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- ItemAssessment in primary education in Ireland(University College Cork, 2016) Sheehan, Alan M.; Hall, Kathy; Irish National Teachers' Organisaton; College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, University College CorkThis doctoral study examines assessment in primary education in the Republic of Ireland. The nature and purpose of assessment offer an insight into the values which are prioritised by an education system. In 2011, in the Republic of Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) published a strategy aiming to improve standards of literacy and numeracy. The document, entitled, Literacy and numeracy for learning and life: the national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy for children and young people 2011-2020, contains improvement targets as measured by standardised tests. It also mandates the increased use of standardised tests in primary education, and directs that aggregated scores should be reported to both Boards of Management and the DES. The study is framed by the theoretical perspectives of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu. Both of these commentators examine social policy and practice in an effort to provide insight into the history and operation of social institutions. This study is especially influenced by Foucault’s archaeology and genealogy of knowledge, and his notion of governmentality. It is also particularly cognisant of Bourdieu’s thoughts on habitus, doxa and capital. The study contains reviews of literature in the areas of assessment, assessment policy, and assessment policy in Ireland. These reviews highlight current debate in each of these areas while also grounding this debate in an historical context. The dissertation contains four empirical sections. 1) It analyses policy documents prepared in the development of the published strategy as well as investigating the strategy itself. In so doing it is aware of the burgeoning influence of pan-national bodies on policy development. 2) A number of high profile policy makers were interviewed as part of the study and their views are interpreted in light of the findings of the literature reviews. 3) The perspective of teachers was sought through a questionnaire survey. This gathered data on these teachers’ views on the purpose of assessment as well as their actual practice. 4) Finally, children were also included as participants in this study. They were interviewed in focus groups and encouraged to contribute drawings as well on their views of assessment in primary school. Literacy and numeracy for learning and life is seen as a seminal document in Irish education. This study is significant in its analysis of original data from high profile policy makers, including two Ministers for Education and Skills. It is also significant in its inclusion of the perspectives of primary school pupils. Finally, the study considers the nature and role of assessment in a holistic manner by including the views of policy makers, teachers and pupils. The study notes that policy development in Ireland underwent a change in the preparation of Literacy and numeracy for learning and life and that international influences, while present, are also mediated to suit the local context. It also highlights a lack of clarity in the definition of assessment in primary education and argues that there is a lack of balance in the approaches that are prioritised. The study demonstrates that teachers are impacted by the strategy but that they also change it by focusing on their own concerns while using assessment tools. The children provide compelling evidence of the impact of assessment on the learner. The study shows how assessment tools (and school subjects) are valued with differing levels of importance by a variety of stakeholders.
- ItemAssessment of a novel computer aided learning tool in neuroanatomy education(University College Cork, 2018) Javaid, Muhammad Asim; Toulouse, André; Cryan, John F.; Schellekens, HarriëtImpaired understanding of intricate neuroanatomical concepts and structural inter-relationships has been associated with a fear of managing neurology patients, called neurophobia, among medical trainees. As technology advances, the role of e-learning pedagogies becomes more important to supplement the traditional dissection / prosection and lecture-based pedagogies for teaching neuroanatomy to undergraduate students. However, despite the availability of a myriad of e-learning resources, the neuro (-anatomy-) phobia – neurophobia nexus prevails. The focus of the PhD was to investigate the difficulties associated with learning neuroanatomy and to develop and assess the efficacy of a novel e-learning tool for teaching neuroanatomy, in the context of the strengths and pitfalls of the currently available e-learning resources. Firstly, we sought to provide direct evidence of the medical and health science students’ perception regarding specific challenges associated with learning neuroanatomy. The initial results showed that neuroanatomy is perceived as a more difficult subject compared to other anatomy topics, with spinal pathways being the most challenging to learn. Participants believed that computer assisted learning and online resources could enhance neuroanatomy understanding and decrease their neurophobia. Next, in the context of the significance of e-learning for