Teaching standard STEM topics with a key competence approach

STEMkey has been launched to provide solutions to support the EU’s key competence initiative in the scope of STEM education.

STEM education at school traditionally delivers isolated subject knowledge like functions, human anatomy and chemical reactions. Learners’ skills to apply gained knowledge and attitudes to set it in context with their life and societal decision-making processes have not been sufficiently nurtured likewise.

However, research has shown that, only in combination with skills and attitudes, can knowledge be used to its full potential, and can children become responsible citizens and decision-makers.

STEMkey focus on key competences: knowledge, skills and attitudes

The EU-funded project STEMkey (‘Teaching standard STEM topics with a key competence approach’, 2020-2023) will enable future STEM teachers to refrain from teaching with the sole purpose of knowledge-transfer of a single STEM subject. This simply does not measure up to todays and tomorrows challenges anymore. Instead, STEM teachers will learn how to nurture their students’ key competences when delivering standard STEM content, which means to deliver subject knowledge and allow the development of skills and attitudes to use this knowledge in various societal and real-life contexts in equal measure.

A major part hereby is to use an integrated STEM education approach, which means, STEM education across disciplines. Interdisciplinary STEM education! FIND OUT MORE!

Project Aims

One part of the solution is to train future teachers in “being STEM key competent”. They need to understand the relation between knowledge, skills and attitudes, how they affect each other and how they have an effect on their students’ learning experience and personal life.

In this context, interdisciplinary STEM teaching and learning is the way to go, as it demonstrates the linkages between each STEM subject, each STEM topic…and, in the bigger picture, each solution in the context of maths, science, engineering and technology.

Hardly any decision in real life can be made within a box. We must think outside the box and develop an understanding how everything is connected, how systems evolve…and how we can improve systems, how we can improve life…when learning and working across disciplines.

To achieve this objective, we develop teaching modules to be used in Higher Education programmes and training for future STEM teachers, covering all STEM disciplines and exemplarily dealing with topics from each discipline (e.g. light representing physics education, algorithms representing informatics or the periodic system representing chemistry). Each module applies various tested and proven innovative educational approaches, such as inquiry-based learning, digital learning or real-life contextualisation.

A Strategic Partnership

As STEMkey places a strong focus on establishing and nourishing a strong strategic partnership, network options play an important role.

Although responsibility for Higher Education rests within the EU Member States, cooperation in this field is imperative. Fundamental STEM topics across Europe are alike: chemical reactions, functions, anatomy, etc. are taught in each country. Jointly rethinking traditional teaching contents is a challenging process, as decades of teaching tradition have to be examined with impartiality and new creativity but without losing sight of experience. Transnational cooperation adds value to the actual reshaping process as we can view the various STEM topics from many angles and consequently enrich each teaching module.

Naturally, cross-border collaboration during the output production process and evaluation results, stemming from a multi-country perspective, help us to design each module as universally applicable as possible (across different contexts, cultures and political systems).

Find out more about our team!

Target Groups

We address the following main target user groups:

  • Future STEM teachers (students in initial teacher education (ITE) programmes)
  • Higher education teaching staff involved in STEM ITE
  • Decision-makers and lead positions, e.g. rectors, deans, heads of STEM education departments at partner institutions
  • Staff responsible for curriculum design and course programs of partner institutions.

Our STEMkey consortium gathers Higher Education Institutions from 12 European countries, covering all STEM disciplines and featuring strong expertise in competence-based and student-centred STEM education research and practice.

STEMkey develops 13 learning modules for Higher Education STEM programmes. Each module covers the key topics Key Competences and competence-based STEM education, as well as Critical Thinking as concept to realize and practice interdisciplinary STEM teaching and learning.

Each module starts from another discipline: maths, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and (digital) technology, and thus sets a subject focus to chose from. The modules will be linked to each other, tackling exemplary problems from different  STEM discipline perspectives and offers paths to use them in a bigger interdisciplinary picture. What has maths to offer to solve a physics problem? How do chemistry and biology relate when trying to understand our world? How does each system, our society, our world…function in and across disciplines…

We are currently in the process of developing the modules. As soon as the modules are available, you can download them here.

We will organise national and international events to share latest educational research on interdisciplinary STEM, competence-based teaching and learning and development of critical thinking in various STEM contexts.

Check our calendar.

Are you interested in Interdisciplinary STEM education? Do you want to learn to be a critical STEM thinker and learn how to support critical STEM thinking in your students? Would you like to increase your knowledge, skills and attitudes in various STEM disciplines?

Join our Summer School 2023 in Lisbon.

The creation of these resources has been co-funded by the ERASMUS+ grant program of the European Union under grant no. 2O2O I-DEO1.KA2O3.OO5671. Neither the European Commission nor the project’s national funding agency DAAD are responsible for the content or liable for any losses or damage resulting of the use of these resources.


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