Browsing Education - Doctoral Theses by Issue Date
Now showing 1 - 20 of 56
Results Per Page
- ItemThe Queen's College, Cork: its origins and early history, 1803-1858(University College Cork, 1973) Pettit, Sean F.; McClelland, AlanThis work examines the origins and early history of the Queen's College, Cork. Designedly there is as much stress on the origins as on the early history, for it is the contention of the work that the College was something more than a legislative mushroom. It was very much in the tradition of the civic universities which added an exciting new dimension to academic life in these islands in the nineteenth century. The first chapter surveys university practice and thinking at the opening of the century, relying exclusively on published sources. The second chapter is devoted specifically to the state of learning in Cork during the period, and makes extensive use of hitherto unpublished manuscript material in relation to the Royal Cork Institution. The third chapter deals with the highly significant evidence on education embodied in the Report of the Select Committee on Irish Education of 1838. This material has not previously been published. In chapter four an extended study is made of relevant letters in the manuscript correspondence of Sir Robert Peel - even the most recent authoritative biography has ignored this material. The remaining three chapters are devoted more specifically to the College, both in the formulation or policy and in its practical working. In chapter six there is an extended survey of early College life based exclusively on hitherto unpublished manuscript material in the College Archives. All of these sources, together with incidental published material, are set out at the end of each chapter.
- ItemThe differences in the social competence of children who attend integrated junior infant classes and children who attend segregated learning environments(University College Cork, 2003) Butler, Judith E.; Douglas, Francis G.There are a number of reasons why this researcher has decided to undertake this study into the differences in the social competence of children who attend integrated Junior Infant classes and children who attend segregated learning environments. Theses reasons are both personal and professional. My personal reasons stem from having grown up in a family which included both an aunt who presented with Down Syndrome and an uncle who presented with hearing impairment. Both of these relatives' experiences in our education system are interesting. My aunt was considered ineducable while her brother - my uncle - was sent to Dublin (from Cork) at six years of age to be educated by a religious order. My professional reasons, on the other hand, stemmed from my teaching experience. Having taught in both special and integrated classrooms it became evident to me that there was somewhat 'suspicion' attached to integration. Parents of children without disabilities questioned whether this process would have a negative impact on their children's education. While parents of children with disabilities debated whether integrated settings met the specific needs of their children. On the other hand, I always questioned whether integration and inclusiveness meant the same thing. My research has enabled me to find many answers. Increasingly, children with special educational needs (SEN) are attending a variety of integrated and inclusive childcare and education settings. This contemporary practice of educating children who present with disabilities in mainstream classrooms has stimulated vast interest on the impact of such practices on children with identified disabilities. Indeed, children who present with disabilities "fare far better in mainstream education than in special schools" (Buckley, cited in Siggins, 2001,p.25). However, educators and practitioners in the field of early years education and care are concerned with meeting the needs of all children in their learning environments, while also upholding high academic standards (Putman, 1993). Fundamentally, therefore, integrated education must also produce questions about the impact of this practice on children without identified special educational needs. While these questions can be addressed from the various areas of child development (i.e. cognitive, physical, linguistic, emotional, moral, spiritual and creative), this research focused on the social domain. It investigates the development of social competence in junior infant class children without identified disabilities as they experience different educational settings.
- ItemAn exploratory study on the impact of an early years' preschool intervention programme in the Republic of Ireland(University College Cork, 2008) Martin, Shirley; Douglas, Francis G.Early years’ education has increasingly been identified as a mechanism to alleviate educational disadvantage in areas of social exclusion. Early years’ intervention programmes are now a common government social policy for addressing social problems (Reynolds, Mann, Miedel, and Smokowski, 1997). In particular, state provided early years’ programmes such as Head Start in the United States and Early Start in Ireland have been established to combat educational disadvantage for children experiencing poverty and socio-economic inequality. The focus of this research is on the long-term outcomes of an early years’ intervention programme in Ireland. It aims to assess whether participation in the programme enhances the life course of children at-risk of educational disadvantage. It involves an in-depth analysis of one Early Start project which was included in the original eight projects established by the Department of Education and Science in 1994. The study utilises a multi-group design to provide a detailed analysis of both the academic and social progress of programme participants. It examines programme outcomes from a number of perspectives by collecting the views of the three main stakeholders involved in the education process; students who participated in Early Start in 1994/5, their parents and their teachers. To contribute to understanding the impact of the programme from a community perspective interviews were also conducted with local community educators and other local early years’ services. In general, Early Start was perceived by all participants in this study as making a positive contribution to parent involvement in education and to strengthening educational capital in the local area. The study found that parents and primary school teachers identified aspects of school readiness as the main benefit of participation in Early Start and parents and teachers were very positive about the role of Early Start in preparing children for the transition to formal school. In addition to this, participation in Early Start appears to have made a positive contribution to academic attainment in Maths and Science at Junior Certificate level. Students who had participated in Early Start were also rated more highly by their second level teachers in terms of goal-setting and future orientation which are important factors in educational attainment. Early Start then can be viewed as providing a positive contribution to the long-term social and academic outcomes for its participants.
