All posts by Eimear Donnelly

Study in Adult and Further Education Training in Ireland

The ‘SAFETTI’ research project represents Phase II of the WIT/TEQ longitudinal
research project initiated in 2013. It extends the research focus across the island of
Ireland building a clearer picture of the experience of AFE teacher professional
development and the role of transformative learning in supporting their evolving
ideal identity self-states.
The purpose of the SAFETTI research study was to explore how adult and further
education practitioners engage in professional learning and development. What are
the basic reasons why frontline practitioners seek to develop professionally? What
is the starting point for attaining further qualifications? Is it economic stability, selfprestige,
possibility for social improvement, advocacy in education, selfimprovement?
We suggested that identifying the starting point, the predominant
driving force, for the adult and further (AFE) educator, is critical in developing a
different and fulfilling pathway toward professional development.

Study in Adult and Further Education Teacher Training in Ireland Report

Teacher educator professional learning: Shaping the conversation of teacher education?

The purpose of this study was to examine the professional learning of individual teacher educators scaffolded within a developing PLC.  The learning focus was the pedagogical area of communication. The researchers were interested in how this professional learning might then influence our individual pedagogical practices with pre-service teachers. Insight into both the aspects of professional learning that teacher educators implement in their teacher education practices (what) and the influence of the professional learning process on individual approaches (how) can contribute to our understanding of features of effective professional learning for teacher educators.  Understanding how we as teacher educators develop our practices to enhance student learning in physical education teacher education (PETE) can inform the design of future professional learning programmes for teacher educators.

Specific research questions were:

  1. What are physical education teacher educator experiences of professional learning within a community focused on communication? and
  2. How do physical education teacher educators perceive the influence of this professional learning on their pedagogical approaches with pre-service teachers?

Teacher education professional learning Report

Pupil Interest and Enjoyment of Mathematics

The results of international large-scale assessments have revealed the emergence of gender disparities in attitudes to mathematics, with girls generally demonstrating lower levels of interest in and enjoyment of mathematics than boys. Given that attitudes to mathematics are key determinants of future STEM participation, collaborative cognitive-activation teaching strategies, which harmonise with the core tenets of feminist mathematical pedagogy, are proposed as a possible approach to improving girls’ relationships with mathematics. The results of a small-scale cross-national case study that incorporated this approach through a six week intervention are reported. The findings show a significant increase in girls’ enjoyment of mathematics but there was no significant change in boys’ attitudes. Potential implications for mathematics education policy and practice are elucidated.

Pupil Interest and Enjoyment of Mathematics Report

Pupil Interest and Enjoyment of Mathematics

The results of international large-scale assessments have revealed the emergence of gender disparities in attitudes to mathematics, with girls generally demonstrating lower levels of interest in and enjoyment of mathematics than boys. Given that attitudes to mathematics are key determinants of future STEM participation, collaborative cognitive-activation teaching strategies, which harmonise with the core tenets of feminist mathematical pedagogy, are proposed as a possible approach to improving girls’ relationships with mathematics. The results of a small-scale cross-national case study that incorporated this approach through a six week intervention are reported. The findings show a significant increase in girls’ enjoyment of mathematics but there was no significant change in boys’ attitudes. Potential implications for mathematics education policy and practice are elucidated.

 

Teachers’ Beliefs about Education and Children’s Voice Practices in the Island of Ireland

This study, funded by SCOTENS, set out to explore the cultural orientations of primary school teachers in the Island of Ireland, and to examine how they affect their understandings and practices of children’s voice in schools. For example, in predominantly traditional cultures, children’s voice projects may be illusory, only allowing participation in marginal decisions and deterring meaningful change as a result of this. In this study, for simplicity purposes, we refer to teachers’ cultural orientations as ‘beliefs about education’.

Four research questions were developed to guide the design and conduct of the study:

1. How do teachers’ beliefs about education vary between schools with different characteristics in the two jurisdictions (north and south)?
2. How do teachers’ beliefs about education influence their own (and their students’) understandings of, and approaches to, children’s voice?
3. Do such understandings/approaches differ between north and south?
4. How do teachers with different educational beliefs enter into dialogue with children and each other? What dynamics emerge out of such dialogic encounters and what power differentials are discerned?

