Research in science education

Main research fields:

  • scientific literacy (incl. biological literacy)
  • context based teaching and learning
  • science teachers' beliefs
  • design-based learning
  • 21st century skills
  • development and evaluation of relevant learning materials 
  • inquiry learning

Present projects

The goal of acaSTEMy is to develop a systemic support structure for high-quality, research-based STEM teacher education from pre-service education to continuing professional development (CPD) that includes mobility as an essential building block. The project envisions transversally competent and motivated STEM teachers who are well equipped to prepare students for their future careers.

To reach its objectives, the acaSTEMy project plans to

  • develop, pilot and promote various distance and blended learning models in combination with international mobility and mentorship

  • improve STEM teachers’ digital competences for meaningful pedagogies

  • support the competences and pedagogies of STEM teachers for sustainable and up-to-date education by developing CPD courses to address a) major challenges, such as environmental sustainability, green deal, global health and immigration and b) methodological aspects, such as teaching diverse classes, combating science anxiety, and fostering gender-sensitive teaching

The AcaSTEMy’s network will bring together providers of pre- and in-service teacher education, as well as practice schools from 8 countries. These will develop and test mobility models and programmes for effective and accessible professional learning. In addition, the partnership network includes STEM teacher associations, ministries of education and Academies of Sciences. These will provide input for developing a policy framework for purposeful and systematic teacher mobility and to inform broader science education policies at national and European levels.

The aim of the project is to promote interest in science, technology, and green skills by increasing both the quantity and quality of STEAM in schools. The goal is to ensure that STEAM becomes an integral part of the educational landscape and develops local economic and societal needs by creating local STEAM ecosystems involving regional authorities, universities, other education providers, businesses, and other stakeholders. The activities are divided into three main categories: 1. STEAM practices in schools (The What): Developing green STEAM teaching practices, methods, and materials. 2. Enhancing teachers' competence in STEAM (The How): Developing modules for green STEAM teacher training for in-service and pre-service education. 3. Establishing local STEAM ecosystems (The Why): Developing collaborative platforms for schools, regions, businesses, and other stakeholders to keep STEAM relevant at the local level. The result of the project will be a significant expansion of STEAM in participating schools and regions and the enhancement of teacher STEAM capabilities through specialized green STEAM training and the establishment of four operational STEAM ecosystem networks in the Baltic Sea region. Additionally, a Green STEAM manual will be compiled, containing best practices developed during the project, a model for green STEAM teacher training, and guidance for implementing STEAM through the creation of a local ecosystem.

The aim is to standardize the models, concepts, and feedback provided to students and teachers for the natural sciences in the I-II and III-IV school levels, and to conduct additional analyses in the III-IV school level while creating a conceptual framework for assessing communication skills.

Project Concept - Objectives
•     Raising the level of expertise among researchers and educators involved in science & technology (S&T) education.
•     Addressing the academic training of science education researchers, making science teaching careers attractive and promoting science-related careers through encouraging relevant and attractive science teaching approaches in schools.
•     Enabling academic training to reflect context-based approaches, responsible research & innovation (RRI) aspects, digital learning and assessment, combining these aspects with career awareness.
•     Strengthening intra-institutional and inter-institutional synergies of units responsible for S&T education at the University of Tartu (UT) and its Estonian outreach institutions, in cooperation with two internationally leading counterparts
•     Creating a centre of excellence for the Baltic and eastern European countries emphasising the promotion of early career researchers from science centres and UT post-doctoral and PhD students in the field of science education

Science Career Awareness – EU Project website (


Past projects

This project builds on literature research outcomes and proposes to study the impact of real life related, career focused stories (referred to as scenarios) as the introduction to the learning of science subjects by secondary school students (ages 13 to 15). Through such an innovative development, initiating motivational and meaningful context and inquiry-based science studies, the project researches the impact on learning and attitudinal gains, as well as students’ own ideas to enhance the relevance of science studies. The target is to increase students’ future preferences for choosing science studies and their desire to reflect on and pursue science-related careers. There has been a general educational trend towards context-based approaches and viewing science education as being education through the context of science. Context-based approaches and strategies that actively engage students in the learning process have been shown to result in improvement in students’ attitudes towards science, although the need for students to input their ideas and their indigenous knowledge should be taken into account. However, research has shown that middle grade students were not aware of career options, were not conversant with competences needed and few indicated knowing professionals actively working in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Yet in recruiting graduates, employers have indicated that a range of skills were important and that the most important skills were team working, sector-specific and communication skills. The intended project outcome is to raise youth awareness of the role of science and technology in society, an awareness of science and technology careers and orientation of students towards gaining positive views towards undertaking science careers. The project is planned as a longitudinal study over 3 years, involving multi-stakeholder co-operation between different stakeholders.

THE AIM is to facilitate and implement an inquiry based approach in the teaching and learning of science across Europe foccussed through collaborative action between 60 partners from 11 countries on teacher education and support using treialled and tested materials. Inquiry teaching methodologies are encouraged to engage students in science by increasing their interest and by stimulating teacher motivation. The project is creating authentic learning environments and actions to bridge the gap between science education community, science teachers, students, parents, local industry. The main outcome is a large team of science teachers who are confident in their delivery of inquiry teaching. The further outcome is identification of suitable pre and in service models and dissemination of best practices across Europe.

The PROFILES project promotes IBSE ( inquiry based science education) through raising the self-efficacy of science teachers and in so doing aiding a better understanding of the changing purpose of teaching science in schools and the value of stakeholder networking. The project innovation is in utilizing existing science teaching materials to support teachers through longitudional training programme reflecting stakeholder views and needs, while simultaneously promoting a reflective IBSE school-based, training related, intervention to promote learning through creative, scientific problem solving and socio-scientific decision making procedures. The measures of success are: a)determining the self efficacy of science teachers in teaching innovative science education approaches allowing student acquisition of life skill competencies b) in attitudes of students toward context lead, student centered learning. Dissemination approaches, reactions and reflections from a further key project target. PROFILES developes teachers on four fronts: teacher as a learner, as tecaher, as reflective practicioner and as leader.

The High-Fliers* project seeks to contribute meaningfully to the preparation of STEM-related professional careers, and especially for educationalists within schools, higher education institutions and science promotion organisations, seen as a concern in all partner countries (Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Croatia) but also Europe-wide.



The frequent incident of pseudo-scientific information, conspiracy theories, and “alternative” facts in media is a new reality. Despite a modern raised level of education and standard of living, the number of people, adopting beliefs that are patently at odds with observable reality and scientific evidence, is a growing concern. Unfortunately, most (science) teachers lack skills to tackle socially sensitive science-related issues in the classroom. Therefore, the main aim of this project was to create a relevant model for implementing EVIDENCE methodology, together with respective teaching-learning materials, that contribute to the development of students’ key competences, such as science, media, digital, and citizenship competence of both GE and VET schools, while addressing socially sensitive science related issues within the context of medicine, healthcare, and the environment more generally. 

evidence ( 

Üksik puu

Conference “Natural scientists on sustainable development: what colour is the future?”

Kaart ja kompass

This autumn’s orienteering month introduces places related to the Faculty of Science and Technology

Pilt Tartu Ülikooli Physicumi fuajeest_Foto autor Andero Kalju

University of Tartu sets out to increase climate awareness