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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Successes and Failures of Science Education Reforms Abroad

Authors: Daniel Sperling, Avi Hofstein, Liat Josefsberg Ben-Yehoshua

In: Strauss, N. (ed.) (2017). Insights from Past Initiatives to Promote Science Education in Israel – Learning from Selected Issues, Project Report. Jerusalem: The Initiative for Applied Education Research, Israel Academyof Sciences and Humanities.
Pages: 12-14 education-int.pdf


The literature review examines successes and failures of reforms in scientific education from the past three decades in high schools in the US, England, Finland and Singapore, as well as international reforms in the organization of science teaching relating to content and pedagogy, and in particular integration of science, technology and society (STS). The reforms reviewed relate to various areas and their combination, including reforms in curricula and their contents; reforms in scope, frequency and coordination of science education; reforms in the goals of science education (science literacy) and reforms in pedagogy (inquiry-based teaching, problem solving and cooperation-based teaching, interconnected teaching, context-based learning, critical thinking teaching and teaching for interest in learning). The review also covers reforms in teacher training, reforms in evaluation of science education and its components, and reforms in the means and infrastructure of scientific education and its relation to technology.

The review refers to significant reforms in the US, most importantly the formulation of standards for scientific teaching in two central stages. In this respect, a special contribution for the construction of such reforms is identified with non-governmental professional organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Nevertheless, the literature suggests that the strength and quality of established standards, especially those relating to sensitive and controversial issues such as evolution, do not predict student achievement, since teachers find it difficult to teach following such standards.​​​​​​​

Science education; Reform in teaching and learning sciences; Project-based learning; Scientific literacy; Science curriculum; Reforms in science education in the world