STEM Teacher Training Network of the Netherlands

STEMkey – connect competences with skills

Erasmus+ KA2 project (strategic partnership)

Teaching standard STEM topics with a key competence approach.

september 2020 – september 2023


Our general objective is to transform future teachers’ grasp of teaching standard STEM topics. To achieve that we will rethink and reshape the delivery of fundamental STEM subject knowledge in the context of key competence development (see Key competences for lifelong learning, EU, 2018). Future teachers need to be encouraged to refrain from teaching with the sole purpose to transfer knowledge about a single STEM subject, isolated from other STEM subjects. This simply does not live up to todays and tomorrows challenges anymore. They need to understand the relation between knowledge, skills and attitudes, how they affect each other and how they have an effect on their students’ learning experience and personal life. They also need to understand that the STEM subjects are linked to each other and that a forward-looking approach to STEM teaching needs to connect STEM subjects interdisciplinary.

We therefore will empower future teachers to nurture their students’ key competences when delivering standard STEM content. To achieve this objective we will develop teaching modules to be used in HE programmes for future STEM teachers which transform future STEM teachers’ teaching abilities as described above.

Modules and Institutes

Lead Intellectual outputs

DE – ICSE O1 Introduction: Linking standard STEM topics to key competences
HR – UZA O2 Functions (Mathematics)
NL – UU O3 Measurement (Mathematics)
SL – UMA O4 Human anatomy and physiology (Biology)
AT – UIBK O5 Material cycles (Biology)
CZ – CUNI O6 Chemical reactions (Chemistry)
NO – NTNU O7 Periodical system (Chemistry)
PO – ULIS O8 Electricity (Physics)
CX – UNIC O9 Light (Physics)
TR – HU O10 Household appliances (Engineering)
SK – CPU O11 Technical materials (Technology)
LT – VU O12 Algorithms and Data (IT)
DE – ICSE O13 Support Toolkit

Partners: Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Croatia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Cyprus


  • Acquiring the concept of a function on various levels of formalism and abstraction
  • Dealing with different representations of functions [conversion between words, tables, graphs and formulas]
  • Functions and other concepts in mathematics (sequences, equations, inequalities, geometry)
  • Functions in real world – modelling with functions
The Netherlands (Universiteit Utrecht)

The Measurement Module will provide a foundation for future teachers on measurement, quantities and dimensions. Measurement is a standard topic of mathematics curricula across Europe. Measurement provides answers about sizes of objects or phenomena and applies to basic physical quantities like length, area, volume, weight, time, speed, force and energy (Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen & Buys, 2008). These quantities can be primary (e.g. length and time) or compound quantities (e.g. speed defined as distance divided by time). Measurement in daily life involves using various instruments with different measuring scales (e.g. rulers, balance, measuring cups).

The focus of the module is to teach future teachers how to develop the ability to use and apply measurement-related strategies and understanding in order to solve problems in everyday situations by building on a sound mastery of quantities, their dimensions and personal reference measures.

1 Generating and using personal reference measures
2 Schematizing
3 Identifying quantities and using measuring tools
4 Language to communicate about measurement


In line with the European Education Area initiatives, the European Commission has identified the urgent need to support the development of its citizens’ key competences (COM2019a). When it comes to education, higher education institutions (HEI) play a major role, as they are the ones to educate future teachers.
Our proposal focusses on two of the eight key competences, namely competence in mathematics, science, technology and engineering, as well as digital competence. Core of STEM education at school is the transfer of fundamental subject knowledge like functions, electricity and chemical reactions. Learners’ skills and attitudes have not been sufficiently nurtured likewise in traditional standard ways of STEM teaching (Maass, Geiger, Romero & Goos 2019). The Recommendations of the European Council on lifelong learning (Council of the European Union, 2018) however, describe knowledge, skills and attitudes as the three elements of a key competence. Consequently, HEI have to empower future STEM teachers to teach fundamental STEM topics without neglecting skills and attitudes of their future students at school.

For topics bearing controversial aspects or obvious societal relevance – such as environmental degradation or cybersecurity – innovative educational approaches, which enable teachers to not only deliver knowledge but also foster learners’ skills and attitudes, suggest itself. This is much less the case when thinking of chemical reactions, functions or anatomy. The relevance for their lives or society are not obvious to most learners. However, as the acquisition of basic subject knowledge is a vital prerequisite for acquiring related key competences and forms a major part of STEM education, it is imperative to figure out ways how to allow learners to develop key competences in the scope of these seemingly “boring”
topics. Unfortunately, there is only little materials available on teaching basic STEM content and the potential to foster the development of key competences in one go.


The proposal addresses the following main target groups:
1.Future STEM teachers (students in ITE programmes)
2.Higher education teaching staff involved in STEM ITE
3.Higher education staff responsible for STEM curricula and course progammes

We concentrate on future teachers as they, after graduating, reach out to many future generations of students at school and can thus function as multipliers.
The highest impact will be achieved for HEI within our Consortium, where we pilot our outputs and implement the planned modules permanently in existing course programmes.
Additionally, we will also reach the same groups beyond partner institutions and countries through various communication, dissemination and exploitation measures.

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  • Doorman, L. M. (2019). Contexts to Make Mathematics Accessible and Relevant for Students—Jan de Lange’s Contributions to Realistic Mathematics Education In W. Blum, M. Artigue, M. A. Mariotti, R. Sträßer and M. Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen (Eds.), European Traditions in Didactics of Mathematics (pp. 73–78).
  • Gravemeijer, K. (1999). How emergent models may foster the constitution of formal mathematics Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 1(2), 155-177
  • Navracsics, T. (2018). Key competences for lifelong learning (PDF). Brussel: European Union.
  • Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. and Buys, K. (Eds.). (2003). TAL – Jonge kinderen leren meten en meetkunde (PDF). Groningen: Wolters Noordhoff.
  • Wijers, M. and Jonker, V. (2017). Authentic contexts in mathematics textbooks in secondary pre-vocational education (VMBO) (PDF). In B. Grevholm (Ed.), Mathematics textbooks, their content, use and influences. Research in Nordic and Baltic countries (pp. 245-268). Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk.