The next stop in our series is the city of Nitra in Slovakia
Constantine the Philosopher University (CPU) in Nitra is a public university, which was established in 1959. CPU has secured its position in the Slovak higher education system while transforming itself into a university, an advanced educational and research institution meeting the criteria imposed on European university institutions. Currently, there are over 7,500 students enrolled in 367 programs in all three levels of higher education. Research activities at CPU cover a wide range of natural, educational, philosophical, social and health sciences in basic and applied research and of course also in the area of innovation in teaching methods. The uniqueness of CPU in education is represented by teacher training programs in Hungarian language tailor made for future teachers in the ethnically mixed areas of Slovakia and the training of teachers, social workers and public education for Roma ethnicity.
Digital Technologies and Environmental Education
In mathematics education the focus of research at CPU is in using digital technologies in outdoor and out-of-school education. The most valuable project in this area is MoMaTrE (Mobile Math Trials in Europe).
Within ecology and environmental science, CPU covers a number of topics that have an interdisciplinary character and are STEM oriented. They revolve around conflicts of interest of several sectors for the use of natural resources, assessment of the impact of various human activities on the environment, etc. The field of teaching environmental education is depicted as an interdisciplinary and cross-curriculum topic in Slovakia and offers a number of current topics connected with STEM. Here, the focus lays especially on the goals of sustainable development of the 2030 Agenda.
The main interest in the field of environmental education is to increase its effectiveness and modernize the content and process of education for future science teachers and educators of this field. This is one of the main crosspoints, where CPU’s collaboration with ICSE comes in.
History of Collaboration with ICSE
CPU and other members of ICSE have a longstanding history of collaborating in international projects. The relationship between Constantine the Philosopher University and the University of Education in Freiburg began in 2009 and 2010 respectively with the COMPASS and PRIMAS projects. Even before that, CPU had already established a relationship with ICSE founding member Prof. Martin Bilek from Charles University in Prague (University Hradec Kralove, respectively, represented by), who was a Comenius project partner starting in 2007. The same holds true for the CPU collaboration with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, who were project partners in other Comenius projects around the same time.
The CPU team enjoys working with the ICSE consortium and its many respected experts, experienced teacher educators, university professors and researchers in field of STEM education. Some recent highlights that came out of this collaboration were various Summer schools (Prague 2018, Druskininkai 2019) and a multiplier event of the project IncluSMe, which took place in Nitra in August 2018.
In its future with ICSE, the CPU team wants to continue to connect current environmental topics with modern pedagogical approaches such as interdisciplinary learning, outdoor education projects (or inquiry) based learning, role and exploitation ICT in education, mobile learning or digital technologies in education. The team wants to continue working in the field of educating teachers of math and science in implementing methods of active learning and in the related development of teacher educators. There is an urgent need for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for practicing teachers in STEM subjects and environmental topics in Slovakia. Fruthermore, CPU looks forward to more summer schools or intensive courses for Initial Teacher Education students on the international platform.
The Faces of CPU
Dr. Sona Ceretkova, PhD, is an Assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at CPU Nitra. She started her professional carrier as a mathematics textbook co-author and mathematics curriculum developer. Sona Ceretkova is an experienced international and national project leader and coordinator.
Dr. Janka Medova, PhD, is a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at CPU Nitra. She has participated as a researcher in many research and educational projects in mathematics and science education, e.g. 7FP project PRIMAS, Comenius projects MOTIVATE ME, Math2Earth and Compass and Erasmus+ projects IncluSME, MoMaTrE, immiMATH.
Mgr. Imrich Jakab, PhD, is an Assistant professor at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. His scientific publications and educational activities are focused on the field of Environmental education, modernization of education via ICT and modern pedagogic approaches such as Outdoor education, Project-based learning, Inquiry-based learning, Blended learning, Mobile education etc.