HIPST objectives


The project approach can be summarised in three general objectives of HIPST:


To increase the inclusion of history and philosophy of science in science teaching for the benefit of scientific literacy.

To improve strategies for the development and implementation of domain-relevant materials, teaching and learning strategies into educational practice.

To strengthen the cooperation and establish a permanent infrastructure of sustainable networking of all involved stakeholders in the field of scientific literacy and public understanding of science (schools, museums, universities).


Several arguments and scientific findings support the HIPST programme:


Contextualized Learning: Curricular developers all over Europe have stressed the role of context for science learning. From a student perspective a context enriches science learning with meaning and shows how science is inextricable merged with society, economy, ecology and culture. A historical perspective on science comprises all these different relations of science in order to highlight its general relevance for human life in the past, presence and future. The history of electricity and electrification for example can in our view not be restricted to the history of natural phenomena, their explanation and technological applications. It is also the history of developments in medicine, chemistry, biology as well as of philosophical claims about the universe, the process of industrialisation and related fundamental changes of human life style. But, it is a history of ecological problems of modern societies also and raises a lot of ethical issues which children have to learn to evaluate and judge. Therefore, historical reflections of the role and character of science are not restricted to perspectives on the past, but contribute to an understanding of the interaction of science and society in general.


Advancement of problem solving skills: International comparative studies like PISA have shown that competences of problem solving are deficient in many European countries. Often a phenomenon or situation appears problematic from a teachers’ perspective only as he or she is deeply socialized into their scientific disciplines. Students on the other hand have to develop a motivation for their own. They need contexts which sustain their problem solving activity and which have to appear meaningful and authentic from their own layperson perspective. History and philosophy of science highlight the process of science in a rich cultural context and open up ways to science teaching and learning which is jointly oriented to the process of science as well as to the process of learning. The history of science is full of opportunities to study the problem solving activity of real scientist in authentic situations. They can guide students’ own scientific problem solving activities as students reconstruct historical problems on their own, develop solutions and compare them with those of “real” scientists in the past. In this way, students develop their own analytical skills as they learn from problem solving activities of historical scientists. In contrast, problems and their solutions of contemporary scientist often appear to complex for students.


Inquiry learning within historical settings: Inquiry learning fosters the learning of scientific concepts. It helps to keep the knowledge one has ever learned as students are involved with their minds as well as with their bodies and senses. Thus, knowledge acquisition is not restricted to a cognitive activity. Inquiry learning encourages students to develop their own strategies of problem solving, but the problems have to be cognitively inspiring. On the other hand inquiry learning is too often restricted to cook book like activities which hardly help to acquire an adequate understanding of scientific experimentation. Research recently has indicated that inquiry learning does not support knowledge generation necessarily (Hopf, 2007). Students do experiments more willingly and develop better strategies for learning if they are involved in problem solving activities. Milne and Taylor (1995) accordingly call inquiry learning for being more active and creative. The history of science provides a wide range of resources for inquiry learning in this sense.


Reconstruction of historical experiments: If students work with reconstructions of historical experiments they will be engaged with authentic problems, build small scientific communities, which share their knowledge and skills or demarcate themselves from those of other student-communities. They (re-)search for evidence which they use in argumentation in the struggle of different theories. Moreover, reconstructions of historical apparatus are often much easier to see through as the comparison of a 19th century torsion balance with a digital multimeter indicates. They often enable access to natural phenomena more directly (e.g. one “feels” a vacuum much more intensively, if he or she works with a manually operated air-pump instead of a motor driven one).


Promotion of a better comprehension of scientific concepts: This argument recognizes that scientific concepts can be formulated more intelligibly in their historical context of discovery than in a schematic and systematised way of modern interpretations. In discovery contexts scientific concepts do not yet belong to an accepted and settled inventory of knowledge. Instead, they appear questionable and variable. Thus, they can help students to develop their own thinking and conceptual growth when their science learning struggles with conceptual discrepancies and alternatives as many studies have shown (Duit, 2007). This argument is the more important as large scale assessments like PISA have shown that less than a half of the students (longitudinal study comparing science classes 9 and 10) profit from traditional science teaching courses (Prenzel et al.).


