Clodagh Doherty, Dr. Ken Fennelly Secretary to the General Synod of Education who chaired the session, Jenny Galbraith and Elsa Griffin
Three 2019 Graduates presented their B.Ed dissertation research to the current 4th year B.Eds.
How labels attached to children and the way in which this information is shared affect a student-teacher’s sense of efficacy on school placement
Clodagh argued that student teachers should have the opportunity to develop a strong sense of efficacy because of their learning about inclusion as part of their initial teacher education programme. However, she noted that the school placement experiences of student teachers are also a key factor in their evolving inclusive practice. The attitudes and communication of practising teachers about children with special educational needs can provide challenge to student teachers experience. Clodagh argued that practising teachers would benefit from more continuing professional development on inclusive education and that opportunities for dialogue between student teachers and class teachers are essential to promote reflective, inclusive practice.
A study into the practice of gardening in the primary schools and how it impacts on children academically, socially and emotionally
Jenny set out to explore why primary schools might have a garden, how gardening in the school context impacts children’s learning and what the benefits and challenges of the school garden are. Her findings from the study were that gardening can be integrated across a wide range of curriculum subjects. She also found that gardening engaged many different learners and had the potential to positively impact the learning and self-esteem of those who were challenged in the classroom setting. A school garden also provided opportunities for social engagement by children with their peers, with adults in the school community and family. She found that the attitude of the teacher towards the garden was key to its success or failure in a school context. She recommended that more emphasis needs to be put on gardening in Initial Teacher Education and Continuing Professional Development to support teachers in using a school garden as a key learning resource.
The importance of providing opportunities for outdoor learning and play n early childhood education.
Elsa explained that outdoor learning does not just mean learning about the outdoors but includes learning in the outdoors. She argued that outdoor learning is multi-sensory and thus, is inclusive of all learners and their needs. There is evidence that children’s enjoyment in learning increases when they learn outdoors. Outdoor learning also provides opportunities for release of energy and social engagement. Elsa’s key findings were that children enjoyed learning outdoors and that their learning benefited from being outdoors. She also found that teachers are aware that the outdoor environment is a very beneficial resource and that they need to be reminded to utilise that resource more often.
Research Seminar 24th October 2017
On Tuesday 24th October the Church of Ireland Centre (CIC) in DCU Institute of Education hosted a research event for fourth year B.Ed students, University staff, personnel from Ugandan teacher education providers visiting the University, personnel from schools in the CIC network of placement partner schools and invited guests. The seminar, held in DCU All Hallows Campus, is the first of a series of events aimed at promoting exchanges of views between the University and the network of schools associated with the Church of Ireland Centre. The event was chaired by Rev Prof Anne Lodge.
There were presentations by four recent BEd graduates based on final year research dissertations. The topics included an exploration of the promotion of Universal Design for Learning in the classroom (Gillian Kennedy), an examination of PE and adaptations for children with Autism (Ricky McMahon), an exploration of teachers’ perceptions of pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties (Dean Ross) and an examination of benefits of a mindfulness intervention in the primary classroom (Sandra Deacon). As well as sharing their research findings, the four presenters offered much practical advice about the process of undertaking research to students present who are just beginning their final year projects.
The presentations engaged the interest of undergraduate students currently engaged in research work and sparked many questions and comment from the audience. Ms. Sarah Richards, principal of Whitechurch National School, commented on the value of the research work undertaken by each of the presenting graduates. She noted how their work contributed to their professional expertise and practice.
In the second part of the seminar, Dr. Jacqueline Fallon (NCCA and formerly a member of staff in DCU and CICE) presented on a cross-border research undertaken in collaboration with a colleague from Stranmillis University which examined reflective work undertaken by B.Ed students North and South during School Placement in infant classrooms. The title ‘Playful Teaching and Learning across Ireland – a student-teacher intervention’ was of particular interest to the students present who had participated in the study.
Following these presentations there was an opportunity for discussion and questions. As the event ended one of the Ugandan teacher educators spoke of the strong model of sharing professional practice which was evident and indicated that he would consider running such an event in his college in Uganda due to the likely benefits which would accrue to both undergraduate students and practicing teachers.
It is hoped to run further events to support dialogue and sharing of practice between the Church of Ireland Centre, DCU Institute of Education, and its network of partner schools.