December 3rd 2013: The results of the PISA report focused on mathematics are no big surprise and show once again that standarized assessment studies don't bring about the insights needed to improve school education. Seventeen universities and institutes which started to work together on the EU project mascil (mathematics and science for life) at the beginning of this year are therefore demanding deeper analyses on how to broadly improve teaching and learning in mathematics and science.

Coordinator Prof. Dr. Katja Maaß from the Institute for Mathematical Education at the University of Education in Freiburg is convinced: "To improve science and math classes we need to take a closer look at education and training offers for teachers."

This is not only asked for by PISA, but by social developments, as Katja Maaß and her colleague Michiel Doorman from the University of Utrecht state in the International Journal on Mathematics: "Today's dynamic, knowledge-based society requires students at school to develop competences in such areas as attaining new knowledge, creative problem solving and critical thinking. Inquiry-based learning can support the development of such competences."

At many European schools teaching has not yet changed according to these challenges: "Teachers teach to the test, making students technical fluent, but not cabable of using their knowledge to inquire and solve problems", says Geoffrey Wake, associated professor at the University of Nottingham. To support inquiry-based learning and teaching methods the project partners of mascil work out professional development offers, starting in 13 European countries next year. Within these professional development offers teachers are supposed to get to know various professional practices from which on they will work out learning scenarios and tasks for their classes. These will also be made available to teachers all over Europe here.

For the development of the learning scenarios and tasks there are cooperations planned with general and vocational schools as well as companies. "It's about making mathematics and science tangible. On the basis of real life issues deriving from the world of work learning processes are supposed to be initiated, motivating students instead of presenting abstract equations they have no access to", says Katja Maaß.

The universities and institutes participating in the project come from the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Norway, Turkey, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Austria and the United Kingdom. They will not only offer new professional development concepts for teachers but also research how the various school systems and conditions of the European countries have to be changed to promote a new learning culture. Mascil aims to reach 65,000 teachers directly and 800,000 indirectly. mascil is funded by the European Comission within the 7th framework programme.