Welcome to The Amos De-Shalit Science Teaching Center
and Department of Science Teaching, Hebrew University

In 1967 The Israel Science-Teaching Center was established both in The Hebrew University of Jerusalem by Professor Alexandra Polyakov and in the Weitzman Institute of Rechovot by Prof.Amos de Shalit. Its purpose was to develop new teaching materials for the education system in Israel that were up-to-date both in their scientific content as well as their educational approach.

The founders of the Science-Teaching Center understood that to develop teaching materials of the highest quality would demand the involvement and direction of academic experts in the field and that this work should not be left to private initiative. This completely original understanding serves as a model to be copied in many countries around the world.

Soon after the establishment of the Science-Teaching Center it became apparent that the development of educational materials could not be separated from research into the teaching of Science and Mathematics. As a result, research into Science-Teaching serves as the basis of the development of new scientific teaching resources.

Four important aspects of Science-Teaching research are presented below.

1. Reflective Science

This aspect serves as a kind of mirror for the scientific community. Reflective Science analyses the meaning of scientific knowledge in order to select those qualities that will faithfully represent science to the student.

Science-Teaching should both present science to the general public as well as research how it is presented.

2. Matching the teaching materials to the student

This is a student centered aspect of the research. Results of the research into the nature and meaning of scientific knowledge must be translated into language which students can understand. Quality teaching materials in science at all educational levels can be produced only when specific scientific expertise is coupled with an awareness of the problematic nature of scientific concepts. Presentation of science at a superficial level is not only unjustified, it can be detrimental to meaningful learning.

3. Development of knowledge and thinking skills

Research into Science-Teaching has raised the issue that scientific knowledge alone is insufficient to guarantee a scientific awareness among the wider community of science students. The individuality of the student and his thinking style (cognition) must be taken into account. It is therefore necessary to examine the preconceptions and thought processes of the science student. These thought processes and the development of scientific concepts would seem to be context dependent i.e. they depend on the scientific content being learnt. The Science-Teaching researcher who has a background in the relevant subject matter is therefore best suited to studying these processes from a psychological and educational standpoint. To this aim, they must be guided by research in these fields.

4. Evaluation of achievements

Measurement of the success of science education depends in no small way upon the evaluation of the knowledge and achievements of the student. Development of evaluation tools which suit the rationale, the values and the aims of the constituent learning is one of the additional aims of professional expertise in the Science-Teaching Center.

The results of these four areas of research, whether by researchers from within the center or by other researches from around the world, serve as a basis for a variety of applications required by the education system.

The Center's activities include:

  • The development of new curricula and study guides at various levels of educational programs (including preparing matriculation exams).
  • Researching teaching and learning processes in science and mathematics.
  • Research of students' conceptual knowledge of science and possible ways to improve it.
  • Researching the use of advanced technology in the teaching of science, mathematics and technology.
  • The academic assessment and analysis of students' knowledge, including misconceptions.
  • Researching the interrelationship with other disciplines, which contribute to understanding of the process of learning sciences and its effective instruction. Among those, are educational psychology, the history and philosophy of science and others.
  • Workshops and courses for in-service teacher training.

The research and development is conducted by the Center's academic staff, in close cooperation with experts in the university's science and mathematics departments, as well as those of other institutions, both in Israel and worldwide.

This helps guarantee the Center's work to be up-to-date and at a high level of professionalism, as the interdisciplinary nature of Science Teaching demands.

The research findings are published in science journals worldwide, as well as being presented at various international conferences. These findings are also applied in the Center's wide range of development projects, which include a variety of complete learning environments, textbooks for students and teachers, computer programs and videocassettes.