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Special Issue "Hands-On Science: Developing a Sustainable Education System"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2023 | Viewed by 8763

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. José Benito Vázquez Dorrío
E-Mail Website1 Website2 Website3
Guest Editor
Applied Physics Department. Mining and Energy Engineering School. University of Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain
Interests: applied optics; photonics; optical engineering; hands-on science; science education; training of teachers; sustainability
Prof. Dr. Miguel Ángel Queiruga Dios
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Specific Didactics, Universidad de Burgos, 09001 Burgos, Spain
Interests: self-regulated learning; teaching methods in science education; sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

World sustainable development, both in economic and social terms, strengthening the democracy and social cohesion in our societies alongside high levels of human development with respect to the United Nations Charter of Human Rights, should be a goal of all countries and of each one of us. The importance of science, both the pursuit of knowledge and the search for practical uses of scientific knowledge, is widely recognised at all levels in modern societies. A strong and enlarged scientific literacy is not only fundamental to the development of science and technology, but also to a democratic citizenship. In most countries, a distinct lack of science technicians and science and technology teachers is being registered. Driven by this fact, science is gaining an increasing importance in school education. It is hopeful that, by also recognising the importance of study and training in science in the development of our youngsters’ personalities and abilities, both professional and social changes in school curricula are being implemented in most countries, clearly giving science a higher importance. However, these improvements in the levels of quality and effectiveness in school science education can hardly be achieved without an effective change in the way science education is traditionally approached in our schools. The method that drives the pursuit of scientific knowledge should be the driving and guiding basis of all processes of in-school teaching/learning of science, leading the students towards an active volunteer commitment to hands-on experimental science learning activities: observing, analysing critically, deducing, reasoning, defining, discussing, experimenting… and, as such, “making” (learning) science as scientists do.

We are honoured to serve as Guest Editors of this Special Issue to be published in Sustainability, which will contain papers related to the field of experimental science education that describe "hands-on" experiences and research as a path to sustainable education. Research with IBSE, Maker, Do it Yourself, Do It With Others, Design Thinking, Low-Cost Science or Experimental Citizen Science approaches that contributes to the improvement of science education, both from formal and non-formal education, will also be appreciated. We warmly invite researchers to submit their contributions, both original research articles and review papers, to this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. José Benito Vázquez Dorrío
Prof. Dr. Manuel Filipe P. C. M. Costa
Prof. Dr. Miguel Ángel Queiruga Dios
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • hands-on science
  • scientific literacy
  • curricular integration
  • innovation
  • SDG
  • Maker
  • IBSE
  • DT
  • DiY
  • DiWO
  • low-cost science
  • science education
  • experimental citizen science