- ItemUnderstanding teacher collaboration in disadvantaged urban primary schools: uncovering practices that foster professional learning communities(University College Cork, 2011-05) McCarthy, Jacinta; Conway, Paul F.This study is set in the context of disadvantaged urban primary schools in Ireland. It inquires into the collaborative practices of primary teachers exploring how class teachers and support teachers develop ways of working together in an effort to improve the literacy and numeracy levels of their student. Traditionally teachers have worked in isolation and therefore ‘collaboration’ as a practice has been slow to permeate the historically embedded assumption of how a teacher should work. This study aims to answer the following questions. 1). What are the dynamics of teacher collaboration in disadvantaged urban primary schools? 2). In what ways are teacher collaboration and teacher learning related? 3). In what ways does teacher collaboration influence students’ opportunities for learning? In answering these research questions, this study aims to contribute to the body of knowledge pertaining to teacher learning through collaboration. Though current policy and literature advocate and make a case for the development of collaborative teaching practices, key studies have identified gaps in the research literature in relation to the impact of teacher collaboration in schools. This study seeks to address some of those gaps by establishing how schools develop a collaborative environment and how teaching practices are enacted in such a setting. It seeks to determine what skills, relationships, structures and conditions are most important in developing collaborative environments that foster the development of professional learning communities (PLCs). This study uses a mixed method research design involving a postal survey, four snap-shot case studies and one in depth case study in an effort to establish if collaborative practice is a feasible practice resulting in worthwhile benefits for both teachers and students.
- ItemTeam-teaching for inclusive learning: Purposes, practices and perceptions of a team-teaching initiative in Irish post-primary schools(University College Cork, 2011-11) Ó Murchú, Finn; Conway, Paul F.; University College CorkBackground. Schools unequivocally privilege solo-teaching. This research seeks to enhance our understanding of team-teaching by examining how two teachers, working in the same classroom at the same time, might or might not contribute to the promotion of inclusive learning. There are well-established policy statements that encourage change and moves towards the use of team-teaching to promote greater inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream schools and mainstream classrooms. What is not so well established is the practice of team-teaching in post-primary settings, with little research conducted to date on how it can be initiated and sustained, and a dearth of knowledge on how it impacts upon the students and teachers involved. Research questions and aims. In light of the paucity and inconclusive nature of the research on team-teaching to date (Hattie, 2009), the orientating question in this study asks ‘To what extent, can the introduction of a formal team-teaching initiative enhance the quality of inclusive student learning and teachers’ learning at post-primary level?’ The framing of this question emerges from ongoing political, legal and educational efforts to promote inclusive education. The study has three main aims. The first aim of this study is to gather and represent the voices and experiences of those most closely involved in the introduction of team-teaching; students, teachers, principals and administrators. The second aim is to generate a theory-informed understanding of such collaborative practices and how they may best be implemented in the future. The third aim is to advance our understandings regarding the day-to-day, and moment-to-moment interactions, between teachers and students which enable or inhibit inclusive learning. Sample. In total, 20 team-teaching dyads were formed across seven project schools. The study participants were from two of the seven project schools, Ash and Oak. It involved eight teachers and 53 students, whose age ranged from 12-16 years old, with 4 teachers forming two dyads per school. In Oak there was a class of first years (n=11) with one dyad and a class of transition year students (n=24) with the other dyad. In Ash one class group (n=18) had two dyads. The subjects in which the dyads engaged were English and Mathematics. Method. This research adopted an interpretive paradigm. The duration of the fieldwork was from April 2007 to June 2008. Research methodologies included semi-structured interviews (n=44), classroom observation (n=20), attendance at monthly teacher meetings (n=6), questionnaires and other data gathering practices which included school documentation, assessment findings and joint examination of student work samples (n=4). Results. Team-teaching involves changing normative practices, and involves placing both demands and opportunities before those who occupy classrooms (teachers and students) and before those who determine who should occupy these classrooms (principals and district administrators). This research shows how team-teaching has the potential to promote inclusive learning, and when implemented appropriately, can impact positively upon the learning experiences of both teachers and students. The results are outlined in two chapters. In chapter four, Social Capital Theory is used in framing the data, the change process of bonding, bridging and linking, and in capturing what the collaborative action of team-teaching means, asks and offers teachers; within classes, between classes, between schools and within the wider educational community. In chapter five, Positioning Theory deductively assists in revealing the moment-to-moment, dynamic and inclusive learning opportunities, that are made available to students through team-teaching. In this chapter a number of vignettes are chosen to illustrate such learning opportunities. These two theories help to reveal the counter-narrative that team-teaching offers, regarding how both teachers and students teach and learn. This counter-narrative can extend beyond the field of special education and include alternatives to the manner in which professional development is understood, implemented, and sustained in schools and classrooms. Team-teaching repositions teachers and students to engage with one another in an atmosphere that capitalises upon and builds relational trust and shared cognition. However, as this research study has found, it is wise that the purposes, processes and perceptions of team-teaching are clear to all so that team-teaching can be undertaken by those who are increasingly consciously competent and not merely accidentally adequate. Conclusions. The findings are discussed in the context of the promotion of effective inclusive practices in mainstream settings. I believe that such promotion requires more nuanced understandings of what is being asked of, and offered to, teachers and students. Team-teaching has, and I argue will increasingly have, its place in the repertoire of responses that support effective inclusive learning. To capture and extend such practice requires theoretical frameworks that facilitate iterative journeys between research, policy and practice. Research to date on team-teaching has been too focused on outcomes over short timeframes and not focused enough on the process that is team-teaching. As a consequence team-teaching has been under-used, under-valued, under-theorised and generally not very well understood. Moving from classroom to staff room and district board room, theoretical frameworks used in this research help to travel with, and understand, the initiation, engagement and early consequences of team-teaching within and across the educational landscape. Therefore, conclusions from this study have implications for the triad of research, practice and policy development where efforts to change normative practices can be matched by understandings associated with what it means to try something new/anew, and what it means to say it made a positive difference.
