- HOW TO INTEGRATE RRI IN SECONDARY EDUCATION
- HOW TO INCORPORATE RRI IN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
- HOW TO INCORPORATE RRI IN SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT ORGANISATIONS
- HOW TO INTRODUCE RRI AT SCHOOL THROUGH PROJECT- AND INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING IN STEM
- HOW TO CO-CREATE COMMUNITY-BASED PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH
- HOW TO EMBED RRI IN CITIZEN SCIENCE
How to Introduce RRI at school through project- and inquiry-based learning in STEM
Involving students and teachers in reflecting on the role of research and innovation (R&I) fosters sustainable interactions between schools, researchers, industry, and civil society organisations. In addition, integrating Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles in STEM teaching (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) could make STEM careers more attractive to young students and help them acquire scientific literacy and key STEM skills. Learning such skills can help students better understand science and innovation and their relations with different aspects of society and can prepare students to take part in decision-making processes that affect their future societies.
In this sense, innovative science pedagogical methods –such as project- and inquiry-based learning, structured research-like school projects, and reflections on key socio-scientific issues (SSI) and ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA)– support the introduction of RRI in schools. Thus, the integration of these methods into the socio-scientific inquiry-based learning (SSIBL) approach represents an opportunity to introduce RRI into science education at primary and secondary schools, as proposed in the PARRISE project's best practices.
RRI and science education agenda in EU: Where are we?
The European Commission’s Science with and for Society (SwafS) programme promotes a more effective connection between science and society and outlines the fundamental role of science education in supporting young people’s awareness and involvement. The report Science Education for Responsible Citizenship goes on to present the link between education and RRI. It identifies key aspects to helping citizens acquire the knowledge of and about science they need to participate actively and responsibly in, with and for society. For example, recommendation 4.5 outlines ways to promote RRI and increase public understanding of and involvement in science.
Still, the Scientix project’s comparative analysis on efforts to increase student interest in STEM in Europe indicates that more needs to be done to raise awareness about RRI, as less than 15% of European countries have implemented RRI in school education. This is cause for concern because the ASPIRES project’s report Young People’s Science and Career Aspirations, Age 10–14, which outlines key aspects about how young people’s aspirations develop, particularly regarding science-related careers, notes that ‘science capital’, including knowledge of how science works, is a key element in aspirations for careers in science.
ELSA, SSI and scientific inquiry at school
With the previous framework in mind, introducing reflection on SSI and ELSA, as well as scientific inquiry activities and the SSIBL approach in STEM classes, supports the development of scientific literacy and the acquisition of key skills for STEM, such as inquiry and critical thinking skills. These practices can be easily integrated into any type of school activity. Some examples are including short group discussions in each science lesson, co-designing and playing debate games, and reflecting on students’ experimental processes in the lab.
The RRI Toolkit offers a range of inspiring resources for designing and implementing class activities, such as those offered by Xplore Health, which aim to facilitate information about R&I and promote reflexivity about ELSA. Resources for games and debates include The Systems Thinking Playbook for Climate Change, which offers a toolkit with interactive games for use by teachers and students in informal and formal learning contexts, and the NanOpinion project's discussion game about nanotechnology, which can be adapted to other STEM subjects.
Along these lines, the handbook for teachers “RRI in practice for schools” is a great tool to help educators design and implement activities that integrate these and other RRI practices in everyday school activities.
Making it real: Project- and inquiry-based learning
Developing school projects can foster a deeper understanding of real world processes and the acquisition of competence and skills related to all RRI dimensions. While organising project teams, teachers can trigger students’ critical reflection on gender balance and social inclusion as well as the diversity in expertise needed to tackle the different tasks and roles of a real context and the value that collaboration with external stakeholders can bring to a scientific project.
Anticipation and reflection at this stage can be supported by reflecting on a working group’s values, identifying its assumptions, and discussing how these are related and how they may affect processes and school activities. An interesting case study, which includes the students’ points of view, is described in the article 20 Tips for High-school Students Engaging in Research with Scientists. Also see TWIST’s teachers guide One Size Fits All? Enhancing Gender Awareness in Teaching, which offers guidelines and tips on dealing with gender preconceptions in the teaching practice.
RRI principles can also be strongly connected with inquiry-based activities. While identifying the research question for a science project, diversity and inclusion can be supported through group consultation and in the way knowledge is organised and generated with and interdisciplinary perspective. In that context, SiS Catalyst offers an interesting perspective on how to empower children as agents of change.
Here, anticipation and reflection can be addressed by identifying emerging needs and through reflection on whether the outcomes might be ethically acceptable, sustainable and socially desirable. Moreover, practices that simulate real research contexts can be integrated in designing and carrying out experiments. See the following for inspiration:
The ENGAGE project proposes resources (lessons, worksheets, etc.) focused on inquiry-based methodology.
The inGenious database collects tested practices focusing on how industry–school cooperative initiatives can stimulate students’ interest in STEM education and careers.
The Go-Lab portal offers opportunities to conduct inquiry-oriented activities for scientific problem solving, through a wide range of experimental protocols and virtual labs as well as tools for designing inquiry-based learning spaces.