Results

Pilot studies were conducted in six different countries, each having different cultures in science, science education and school systems. There are similarities in results – independent of country cultures and of school systems – and differences.

POPBL leads to Increased Motivation of Pupils and Teachers

POPBL is able to develop the interest of pupils for science subjects. Within the pilot study the measured interest increased – especially if qualitative data is regarded.

An increase of interest towards science careers by POPBL in school science teaching can be expected but not be proved by just one pilot teaching experiment. The decision of the pupils is also influenced by other than school teaching factors alone which has to be kept in mind.

Pupils Learn Science Subjects More Easily with POPBL

Factual knowledge in science, science know-how and methods (scientific working and thinking that leads to transfer knowledge and to application) and additional skills and capabilities (group work, social effects, communication and self management) are fostered by POPBL, but in different ways:

In most classes the POPBL method led to – surprisingly – good learning results, often to more higher factual knowledge increase as in the control group. This effect was even higher for know-how acquisition, measured by transfer know-how.

It seems that there are gender differences and that girls tend to profit more from POPBL teaching as compared to traditional teaching – significantly at least when they are younger (Germany) and in general when they were pupils in one of the Spanish (Basque) schools. In some cases, boys seem to take more advantage of POPBL for transfer questions.

The Transition to Labour Market and University with POPBL Science Teaching Seems to be Eased

As POPBL works with “real life” projects and project management (adapted to pupils) – it is expected that there should be an inherent connection to labour markets. Additionally, the real life problems the pupils work on will narrow the gap between school and real working life. Furthermore, the project organizations allows a relatively easy integration of industry partners or other labour market members.In the qualitative data – and especially from the countries where company visits were integrated – an increase of interest in science jobs was reported.

Concerning the interest of “working in the field of science”, the pupils´ questionnaires did not return distinct answers. The interviews showed, however, that the opinions of pupils in the age bracket of 16 to 18 are already fixed, so POPBL methods must be begun at an early stage if it is to have an influence on long lasting interests.

Pupils Learn Science Subjects More Easily with POPBL

Factual knowledge in science, science know-how and methods (scientific working and thinking that leads to transfer knowledge and to application) and additional skills and capabilities (group work, social effects, communication and self management) are fostered by POPBL, but in different ways:

In most classes the POPBL method led to – surprisingly – good learning results, often to more higher factual knowledge increase as in the control group. This effect was even higher for know-how acquisition, measured by transfer know-how.

It seems that there are gender differences and that girls tend to profit more from POPBL teaching as compared to traditional teaching – significantly at least when they are younger (Germany) and in general when they were pupils in one of the Spanish (Basque) schools. In some cases, boys seem to take more advantage of POPBL for transfer questions.

Cultural Differences and POPBL Science Teaching

Science teachings show different traditions in each pilot study country. Data gained in the pilot study ascertain the cultural component that is still sizeable in POPBL teaching, which is itself supposed to be culture fair.

In all countries conducting the project, it appears that science teaching is mainly performed by using the traditional frontal teaching. Teachers from all countries described a change process in their teaching role from instructor to tutor, who facilitates learning and provided information „just in time“.

A cultural difference appears to be the role of girls in science subjects, as previously described.

A further cultural difference is apparent in the attitude of pupils towards cooperation in group learning: While more cooperative cultures, such as Finland, Denmark or Spain-BasqueCountry had had good experiences with groups of pupils mixed in achievement level (i.e. the stronger pupils helping the weaker ones within the groups), more competitive school cultures, such as to be found for example in Germany, had problems with the integration of weaker pupils and the satisfying of the stronger. In particular, fast-learning pupils regarded the methodology as too slow for their tastes – certainly considering their conscious learning processes more, and disregarding unconscious learning as well as peer teaching learning processes.

In some countries on the contrary, such as Finland and Denmark, the high achievers clearly knew that they also benefit from the teaching of other pupils, they learned themselves while explaining. It was no problem with mixed pupil groups of above and below average achievement. It may be certainly useful to explore this field more intensively.