- ItemPolitics, Power, PISA: a genealogy of mathematics education policy at second level in Ireland at the beginning of the 21st century(University College Cork, 2012) Kirwan, Elizabeth P.; Hall, KathyThis thesis traces a genealogy of the discourse of mathematics education reform in Ireland at the beginning of the twenty first century at a time when the hegemonic political discourse is that of neoliberalism. It draws on the work of Michel Foucault to identify the network of power relations involved in the development of a single case of curriculum reform – in this case Project Maths. It identifies the construction of an apparatus within the fields of politics, economics and education, the elements of which include institutions like the OECD and the Government, the bureaucracy, expert groups and special interest groups, the media, the school, the State, state assessment and international assessment. Five major themes in educational reform emerge from the analysis: the arrival of neoliberal governance in Ireland; the triumph of human capital theory as the hegemonic educational philosophy here; the dominant role of OECD/PISA and its values in the mathematics education discourse in Ireland; the fetishisation of western scientific knowledge and knowledge as commodity; and the formation of a new kind of subjectivity, namely the subjectivity of the young person as a form of human-capital-to-be. In particular, it provides a critical analysis of the influence of OECD/PISA on the development of mathematics education policy here – especially on Project Maths curriculum, assessment and pedagogy. It unpacks the arguments in favour of curriculum change and lays bare their ideological foundations. This discourse contextualises educational change as occurring within a rapidly changing economic environment where the concept of the State’s economic aspirations and developments in science, technology and communications are reshaping both the focus of business and the demands being put on education. Within this discourse, education is to be repurposed and its consequences measured against the paradigm of the Knowledge Economy – usually characterised as the inevitable or necessary future of a carefully defined present.
- ItemWork experience in transition year: a mixed methods study of subject and career choices(University College Cork, 2013) Moynihan, Joseph Anthony Gerard; Hall, KathyTransition Year (TY) has been a feature of the Irish Education landscape for 39 years. Work experience (WE) has become a key component of TY. WE is defined as a module of between five and fifteen days duration where students engage in a work placement in the broader community. It places a major emphasis on building relationships between schools and their external communities and concomitantly between students and their potential future employers. Yet, the idea that participation in a TY work experience programme could facilitate an increased awareness of potential careers has drawn little attention from the research community. This research examines the influence WE has on the subsequent subjects choices made by students along with the effects of that experience on the students’ identities and emerging vocational identities. Socio-cultural Learning Theory and Occupational Choice Theory frame the overall study. A mixed methods approach to data collection was adopted through the administration of 323 quantitative questionnaires and 32 individual semi-structured interviews in three secondary schools. The analysis of the data was conducted using a grounded theory approach. The findings from the research show that WE makes a significant contribution to the students’ sense of agency in their own lives. It facilitates the otherwise complex process of subject choice, motivates students to work harder in their senior cycle, introduces them to the concepts of active, experience-based and self-directed learning, while boosting their self-confidence and nurturing the emergence of their personal and vocational identities. This research is a gateway to further study in this field. It also has wide reaching implications for students, teachers, school authorities, parents and policy makers regarding teaching and learning in our schools and the value of learning beyond the walls of the classroom.