Supporting conceptual growth: Research indicates that the study of historical concepts can help students to develop their own concepts towards a scientific comprehension (Bar et al. 1998, Benseghir 1996, Höttecke 2001, Sequeira et al. 1991, Seroglou et al. 1999, Wandersee 1986). There is some evidence of similarities in the structure of psychogenetic processes and mechanisms in the historical development of scientific knowledge (Piaget 1970). In those cases where historical concepts show a close resemblance to the pre-scientific views of students they are suited to sustain the learning of scientific concepts. History allows students to situate and assess their own understanding of scientific concepts on the background of historical concepts and ideas. Therefore, history supports the process of conceptual growth on the learners’ side. To experience that scientific concepts are changeable, tentative and variable helps students to reflect on and change their own pre-conceptions on the way towards a more sophisticated scientific understanding.


Showing science as European cultural heritage: Students become aware of the different national contributions to science. Therefore, learning about the history of science strengthens the transnational dialogue within Europe and helps to develop a self-conception of European citizens as a part of a society which is strongly influenced by developments in science and technology.


Learning about the nature of science: In a Delphi study (Osborne et al., 2003) have shown experts of science education, science, history, philosophy, and sociology of science to generally agree that learning about the nature of science belongs to the central objectives of science education. Against the background of their study the authors challenge the relation of learning science content and learning about the nature of science for the benefit of the latter. This dimension implies knowledge about the particularities of science and their differences from other forms of knowledge and knowledge generation. Moreover, the objectives and motivations to do science, scientific methods, its empirical basis, social and cultural aspects are as important as philosophical foundations of science, scientific concepts and their use. Roger Bybee (1997) has developed a 4-ary model of scientific literacy as a major goal of science education. Students on the highest level have developed an understanding about “the essential conceptual structures of science and technology as well as the features that make that understanding more complete, for example, the history and nature of science”. On this highest level students understand the relationship between science, technology, and society and acknowledge science as a cultural achievement. HIPST will contribute to the advancement of science education in order to prepare students to reach the highest level of scientific literacy.


Explicit reflection on the nature of science: Research has shown that even inquiry-oriented teaching does not necessarily lead to a better comprehension of the nature of science. Several studies recommend explicit reflection on the nature of science (Akerson et al. 2000, Bianchini et al. 2000, Khishfe et al. 2002, Schwartz et al. 2004,) which is an integral part of teaching the history and philosophy of science in our view. History and philosophy of science offer many opportunities to ask questions about the “hows” and “whys” of science.


Developing citizenship in a science and knowledge society: The nature-of-science-argument promotes the view that active citizenship in democratic decision-making processes requires knowledge about what science means as political decision-making increasingly depends on scientific expertise. Therefore, students have to learn more about the relation of science, technology and society on the one hand. Historical case studies exemplify this relation in depth. On the other hand knowledge about how evidence is developed in science is a necessary prerequisite for an adequate estimation of scientific expertise in decision-making processes about socio-scientific issues.


History as a tool for teaching about the nature of science: Several studies indicate that episte-mological beliefs about knowledge and knowledge acquisition affect attitudes and proc-esses of learning (Baumert et al., 2000, Edmondson et al., 1993, Halloun, 2001, Hogan, 2000, Lising et al., 2005, Songer et al., 1991, Tsai, 1999, Urhahne et al., 2004). Research and case studies of teaching practice have shown the effectiveness of history-oriented teaching in order to learn about the nature of science (Barth, 1999, Galili et al., 2001, Heering, 2000, Höttecke, 2003, Irwin, 2000, Lin et al., 2002, Seker et al., 2005, Solbes et al., 2003, Solomon et al., 1992). The approach to teach science based on case studies about history and philosophy of science must be esteemed as a successfully piloted approach for teaching about the nature of science.


Science as a human endeavour: Science appears less abstract and gets the character of a human endeavour. This argument touches the problem of public recognition of science as systematic and inhuman. This view is one of the reasons for a decline of interest of many students in science as a Eurobarometer survey recently has shown (Hodge, 2006) in accordance with other studies (Häußler, Hoffmann, Langeheine, Rost & Sievers, 1996). Most alarming seems to be that students do not feel science classes appealing.