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Developing an Innovative Sustainable Science Education Ecosystem: Lessons from Negative Impacts of Inequitable and Non-Inclusive Learning Environments
Sustainability 2022, 14(18), 11345; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141811345 - 09 Sep 2022
Viewed by 590
Abstract
Societal stereotypes and biases about who belongs in science courses and who can excel in them can impact short- and long-term outcomes of students from marginalized groups, e.g., women, including their grades and beliefs about science as well as retention in science disciplines. [...] Read more.
Societal stereotypes and biases about who belongs in science courses and who can excel in them can impact short- and long-term outcomes of students from marginalized groups, e.g., women, including their grades and beliefs about science as well as retention in science disciplines. Therefore, developing a sustainable science education ecosystem requires fostering equitable and inclusive learning environments in which students from all demographic groups have comparable outcomes. Here we describe a study with more than five hundred students in an introductory physics course at a large research university in the US that investigated female and male students’ perceptions of the inclusiveness of the learning environment (including their sense of belonging, perceived recognition by others such as instructors, and perceived effectiveness of peer interaction) and how it predicted their physics course grades, self-efficacy, interest, and identity at the end of the course. We find gender differences in perceptions of the inclusiveness of the learning environment disadvantaging female students and that these perceptions played a major role in explaining student outcomes. These inequitable trends in the context of physics can be useful for contemplating how to develop an innovative sustainable science ecosystem using hands-on and minds-on science and create an equitable and inclusive learning environment to help all students excel in science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hands-On Science: Developing a Sustainable Education System)
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Article
Effectivity of Distance Learning in the Training of Basic Surgical Skills—A Randomized Controlled Trial
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4727; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084727 - 14 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 969
Abstract
Background: Distance learning is an interactive way of education when teachers and students are physically separated. Our purpose was to examine its effectivity in training of basic surgical techniques and to provide an alternative sustainable methodology for the training of medical professionals. Methods: [...] Read more.
Background: Distance learning is an interactive way of education when teachers and students are physically separated. Our purpose was to examine its effectivity in training of basic surgical techniques and to provide an alternative sustainable methodology for the training of medical professionals. Methods: Sixty students were involved in our single blinded randomized controlled study. Six homogenized groups were created then randomized into three groups of distance learning and three groups of in-person teaching. The groups completed the same curriculum using our own “SkillBox”. All students took the same pre- and post-course test evaluated blindly. The students filled out an online feedback form after the course. A financial analysis was also made. Results: There was no significant difference in the post-course exam results (distance 28.200 vs. in-person 25.200). We managed to achieve significantly better improvements in the distance learning of suturing (distance 19.967 vs. in-person 15.900, p = 0.043). According to 93% of the study group students, the quality of teaching did not decrease compared to the traditional classes. Conclusion: The results of the students improved similarly in distance learning and in-person education. The online form of teaching was received positively among the students; they found it an effective and good alternative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hands-On Science: Developing a Sustainable Education System)
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Article
Functionalization of Smart Recycled Asphalt Mixtures: A Sustainability Scientific and Pedagogical Approach
Sustainability 2022, 14(1), 573; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14010573 - 05 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1232
Abstract
The sustainable development of our societies demands strong efforts on scientific and technological research while informing and educating students and the general population. Air pollution and road safety hazards constitute two main public health problems that are insufficiently addressed pedagogically. With this work, [...] Read more.
The sustainable development of our societies demands strong efforts on scientific and technological research while informing and educating students and the general population. Air pollution and road safety hazards constitute two main public health problems that are insufficiently addressed pedagogically. With this work, we aim to contribute to tackeling the problem by presenting the results of scientific research on the development of photocatalytic, superhydrophobic, and self-cleaning recycled asphalt mixtures to achieve an eco-social friendly and smart material able to mitigate socioenvironmental impacts. The functionalization of asphalt is implemented by spraying particles’ solutions over a conventional AC 10, then evaluated by dye degradation and wettability. Firstly, different particles’ solutions (with nano-TiO2 and/or micro-PTFE under water, ethyl alcohol, and dimethyl ketone) were sprayed to select the best solution (BS), which was composed of TiO2-PTFE (4 g/L each) in ethyl alcohol. Two successive spraying coatings (diluted epoxy resin and BS) were performed over conventional and recycled AC 10 (with reclaimed asphalt pavement and steel slags). Their efficiency decreases with the highest resin amounts. The best results were obtained with 0.25 g resin and BS. For the lowest resin amount, all mixtures achieved superhydrophobicity and performed similarly regarding wettability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hands-On Science: Developing a Sustainable Education System)
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Article
Towards a Sustainable Future through Renewable Energies at Secondary School: An Educational Proposal
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12904; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212904 - 22 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1295
Abstract
A compilation of innovative educational activities to work on concepts related to the production of electrical energy is presented. To approach the real-life secondary education curriculum, they are grouped to be performed during a week denominated Renewable Energy Week: an educational proposal aimed [...] Read more.
A compilation of innovative educational activities to work on concepts related to the production of electrical energy is presented. To approach the real-life secondary education curriculum, they are grouped to be performed during a week denominated Renewable Energy Week: an educational proposal aimed to promote the respect for the environment through the insight on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and renewable energy sources. The students would build and perform low-cost experiments so as to deeply understand the essence of energetic transformations, as well as electricity generation. Learning by discovery, collaborative learning and experimentation, are the methodological pillars that characterize Renewable Energy Week, since they have been proven to be efficient methodologies to promote students’ learning. Innovative techniques for pupils evaluation are employed, including a rubric, Socrative application and a set of sheets regarding experiments. Through this educational proposal, the students are expected to achieve a deep understanding of some key concepts related to electricity and awaken their interest in scientific subjects, making them conscious of the transition to sustainable development that our planet urgently requires. At the same time, this project offers to teachers a series of experiments and innovative activities to work on the SDG in Physics, Chemistry and Technology subjects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hands-On Science: Developing a Sustainable Education System)
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Article
Awareness and Knowledge of Portugal Residents about Natura 2000
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9663; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229663 - 19 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1593
Abstract
Natura 2000 is the European Union’s key strategy to address the current sharp decline in biodiversity. However, according to a recent survey, most Europeans have never heard about it. The present study intended to further explore the perceptions of residents in Portugal about [...] Read more.
Natura 2000 is the European Union’s key strategy to address the current sharp decline in biodiversity. However, according to a recent survey, most Europeans have never heard about it. The present study intended to further explore the perceptions of residents in Portugal about this network of protected areas through the nationwide implementation of a survey. Overall, 232 questionnaires were fulfilled, which showed that most respondents (n = 126, 54%) had never heard of Natura 2000. Furthermore, even the respondents who knew what Natura 2000 is were not well-informed about it. For instance, on average, they were only able to name 2.8 ± 2.2 sites within Portugal; plus, 66% (n = 65) could not correctly name any wild species that inhabited their favourite site. Surprisingly, literacy levels were not significantly correlated with the number of visits to the network (rs = 0.181, p = 0.082), and they were only weakly correlated with the frequency that the respondents engaged in ecological behaviours (rs = 0.277, p = 0.007). Overall, the current findings are in agreement with similar studies carried out in Poland that revealed that the population was poorly informed about this important network of protected areas. This scenario is especially worrisome, considering that public participation is regarded as a key factor for successful nature conservation initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hands-On Science: Developing a Sustainable Education System)
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Article
Systematic Review on Inclusive Education, Sustainability in Engineering: An Analysis with Mixed Methods and Data Mining Techniques
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6861; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176861 - 24 Aug 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2010
Abstract
In the last few years, research in the field of sustainability has experienced a significant increase in interest between sustainability and other areas (inclusive education, active methodologies, and society). Moreover, the use of mixed research methods (quantitative and qualitative) along with the application [...] Read more.
In the last few years, research in the field of sustainability has experienced a significant increase in interest between sustainability and other areas (inclusive education, active methodologies, and society). Moreover, the use of mixed research methods (quantitative and qualitative) along with the application of data mining techniques, enables the analysis of information and the connection between the different studies. The objectives of this paper were: (1) To establish the results of the research related to the concepts of sustainability, inclusive education, and disability. (2) To study the key concepts that are detected in the articles selected with respect to the concepts of sustainability, inclusive education, disability, and their relations. In order to do so, two studies were carried out (quantitative and qualitative). In the first study, K-means and heat map clustering techniques were applied. In the second study, the technique of text mining was applied. One hundred and thirty-three scientific papers were studied, of which 54 fulfilled all the inclusion criteria. Three clusters were found in the first study; cluster 1 included the categories: inclusive society, educational innovation, and active methodologies. Cluster 2 included active methodologies and society and economy and cluster 3 included inclusive society and society and economy. In the second study, the highest Krippendorff’s Alpha coefficient were found in articles that linked sustainability with social transformation stemming from a change in education by means of the use of active teaching methods and technological resources. The research moves towards the development of competencies in sustainability at all stages of the educational system, and in all areas of knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hands-On Science: Developing a Sustainable Education System)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Exploring the effects of task order in inquiry learning on interests and concept achievement in science education
Authors: Yu-Sheng Su
Affiliation: Department of Computer Science and Engineering, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung City, Taiwan
Abstract: Mathematics is an important foundation for the development of science education. In the past, when the instructors taught mathematical concepts of geometry shapes, they mostly used traditional textbooks and aids to conduct teaching activities, which resulted in students may not be able to understand the principles exactly. Nowadays, it has become a trend to integrate emerging technologies into mathematics courses and to use digital instructional aids. Emerging technologies can effectively enhance students' sensory experience while strengthening their impressions and understanding of subject concepts. In this paper, we apply virtual reality immersive technologies to develop a virtual reality mathematics geometry teaching system, which is used to teach mathematical geometry concepts. Teachers use the system to develop three basic mathematical geometry learning materials as "Triangular pyramid volume = 1/3 prism volume", "Cone volume calculation", and "Triangle center of gravity derivation". In the experimental activity, the teacher uses virtual reality teaching aids to guide students to learn mathematical geometry concepts in a fun way so that they can achieve the effectiveness of immersive learning. This study explores the impact of using the virtual reality mathematics geometry teaching system on students’ technology acceptance, learning motivations, and learning performance. The experimental result showed that using the virtual reality mathematics geometry teaching system can improve the learning motivations and learning performance of students.

