The primary aim of this project was to evaluate the structure, geographical spread, composition of Science Communication and Outreach Activities both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with a view to understanding their impacts and improving their design, management and efficiency of resources. The key task of this minor research is the undertaking of an all-island organisational survey of science communication and outreach providers in Ireland by drawing together diverse science outreach partners for a networking symposium. The symposium will involve two keynote addresses, and several themed focus group workshops.
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In 2003, the Irish Association of Social, Scientific and Environmental Education (IASSEE) embarked on a four-year longitudinal study of how student teachers’ prior experiences and perceptions of history, geography and science interacted with their initial teacher education. The study was planned in three phases: an entry questionnaire to establish their ideas and attitudes at the beginning of their initial teacher education; case studies in the form of semi-structured interviews of a small number of students in each participating institutions mid-way through their course; an exit questionnaire to establish any development in perceptions, ideas and attitudes.
Phase II of the project took place over 12-18 months, at times appropriate to the structure of the BEd courses in each of the participating institutions. A sample of students were interviewed from each institution, to triangulate with data gathered via the initial questionnaire and to assess the impact of ITE curriculum courses and teaching practice experiences.
These students were drawn from the cohort originally surveyed in Autumn 2004.
The third and final phase of the research focused on:
- Developing a research framework and procedures that enabled you to determining students’ knowledge and understanding of content and pedagogical issues relating to primary history, geography and science, and their experiences and attitudes towards teaching these subjects at primary level.
- Strengthening North/South links in initial teacher education and to support the development of projects and research in an all-Ireland context
- Working together to enhance the experience of initial teacher education North and South of the border through collaborative teaching initiatives.
The research will focused on:
- Developing a dynamic interface in education on the island of Ireland that will harness the arts and science in a synergistic manner to enhance learning and teaching in schools.
- Enhance creativity in teaching and learning.
- Expand the application of visual literacy to learning in both Science and Technology.
- Promote innovative strategies for assessment in Science and Technology that will measure skills in creativity and problem-solving and do not rely predominately on children’s written literacy and numeracy skills.
A conference was held in March 2008 in St Mary’s University College Belfast.