Supporting authentic images of science and scientists: The inclusion of historical case studies in science teaching provides realistic images of science as process and images of scientists themselves. It offers many opportunities to balance distorted views about scientists many children tend to held as curious male people, wearing white lab coats, long beards and thick glasses who work in isolation on dangerous things shouting out “I have got it!” as they have a sudden success. Many draw-a-scientist-tests (Chambers, 1983, Rahm & Charbonneau, 1997, Sjöberg, 2000) have shown that these images are in an urgent need to be balanced. Historical case studies show science as an authentic endeavour. They are suited for showing that scientist solve problems instead of inventing dangerous things, that they work in wider communities instead of working in an isolated basement lab, that scientific success does not have to depend on gender, and that scientists and their work are interwoven in socio-scientific issues.


Promoting girls’ attitudes towards science: Research (Heering, 2000) indicates that especially female students benefit from the changing character of science as an open inquiry and from the appearance of scientific knowledge as progressive and changeable. This aspect has not yet been investigated thoroughly.


Diminishing the gap between Europe and USA: In newer education standard documents we recognise a strong emphasis on learning about the nature and historical foundations of science. The case of the German “Bildungsstandards” specifies the competence to understand the language and history of science as an integral part of scientific literacy. Unfortunately, concrete ideas how to teach about the history and nature of science are hardly to be found. But, much more emphasis is found in American standard documents. The long-term “Project 2061” of the “American Association for the Advancement of Science” “Benchmarks of Science” focuses on the multiethnic dimensions of science and suggests the study of its history as a means of understanding science as a social enterprise. Here, this objective is emphasised as strongly as in the American National Education Standards. HIPST aims to diminish the gap between the status of learning about the nature of science through its history given in Europe and USA.


The survey has shown that several reasons militate in favour of the inclusion of historical case studies in science teaching. This is all the more the case as several studies have shown, how insufficient students’ knowledge about the nature of science is (for an overview see Höttecke, 2001). On the other hand, the practice of science education in many European countries contrasts sharply with the emphasis on the objective of achieving scientific literacy in the above-mentioned sense and the expectations of curricula documents. The reasons are manifold:


Teachers and the nature of science: Abd-El-Khalick et al. (1998) point out that teachers do not expect cognitive learning outcomes in the realm of nature of science. They tend to the opinion that learning about the nature of science occurs without focusing on the nature of science explicitly. Research indicates that even if teachers themselves possess adequate concepts about the nature of science they dismiss strategies of their pedagogical implementation (Abd-El-Khalick et al., 1998, Akerson et al., 2003, Brickhouse, 1990; Hodson, 1993; Lederman, 1992; Lederman & Zeidler, 1987). Acceptance or denial of new teaching techniques heavily depend on teachers general assumptions about education and their educational practice. Therefore, teachers would acquire confidence in new teaching techniques, if resonance will be established between their ideas about how to teach, their general educational beliefs, and their views on the nature of science (Waters-Adam, 2006).


Teachers need to develop skills for open inquiry teaching: Learning history and philosophy of science in our view encompasses the re-enactment of historical disputes, experiments and discussions. Role play would be a convenient method for re-enactment, if it will be accompanied by reflections on the nature of science. It enables an idea how science works, sheds some light on the powers promoting its progress, shows that scientific knowledge is tentative and not fixed and that scientific theories need the support of empirical evidence. The openness of teaching and learning situations acquires teaching skills like moderating discussions, collecting and structuring student’s contributions, guiding open inquiry and developing support and help systems for students’ learning. On the other hand international survey studies like PISA and TIMSS-video have shown that science teaching is overwhelmingly teacher oriented. Obviously, science teachers need further teacher-training to acquire specific pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986) for the moderation of open inquiry teaching and teaching about the nature of science (Abd-El-Khalick & Lederman, 2000)).