Teachers’ Beliefs about Education and Children’s Voice Practices Report

Thresholds Concepts in Language Teacher Education

This report presents the findings of a SCoTENS funded study with practicing language teachers in Ireland, within the framework of Threshold Concepts (Meyer, Land et al. 2010), to identify the core but troublesome knowledge and practices of language teaching and the conditions that facilitate the integration of these concepts over a teaching career.  The project draws on the voice of professionals in the two jurisdictions, North and South, articulating key points of learning in their careers.  Qualitative analysis of participant interviews suggests that, while the threshold concepts identified are quite consistent across both jurisdictions, their articulation and implementation are contingent upon the local and broader policy context in which teachers work.  The concepts are expressed as a belief system where contextual factors mediate the degree to which teachers can teach in accordance with their beliefs. 

Thresholds Concepts in Language Teacher Education Report

Early Number Concepts

The aim of this research project was to develop a resource of key vocabulary and terminology for teachers in supporting their planning and teaching in early number. It will also provide teachers with a variety of teaching and learning strategies to complement the development of the key vocabulary. The project relates to the development of number concepts in the early primary mathematics curriculum with particular reference to Infant classes (Republic of Ireland) and the Foundation Stage (Northern Ireland). 

The proposed research questions related to this project incorporate the following:

  • What is the core vocabulary children require to understand, communicate and apply early number concepts?
  • What approaches/strategies could assist teachers in their planning and teaching of the language of early number?

Early Number Concepts Report

Cyberbullying and the Law

This research project highlighted a previously unreported level of frustration on the part of school leaders in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in their struggle to deal with the growing and very complex problem of cyberbullying, especially in the absence of clear and up-to-date guidance from respective government departments.  Confusion surrounding the legal responsibilities of schools is common in both jurisdictions.  Rather than relying on evidence-based strategies and procedures proposed by government, school leaders are resorting to ad hoc solutions, at best consulting neighbouring schools, while trying to unravel intricate webs of interpersonal online aggressive acts, many of which have taken place outside of school and outside of school hours. 

The report makes a number of recommendations in relation to the development and dissemination of training and resources for schools in both jurisdictions, but concludes with an urgent call on government to provide the legal and policy framework which will guide school leaders out of the “cloud of uncertainty” and towards clarity of understanding and effective responses to cyberbullying in schools throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Cyberbullying and the Law Report

4th SCoTENS Doctoral Workshop

17 and 18 October
Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell

The Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South (SCoTENS) invites proposals for participation and working papers at the 4th SCoTENS Doctoral Studies Roundtable.  The Roundtable will provide a mix of short presentations by participants on their work in progress and will also feature participation by SCoTENS colleagues who are leaders in the field of Teacher Education and related research in Ireland and beyond.

It will be held in conjunction with the 17th Annual SCoTENS Conference, which runs on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 October 2019 in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell. The conference theme this year is Leadership across boundaries: Challenges for Educators and Teacher Educators. The roundtable will take place on the Thursday morning.  Accommodation arrangements can be made for those that have will have to travel long distances for a 10am start.

This roundtable will bring together doctoral researchers working on topics relating to teachers, teaching, and teacher education in its broadest readings on the island of Ireland. We will explore the changing landscape of teacher formation, the emergence of new voices and perspectives, and the evolving debates around teacher professionalism as a primary concern, both as a focus for our community and a methodology for constructing knowledge. We invite doctoral students interested in these and related issues to apply for a place at the roundtable to discuss their work with like-minded peers and SCoTENS network colleagues.  Accommodation and meals will be provided, and participants will also have full access to the main conference.

Accepted contributions will address issues in the general field of teacher education, teaching, teachers’ lives, and teacher professionalism – ideally in light of the concerns of the conference theme. The roundtable will provide a space for doctoral researchers who are university-based and/or from the wider professional arena to meet and discuss their interests, to showcase their work, and to participate in the conference more broadly.

Proposals for working papers and expressions of interest are now being accepted. The proposal needs to be submitted electronically to tricia.kelly@qub.ac.uk by 4.00pm Thursday 29 August. Invitations to participate will be sent out by early September along with joining instructions for the roundtable & conference.

Application Form

 

PAINT: Investigating Possibilities and Pitfalls of Arts INtegration

Cross-curricular learning has a long pedigree in education. Yet despite many educators advocating for integrated approaches to teaching, learning and assessment, the practice of such approaches with the arts can be of varying quality. Cross–curricular connections with the arts can be tokenistic or contrived through skewed integration with other domains of learning. With increased attention paid to the arts from a STEM to STE(A)M, creative skills/ dispositions transfer, and multi-literacies development standpoint, this is an opportune time for collaborative and concerted research. Consequently, this project will explore types, merits and challenges of arts integration from different perspectives. A partnership with another university would allow for productive discussion, dialogic reflection and knowledge creation regarding quality learning in, with and through the arts that could enhance pre-service teacher provision, continuing professional development and classroom practice in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.