Education - Doctoral Theses

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 57
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    The powerful impact of space on student learning at three universities: a design thinking, and scholarship of teaching and learning approach
    (University College Cork, 2023) Power, Catherine (Katie); Supple, Briony; Chambers, Fiona; Carnell, Brent; University College Cork; Munster Technological University
    Learning spaces are a crucial component of the student journey through university education. This study investigates the impact of physical spaces on learning experiences at three universities: Munster Technological University, University College Cork, and University College London. The study employs a range of user-centric qualitative data collection methods (survey, observation, think-aloud, creative sticker choice and empathy mapping), and produces findings that I propose could be universally applicable in higher education settings. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Boyer, 1990) and Design Thinking (Brown, 2008) are brought together as a dual methodology for the exploration of learning spaces. Through this fusion, I introduce a Theory of Learning Places, whereby space is transformed into place through meaningful interactions as students and teachers engage in praxis. A conceptual framework underpins the study and three research questions explore the perceptions learners and teachers have about the spaces where they learn and teach; how these end-users (students) and key stakeholders (teachers) articulate the impact of spaces on the learning experience; and the opportunities that exist to develop new approaches in the use of spaces. This study adopted a qualitative research approach (social constructivism as a macro-paradigm), and with the adopted dual methodology of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Design Thinking, utilised novel approaches to data collection. The data were analysed through two rounds, firstly using an inductive analysis approach (Harry et al., 2005) and secondly by an ethnodrama persona explicitation role-play. The research themes identified were identity and belonging in spaces; social justice and human rights in respect of spaces; and empowerment of persons in spaces. These themes are broken into a spectrum of sub-themes to provide strategic foresight and guidance on how to incorporate the user experience in the design, planning and use of university learning spaces. I argue that students and teachers must be afforded a voice in the planning and design of learning spaces, to embed a people-centric research-informed approach to their use. A set of best practice guidelines are suggested for early and ongoing engagement with students and teachers in the creation and use of physical spaces.
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    ‘Is That Enough?’ An examination of the conceptual metaphors post-primary pre-service teachers use to make sense of collaborative learning
    (University College Cork, 2023) Harrington, Fergal; Long, Fiachra; Ni Riordain, Maire; Rutherford, Vanessa; National University of Ireland
    Collaborative Learning (CL) is resoundingly endorsed throughout the academic literature and developing more collaborative cultures at all levels of education has become an explicit goal, nowhere more so than in Initial Teacher Education. Despite this, it continues to encounter noticeable ‘student resistance’ and stunted rates of propagation. This investigation centres on the language-in-action of seven groups of Pre-Service Teachers from 2016 to 2019, as they engage in CL as part of their Initial Teacher Education. Adopting a duality of Cognitive Linguistic and Conversation Analysis lenses allowed audio recordings of these collaborative conversations to be scrutinised and understood in terms of the interactional behaviours and learner- expressed goals, as well as the conceptual models depicted through the metaphoric language embedded in that speech. This revealed an absence of a clear and shared understanding of CL, a problem compounded by the systematic alignment of the conversation away from epistemic engagement and development, commonly exhibiting discomfort with epistemic authority. This phenomenon was echoed in the emergence of a system of cognitive metaphors which structurally provided for conceptualising their collaboration task, not in terms of an epistemically- developmental activity, but as a labour-centric one. This inquiry uniquely builds on both existing CL and ITE literature, particularly in the context of student resistance and the epistemic ramifications of various conceptual metaphors. It further contributes to literature which recognises the critical role PSTs’ epistemic beliefs can impact their teacher training.