Lack of teaching material: A survey of school-books shows the lack of history and philosophy of science in these materials and in the practice of teaching, respectively. Hence, teachers who intend to teach about these aspects have no access to materials helping them to learn about the history and philosophy of science themselves and to prepare and structure their science lessons. This is the more important since we know that teachers prepare their lessons primarily with the aid of school-books or collections of worksheets.


Lack of best practice examples: Already available materials often lack a strong adjustment to the needs and general conditions of practicing science teachers and their teaching. Special expertise is needed for teaching about history and philosophy of science successfully, but too often science teachers do not dispose of relevant skills and practices. Teachers who are willing to teach about the nature of science with history and philosophy of science often feel overstrained. Best practice examples can be extremely helpful for them subject to the condition that the materials are adapted to national needs and circumstances.


Lack of networking educational strategies and institutions: Learning science with the aid of its history and philosophy for the benefit of an adequate understanding of science and its nature affords the coordination of all relevant educational resources. Though the development of scientific literacy is an important objective of school science teaching, but other institutions like science museums strive for the same goal. We are certain, that expertise of school science teachers and experts form science museums would profit very much form each other, if they shared their methodologies, practices, skills, and experiences. Moreover, experts in teacher-training and extended vocational training also have much to contribute: they have experiences with the development of teaching materials, their evaluation and the development of new teaching techniques and their implementation.


From these circumstances we deduce the following specific objectives of HIPST:


a)      educational objectives


HIPST supports young people in their development of images of science and scientists towards an authentic understanding as science is portrayed as a human endeavour in specific cultural environments.


HIPST supports young people to develop interests and motivations in science as they experience science as an interesting human endeavour.


b)     development and implementation


HIPST improves strategies for development and implementation of domain-relevant material and teaching techniques into educational practice which focus the history and philosophy of science in science teaching. We regard the implementation of teaching techniques which stress inquiry on reconstructions of historical apparatus central.


HIPST emphasizes context and inquiry-based teaching techniques. They will be developed further in order to promote effective teaching and learning strategies and practices. Our approach shares the idea of context-orientation with other approaches (PIKO, ChemKon, BIKO). While most approaches of this kind highlight socio-economic contexts or those of individual and subjective relevance, for HIPST the practice of scientific research itself will be the central context for learning science. While traditional approaches of science teaching focus on teaching and learning scientific contents rather narrowly, our programme highlights historical contexts in which the development of science, the mutual relations of science and society, the character of science as a process and as a human endeavour will be central. Each case study will focus on one central scientific idea which should be capable to capture the imagination of the learners (Stinner, 2006). HIPST develops case studies for teaching and learning science to make the historical development of these ideas accessible to the learners. It will be shown that new knowledge often needs to be negotiated by scientific controversies. An important method of HIPST will therefore be role play. This method enables learners not only to reconstruct scientific controversies. Moreover, the learners  re-enact the controversial aspects of science in their own learning environment guided by the narratives of teachers, suitable written sources and their own experimental experiences. New and unusual for the inclusion of history and philosophy of science in science teaching is our use of reconstructions of historical apparatus. They enable authentic research experiences in the science classroom and make them accessible for a fruitful inquiry about natural phenomena as well as the nature of science. Learners will have the opportunity to put themselves into the position of real scientists. They do experiments with historical replicas, collect and interpret evidence and share and defend their interpretations with or against each other. They will have the opportunity to get assistance and guidance by the historical role models. Thus, the notion of inquiry-oriented learning obtains an authentic meaning within the HIPST approach.

