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The NEXT STEP Self-Reflection Tool

The development of the NEXT STEP Self-Reflection Tool (NEXT STEP-SRT) was the response to follow the organisational change during the implementation. Based on the recent methodologies for assessing the impact of Open Schooling (Sotiriou et al., 2021), and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in education, it analysed the school community engagement in STEAM activities, research and innovation. Furthermore, it is supposed to enable easier access to scientific results for students, to take up gender and ethics in the research and innovation content and process, and to act as a bridge of formal and informal science education, on the EU recommendations for the science education and on the development of responsible citizenship (EC, 2015) as well as to analyse schools’ e-maturity (EC, 2019). By focusing on three identified areas of “growth—school management, school process, and teachers’ professional development—the specific instrument is offering the opportunity to the school community stakeholders to describe in detail the current situation in their school while at the same time, they are able to translate the findings to specific recommendation for future actions and development. More specifically, the tool aims to support the school heads to identify the status of their school in the following key areas (levels of STEAM readiness):

Management Level (ML)

The aim of the instrument is to assess the vision, the leadership of the school community key stakeholders towards the adoption of a changing culture towards STEAM approaches, and the overall innovation potential of the school community and to highlight the appearance (or not) of the key factors that can catalyse the cultural changes (e.g., coherence of local or national policies, development of a shared vision and understanding, development of motivation mechanisms and specific plans for staff competencies, school autonomy). This section of the instrument includes a step-by-step approach for the school heads to define a root of development and to locate the current position of their school in the STEAM approach journey towards the overall operation of the STEAM IDEAS Square.

Process Level (PL)

The aim of this section is to identify which process is already in place in the school community and which must be further developed. The instrument is sensitive in highlighting the processes and the mechanisms such as a) the operation of collaborative environments and tools (for content co-creation and sharing), b) how many members of the school community are using them regularly, c) adjustments with the curriculum that allow for the implementation of STEAM activities, d) parents and external stakeholders’ involvement in the STEAM activities, and e) procedures in place that are offering opportunities to reflect and debate, communication and feedback mechanisms.

Teachers Professional Development Level (TPDL)

The aim of this section of the instrument is to assess to what extent teachers and school staff engaged in the STEAM approach (the STEAM IDEAS Square) have a holistic view of science, scientific research, and major scientific developments as well as arts involvement and elaboration in the whole process. This section includes reflections on the integration of RRI principles into school curricula and teaching practices. These reflections and evaluation of curricula and practices are supposed to reveal changes in awareness/knowledge aspects/behaviour in relation to the RRI principles—such as gender, ethics, open access, open science, public engagement, governance, socio-economic development and sustainability, social issues related to scientific developments. Supporting teacher leadership may play an essential role to empower reaching this target.