supplementing traditional pedagogies, we identified features of neuroanatomy web-resources that were valued by students and educators with regards to learning neuroanatomy of the spinal pathways. Participants identified strengths and weaknesses of existing neuroanatomy web-resources and ranked one resource above the others in terms of information delivery and integration of clinical, physiological and medical imaging correlates. This provides a novel user perspective on the influence of specific elements of neuroanatomy web-resources to improve instructional design and enhance learner performance. Finally, considering the data acquired from students and educators, a novel, interactive, neuroanatomy learning e-resource was developed to support teaching of the neuroanatomy of the spinal pathways. The instructional design included a discussion of the clinical interpretation of basic neuroanatomical facts to aid in neurological localization. The e-learning tool was assessed and evaluated by undergraduate medical and neuroscience students using neuroanatomy knowledge quizzes and Likert-scale perception questionnaires and compared to the previously identified best-ranked neuroanatomy e-resource. Participants’ opinion regarding the usefulness of various components of the tools was also gauged. The results showed that usage of the UCC e-resource led to a significant increase in participants’ knowledge of the neuroanatomy of the spinal pathways compared to students’ who did not use e-resources. Moreover, the participants reported a greater interest in learning neuroanatomy with the novel tool, showing a greater appreciation for it while learning clinical neurological correlates compared to those using the best available e-resource identified earlier. In summary, the prevailing problem of neurophobia could be addressed by enhancing student-interest. Technological e-learning pedagogies, with intelligently designed interactive user-interface and clinical correlation of basic neuroanatomical facts can play a pivotal role in helping students learn neuroanatomy and breaking the nexus between neuro (-anatomy-) phobia and neurophobia.
- 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.
- ItemCare in the Leaving Certificate assemblage: an ethnography to identify and trace affective flows and their impacts in the Leaving Certificate year at an all-boys school(University College Cork, 2022) Kealy, Annemarie; Kitching, Karl; Cahill, KevinThe Senior Cycle of second-level education in Ireland is organised around a series of examinations introduced by a colonial government in 1878 and now known as the Leaving Certificate Examination (LCE). More recently, the Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers (Teaching Council, 2007, 2012, 2016) named care as an ethical value underpinning teaching. This thesis, then, is about the interplay of care and the Leaving Certificate Examination in one academic year- 2013-14. An ethnographic study was undertaken at St. Raphael’s boys’ school in Southern Ireland. It included observation of Leaving Certificate students and their teachers in academic classes. Teachers, including the principal, were interviewed separately while students participated in individual interviews and focus groups. That methodological process is detailed in Chapter 5. Building on feminist humanist, structuralist and poststructuralist understandings of care in education, affect theory conceptualises Leaving Certificate Examination (LCE) policy, practice and experience. Rather than a terminal local school event, LCE is conceived as an assemblage of local, national and international force relations shaping human and non-human bodies about the examination. It is explained in Chapter 4 as a Leaving Certificate Assemblage (LCAS). Assemblage identifies how multiple, interconnecting, and shifting force relations – and the bodies, materialities, and affects associated with these - shaped what was cared about and what kinds of students could be cared for. These force relations or flows are defined as policy, temporality, material, ghosted, and media flows. Their impacts on assemblage bodies are discussed in three findings chapters – Chapters 6, 7 and 8. They focus separately on (1) the affective environment of the Leaving Certificate Assemblage, (2) teachers’ becoming, and (3) three student bodies-Stephen, Thomas, and Kyle- and their becoming. Overall, four key LCAS concerns were identified. These were the LCE, suicide prevention and well-being promotion, order and scarcity. These are discussed in the concluding Chapter 9. These findings are significant. They capture the complicated interaction of national and international policies with institutional and individual ethics, desires and practices as they enfold and manifest in particular moments of experience. They suggest that intentional care for educational endeavour requires decisions about (1) how learning and well-being aims can be better negotiated and articulated to increase the second-level system’s capacity to care for all students and teachers in the present and into the future; (2) how financial funding to resource comprehensive care for students and their teachers can be achieved and maintained to support the learning and well-being of all; (3) the nature of the order that best supports students, teachers and schools and how that might be achieved in ways that also promote learning and well-being.