An example explains the potential of this teaching and learning methodology: In the middle of the 18th century a new instrument for collecting electricity as well as for strengthening its effects was developed, the so called Leyden jar. In the course of the following years the interpretation of the Leyden jar was subject to several scientific controversies. While some scientists explained the phenomena with a one-fluidum theory of electricity, others assumed a two-fluidum theory. In our approach students and visitors of science museums would have the opportunity to learn more about the relevant phenomena as they make their own inquiry with instruments reconstructed with historical materials (brass, shellac, glass among many others) close to the original ones. They learn more about the circumstances of charging and de-charging a jar and figure out the ways of getting little shocks from it. Following this approach they will be guided by one of the two historical theories about electricity and develop a deeper understanding of the instrument and its use. Afterwards they have to publish their understanding (posters, short reports or articles). Therefore, different approaches of interpretation of evidence will be confronted. The student-scientists find themselves within an authentic scientific controversy. At the end of such a case study all actors have to distance from their own roles in order to reflect on themselves as producers and defenders of scientific knowledge. Further reflections on the nature of science enable learners to get new insights into the role of scientific evidence for the explanation of phenomena, the way scientists sometimes struggle with each other, their motivations to perform science and standards of scientific practice. According to the interests and abilities of the learners short philosophical texts may help them to frame their experiences within a wider context of how science proceeds.

The example demonstrates a possible educational setting, but we have to stress that a core feature of HIPST will be the development of case studies like this one in cooperation with experts of the related educational field. The development of such settings within educational practice only guarantees that the case studies will be established in the educational fields at issue.



HIPST supports the adaptation of material for their effective use under different national conditions.


HIPST enables the relevant actors to share their perspectives, knowledge and skills on national and international scale in order to promote the integration of the history and philosophy of science in science teaching for the promotion of scientific literacy.


HIPST supports the relevant actors to develop adequate believes about the nature of science and relevant pedagogical content knowledge for effective use of history and philosophy of science. They develop best practice examples as they collaborate following the model of action research (Altrichter & Posch, 1998, Eilks, Parchmann, Gräsel & Ralle, 2004, Eilks & Ralle, 2002, Waters-Adams, 2006). Within this R&D model the relevant actors collect and develop teaching material and strategies thoroughly and collaboratively, they test them on a small scale and evaluate the procedures collectively guided by qualitative research methods (group-interview, field notes, analysis of lesson plans and descriptions). Finally they reflect and rework their outcomes. This model enables practitioners as well as researchers to share their perspectives and know-how effectively for the benefit of a sustained development of teaching techniques.


We are expecting that in each country at least 5 case studies will be developed for the successful use of (on how to use) history and philosophy of science in science teaching. (successfully.) These case studies comprise best practice examples for school science teaching as well as for education in science museums. Finally, HIPST will provide a substantial body of approximately 40 case studies which will be prepared for the following steps (translation, publication). Thematic areas cover all natural science, their history and philosophy of science.


HIPST ensures empirical examination of materials in reference to

the promotion of interests and attitudes towards science

the development of adequate beliefs about the nature of science

the investigation of gender-related differences in the perception of history and philosophy of science

the effects of inquiry based learning strategies in historical contexts


Therefore, HIPST provides best-practice examples comprising materials as well as teaching techniques which are

thoroughly and collaboratively developed

adapted to national needs and circumstances

proven, evaluated and optimised

accessible to all relevant actors.


c)      networking and development of infrastructures


HIPST will organize the collection and development of teaching material for school science teaching and the promotion of public understanding of science in museum


HIPST will enable effective exchange and dissemination of knowledge and expertise among the project partners (reconstruction of historical instruments, development of teaching materials, relevant teaching and learning practices, design of science exhibitions, empirical testing of relevant scopes).


HIPST will encourage and structure networking and collaboration of people and institutions of similar domains of expertise (museums, science education, academic scholars, publishers, policy makers)


HIPST will structure the collaborative development of national infrastructures to foster the inclusion of history and philosophy of science in science teaching. A superordinate European network will be build up


