Education - Doctoral Theses

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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.
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    Care 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, Kevin
    The 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.  
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    Understanding synchronous collaborative learning via telesimulation for health professions education
    (University College Cork, 2022) Joy, Aislinn; Hall, Kathy; Conway, Paul
    Background: Simulation for health professions education is viewed as an educational strategy where near to real-life critical events can be enacted for learning. Teleconferencing and telesimulation have been purported as the vehicles to help increase access to essential medical education around the globe. It has been suggested however that technological and other barriers may preclude synchronous (real-time) collaborative learning via telesimulation. Collaborative learning is defined as a situation in which particular forms of interaction among people are expected to trigger learning opportunities, but there is no guarantee that expected interactions will occur. Very little research has explored how synchronous collaborative interactions can be supported for learning across distances during multisite Virtual Patient (VP) and manikin-based telesimulations. Aims and objectives: The aims and objectives of this study are to contribute new insights about how to identify and support meaningful synchronous collaborative learning opportunities during telesimulation. Three main research questions were constructed to fulfil these aims and objectives: 1. What is currently known about synchronous collaborative learning via telesimulation-based healthcare education? 2. How do synchronous collaborative learning opportunities emerge during virtual patient (VP), mixed modality and manikin-based transatlantic telesimulations? 3. How are synchronous collaborative learning opportunities supported (or not) during VP, hybrid, and manikin-based transatlantic telesimulations? Methodology: In this thesis, learning opportunities and supports were conceptualised as boundaries and boundary object assemblages within an integrated sociocultural, sociomaterial, and discourse analytical framework, aligned within Interactional Ethnography and a Gee-informed discourse analysis. Methods: I carried out a scoping review to answer the first research question (RQ1). To answer the next two research questions (RQ2 and RQ3), I designed a qualitative case study within which synchronous collaborative learning interactions across three different types of telesimulation settings were explored: i) transatlantic Virtual Patient (VP) telesimulations between same level medical students; ii) transatlantic hybrid telesimulations between different level medical students; and iii) transatlantic manikin-based telesimulations between interprofessional healthcare teams. In terms of data, I collected video-recordings, group interviews, follow-up focus group interview, reflections, emails, and scenario design documents. I created field notes from observation and from video, as well as transcriptions, event maps and video frame grabs. From this I selected and followed all synchronous interactions within the dataset which included site A (transatlantic site) within multi-site telesimulation activities. Results: What is currently known about synchronous collaborative learning via telesimulation-based healthcare education (RQ1) can be considered in terms of effectiveness, conditions, interactions and processes. Except for feasibility studies however, no studies have gleaned any light on synchronous collaborative learning via VPs or multisite manikin-based simulations. In terms of learning opportunities (RQ2), it was found that institutional, pedagogical, and knowledge boundaries came to the fore in different ways during synchronous VP simulations and that knowledge, technological and distributed team design boundaries emerged during hybrid telesimulations between medical students. Interprofessional, institutional and geographical boundaries emerged as learning opportunities during manikin-based telesimulations between multi-professional healthcare teams. In terms of support (RQ3), it emerged that ‘design scripts’, VP software tools, VP scenarios, peers and tutors, supported synchronous collaborative learning during VP telesimulation. The co-construction of conceptual and concrete products as boundary objects by participants supported synchronous collaborative learning in interprofessional manikin-based telesimulations. It was found however that these materials and participants did not do this on their own but within sociomaterial assemblages. Conclusions: This doctoral study has contributed new knowledge, empirically and theoretically, towards an enhanced understanding of synchronous collaborative learning in different telesimulation settings for health professions education. Its originality lies in its research questions, theoretical framework, integrated research approach and novel distance learning setting.
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    An investigation of the design, implementation and evaluation of an online chemistry programme in the Irish secondary school
    (University College Cork, 2022-07-21) Gallagher, Ryan; Kennedy, Declan; Dennehy, Niamh; Hall, Kathy
    This study investigates the design, implementation and evaluation of an online chemistry programme in the Irish secondary school. At national and international level, the vast majority of research on online teaching and learning is third-level focussed. There is noteworthy literature on the benefits to learning and teaching based on pedagogies such as blended learning and the flipped classroom. These two pedagogies are investigated in this research project. This study involved converting the entire Leaving Certificate chemistry syllabus into a series of video lessons and accompanying resources, which were then uploaded onto a website ( Chemistry students and teachers were encouraged to use the resources on the website throughout a two-year period. The study employed a multi-method approach in order to maximise the robustness of the findings by triangulating data from different sources (questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and lesson observations). The study took place over two cycles. Cycle 1 took place in year 1 and involved a trialling of the resources on the website by collecting data from students and teachers who used the online resources. Cycle 2 took place in the second year and involved implementing the findings of cycle 1 as well as evaluating the effectiveness of the updated resources. The overall findings of this study suggest that blended learning is an effective pedagogy in teaching Leaving Certificate chemistry. However, it was also found that there are challenges in the implementation of blended learning such as financial costs, length of time producing high quality resources as well as up-skilling teachers. Students repeatedly indicated that video lessons by themselves were not efficient for learning. Self-confidence among students increased significantly once additional resources such as assistance with mathematical calculations and self-assessments resources were added to the original resources. It was found that teachers could see value in utilising blended learning but only if teacher autonomy is respected. Teachers reported that the use of blended teaching and learning enabled them to utilise more active-learning pedagogies in the classroom. Teachers were initially sceptical of the flipped classroom model but this view changed when schools closed due to Covid-19. Teachers reported that student learning had occurred to a much higher degree than anticipated and that their students were confident in making progress in their study of chemistry throughout the pandemic. Chemistry teachers noted they were not as stressed as colleagues teaching other subjects due to the online resources throughout lockdown and students stated they were more engaged with chemistry than other subjects. It is clear from the data analysis that online technology can play in important role in supporting the teaching of Leaving Certificate chemistry.
