Supporting mathematics and science teachers in addressing diversity and promoting fundamental values

So are mathematics and science really neutral? Are they culturally independent? No, they are not! To give an additional example to the different homes arround the world: if we want to decide on whether measles vaccination should be obligatory or not, this decision is not only influenced by facts from natural sciences but also by ethical and moral values and by parents’ autonomy on deciding for their child. And different cultures use science differently and have advanced science and mathematics through their researchers and experts.

The EU funded project MaSDiV supports maths and science teachers to:

  • deliver inclusive education for all students,
  • build active citizenship and
  • foster intercultural learning.

Find out more!

Aims, objectives and design

MaSDiV (2017-2020) is a EU funded project that aims to support maths and science teachers in accommodating cultural, socioeconomic and performance related diversity in their classrooms. Central to this project is the inclusion of a social and intercultural dimension in maths and science classes. Teachers shall be equipped to foster students’ understanding of fundamental values of our society through their maths and science lessons.

Innovative teaching approaches, such as inquiry based learning and intercultural learning, create inclusive class environments that help to enhance the achievement levels of all students. By applying these approaches, teachers can actively support their students in the process of becoming well-informed and critically-reflected citizens.

The concrete measures of MaSDiV are the development, the evaluation and the dissemination of an innovative professional development course for teachers, who are teaching secondary school. Research facilities and ministries from six different European countries are working closely together in this project. The evaluation process will be conducted by the renowned IPN at the Universität Kiel in Germany.



MaSDiV’s PD course will support teachers in (1) delivering inclusive education for all students, (2) building active citizenship and (3) incorporating intercultural learning in mathematics and science classrooms.

Our approach provides an evidence-based way to tackle current challenges in STEM education: underachievement; linking science competences with social and civic competences and effectively supporting teachers as they deal with increasing social, cultural and competence-related diversity in their classrooms.

Science and mathematics are vital prerequisites for active participation in society and belong to the eight key competences (EU framework for key competences, EC 2007). However, across the EU, 17% of 15-year-olds underachieve in science. In mathematics, that figure rises to 22% – and even to 36.6 % among students with low socioeconomic status (ET 2020). 13.7 million young people – those with migration backgrounds are particularly concerned here – are not in employment, education or training (Youth Report 2015). These young people are less involved in social and political life, and at risk of exclusion and marginalisation (ibid.), which in turn is a risk to our societies. Increased migration enhances the need for inclusive education that promotes learning in groups with different competence levels and cultural backgrounds and ‘disadvantaged’ students (see also Eurydice 2016).

Science also has social, cultural and ethical dimensions (e.g. the decision for or against genetic engineering in agriculture in developing countries). Therefore, science learning should be used to promote cultural awareness, critical thinking, decision making and consequently, social and civic competences (EC 2007). However, conventionally, science education has focused on the ‘learning of science’ (Hazelkorn et al. 2015). This means pure science detached from societal implications, as opposed to learning ‘of and about science’. The latter fosters young peoples’ understanding of the nature, applications and implications of science and thus, they learn principles and competences vital in democratic, pluralistic and increasingly multi-cultural European societies. In this sense, science education is also citizenship education as envisaged by the Paris declaration 2015 and in the European Education and Training 2020 program.

Delivering inclusive mathematics and science education linked to citizenship education and intercultural learning is, however, not a trivial task. Consequently teachers need support (EU-WG MST 2013, EU-WG PD 2013, Arjomand et al. 2013). Here, we find shortcomings in Europe. Experts have marked out a need to substantially improve the quality of STEM PD offers (Hazelkorn et al. 2015) and mismatches exist between teachers’ expressed need for training in suitable approaches and the course offerings available (Eurydice 2015).

A lack of adequate PD offers and an increased need for inclusive STEM education approaches (due to increased diversity in classrooms) concerns all European countries. In many European nations, policy has recently recognised the need to better support science teachers in dealing with the above named challenges in science education. MaSDiV’s measure provides an approach suitable to jointly address these challenges.



