Evidence of bridging the gap between formal education and informal learning through teacher education

Hannu Salmi


This paper describes the developments and results of a special student teacher course used in several European countries, originally developed in Finland in close cooperation between the University of Helsinki and Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre. The integrative science education course already started in 1996. It combines formal teaching and informal learning opportunities. The main target group for this professional and personal development is student teachers although the model also suits in-service teachers. The results show how to use modern, interactive science exhibitions by combining best practices of informal learning and formal education. The objective is to use the key elements of curricula in different countries to teach the scientific research process based on learning in science centres and teaching at school. Pedagogical hands-on methods originally developed in the science centre context are adopted, converted and transferred into formal education via effective teacher education. The paper presents evidence-based results related to open learning environments as well as best practices developed in cooperation with teacher education institutes, universities, educational administrations and schools. The multidiscipline contents of modern science centre exhibitions are large and unique, forming a reliable learning source. The science centres use the pedagogical expertise of the university researchers and teacher education institutes as well as the curriculum development input by educational authorities. The “New Educational Models and Paradigms” theory is tested in this research. The results of the empirical part of this report show highly reliable indicators of science centre education’s role supporting teacher education, of the effective use of open learning environments, and of changes in the roles and responsibilities of both teachers and students. In addition, the innovative approach helps to create a new model for teaching and teacher education. Teachers as researchers as well as practitioners who use an evidence-based approach represent a movement that is gaining momentum in several parts of the world. The future dilemma is whether it will be possible to create a stable European network linking formal and informal learning with the input of TEPE. The European Commission has shown a clear interest in supporting this type of activity.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082

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