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    An investigation of the roles, relationships and experiences of part-time placement tutors in their supervision of student teachers on school placement
    (University College Cork, 2021-06-30) Fitzpatrick, Patricia M.; O'Sullivan, Dan; Connolly, Tracey; Hall, Kathy
    Initial teacher education represents the beginning of formal study for those who wish to pursue a career in teaching. The issue of teachers and teaching has become an important part of governmental policy in many countries, and the preparation of teachers has received much attention in recent years. Key to the preparation of future teachers is their experience of school placement; the opportunity afforded to them to gain real-life experience of teaching in a range of school settings. The student teacher, supported by the school-based cooperating teacher and the university-based placement tutor represent the school placement ‘triad’ (Macintyre and Morris 1980); the central figures in school placement. Many research studies have been conducted on the experiences and perspectives of student teachers and co-operating teachers. By comparison placement tutors, especially part-time placement tutors, have received considerably less attention. Yet this latter group of placement tutors are the mainstay of many initial teacher education programmes where fulltime staff, already stretched to capacity with teaching and research duties, are often unavailable to fulfil the role of placement tutor. The setting for this doctoral study was the final year school placement module of an undergraduate initial teacher education programme, in a university in the Republic of Ireland. The goal of the study was to explore the experiences, roles and relationships of part-time placement tutors in school placement. A multiple case study of six part-time placement tutors during a year of school placement was conducted. A tripartite theoretical framework using the constructs of Identity (Holland et al. 1998), Multimembership (Wenger 1998, 2009, 2010) and Third Space (Bhabha 1990; Zeichner 2010) was employed to inform the study. Data collection methods included individual interviews with the participants, observations of their practice and a researcher diary. Thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006) was used to analyse the data. Three themes were identified in the data analysis. The findings in Theme One: Becoming a part-time placement tutor in initial teacher education indicate that part-time placement tutors come with a biography of ‘once a teacher’ which informs their practice. Commensurate with this fact, they continue to embrace a teacher identity in their role as teacher educators. Theme Two: The lived experiences of part-time placement tutors in initial teacher education provides substantial evidence that part-time placement tutors enact a multifaceted, complex and ‘dual role’ of both assessor and assistor (Slick 1998) for student teachers. The importance of induction to the role, access to ongoing continuing professional development and structured support, and the use of established assessment guidelines emerge as key elements necessary to facilitate part-time placement tutors to fulfil their roles effectively. The findings in Theme Two also offer significant insights into the challenges that part-time placement tutors encounter in the current informal university-school partnerships in initial teacher education. Despite this, the evidence demonstrates that part-time placement tutors are highly motivated, committed and supportive teacher educators who enjoy their role. Theme Three: Part-time placement tutors in the landscape of school placement reveal that part-time placement tutors operate on the fringes of two communities of practice, the school and university, acting as valuable liaisons between both communities. Findings on Third Space learning in this theme indicate that the prevailing school placement system does not support Third Space professional practices, though participants testify that introducing a Third Space in school placement would greatly assist student teachers in their journey of learning to teach. In addition, while part-time placement tutors enjoy positive professional relationships with student teachers and co-operating teachers, the landscape of school placement does not facilitate the formation of established relationships between part-time placement tutors and these other two members of the school placement triad. In light of the paucity of research on part-time placement tutors, this doctoral study is a unique and original addition to the field of teacher education. Furthermore, given the recent establishment of the School Placement Working Group in the Republic of Ireland in 2018 coupled with the subsequent publication of the Report and Action Plan of the School Placement Working Group (Teaching Council 2021a), the conclusions and recommendations of this study are timely and provide a significant contribution to policy, practice and future research directions regarding the role of part-time placement tutors in initial teacher education.