- 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.
- 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.
- ItemThe design, development, implementation and evaluation of Project FLAME: a multi-component, school-based, motor competence intervention for adolescent youth in Ireland(University College Cork, 2020) Lester, Diarmuid; O'Brien, Wesley; Chambers, FionaBackground: Recent research has shown that Irish adolescent youth are insufficiently active and fail to reach basic levels of fundamental movement skills (FMS) and functional movement. Schools and the engagement of relevant stakeholders, particularly qualified Physical Education (PE) specialist teachers, are key vehicles for the provision of movement-based opportunities in youth. The purpose of the first phase of this research was to gather cross-sectional data on adolescent youth, differentiated by gender and grade across the first three years (Junior Cycle) of post-primary education, specifically to inform the development a multi-component, school-based motor competence intervention entitled Project FLAME (Fundamental and Functional Literacy for Activity and Movement Efficiency). The second phase of the research aimed to evaluate if Project FLAME can improve FMS and functional movement in adolescent youth. Methods: Cross-sectional data, as part of the first phase of the research, were collected on adolescents (N = 219; mean age: 14.45 ± 0.96 years), within two, mixed gender schools. Primary outcome measures were consistent in both phases of the research and included the assessment of ten FMS (including locomotor and object control subsets) in conjunction with the observable, behavioural components from three established testing batteries, namely the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD), TGMD-2, and the Get Skilled: Get Active manual, as well as the seven tests within the Functional Movement Screen (FMS™). The Project FLAME intervention included four major components, specifically the i) specialist Physical Education (PE) teacher component, ii) kinaesthetic classroom component, iii) student component and iv) digital literacy component. Using a non-randomized controlled trial as part of the second phase of the research, a target sample of 363 participants (56% male, mean age: 14.04 ± 0.89 years old) were recruited from three mixed-gender, sub-urban schools (two intervention; one control) in Cork, Ireland, for baseline data collection, followed by a 13-week consecutive intervention roll out, and post-test data collection. Linear mixed models were used to assess the effect of the intervention with two main effects, treatment and time, and their interaction. Analyses were adjusted for participants’ gender, age, grade and BMI score. Results: Based on the results from the cross-sectional data, levels of actual mastery within FMS and functional movement were low, with significant gender and age-related differences observed. Following the implementation of the Project FLAME non-randomized controlled trial, significant intervention effects across time were observed, with the greatest improvements evident for overall gross FMS (p = .002). Discussion: Findings from the first phase of the research suggested that developing a multi-component, school-based intervention was a strategic step that could improve the observed low levels of adolescent FMS and functional movement. The Project FLAME intervention was successful at improving adolescent overall FMS gross motor competence, resulting in significant treatment-time interactions. A whole-school approach emphasising FMS and functional movement, which include developmentally appropriate activities, and the concurrent involvement of specialist PE, and non-specialist PE teachers appears effective for developing motor competence in adolescent youth.