Title: Developing an innovative sustainable science education ecosystem: Fostering equitable and inclusive learning environments
Authors: Sonja Cwik; Chandralekha Singh
Affiliation: Department of Physics and Astronomy University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA 15260 USA
Abstract: Societal stereotypes and biases about who belongs in science courses and who can excel in them can impact short and long-term outcomes of students from marginalized groups, e.g., women, including their grades and beliefs about science as well as retention in science disciplines. Moreover, research shows that unless there are intentional efforts to create an equitable and inclusive learning environment, active engagement using hands-on and minds-on science approaches can exacerbate the impacts of stereotypes and biases and result in an increase in the gap between marginalized and dominant groups. Therefore, developing a sustainable science education ecosystem requires fostering equitable and inclusive learning environments in which students from all demographic groups conduct innovative hands-on and minds-on science without anxiety and have comparable outcomes. Here we describe a study with more than five hundred students in an introductory physics course at a large research university in the US that investigated female and male students’ perceptions of the inclusiveness of the learning environment (including their sense of belonging, perceived recognition by others such as instructors, and perceived effectiveness of peer interaction) and how it predicted their physics course grades, self-efficacy, interest, and identity at the end of the course. We find gender differences in perceptions of the inclusiveness of the learning environment disadvantaging female students while these perceptions played a major role in explaining student outcomes. These inequitable findings in the context of physics can be useful for contemplating how to develop an innovative sustainable science ecosystem using hands-on and minds-on science and create an equitable and inclusive learning environment to help all students excel in science.

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