Design of a professional development course and evaluation tools

Partners will run the professional development courses and collect data

Evaluation of data and promotion of material



A multi-method evaluation design reverting to both quantitative and qualitative data will accompany the policy measure and allow for reliable and valid conclusions on the effects of our measure and routes to upscaling. In line with the aims of our policy measure, we will measure effects on the development of teachers’ beliefs, their self-efficacy and knowledge of IBL as an approach to deliver inclusive education, promote citizenship education and intercultural learning. Furthermore, we aim to evaluate how teachers actually use this approach in their lessons. In doing so, we revert to a pre-post control group design and a case study.

To evaluate teachers’ beliefs, their self-efficacy and their knowledge, a pre-post design is core of our methodology. We use questionnaires with primarily quantitative items (Likert-Scale), and draw on existing items from reliable studies as far as possible. The sample size in each country will be N = 50. You can download the questionnaires here.

To evaluate how teachers actually implement our teaching approach and what challenges they encounter, we will apply a case study approach giving in-depth insight into selected teachers’ science teaching and their related considerations (N= 3 per country). In order to allow for comparability, we will use the same methods in each country for data collection (collecting lesson plan, lesson observation followed by a semi-structured interview about the lesson and its objectives, students’ questionnaire to evaluate their acceptance).While the evaluation experts generally carry out analysis centrally, case studies will be drafted in English at the local level to avoid problems due to language and then be analysed across cases centrally.



The project Consortium consists of 13 institutions. It is comprised of university-ministry tandems in six countries that will jointly develop and test the measure in 2017/2018. An ‘evaluation institution’ is in charge of a thorough evaluation of the measure. The project Coordinator is the International Centre for STEM Education (ICSE)

  • University of Education Freiburg, Germany (Project Coordinator)
  • Ministry for Education, Youth and Sports Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • University of Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Ministry of Education and Culture, Cyprus
  • University of Jaen, Spain
  • Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Spain
  • University of Malta, Malta
  • Ministry of Education and Employment, Malta
  • Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands
  • Hacettepe University, Turkey
  • Turkish Ministry of National Education, Turkey
  • IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education at Kiel University, Germany (evaluation institution)

Via the European Impact Board further 5 University-Ministry tandems and experts/networks from European STEM education are linked to the project. They will support the dissemination, scaling-up and broad use of the measure across Europe after its positive evaluation.

  • Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Education Development Centre (UPC) established by and acting under the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  • Ministry of Education and Research, Norway
  • University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • Federal Ministry of Education, Austria
  • University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
  • Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Czech Republic
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
  • Agueda Gras-Velazquez, European School Net, Belgium
  • Dr. Manuela Welzel-Breuer, University of Education Heidelberg, Germany
  • Ruta Mazgelyte, Education Development Centre, Lithuania
  • Dr. Michele Artigue, Université Paris Diderot, France

Key data

Program: Erasmus+ Key Action 3, Initiatives for policy innovation – European policy experimentations in the fields of Education, Training and Youth led by high-level public authorities (Call: EACEA/34/2015), Priority ‘Promoting fundamental values through Education and Training addressing diversity in the learning environment’

Duration: 36 months (February 2017 – February 2020)

Grant awarded: EUR 2.5 Mio

Grant agreement number: 2016 – 2927 / 003 – 001

Project number: 582943-EPP-1-2016-2-DE-EPPKA3-PI-POLICY


National project websites


The course is based on the well-established science and math teaching approach inquiry based learning (IBL). Research has shown that this open approach enables students with different skill levels to work successfully on their own terms. Thereby underachieving students- in particular also students from migrant families or adverse socio-economic backgrounds- are supported optimally.

This teaching approach is supplemented with two additional aspects:
(1) Inquiry based learning in realistic contexts, especially in contexts that involve ethical questions. This allows students to see and critically reflect how decisions in our society are based on mathematics and natural sciences.
(2) Inquiry based learning that considers cultural differences in handling mathematics and natural sciences, supports students coming from migrant backgrounds and facilitates intercultural learning for all students.

Objectives of the course

  • To strengthen beliefs and self-efficacy about using inquiry based learning (IBL) to address diversity; showing the relevance and implications of mathematics and science and promoting fundamental values, while taking into account cultural differences
  • To enrich knowledge focused on ethical and cultural dimensions of mathematics and science in order to promote fundamental learning
  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of the main challenges related to teaching in multicultural science and mathematics classrooms, such as dealing with controversial issues
  • To gain skills in order to apply the course knowledge into a practical knowledge related to interventions in multicultural science and mathematics classrooms
  • To develop teachers’ self-reflection on their classroom teaching in regards to inclusive science education (thereby indicating their knowledge of mathematics and science education and their skills).