- ItemInclusive education policy, the general allocation model and dilemmas of practice in primary schools(University College Cork, 2013) Egan, Margaret; Conway, Paul F.Background: Inclusive education is central to contemporary discourse internationally reflecting societies’ wider commitment to social inclusion. Education has witnessed transforming approaches that have created differing distributions of power, resource allocation and accountability. Multiple actors are being forced to consider changes to how key services and supports are organised. This research constitutes a case study situated within this broader social service dilemma of how to distribute finite resources equitably to meet individual need, while advancing inclusion. It focuses on the national directive with regard to inclusive educational practice for primary schools, Department of Education and Science Special Education Circular 02/05, which introduced the General Allocation Model (GAM) within the legislative context of the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act (Government of Ireland, 2004). This research could help to inform policy with ‘facts about what is happening on the ground’ (Quinn, 2013). Research Aims: The research set out to unearth the assumptions and definitions embedded within the policy document, to analyse how those who are at the coalface of policy, and who interface with multiple interests in primary schools, understand the GAM and respond to it, and to investigate its effects on students and their education. It examines student outcomes in the primary schools where the GAM was investigated. Methods and Sample The post-structural study acknowledges the importance of policy analysis which explicitly links the ‘bigger worlds’ of global and national policy contexts to the ‘smaller worlds’ of policies and practices within schools and classrooms. This study insists upon taking the detail seriously (Ozga, 1990). A mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis is applied. In order to secure the perspectives of key stakeholders, semi-structured interviews were conducted with primary school principals, class teachers and learning support/resource teachers (n=14) in three distinct mainstream, non-DEIS schools. Data from the schools and their environs provided a profile of students. The researcher then used the Pobal Maps Facility (available at www.pobal.ie) to identify the Small Area (SA) in which each student resides, and to assign values to each address based on the Pobal HP Deprivation Index (Haase and Pratschke, 2012). Analysis of the datasets, guided by the conceptual framework of the policy cycle (Ball, 1994), revealed a number of significant themes. Results: Data illustrate that the main model to support student need is withdrawal from the classroom under policy that espouses inclusion. Quantitative data, in particular, highlighted an association between segregated practice and lower socioeconomic status (LSES) backgrounds of students. Up to 83% of the students in special education programmes are from lower socio-economic status (LSES) backgrounds. In some schools 94% of students from LSES backgrounds are withdrawn from classrooms daily for special education. While the internal processes of schooling are not solely to blame for class inequalities, this study reveals the power of professionals to order children in school, which has implications for segregated special education practice. Such agency on the part of key actors in the context of practice relates to ‘local constructions of dis/ability’, which is influenced by teacher habitus (Bourdieu, 1984). The researcher contends that inclusive education has not resulted in positive outcomes for students from LSES backgrounds because it is built on faulty assumptions that focus on a psycho-medical perspective of dis/ability, that is, placement decisions do not consider the intersectionality of dis/ability with class or culture. This study argues that the student need for support is better understood as ‘home/school discontinuity’ not ‘disability’. Moreover, the study unearths the power of some parents to use social and cultural capital to ensure eligibility to enhanced resources. Therefore, a hierarchical system has developed in mainstream schools as a result of funding models to support need in inclusive settings. Furthermore, all schools in the study are ‘ordinary’ schools yet participants acknowledged that some schools are more ‘advantaged’, which may suggest that ‘ordinary’ schools serve to ‘bury class’ (Reay, 2010) as a key marker in allocating resources. The research suggests that general allocation models of funding to meet the needs of students demands a systematic approach grounded in reallocating funds from where they have less benefit to where they have more. The calculation of the composite Haase Value in respect of the student cohort in receipt of special education support adopted for this study could be usefully applied at a national level to ensure that the greatest level of support is targeted at greatest need. Conclusion: In summary, the study reveals that existing structures constrain and enable agents, whose interactions produce intended and unintended consequences. The study suggests that policy should be viewed as a continuous and evolving cycle (Ball, 1994) where actors in each of the social contexts have a shared responsibility in the evolution of education that is equitable, excellent and inclusive.
