The aim of the national policy workshop is to “... foster cooperation and synergies among research, and practice fields, by producing strategies to support the widespread uptake of inquiry-based science teaching”. (Mascil briefing paper on national policy workshops p.2)
The Austrian Mascil policy workshop took place in a time during which the Austrian teacher education system is facing fundamental changes in how pre-service and in- service teachers will be trained in the future. To date, Universities and Teacher Training Colleges have not managed to develop a shared understanding of how our traditional, which differentiates between prospective school types teacher education system should be merged into one. Work is still in progress.
One goal for the Austrian policy workshop was to establish an Austrian Mascil work group which brings together representatives of the Universities and Teacher Training Colleges in the eastern part of Austria. We assumed that the most effective way to learn from and with each other is not to simply talk about good ideas but to develop concrete steps for their implementation. Therefore the policy workshop was used to decide which goals this work group will meet in the near future. Finally, we agreed to focus on learning about biology and mathematics in the context of agriculture and landscape management, to develop teaching materials for the Mascil website and maybe work on designing a training course for in-service teachers and Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) educators to train professionals in teaching biology and mathematics in the context of agriculture and landscape management.
The Mascil policy workshop was very successful. Participants agreed on working together to reach the short-term goal of creating Mascil teaching materials and the long- term goal of developing a project proposal. Dates were set and the people responsible for facilitating the process were selected. There is a high chance that the Austrian Mascil policy workshop will have a sustainable impact on the participating institutions as well as on improving science education and in particular formal and informal environmental education in Austria. In addition, we managed to get all key players in environmental education together at one table for the first time and to agree on working together in the future. We regard this as the main success of the Mascil policy workshop.