As part of MaSDiV, the course is divided into three modules.

More information

Below you can download further information about the course.

Course Structure

The course is structured into three modules that are inter-connected. The sequence of the modules is predetermined, so that activities and prior work can be picked up on the following course day. The first module includes inquiry based learning as an access to respond to performance-related heterogeneity. Based on this generic teaching unit, the use of real-life contexts for other aspects of heterogeneity, such as cultural heterogeneity and acquiring societal core values will be discussed in module 2. In the last module the focus lies on approaches and tools for intercultural teaching and learning in culturally heterogeneous classes.

For each module an outline is available for the educator. It includes the specific aims, a description of the activities and homework and a list with references to literature. Presentation and worksheets for participants are provided separately. We suggest one method for each activity. However, this of course, can be freely selected and modified. It is important that cooperative learning is mirrored in the activities.

After the pilot phase the module will be provided here.


Module 1 – Achievement

Open tasks as an access to respond to performance-based heterogeneity.

The participants shall gain

  • the ability to respond to heterogeneous student groups in natural science and math classes.
  • the ability to plan lessons that are mindful of competence-related diversity in classes.
  • the ability to re-design classroom materials into resources with IBL characteristics, in order to create learning environments that are inclusive of all students and address diverse achievement levels.
Download module description Download handout Download PPP

Module 2 – Contexts

The participants shall

  • understand the value of using contexts in IBL tasks in science and mathematics to support the learning process by making connections between context and concepts and apply this in classroom teaching.
  • be able to find and use real-life, relevant contexts for IBL in daily science and mathematics teaching.
  • enable students to apply science and mathematics in real life contexts.
  • understand how real-life relevant contexts (e.g. genetic engineering, climate change, oil drilling) and scientific and moral reasoning can promote fundamental values of our societies and apply this in classroom teaching.
  • understand how the use of contexts in science and mathematics IBL tasks can support inclusive education and intercultural learning and apply this in classroom teaching.
  • understand the nature, applications and implications of science and mathematics for societies.
  • make students understand that scientific decisions based on science/mathematics are also influenced by moral, ethical and social reasons.
Download module description Download PPP

Module 3 – Intercultural Learning

The participants shall

  • acquire knowledge and understanding of cultural diversity and social inclusion in science and mathematics education, focusing on schools and the classroom.
  • acquire knowledge and understanding of the main challenges related to teaching in multicultural classrooms, such as creating an inclusive classroom culture.
  • be able to recognize and use opportunities to include culture-related aspects in science and mathematics teaching and dealing with controversial issues (dilemmas).
  • gain skills to apply the course knowledge into a practical knowledge related to interventions in multicultural classrooms.
  • become reflexive of their own normative position and values in relation to cultural diversity.
  • learn how IBL can support students by taking into account their various cultural backgrounds.
  • learn how to use IBL to promote students’ intercultural competences by using realistic relevant contexts situated in different cultures.
Download module description Download PPP

According to MaSDiV’s theme, you can access class material that connects STEM subjects with intercultural learning and European societal core values here.

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   WP4 Field trials D4.1 Standardised announcement of course | 290 KB | Download

Module 1

  Outline Module 1 | 1.16 MB | Download

  Handout Module 1 | 243.74 KB | Download

  PPP Module 1 | 867.58 KB | Download

Module 2

  Outline Module 2 | 559.84 KB | Download

  PPP Module 2 | 608.40 KB | Download

Module 3

  Outline Module 3 | 1.44 MB | Download

  PPP Module 3 | 582.20 KB | Download

Evaluation instruments

   WP3 Experimentation protocol D3.1 Pre-post Questionnaire | 3 MB | Download


   WP3 Experimentation protocol D3.2 Data collection instruments for case study | 3 MB | Download

Reports on the results of the policy experimentation, dissemination and scaling-up

All reports will be available in February 2020.