- ItemThe development of a model of continuing professional development for teachers of primary science(University College Cork, 2013) Mulcahy-O'Mahony, Nunci; Kennedy, Declan; Hall, Kathy; Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and TechnologyA new science curriculum was introduced to primary schools in the Republic of Ireland in 2003. This curriculum, broader in scope than its 1971 predecessor (Curaclam na Bunscoile, 1971), requires teachers at all levels of primary school to teach science. A review carried out in 2008 of children’s experiences of this curriculum found that its implementation throughout the country was uneven. This finding, together with the increasing numbers of teachers who were requesting support to implement this curriculum, suggested the need for a review of Irish primary teachers’ needs in the area of science. The research study described in this thesis was undertaken to establish the extent of Irish primary teachers’ needs in the area of science by conducting a national survey. The data from this survey, together with data from international studies, were used to develop a theoretical framework for a model of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This theoretical framework was used to design the Whole- School, In-School (WSIS) CPD model which was trialled in two case-study schools. The participants in these ‘action-research’ case-studies acted as co-researchers, who contributed to the development and evolution of the CPD model in each school. Analysis of the data gathered as part of the evaluation of the Whole-School, In- School (WSIS) model of CPD found an improved experience of science for children and improved confidence for teachers teaching at all levels of the primary school. In addition, a template for the establishment of a culture of collaborative CPD in schools has been developed from an analysis of the data
- ItemAn dátheangachas agus an t-aitheantas: déagóirí Éireannacha sa 21ú haois(University College Cork, 2013) Ní Dhonnabháin, Áine Máire; Horgan, MaryTugann an staidéar taighde aghaidh ar an dátheangachas i bPoblacht na hÉireann agus go háirithe ar thuairimí dhaoine óga dátheangacha sa 21ú haois. Is é cuspóir an staidéir ná iniúchadh a dhéanamh ar mheonta déagóirí Éireannacha dátheangacha i leith na Gaeilge agus a gcuid aitheantais mar dhéagóirí dátheangacha. Déanann an staidéar anailís ar mheonta daltaí a fhreastalaíonn ar iar-bhunscoileanna lán-Ghaeilge. Féachtar ar thuairimí tuismitheoirí, múinteoirí agus iar-scoláirí freisin. Is í príomhcheist an staidéir seo ná: Cad iad meonta déagóirí Éireannacha dátheangacha i leith teanga na Gaeilge agus cad iad a n-aitheantais mar Éireannaigh óga dátheangacha? Baineadh úsáid as modhanna cáilíochtúla idir agallaimh, agallamh grúpa, scríbhneoireacht phearsanta agus ríomhphoist chun eolas a bhailiú i scoil an staidéir cháis. Roghnaíodh modh cainníochtúil an cheistneora náisiúnta chun cur leis an eolas. Tugann an taighde le tuiscint go mothaíonn déagóirí Éireannacha dearfach faoi theanga na Gaeilge agus faoin a gcuid aitheantais mar dhaoine dátheangacha. Léiríonn torthaí an taighde gurb ionann teanga na Gaeilge dóibh agus seoid luachmhar a sholáthraíonn buntáistí, deiseanna agus féidearthachtaí dóibh. Maidir le cruthú aitheantais, chuaigh formhór na ndéagóirí i scoil an staidéir cháis i dtreo a ndá ghrúpa teangeolaíochta agus chruthaigh siad “linguistic brokerage” (Shenk, 2008) a tharraing a taobh Gaelach is Béarla le chéile. Mothaíonn formhór na ndéagóirí dátheangacha seo go bhfuil aitheantas amháin acu ach go bhfuil an dá theanga, an dá chultúr agus an dá pháirt dá saoil mar pháirt den gcomhaitheantas sin. Ach ba léir go raibh éagsúlachtaí i measc na rannpháirtithe freisin. Tacaíonn torthaí an taighde le gnéithe den litríocht ar a rinneadh athbhreithniú chun ról lárnach na teanga i gcruthú aitheantais an déagóra a léiriú. Cuireann an taighde seo leis an réimse toisc go soláthraíonn sé eolas luachmhar agus fiúntach faoin dátheangachas agus aitheantas i bPoblacht na hÉireann sa 21ú haois.
- ItemCovert conversations: disciplined improvisation and meaning-making in the masters (MA) supervisory relationship(University College Cork, 2013) Moynihan, Thomas Joseph; Conway, Paul F.This research asks the question: “What are the relational dynamics in Masters (MA) supervision?” It does so by focusing upon the supervisory relationship itself. It does this through dialoguing with the voices of both MA supervisors and supervisees in the Humanities using a Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) framework. In so doing, this research argues for a re-evaluation of how MA supervision is conceptualised and proposes a new theoretical framework for conceptualising MA supervision as a relational phenomenon. The research design was derived from an Activity Theory-influenced methodology. Data collection procedures included the administration of Activity Theory Logs, individual semi-structured interviews with both supervisors and supervisees and the completion of reflective journals. Grounded Theory was used to analyse the data. The sample for the study consists of three supervisor-supervisee dyads from three disciplines in the Humanities. Data was collected over the course of one academic year, 2010-2011. This research found that both individual and shared relational dynamics play an important role in MA supervision. Individual dynamics, such as supervisors’ iterative negotiation of ambiguity/clarity and supervisees’ boundary work, revealed that both parties attempt to negotiate a separation between their professional-academic identities and personal identities. However, an inherent paradox emerged when the shared relational dynamics of MA supervision were investigated. It was found that the shared space created by the supervisory relationship did not only exist in a physical setting, but was also psychoactive in nature and held strong emotional resonances for both parties involved. This served to undermine the separation between professional-academic and personal identities. As a result, this research argues that the interaction between the individual and shared relational dynamics in MA supervision enables, for both supervisors and supervisees, a disciplined improvisation of academic identity.