Within a sub-project of HIPST a web based wiki system will be established. This sub-project runs parallel to other activities of HIPST. An important objective is the development and implementation of the infrastructure of the wiki. It will serve as an important and effective tool for the development of history and philosophy based curricula and teaching material for the time of the project and beyond as a collaboratively developed semantically annotated web knowledge-base on history of science will be provided to a wider public. The content of this knowledge-base will include concepts, agents, events, statements and objects, in the domain both of the history and the historiography of science and its relation with science education. This content will be represented and processed not only at the traditional hypertext level, with a basic textual structure complemented with non-annotated hyperlinks, but also using semantic annotations, allowing the extension of information to a conceptual level. These can be edited, read and interpreted both by non information-technicians and machines. The sub-project will develop a semantic, responsible, and specialized Wikipedia. People from various levels of the education community using their real names will contribute to the wiki. The first step of the project will be to prepare the ontology, defining the explicit formal specifications of the classes of terms and concepts in the history of science domain, together with its properties and relations among them. This ontology will define the structure of the wiki, including the categories of pages that will be presented together with their attributes and relations. Although the ontology will be primarily directed for its application in the semantic wiki, it may also be reused in other contexts where the automatic processing of history of science knowledge will be necessary. The relation between the ontology and the wiki will be a dynamic and bi-directional one, as the growing and development of the latter will also cause the redefinition of the former. This sub-project will use already tested tools from computer science and standards for the creation and maintenance of ontologies and semantic wikis, like the Protégé ontology editor and knowledge-base framework and the Semantic MediaWiki (SMW) project. The work will also be based on previous efforts in the area of history ontology building, like the EU-funded VICODI[1] project, and the SWHi[2] (Semantic Web for History) project. All partners of HIPST will contribute to the content of the Wikipedia in order to bring it up to its turning point. From there on it will be maintained by a wider public of scholars, teachers, historians of science, museum experts and others who will contribute to the open knowledge base.


The objectives of HIPST strongly relate to the topics of the call on several levels.


HIPST emphasizes context and inquiry-based teaching techniques. They will be developed further in order to promote effective teaching and learning strategies and practices. The program focuses on historical contexts in which the development of science, the mutual relations of science and society, the character of science as a process and as a human endeavour will be highlighted. New and unusual for the inclusion of history and philosophy of science in science teaching is our use of reconstructions of historical apparatus. They enable authentic research experiences in the science classroom and make them accessible for a fruitful inquiry about natural phenomena as well as the nature of science.


HIPST bridges the gap between the science education research community, science teachers, experts of public understanding of science and curriculum developers. The uptake of history and philosophy of science based teaching and learning techniques heavily depends on the combination of expertise in different branches. Expertise in the realm of history and philosophy of science in science teaching is but fragmented currently. Teachers are experts in communication and moderation of learning environments, researchers in science education know how to develop and evaluate teaching strategies and materials, experts in museums open up new ways for a wider public to learn about science in socio-scientific contexts, while curriculum developers know how to relate general objectives of science education to concrete teaching techniques and learning content. HIPST will co-ordinate the expertise of these different branches effectively on national as well as on international scale.


HIPST supports the development of innovative teaching techniques which promote the acquisition of analytical skills. Within the framework of historical case studies students learn to assess different and even contradictory scientific arguments and related experimental evidence. They reconstruct and analyse the process of theory development in science, relate it to their own experimental experiences and apply their findings to a broader perspective on science, technology and society. Our methodological framework of action research ensures that all project outcomes will be developed for the advancement of science teaching practice as they are developed within contexts of science teaching.


HIPST develops techniques to increase intrinsic motivation of students for learning science. That students’ interest in science strongly decreases in the adolescence research has indicated for some time past (Hoffmann & Lehrke, 1986, Häußler, Hoffmann, Langeheine, Rost & Sievers, 1995). Many students, especially girls feel repelled by formal physics and chemistry courses as well as the typical techniques of education. HIPST on the other side fosters authentic and therefore motivated learning on two levels:


Students experience their own learning as authentic, because they learn about science as it is practised in reality. They come to know ways of theorising about natural phenomena close to their own understanding which helps them to gather more sophisticated concepts of natural phenomena and their explanation.


They undergo science as a human centred activity full of objectives and relations which they never thought to be scientific before. They come to know science not as a static monument or as a fixed body of knowledge, which appears repellent to them. Instead they acquire an image of science full of changes, opportunities, and cultural perspectives.


Our project is also in accordance with future objectives of the European education and training systems. We understand the project as a part of a larger process of encouraging innovation in pedagogical methods and materials which is in alignment with other programmes for the advancement of science and education like the European COMENIUS programme.



[1] http://www.vicodi.org/about.htm

[2] http://semweb.ub.rug.nl/docs/swhi-proposal.pdf