Improving teaching in science and mathematics

Claudia Fischer and Karen Rieck report on their experiences of a German professional development programme

TEACHING AIMS TO IMPROVE pupils’ competencies and help them reach their full potential in a certain domain. Teachers have to ensure an effective process of competence development. The reality in German classrooms is far from these objectives, as past international comparative studies like TIMSS, PISA, and PIRLS have indicated. The TIMSS Video Study showed that German teachers weren’t aware of the central problems of classroom teaching, couldn’t easily deal with the heterogeneity of their pupils, relied on a small repertoire of teaching methods, and had problems in correctly assessing pupils’ outcomes. International research has shown that traditional “one shot” teacher training doesn’t solve the problems.

What we know
● Professional development is a permanent social and individual need.
● There is good evidence for long-term initiatives, based on a perspective of situated learning and working in a problem-oriented way.
● There is good evidence from self-reported data: individual teachers feel empowered.
● There is a requirement for more evidence on the measured effects of such programmes on pupil learning.

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June 2010