- ItemThe design, development, implementation and evaluation of the Gaelic4Girls intervention(University College Cork, 2020-06-26) Farmer, Orlagh; O'Brien, Wesley; Cahill, Kevin; Irish Research CouncilBackground: It is widely reported that girls are less physically active than boys throughout childhood, and the age-related decline in physical activity (PA) participation, particularly from early adolescence onwards, is steeper for girls than for boys. Correlates of PA, such as fundamental movement skills (FMS), club-based participation in organised youth sport (OYS), psychological correlates (self-efficacy, enjoyment, PA attitudes), and social support structures (family and peer support) during childhood and adolescence contributes considerably to leisure-time PA for health-enhancing benefits in young girls. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to design, develop, implement and evaluate a multi-component community sports-based PA intervention, specifically tailored for 8- to 12- year old girls in Ladies Gaelic Football (LGF) clubs in Ireland. The existing programme, known as Gaelic4Girls (G4G), was re-designed and revised using the theoretical underpinnings of the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and elements of the Social Ecological Model (SEM). Methodology: Data for this PhD thesis were gathered from participants (n= 568), using a mixed-methods research design. At baseline, information was gathered on participants (n = 331) levels of PA (self-report questionnaire), FMS proficiency (live assessment of motor skills), and psychological correlates of PA (self-report questionnaire), using validated and reliable protocol. A sub-sample of participants (n = 37) also participated in focus group interviews to explore their perceptions of PA and sport participation. Based on this data, and an exploration of the literature, a revised G4G intervention was developed. A quasi-experimental, non-randomised controlled trial involving three community sports clubs (group 1 - revised G4G intervention; group 2 - existing G4G programme; and group 3 - control condition) was then implemented to evaluate the revised G4G intervention’s efficacy. Participants’ data (n=120) was collected at pre and post time points on the following variables; PA levels, FMS proficiency, and psychological correlates of PA. Focus group data (n = 6) was collected at post-intervention to explore perceptions of the revised G4G intervention. Results: Following a 2 (pre to post) by 3 (group 1, 2 and 3) mixed-model ANOVA, it was highlighted over time that the revised G4G intervention group 1 significantly increased in PA (mean change = 39.7, SD = 81.66, p=.003), FMS proficiency (mean change = 1.86, SD = 4.78, p=.005) and their associated psychological correlates of PA (namely self-efficacy (p<.002), perceived self-confidence (p<.002), enjoyment (p<.003), attitudes towards PA (p<.003), and family social support (p<.002). FG findings reported positive findings for the revised G4G intervention group 1 participants, specifically the heightened psychological wellbeing for girls, and the establishment of emerging friendships between peers. Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that the 10-week specifically tailored, research-informed and revised G4G intervention is a feasible and efficacious programme, leading to a positive effect on the physical and psychological wellbeing of pre-adolescent Irish girls, as relative to the traditionally delivered existing G4G comparative programme, and control group conditions. Further research involving a randomised controlled trial, with a larger sample size is warranted.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- ItemThe early years in Irish multigrade classes: trajectories of practice and identity(University College Cork, 2015) O'Driscoll, Sharon; Horgan, Mary; Cunneen, MauraThis study investigates how the experiences of Junior Infants are shaped in multigrade classes. Multigrade classes are composed of two or more grades within the same classroom with one teacher having responsibility for the instruction of all grades in this classroom within a time-tabled period (Little, 2001, Mason and Doepner, 1998). The overall aim of the research is to problematize the issues of early childhood pedagogy in multigrade classes in the context of children negotiating identities, positioning and power relations. A Case Study approach was employed to explore the perspectives of the teachers, children and their parents in eight multigrade schools. Concurrent with this, a nation-wide Questionnaire Survey was also conducted which gave a broader context to the case study findings. Findings from the research study suggest that institutional context is vitally important and finding the space to implement pedagogic practices is a highly complex matter for teachers. While a majority of teachers reported the benefits for younger children being in mixed-age settings alongside older children, only a minority of case study school teachers demonstrated how it is possible to promote classroom climates which were provided multiple opportunities for younger children to engage fully in classrooms. The findings reveal constraints on pedagogical practice which included: time pressures within the job, an increase in diversity in pupil population, meeting special needs, large class sizes, high pupil/teacher ratios, and planning/organisation of tasks which intensified the complexities of addressing the needs of children who differ significantly in age, cognitive, social and emotional levels. An emergent and recurrent theme of this study is the representation of Junior Infants as apprentices in their ‘communities of practice’ who contributed in peripheral ways to the practices of their groups (Lave and Wenger, 1991, Wenger, 1998). Through a continuous process of negotiation of meaning, these pupils learned the knowledge and skills within their communities of practice that empowered some to participate more fully than others. The children in their ‘figured worlds’ (Holland, Lachiotte, Skinner and Caine 1998) occupy identities which are influenced by established arrangements of resources and practices within that community as well as by their own agentive actions. Finally, the findings of the study also demonstrate how the dimension of power is central to the exercise of social relations and pedagogical practices in multigrade classes.