- ItemStudent voice in Irish post-primary schools: a drama of voices(University College Cork, 2013) Fleming, Domnall Patrick; Horgan, MaryThis research is an exploration of the expression of student voice in Irish post-primary schools and how its affordance could impact on students’ and teachers’ experiences in the classroom, and at whole-school level through a student council. Student voice refers to the inclusion of students in decisions that shape their experiences in classrooms and schools, and is fundamental to a rights-based perspective that facilitates students to have a voice and a say in their education. Student voice is essential to the development of democratic principles, active citizenship, and learning and pedagogy. This qualitative research, based in three post-primary case-study schools, concerns teachers in eighteen classrooms engaging in dialogic consultation with their students over one school year. Teachers considered the students’ commentary and then adjusted their practice. The operation of student councils was also examined through the voices of council members, liaison teachers and school principals. Theorised within socio-cultural (social constructivist), social constructionist and poststructural frames, the complexity of student voice emerges from its conceptualisation and enactment. Affording students a voice in their classroom presented positive findings in the context of relationships, pedagogical change and students’ engagement, participation and achievement. The power and authority of the teacher and discordant student voices, particularly relating to examinations, presented challenges affecting teachers’ practice and students’ expectations. The functional redundancy of the student council as a construct for student voice at whole-school level, and its partial redundancy as a construct to reflect prefigurative democracy and active citizenship also emerge from the research. Current policy initiatives in Irish education situate student voice in pedagogy and as dialogic consultation at classroom and whole-school level. This work endorses the necessity for and benefit of such a positioning with the author further arguing that it should not become the instrumental student voice of data source, accountability and performativity.
- ItemThomas Davis's education policies: theory and practice(University College Cork, 2014) Conneally, John; Long, FiachraThis thesis explores the education policies of Thomas Davis. On the eve of the Great Famine Ireland was economically impoverished and politically dependent. The Irish people had a subservient mentality, were mainly uneducated and were unaware of their potential. He believed that education would develop a self-reliant, self-sufficient people; it would create a new generation of leaders and citizens necessary to transform Ireland into a prosperous, independent nation. This thesis explores his education philosophy which was political in orientation; he called for reform of university education so that it would educate leaders who were knowledgeable, patriotic and responsible. He formulated a curriculum which consisted of knowledge that would have direct use and application in public life; his curriculum included moral philosophy, oratory, philological studies and history. His contribution to the debate on the Queens Colleges bill, 1845, is explored including his public disagreement with Daniel O’Connell on the principle of multi-denominational education. This work also examines his policies on learning methodologies and teaching methods. It provides details of his thoughts on learning by experience, by observation, book learning and learning in the home. It focuses on the deficiencies evident in the system of teaching and learning that operated in Trinity College Dublin and it provides an analysis of his preferred method of instruction: Lyceum teaching. This thesis also explores his national curriculum in history and Irish culture which was designed to forge a sense of national identity, to win support for repeal and to develop the principle of nationality. He formulated a national curriculum to counteract the absence of national knowledge in the state schools, to provide the people with a positive self-image and ultimately to empower them to reclaim Ireland and to develop it. Davis knew the power of education and he used it as an instrument of political and social change.
- ItemWho pays and who plays? Mapping the discourse of publicly funded instrumental music education in Ireland(University College Cork, 2014) Deloughry, Ciaran; Conway, Paul F.Instrumental music education is provided as an extra-curricular activity on a fee-paying basis by a small number of Education and Training Boards, formerly Vocational Education Committees (ETB/VECs) through specialist instrumental Music Services. Although all citizens’ taxes fund the public music provision, participation in instrumental music during school-going years is predominantly accessed by middle class families. A series of semistructured interviews sought to access the perceptions and beliefs of instrumental music education practitioners (N=14) in seven publicly-funded music services in Ireland. Canonical dispositions were interrogated and emergent themes were coded and analysed in a process of Grounded theory. The study draws on Foucault’s conception of discourse as a lens with which to map professional practices, and utilises Bourdieu’s analysis of the reproduction of social advantage to examine cultural assumptions, which may serve to privilege middle-class cultural choice to the exclusion of other social groups. Study findings show that within the Music Services, aesthetic and pedagogic discourses of the 19th century Conservatory system exert a hegemonic influence over policy and practice. An enduring ‘examination culture’ located within the Western art music tradition determines pedagogy, musical genre, and assessment procedures. Ideologies of musical taste and value reinforce the more tangible boundaries of fee-payment and restricted availability as barriers to access. Practitioners are aware of a status duality whereby instrumental teachers working as visiting specialists in primary schools experience a conflict between specialist and generalist educational aims. Nevertheless, study participants consistently advocated siting the point of access to instrumental music education in the primary schools as the most equitable means of access to instrumental music education. This study addresses a ‘knowledge gap’ in the sociology of music education in Ireland. It provides a framework for rethinking instrumental music education as equitable in-school musical participation. The conclusions of the study suggest starting-points for further educational research and may provide key ‘prompts’ for curriculum planning.
