe, 2012).

The central focus of the supporting activities of PROFILES-Bremen is the collaborative curriculum development of teaching and learning modules within teachers' networks. The design and developmental process is follow- ing the model of Participatory Action Research in science education as pro- posed by Eilks and Ralle (2002). With regard to the development of materials, the teachers meet regularly once a month in small groups (3 to 8 teachers per group) accompanied by researchers and curriculum experts from the Univer- sity of Bremen. Five to six teaching and learning modules are conceived, tested and cyclically refined per year. The materials are distributed via a local website and in-service teacher training that all PROFILES teachers have access to and which are then available to be implemented by them in their classes. One exem- plary case is the development of a module on sugar and sweeteners, integrating a newly developed pedagogy on incorporating advertising in science education.

Background and framework for the curriculum design

Within the PROFILES project a group of teachers suggested developing a teaching and learning module aiming at students' learning about different sweeteners (sugar, sugar-substitutes and artificial sweeteners, e.g. xylotol, iso- malt, cyclamate/saccharin and aspartame) and their respective properties. The module was also suggested to focus the debate on the socio-scientific issues of healthy nutrition and the influence of advertising on student behavior. Sugar gives a lot of calories, having a calorific value of 17 kJ/g. There are alternatives to sugar, such as sugar substitutes, artificial and natural sweeteners, with lower calorific values. There are differences between sweeteners, for example in the calorific value, properties and intensity of sweetness. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, acesulfame k, cyclamate, or saccharin, have practically no calorif- ic value, while sugar-substitutes have a calorific value around 8-10 kJ/g. …

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