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PROJECTS

Ann Devitt

Threshold Concepts in Language Teacher Education (TC4LTE).  The TC4LTE project is a SCOTENS funded project in collaboration with Queens University Belfast (Dr Eugene McKendry).  Threshold concepts have been described as “being akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something ...  a transformed way of understanding or interpreting or viewing something, without which a learner cannot progress” (Meyer and Land, 2003).  The notion of threshold concepts represents a model for conceptualising the process and outcome of initial language teacher education which moves away from competencies and learning outcomes.  Often, these concepts constitute troublesome knowledge that when integrated has a transformative and regenerative effect on the learner, their world view and their practice.  

This project aims to identify threshold concepts for language teacher education and the conditions that facilitate the learning of these concepts. The project will incorporate the voice of professionals in the field articulating key moments of learning in their careers and the voice of the student teacher articulating their learning over the course of their initial teacher education programmes.  The project aims to draw on the broad experience of language teachers North and South to identify threshold concepts for language teaching and to examine the degree and manner of integration of threshold concepts within ITE programmes North and South. 

Ann Devitt

The language of science. An exploration of the language of science textbooks and classrooms at key transition points in education (from primary to post-primary and from junior to senior cycle) to examine aspects of language that can facilitate or impede access to the curriculum for learners.

Ann Devitt
Marita Kerin
Elizabeth Oldham

Use of reflection in teacher education. This project explores how domain-specific learning experiences and reflection on these as part of a programme of initial teacher education can impact on student teachers’ understanding of learning in their discipline and on student teachers’ practice in the classroom.

Keith Johnston
Damian Murchan
Elizabeth Oldham

Evaluating the Bridge 21 initiative. The Bridge21 programme is a joint venture between Trinity College Dublin and Suas Educational Development.  It is designed to support an innovative 21st Century learning environment within post-primary schools that is team and project-based, technology mediated and cross- curricular.  Members of RISE are collaborating with staff in Trinity’s Centre for Research in Information Technology in Education (CRITE) to evaluate the impact of the programme in participating schools.  Central to the Bridge21 programme is the mediation of key skills to students in keeping with the Government’s current reform agenda at Junior Cycle level. The on-going evaluation investigates the viability of the Bridge21 model in facilitating the promotion of key skills and explores the factors associated with implementation of the programme in schools.

Damian Murchan

Diagnostic computer-based assessment in Primary Mathematics. Run in association with colleagues at a leading Irish publishing company, and a group of collaborating schools and teachers, this developmental research programme uses a computer platform to aid teachers better understand students’ mathematical achievement and learning processes. Designed as a frequently-administered set of online tests, the programme provides timely information to teachers and students in relation to objectives on the primary mathematics curriculum and to identify specific concepts, skills and possible underlying structural obstacles on which students may need assistance.   Research within the programme, some of which has been conducted by School of Education postgraduate students, has provided key insights into the efficacy of the initiative and has informed programme planning and implementation. The programme epitomises the valuable relationship that can be forged between the academic research community, schools and industry and offers a useful model for similar joint initiatives.

Keith Johnston
Damian Murchan

Interactive Whiteboards in Primary Education This project is a longitudinal investigation of the policy antecedents, current practice and efficacy of interactive whiteboard (IWB) use in primary education.  Through analysis of the broader national and international policy and non-policy contexts in which IWBs have/are being introduced, the study will help understand the complex milieu in which this advanced technology has been adopted in schools.  Decision-making processes at local school and community levels are also investigated, along impacts on teaching and learning.  Situated in the broader context of the smart-economy and e-learning, it is hoped that the research will retrospectively reveal the complex rationale behind the embracing of IWBs and highlight best practice in optimising the technology for the curriculum and learning.

Elizabeth Oldham

An exploration of Mathematical Identity using Narrative as a Tool (MINT) The project involves investigating the Mathematical Identity of cohorts of student teachers and others who are, will be, or may be involved in mathematics teaching. The chief aim is to propose an efficient and effective protocol by which third level mathematics educators can explore the Mathematical Identities of their students, with a view to improving the teaching and learning of mathematics. This is a SCoTENS-funded project involving colleagues in St. Patrick's College (Drumcondra), Stranmillis University College (Belfast), Trinity College Dublin, the University of Limerick, the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (Dun Laoghaire) and NUI Galway.

Colette Murphy

Science Coteaching in Teacher Education (SCITE) The SCITE project is a collaboration with Stranmillis University College (Dr John McCullagh and Andrea Doherty) and involves the creation of eleven coteaching pairs comprised of a primary classroom teacher and an undergraduate student teacher.  Each pair will coplan, coteach and coevaluate a series of innovative science lessons.  In the USA, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)’s Blue Ribbon panel on clinical preparation and partnerships has noted the critical role of coteaching as a model for linking theory and practice in preparing teachers to teach.  However, there has been no robust model for how to coteach, so as to encourage larger scale implementation. This project seeks to pilot a model for coteaching based on the way in which coteaching can lead on to improved ‘solo’ practice.  In the SCITE project coteaching pairs will attend a series of continuing professional development seminars focusing on ideal practice, followed by a period of science coteaching.  ‘Solo’ teaching will then proceed during which students and teachers will then reflect upon the practice they developed during the coteaching phase.

RISE Group

Investigating the use of Personal Response Systems (PRS) in educational settings.  The School of Education, together with the School of Physics, is piloting the use of personal response systems (PRS) as a means of engaging students more actively in their learning during lectures. The problem of lack of student engagement leads to attrition from some courses, particularly in physical science. Increasing rates of attrition reduces the pool of good scientists required in Ireland in our efforts to re-stimulate the Irish economy. Use of PRS has demonstrated improved student engagement with content as it promotes small group discussion and ‘voting’ on group decisions during a lecture. It is well established that such levels of motivation lead to better engagement and deeper learning. Colleagues in the two schools will work together, in collaboration with colleagues from other Irish, UK and American universities who have experience of utilising this technology, to investigate the impact of PRS in physics lectures and in initial teacher education courses. We will combine our knowledge of science and pedagogy to optimise use of the technology within a sound pedagogical framework. The value of this project lies in its potential to improve student engagement and achievement, and thus improved retention rates, in science courses and beyond.

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Last updated 8 July 2015 kellyva@tcd.ie.