- ItemLearning to 'understand backwards' in time: children's temporal cognition and the primary history curriculum(University College Cork, 2014) O'Sullivan, Eileen; Kitching, Karl; Conway, Paul F.This study examines children’s temporal ways of knowing and it highlights the centrality of temporal cognition in the development of children’s historical understanding. It explores how young children conceptualise time and it examines the provision for temporal cognition at the levels of the intended, enacted and received history curriculum in the Irish primary school context. Positioning temporality as a prerequisite second-order concept, the study recognises the essential role of both first-order and additional second-order concepts in historical understanding. While the former can be defined as the basic, substantive content to be taught, the latter refers to a number of additional key concepts that are deemed fundamental to children's capacity to make meaningful sense of history. The study argues for due recognition to be given to temporality, in the belief that both sets of knowledge, the content and skills, are required to develop historical thinking (Lévesque, 2011). The study addresses a number of key research questions, using a mixed methods research design, comprising an analysis of history textbooks, a survey among final year student teachers about their teaching of history, and school-based interviews with primary school children: What opportunities are available for children to develop temporal ways of knowing? How do student teachers experience being apprenticed into the available culture for teaching history and understanding temporality at primary level? What insights do the cognitive-developmental and sociocultural perspectives on learning provide for understanding the dynamics of children’s temporal ways of knowing? The study argues that the skill of developing a deeper understanding of time is a key prerequisite in connecting with, and constructing, understandings and frameworks of the past. The study advances a view of temporality as complex, multi-faceted and developmental. The findings have a potential contribution to make in influencing policy and pedagogy in establishing an elaborated and well-defined curriculum framework for developing temporal cognition at both national and international levels.
- ItemThe double bind for non-traditional families in post-primary settings; to tell or not to tell their family identity(University College Cork, 2014) Desmond, Ann-Marie; Kitching, KarlThis thesis involved researching normative family discourses which are mediated through educational settings. The traditional family, consisting of father, mother and children all living together in one house is no longer reflective of the home situation of many Irish students (Lunn and Fahey, 2011). My study problematizes the dominant discourses which reflect how family differences are managed and recognised in schools. A framework using Foucauldian post structural critical analysis traces family stratification through the organisation of institutional and interpersonal relations at micro level in four post-primary schools. Standardising procedures such as the suppression of intimate relations between and among teacher and student, as well as the linear ordering of intergenerational relations, such as teacher/student and adult/child are critiqued. Normalising discourses operate in practices such as notes home which presume two parents together. Teacher assumptions about heterosexual two-parent families make it difficult for students to be open about a family setup that is constructed as different to the rest of the schools'. The management of family difference and deficit through pastoral care structures suggests a school-based politics of family adjustment. These practices beg the question whether families are better off not telling the school about their family identity. My thesis will be of interest to educational research and educational policy because it highlights how changing demographics such as family compositions are mis-conceptualised in schools, as well as revealing the changing forms of family governance through regimes such as pastoral care. This analysis allows for the existence of, and a valuing for, alternative modes of family existence, so that future curricular and legal discourses can be challenged in the interest of equity and social justice.
- ItemA policy analysis of key employability interventions for the educationally disadvantaged in further education: Comparative insights for Irish education(University College Cork, 2014) Boyle, James Patrick; O'Brien, Stephen; O'Sullivan, DenisThe aim of this study is to garner comparative insights so as to aid the development of the discourse on further education (FE) conceptualisation and the relationship of FE with educational disadvantage and employability. This aim is particularly relevant in Irish education parlance amidst the historical ambiguity surrounding the functioning of FE. The study sets out to critically engage with the education/employability/economy link (eee link). This involves a critique of issues relevant to participation (which extends beyond student activity alone to social relations generally and the dialogic participation of the disadvantaged), accountability (which extends beyond performance measures alone to encompass equality of condition towards a socially just end) and human capital (which extends to both collective and individual aspects within an educational culture). As a comparative study, there is a strong focus on providing a way of conceptualising and comparatively analysing FE policy internationally. The study strikes a balance between conceptual and practical concerns. A critical comparative policy analysis is the methodology that structures the study which is informed and progressed by a genealogical method to establish the context of each of the jurisdictions of England, the United States and the European Union. Genealogy allows the use of history to diagnose the present rather than explaining how the past has caused the present. The discussion accentuates the power struggles within education policy practice using what Fairclough calls a strategic critique as well as an ideological critique. The comparative nature of the study means that there is a need to be cognizant of the diverse cultural influences on policy deliberation. The study uses the theoretical concept of paradigmatic change to critically analyse the jurisdictions. To aid with the critical analysis, a conceptual framework for legislative functions is developed so as to provide a metalanguage for educational legislation. The specific contribution of the study, while providing a manner for understanding and progressing FE policy development in a globalized Ireland, is to clear the ground for a more well-defined and critically reflexive FE sector to operate and suggests a number of issues for further deliberation.