- ItemEducation welfare in Ireland: a study of the experiences of young people and families referred to the Statutory Education Welfare Service(University College Cork, 2020-11-30) O'Flynn, Sinéad; Connolly, Tracey; Cahill, Kevin; TUSLA Child and Family AgencyThis research examines the experiences of young people and families referred to the Educational Welfare Service in Ireland. This is a small-scale unique study based on seven case studies and includes in-depth semi-structured interviews with young people, parents, schools, external agencies and the Education Welfare Officers (EWOs). This qualitative study explores the factors contributing to poor school attendance from the perspectives of the young people and their parents, the research explores their response to these contributing factors and considers their engagement with the school and subsequent engagement with the Education Welfare Service (EWS). A number of central themes emerge from the data as contributing to school absenteeism, these include; educational inequality, mental health issues including bereavement, anxiety and trauma and the impact of having a special educational need. The research highlights the effects of inequality and the lack of appropriate services for young people both in and outside of the school environment. The importance of a positive school climate and the importance of true and meaningful school inclusion also emerge from the research as being fundamental in ensuring continued engagement for marginalised young people within the education system. The research recommends the review of the current school attendance legislation, the review of practice methods used by schools and agencies to maintain young people within the education system and a targetted, holistic approach to effectively respond to the complex issues that lead to early school leaving. Consideration should be given to using a multidisciplinary approach with the potential to offer a range of services to support young people with their learning, with their emotional and mental health issues and include the provision of outreach options to marginalised families. The research also explores the role of the Education Welfare Officer and focuses on the influence of power and social class on school attendance. This research explores the appropriateness of prosecution as a response to poor school attendance, given the complexity of the underlying issues that are illustrated by the cases presented. The role of the Education Welfare Officer is presented as the advocate for children and young people through the support and guidance offered to parents, schools and agencies.
- ItemEffects of fluency oriented instruction on reading achievement and motivation among struggling readers in first class in Irish primary schools(University College Cork, 2016) Mehigan, Eugene; Hall, KathyThis study uniquely looked at the effects of fluency oriented reading instruction (FORI) on reading achievement and motivation for reading among struggling readers in First Class in Irish primary schools. The study was conducted in two phases in DEIS Band 1 & 2 primary schools in the Dublin Northside Partnership catchment area. In Phase One, the current practice of learning support teachers in relation to teaching struggling readers was investigated along with the extent to which these teachers employed oral reading fluency strategies in their instruction. The second phase of the study examined the effects of an on-site reading intervention on the reading achievement and motivation for reading of struggling readers. The intervention, which was based on fluency oriented reading instruction, took place in learning support classrooms in three DEIS primary schools selected from participating schools in the first phase of the study. The study was conducted through a pragmatic lens with research questions framed to shed light on the underachievement in literacy of students in First Class from disadvantaged backgrounds. A mixed methods design was employed with a sequential explanatory and a concurrent triangulation strategy adopted for the first and second of the study respectively. This facilitated the exploration of multiple research questions using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with teachers and parents and conversational interviews and surveys with students. A wide range of assessment measures were employed to track reading achievement and motivation for reading among students. The findings of the first phase of the study confirm that compensatory instruction for struggling readers in First Class is typified by a highly structured, bottom-up approach with an emphasis on cognitive rather than affective processes. In the second phase of the study, post-intervention results indicated that students had significantly higher achievement in oral reading fluency with modest improvement on word reading efficiency measures in comparison with pre-intervention scores. The perspective of reading motivation guiding this study recognised the overlapping influences of teachers, parents and the student himself or herself. Findings as reported by these research informants indicate that the FORI intervention had a positive impact on the motivation for reading of struggling readers in First Class. In particular the intervention was found to decrease students’ perceived difficulty with reading and increase their reading self-efficacy and orientation towards reading. The social aspect of reading was also found to play a prominent role in the motivation for reading of struggling readers. In this respect the research found parents to play a critical role in the literacy development of their children. The findings from this study suggest that in order for struggling readers to overcome both skill deficiencies in reading and any negative reading- and achievement-related self-beliefs a comprehensive approach is required. This thesis argues that there needs to be a shift from a purely cognitive interpretation of reading instruction to a motivational and emotional co-determination of beginning reading skills.
