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Inside out – outside in. Building bridges in teacher education through encounters with diversity
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The challenges and opportunities of diversity are at the heart of the European project with socioeconomic diversity, increased migration and arrival of refugees adding to the breadth of European identity. European schools are increasingly finding themselves on the frontline expected to be able to deal with diversity-related issues. Opportunities to experience diversity as educational enrichment are too often lost. Teachers struggle with inadequate pedagogical repertoires to work with and put into value diverse pupil populations and wider communities. Neglected groups and individuals too readily drop out from education as a result of an inadequate learning environment. This project aims to address the diversity challenge and its negative consequences by improving the provision of intercultural competence and understanding in pre- and in-service teacher education. We contend that by broadening teachers’ pedagogic repertoires, awareness and understanding of diversity, the number of early school leavers will be reduced and diversity can be an enrichment rather than a challenge for European education. The objectives of this project are to: 1. increase student teacher knowledge, awareness and understanding, 2. involve student teachers in developing intervention and compensation measures designed to keep pupils in education and increase the resilience of at-risk pupils, 3. educate student teachers to build bridges between formal, non-formal and informal education drawing on the resources and potentials of different local educational communities, 4. build capacity in innovative, cross-disciplinary teaching and research methodologies at all partner institutions 5. design a module to be implemented in teacher education programmes widening the provision of intercultural education in pre- and in-service contexts. The participants from eight higher education institutions create a broad base of expertise for the project and key channels for the implementation of the resulting module. The participating institutions represent expertise in drama and arts-based education, adventure and language education, cultural geography, ICT, teacher development and action research. The partners have a track record of positive collaborations and shared interests, with complementary areas of expertise. In addition, 96 teacher students from all eight institutions and different disciplinary backgrounds will take part in the intensive courses. Other stakeholders, such as decision makers in the education systems as well in service teachers will be addressed. The activities of the project divide into project management activities and educational tasks. Project management includes planning meetings, project evaluation and dissemination tasks divided between the partners. Educational tasks include three intensive courses and cross-disciplinary methodologies, developing and piloting the course. Dissemination tasks include online publishing of resources, a pedagogical guide for teachers and multipliers, as well as publications in teaching oriented pedagogical journals. The methodology draws on action research principles to build cross-disciplinary capacity among staff and at partner institutions. The three intensive courses with students from partner universities will include applying and trialing pedagogical repertoires and competence building among student teachers. Student participation will be evaluated in order to further develop the course and handbook throughout the project. The results of the project will be disseminated via evocative reports and conventional research papers in order to raise awareness among stakeholders. The results and impacts targeting teacher education at all levels include: 1. the design and implementation of a cross-disciplinary module for teacher education using innovative, interdisciplinary research and practice-based models of teaching, 2. the provision of online resources including the course design, an accompanying handbook to guide methodological innovation, and informative articles on diversity in education. 3. development of research and pedagogical expertise at the partner institutions in the field of diversity and intercultural awareness with regard to different forms of learning 4. a stable cross-disciplinary network in the field of teacher education among the partner institutions, to enhance further cooperation 5. enriched understanding and broader pedagogical repertoires among participating student teachers. Long term benefits include: 1. raising and sustaining positive attitudes towards diversity among future and current European teachers; 2. preparing common ground for greater transnational European teacher education, 3. facilitating the integration of neglected groups, including migrants and refugees, 4. embedding diversity within European identity, 5. the development of cross-disciplinary educational innovations and methodologies in pre- and in-service teacher education.
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