- ItemAn exploration of leadership in Irish post-primary education(University College Cork, 2014) O'Donovan, Margaret M. M.; Hall, KathyThe purpose of this study is to explore the nature and how of leadership in Irish post-primary schools. It considers school leadership within the context of contemporary Distributed Leadership theory. Associated concepts such as Distributed Cognition and Activity Theory are used to frame the study. From a distributed perspective, it is now widely accepted that other agents (e.g. teachers) have a leadership role, as part of collaborative, participative and supportive learning communities. Thus, this study considers how principals interact and build leadership capacity throughout the school. The study draws on two main sources of evidence. In analysing the implications of accountability agendas for school leadership, there is an exploration and focus on the conceptualisations of school leadership that are fore-grounded in 21 WSE reports. Elements of Critical Discourse Analysis are employed as an investigative tool to decipher how the construction of leadership practice is produced. The second prong of the study explores leadership in 3 case-study post-primary schools. Leadership is a complex phenomenon and not easy to describe. The findings clarify, however, that school leadership is a construct beyond the scope of the principal alone. While there is widespread support for a distributed model of leadership, the concept does not explicitly form part of the discourse in the case-study schools. It is also evident that any attempt to understand leadership practice must connect local interpretations with broader discourses. The understanding and practice of leadership is best understood in its sociohistorical context. The study reveals that, in the Irish post-primary school, the historical dimension is very influential, while the situational setting, involving a particular set of agents and agendas, strongly shapes thinking and practices. This study is novel as it synthesises two key sources of evidence. It is of great value in that it teases out the various historical and situational aspects to enhance understandings of school leadership in contemporary Ireland. It raises important questions for policy, practice and further research.
- ItemBeginning primary teachers' perspectives on becoming a teacher in the workplace: Contextual, emotional, and temporo-spatial dimensions of identity shaping(University College Cork, 2014) O'Sullivan, Daniel J.; Conway, Paul F.The issue, with international and national overtones, of direct relevance to the present study, relates to the shaping of beginning teachers’ identities in the workplace. As the shift from an initial teacher education programme into initial practice in schools is a period of identity change worthy of investigation, this study focuses on the transformative search by nine beginning primary teachers for their teaching identities, throughout the course of their initial year of occupational experience, post-graduation. The nine beginning teacher participants work in a variety of primary school settings, thus strengthening the representativeness of the research cohort. Privileging ‘insider’ perspectives, the research goal is to understand the complexities of lived experience from the viewpoints of the participating informants. The shaping of identity is conceived of in dimensional terms. Accordingly, a framework composed of three dimensions of beginning teacher experience is devised, namely: contextual; emotional; temporo-spatial. Data collection and analysis is informed by principles derived from sociocultural theories; activity theory; figured worlds theory; and, dialogical self theory. Individual, face-to-face semi-structured interviews, and the maintenance of solicited digital diaries, are the principal methods of data collection employed. The use of a dimensional model fragments the integrated learning experiences of beginning teachers into constituent parts for the purpose of analysis. While acknowledging that the actual journey articulated by each participant is a more complex whole than the sum of its parts, key empirically-based claims are presented as per the dimensional framework employed: contextuality; emotionality; temporo-spatiality. As a result of applying the foci of an international literature to an under-researched aspect of Irish education, this study is offered as a context-specific contribution to the knowledge base on beginning teaching. As the developmental needs of beginning teachers constitute an emerging area of intense policy focus in Ireland, this research undertaking is both relevant and timely.
- ItemForm-focused instruction in Irish-medium immersion education: a critical examination of teachers' perspectives and practices. A small-scale qualitative case study(University College Cork, 2014) Ó Ceallaigh, Timothy Joseph; O'Brien, StephenIt has been suggested that the less than optimal levels of students’ immersion language “persist in part because immersion teachers lack systematic approaches for integrating language into their content instruction” (Tedick, Christian and Fortune, 2011, p.7). I argue that our current lack of knowledge regarding what immersion teachers think, know and believe and what immersion teachers’ actual ‘lived’ experiences are in relation to form-focused instruction (FFI) prevents us from fully understanding the key issues at the core of experiential immersion pedagogy and form-focused integration. FFI refers to “any planned or incidental instructional activity that is intended to induce language learners to pay attention to linguistic form” (Ellis, 2001b, p.1). The central aim of this research study is to critically examine the perspectives and practices of Irish-medium immersion (IMI) teachers in relation to FFI. The study ‘taps’ into the lived experiences of three IMI teachers in three different IMI school contexts and explores FFI from a classroom-based, teacher-informed perspective. Philosophical underpinnings of the interpretive paradigm and critical hermeneutical principles inform and guide the study. A multi-case study approach was adopted and data was gathered through classroom observation, video-stimulated recall and semistructured interviews. Findings revealed that the journey of ‘becoming’ an IMI teacher is shaped by a vast array of intricate variables. IMI teacher identity, implicit theories, stated beliefs, educational biographies and experiences, IMI school cultures and contexts as well as teacher knowledge and competence impacted on IMI teachers’ FFI perspectives and practices. An IMI content teacher identity reflected the teachers’ priorities as shaped by pedagogical challenges and their educational backgrounds. While research participants had clearly defined instructional beliefs and goals, their roadmap of how to actually accomplish these goals was far from clear. IMI teachers described the multitude of choices and pedagogical dilemmas they faced in integrating FFI into experiential pedagogy. Significant gaps in IMI teachers’ declarative knowledge about and competence in the immersion language were also reported. This research study increases our understanding of the complexity of the processes underlying and shaping FFI pedagogy in IMI education. Innovative FFI opportunities for professional development across the continuum of teacher education are outlined, a comprehensive evaluation of IMI is called for and areas for further research are delineated.