3C4Life Policy Seminar at the ESERA 2023 Conference

The ESERA 2023 conference was enriched with a policy seminar titled "Challenges and Opportunities of STEM Education - Bridging Science, Practice, and Policy in Europe," under the 3C4Life Erasmus+ project umbrella. This seminar served as a melting pot, bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, including researchers, Ministry of Education representatives, policymakers, educators, and other individuals passionate about education. The event saw the participation of around 60 attendees, representing various sectors like ministries of education, education-focused companies, academia, and the teaching community.

The symposium had several objectives:

  1. Showcasing best practices from science, practice, and policy that significantly impact STEM education.
  2. Highlighting the role and implementation of career possibilities, collaborative practices, and competence development in STEM education.
  3. Facilitating discussions and reflections on the multifaceted challenges and opportunities within STEM education in Europe.

The seminar unfolded in two distinct parts: the first featuring four insightful speeches and the second part a panel discussion that fostered collaborative dialogue among all stakeholders. The keynote speeches delved into various dimensions of STEM education, as detailed below.

Dr. Monica Baptista's opening speech, "Competence Development in STEM Education: How to Promote Teachers' Learning?" focused on presenting the most effective dimensions in STEM education, drawing from best practices in science, practice, and policy. She elaborated on the Teach4life platform, its sub-dimensions, and its alignment with best practice applications. The speech also highlighted a professional development program in Portugal, emphasizing the enhancement of STEM teachers' competencies and the fruitful collaboration between local administrations and universities in education.

Dr. Antonio Quesada's speech addressed the data collection tools developed within the 3C4Life project, shedding light on the research instruments employed and the insights gathered from teachers on various aspects such as platform usage, career motivation, and collaborative practices. The findings revealed diverse perceptions across different countries, highlighting the influence of current implementations on factors like career knowledge and self-efficacy. The results suggested that policies aimed at increasing teachers' career knowledge and supporting their self-efficacy can significantly impact their professional growth and collaboration.

Dr. Gökhan Kaya, in his speech "Being a STEM Teacher as a Career Choice," explored the myriad factors influencing individuals to pursue a career in STEM teaching. Drawing from career videos on the Teach4life platform, he traced the journey from early childhood influences through school life, motivation, and professional experiences, outlining a comprehensive picture of the factors contributing to the decision to become a STEM teacher. He emphasized the need for policies fostering early childhood engagement, STEM education's attractiveness, and support for teachers to ensure a robust pipeline of STEM educators in Europe.

Brett Langenberg, in his talk "Prospect of Career Possibilities, Collaborative Practices and Competence Development," offered an external perspective on the project and the seminar. He discussed the learnings from teachers over the past five years, the challenges they face, the support they require, and the importance of incentive schemes and integrated career guidance in sustaining such educational platforms.

The panel session, initiated by Agueda Gras-Velazquez, revolved around three pivotal points concerning STEM teaching policy, addressing the general perception of STEM careers, strategies to retain teachers in the profession, and the quest for quality educators. The discussion further delved into various topics, including the participation of teachers in training programs, stereotypes surrounding teacher development, the relevance of CPD material, the application of research findings at various administrative levels, challenges faced by stakeholders, the role of unstructured learning environments, and the overall impact and outcomes of the initiatives discussed.

As the policy seminar concluded, it underscored the multifaceted landscape of STEM education in Europe, touching upon the career trajectories of STEM teachers, the hurdles they encounter, and the potential of project tools in addressing these challenges. The seminar was recorded, and the insights shared can be revisited at the provided YouTube link: https://youtu.be/LqFBrkhbqAs.