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    Investigating the relationship between perceived motor competence and actual motor competence in adolescent youth
    (University College Cork, 2022-10-05) Philpott, Conor Timothy; O'Brien, Wesley; Chambers, Fiona; Belton, Sarahjane
    Background: Research across the globe has highlighted that adolescents are lacking proficiency in fundamental movement skills (FMS) and functional movement patterns, i.e. in their actual motor competence (AMC). Additionally, research in the domain of self-perceptions illustrates that adolescents possess inordinate levels of perceived motor competence (PMC) relative to their low level of actual ability. Evaluating the role of the school community (i.e. physical education class and other classroom settings) in the development of AMC and realistic self-perceptions is key, as they form essential facets to growth in these areas. This PhD research encompassed three phases. The first phase saw the gathering of cross-sectional baseline motor competence data on adolescent youth by sex and school year (i.e. grade) across the first three years (Junior Cycle) of post-primary education. The second phase formed part of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to examine and evaluate an eight-week multi-component, school-based motor competence intervention entitled Project FLAME (Fundamental and Functional Literacy for Activity and Movement Efficiency), and its role in improving the alignment between PMC and AMC among youth. A third phase of this research comprised of a validity and reliability study to gauge the utility of a tool (utilised in phase one and two) to assess PMC data among adolescent youth. Methods: Phases one and two (baseline and RCT) recorded data among adolescents (phase one: N = 373; mean age: 14.38 ± 0.87 years; phase two: N= 324; mean age= 14.5 ± 0.88 years), in six schools (two all-male, two all-female, and two mixed-sex). In both phases, the primary outcomes measures involved 10 FMS (locomotor, object-control, and stability subsets) assessed through established measures the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 and the Get Skilled Get Active resource, in addition to 7 movements from the Functional Movement ScreenTM (FMS™). Perceived Motor competence was assessed using the Project FLAME Perceived Movement Competence Tool (PF-PMC) and the perceived functional motor competence tool. The Project FLAME intervention was structured around four components, the (i) Teacher component, (ii) Student component, (iii) Whole-School component and (iv) Digital component. Multi-level regression models were used to assess the effect of the intervention for improving the alignment between PMC and FMS. Age and sex were controlled for during these analyses, with interaction effects for the intervention and time assessed. The phase three reliability and validity study (N = 147; mean age: 13.61 ± .93 years) recruited participants from three second-level schools (one all-male, one all-female, and one mixed-sex) for a seven-day test-retest reliability assessment of the PF-PMC and concurrent validity which compared the PF-PMC with the pictorial scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence (PMSC). Results: Results from baseline data indicated that fundamental and functional movement proficiency remained low, with high levels of self-perception not reflective of AMC. Pre-Post-intervention data following the Project FLAME intervention trial observed no significant effect for the intervention on alignment between PMC and AMC, however a small significant relationship between PMC and AMC remained (β = .23, p < .001). Phase three reported strong concurrent validity between the PF-PMC and PMSC (r = 0.83, p<.001), in addition to excellent internal consistency, and test-retest reliability. Discussion: The findings from phase one demonstrate the necessity for movement-oriented interventions in adolescent youth. Though prior research under the Project FLAME remit has previously demonstrated an ability to improve AMC in youth across 8-weeks, phase two indicates that an increase in the number of sessions may be needed to provoke greater alignment between PMC and AMC. Phase three illustrates that the PF-PMC is fit for use, though additional research for construct validity may be needed.
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    From the heart of Islam to an Irish campus: a critical analysis of twelve male Saudi Arabian students’ experiences on the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme
    (University College Cork, 2023-05-05) Walsh Kiely, Helena; Dowling, Siobhan; Rutherford, Vanessa
    This doctoral study interprets the lived experience of Saudi Arabian students on the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme (KASP) over a period of five years. The study interprets the students’ experiences while they are physically distanced from the temporal-cultural forces which define a strongly collectivist identity. They are also physically distanced from the geo-political might of Saudi Arabia and from Sharīʿah law. The purpose of the research is to investigate a phenomenon of identity change. No other study deals with the phenomenology of the KASP experience. Existing research is largely qualitative, but rarely goes beyond evaluating the programme through a pedagogical or economic lens. There is also no available data on the reflexive experience of lecturers on KASP. The study has added significance in that it is the first and only research on KASP anywhere in Ireland, despite Ireland’s participation in the programme. The methods used are ethnographic, using art-based research in the form of photo-elicitation. Data is gathered through semi-structured interviews, emailed questionnaires, and purposeful journaling. The theoretical framework defines the key concepts, and the study is strongly influenced throughout by the philosophical tenets of interpretative phenomenological analysis where interpreting both my own and the students’ transformative journeys is at the centre of the humanistic level of this research. Patterns and themes in the data are identified using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis, where six findings measure the impact of the scholarship programme on the students. Findings on the students’ self-identification are separated into two areas: firstly, consciously maintaining the structural functional assumption of how Saudi society ‘is’ and, secondly, new ideas and values stimulated by critical consciousness. Analysis of the findings on the efficacy of the programme’s acculturation strategy, combined with the reflexive analysis, will call for a raised awareness of all student mobility programmes in Ireland, the impact of student mobility on identity, and the role campuses play in the internationalisation of education.
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    The fragile and imaginative world of learning to teach: experience, identity, pedagogy
    (University College Cork, 2022-10-07) Hinchion, Carmel; Hall, Kathy
    This 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.