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Conceptual Framework of non-formal activities

The partners in this project come from different institutions. There are teacher training institutions from universities, science centers, a consulting and training service company and an elementary school. Nonetheless we all have in common the work towards developing good learning and teaching in STEM and Entrepreneurial education. We emphasize that in this project on informal and non-formal STEM and Entrepreneurial education.

Even though we are different and spread all over Europe, the conception of informal and non-formal education, is quite similar in the participating organizations.

Non-formal education: any organized educational activity outside the established formal system – whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity – that is intended to serve identifiable learning cohorts and learning objectives. This, together with formal education is a part of the; Informal education: the truly lifelong process whereby every individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment – from family and neighbors, from work and play, from the marketplace, the library, and the mass media.

All partners see the non-formal part of education as essential and it can be part of the ordinary school curriculum or outside the school curriculum. The advantage with non-formal education is that you can have a different approach to the topic since you are in a different environment (outside the classroom) and you can engage people to contribute to the learning that also come from outside the school.

The positive with non-formal teaching is that it can engage in a different way since the students are out of the classroom and can use and show other skills. This gives a variation and can engage students in another way.

Language is seen as a very important factor in being able to successfully target the desired groups. Ideas how to overcome this include less reliance on spoken/written instructions, rather utilizing video or visual instructions. It is also important to include the cultural aspects of the target community. The activity should be made easily accessible; free of charge, in the local community (at school, preferably during school hours). We should also use didactical methods that encourage students’ own input and showing abilities that might not be used in a formal learning environment. It is also important to include the parents.

We briefly summarize a number of teaching approaches that are commonly used for both STEM and entrepreneurial teaching and learning, suggesting that in many cases, there seems to be an interaction and an overlap between teaching approaches used by STEM and those applied in entrepreneurial teaching. The approaches we summarize include project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, design-based learning, engineering-based learning, Tinkering, action learning, process-oriented learning, and role-play learning.

For the teaching approaches discussed in the report to be successful, they should encourage critical thinking and contain questioning. Therefore, the learning activities should be based on student and material interaction, teamwork, playful learning, problem-based learning, visits outside regular school buildings, utilize digital tools, story-telling, and hands-on activities.

STEM and entrepreneurship learning activities are essential domains that contribute to the development of students’ competences and skills, which are necessary for the improvement of our society. The teaching in these domains combines formal and non-formal education practices that enhance the learning process. The teaching methods employed in most European countries for both STEM and entrepreneurship learning are interactive, creative, collaborative and they are focused on the theoretical and practical application of knowledge. Through this blended-learning process, students develop their skills and acquire an entrepreneurial mindset that helps them deal with everyday challenges. Learning programs on STEM and Entrepreneurship education enhance the collaboration of schools with the local community or other institutions.

Learning is an essential aspect of human development that can contribute significantly to personal growth, socio-economic progress, and national development. However, certain factors such as displacement, migration, and socioeconomic challenges can hinder the learning and development of students. Students from displaced populations may face challenges such as language barriers, trauma, cultural differences, and social isolation.

Overall, the SENSEE field research stresses the importance of effective learning in personal and professional growth. The classroom environment and lifelong learning are both essential for learning success. Open-mindedness, curiosity, persistence, and willingness to take risks are essential characteristics of a successful learner. Learning is a lifelong journey that requires commitment to continuously develop oneself to adapt to changes and achieve personal and professional growth. Informal learning activities could help achieve this goal.

For the teachers and educators to adapt the learning materials/activities produced, it is important that the learning activities address the needs of the teachers/educators. All developed activities should therefore be tested before implementation. All activities must have written instructions for the facilitators, and if possible, a video resource as well, in order for a teacher to be able to run the activity well. Video resources could be very beneficial in cases where a teacher/educator has not facilitated the activity for a longer period and has forgotten the specifics of the activity. Training for teachers/educators before using the learning materials in class is an important asset, as they can experience the activities as a learner and gain a lot of both practical, content-related, as well as hands-on information about the learning activities.

The above summary is available in all partner languages, here.

The SENSEE Conceptual Framework in English is available here.

Total Activities: 17
Suggest additional activities for students

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