- ItemElite youth Gaelic footballers and their holistic development: the academy experience(University College Cork, 2018) Cuthbert, Brian; Chambers, Fiona Catherine; Gaelic Athletic AssociationThe purpose of this thesis is to provide a holistic analysis of the talent development environment surrounding elite Gaelic Football academies in Ireland. In response to existing literature, which has focused on the cognitive determinants of elite performance, contemporary research has suggested a practical and conceptual shift towards an understanding of the role that psychological, social, and cultural circumstances play in the talent development process. Drawing on a holistic ecological case study approach, six individual county academies and their constituent stakeholders (i.e. academy coaches, club coaches, teachers, parents, elite players, and prospects) participated in the project over a nine-month period. Using a systematic version of grounded theory, findings from this research concluded that there were (a) acute dysfunctional relationships existing between constituent stakeholders within the academy environment, (b) limiting structural and organisational impediments to prospect’s progression and transition to elite football, and (c) a number of negative socio-cultural influences impacting prospects and their positive personal development. This combination of factors suggests that Gaelic football talent development environments struggle to support the holistic development of elite youth prospects. As such, success at adult elite level for individual counties in Gaelic football did not correlate to successful Talent Development Environments (TDEs) at youth level.
- 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.
- 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.
- ItemFaculty and student attitudes and experiences of blended learning in postgraduate programmes: a case study in an Irish university(University College Cork, 2020) Foley, Tom; Hall, Kathy; O'Reilly, Seamus; Curtin, Alicia; University College CorkWhile technology has undoubtedly increased the breadth and depth of access to education, shifts of this magnitude need reconstruction of approach from faculty and administrators in higher education to rethink the pedagogy for the twenty-first century learner who require such skills as critical thinking, problem solving and the ability to communicate through different media where the face-to-face lectures still dominate teaching practice. In this exploratory study, a case study approach was used to investigate the implementation of blended learning with a group of students on their postgraduate programmes and explore the influence blended learning is having on both faculty and student experience. This study explores the challenges and benefits of a holistic approach to digital learning for a modern university. In conducting this study, the TPACK model of Mishra and Koehler (2006) and the Multimodal Model by Picciano (2009) form the basis of the conceptual frameworks adopted as these were deemed the most relevant frameworks because of their pedagogic dimension. The themes identified included the need for face-to-face interaction, course structure, induction and providing adequate support. Challenges arose due to isolation with the physical distance between the instructor and students, using technology to communicate on forums, workload, lack of training, time management issues and the ongoing need to provide a variety of assessment methods and subsequent feedback. Blended learning is endorsed as a strategy that helps to create a more integrated approach for both instructors and learners. What also emerged was that a holistic, seamless and well integrated blended learning approach using pedagogically appropriate models and more active learning, provided faculty the opportunity to engage students in a richer, deeper, and more meaningful context. Overall, students valued this learning and assessment strategy and viewed the online environment as an inclusive space in which to collaborate and share ideas where they had the option to share knowledge and interact with each other beyond the confines of the classroom where the significance of the pedagogy takes priority over and above the efficiency aspect. This study concludes that blended learning can be considered as an efficient approach to distance learning in terms of students’ learning experience where pedagogy transcends technology. The evidence would suggest that effective blended learning does not entail merely ‘toying with technology’ and adapting it into pre-exiting courses where it may serve no pedagogical value. The relationship between content, pedagogy and technology is fundamental, thus, the implementation of powerful blended learning may necessitate changes in pedagogy and the relationship between students and educators.
- 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.
- ItemThe fragile and imaginative world of learning to teach: experience, identity, pedagogy(University College Cork, 2022-10-07) Hinchion, Carmel; Hall, KathyThis PhD thesis is by Published Works. Its focus is on learning to teach in Initial Teacher Education. The key concepts explored include the experience of learning to teach, the identity-making process involved and the importance of pedagogy to the process. Student teacher texts of practice make up the data set and the methodology is interpretative in approach.