Current Research Projects | The CREATE Centre | IoE

Current Research ProjectsResearch Project - DCU

Currently, there are 30 research projects at various stages of completion and which fall into six over-arching themes as outlined below. Please click on each theme to expand that section and view the project titles and researchers for each.

Inclusion of Children with Special Educational Needs in Physical Education: Perceptions of Irish and Swiss Pre-Service Teachers Following Participation in a European Exchange Programme in Switzerland and Ireland

Susan Marron
This study investigates Irish generalist and Swiss specialist physical education pre-service teachers' professional, social and cultural perspectives as a result of a short exchange programme. The focus of the study is on physical education and the theme of inclusion.

An tionchar a bhíonn ag úsáid na Punainne Eorpaigh do Mhúinteoirí Teangacha atá faoi Oiliúint ar athmhachnamh agus cumas féinriartha mac léinn atá sa Tríú Bliain BOid i ngrúpa roghnach An Ghaelscolaíocht agus teagasc trí Ghaeilge

Aisling Ní Dhiorbhain
This research project examines the influence of The European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages (EPOSTL) on the reflection and self-regulation of a group of BEd 3 students participating in the Specialism: AnGhaelscolaíocht agus Teagasc trí Ghaeilge.

Student teachers' expectations of self and their learning styles

Thomas McCloughlin
This study explores two aspects of student teacher development. The first aspect involves the use of a group interview technique based loosely on the RepGrid technique (Kelly, 1950) which aims to ascertain pre-service teachers' expectations of themselves as they are and how these compare with what they feel qualified teachers are, and to 'measure' the distance between these two perceptions. The group interview technique is repeated at the end of the academic year to ascertain students' expectations following course completion. This aspect of the study has a comparative dimension in that it is also being conducted with students in Spain. The second aspect of the study focuses on Learning Styles and Science Education for college students in science, education and science education to examine the link between learning style and scientific forms of reasoning that are exemplified within the Kolb Learning Style Inventory. A comparative dimension to this element of the study relates to a parallel study being conducted in Turkey.

Student teacher expectations for teaching as a career and of the BEd

Michael O'Leary, Zita Lysaght
In the context of a change from a three-year to a four-year BEd programme, this study examines if Irish student teachers' expectations for teaching as a career change as they progress through the BEd programme. It also examines student teachers' expectations for and their concerns about the BEd programme. As data have been gathered at different points in time across the three-year BEd and four-year BEd programmes involving a number of student cohorts, analysis of the data sets allows for comparisons within and across student cohorts who completed the three-year BEd programme in 2009 and in 2014 and students currently undertaking the four-year BEd programme.

Experiences, practices and perspectives of a sample of Irish primary teachers related to physical education

Frances Murphy
As part of the Major Specialism in Physical Education in St Patrick's College, students undertake a piece of research investigating the experiences, practices and perspectives of primary teachers on physical education. The research explores the experiences of Irish primary teachers as pupils and as teachers in relation to physical education, their practices of teaching Physical Education and their perspectives on physical education. It is anticipated that findings will inform coursework in the specialism.

Students' perspectives on creativity in ITE

Andrew O'Shea, Maeve O'Brien
This study explores the attitudes and perspectives of BEd students in relation to imagination, originality, creativity and 'being creative' in the contexts of Teacher Education and Teaching. Informed by interdisciplinary understandings and theories of the creative imagination and creative praxis, the research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches to investigate how students think about and articulate their own creativity in relation to both their professional education and their own development.

Well-Being, Care and Professional Praxis: Student Teachers' Understandings of Care as a Dimension of Teachers' Praxis and Identity

Maeve O'Brien

Student Teachers' Experiences of Facilitating a School Based Drama Project in light of their Participation in a Programme based on Somatic Movement Education

Paula Murphy

Beginning Teacher's Experiences of and Attitudes to Geographical, environmental and outdoor (GEO) Education

Susan Pike

Múinteoirí faoi oiliúint agus an Fhoghlaim Chomhtháite Ábhar agus Teangacha (FCÁT)

Máire Ní Bhaoill & Aisling Ní Dhiorbháin

Students' experiences of the new Ethics and Education course

Anne Marie Kavanagh
This study examines second year BEd students' experiences of the new Ethics and Education course offered as part of the new four year Bachelor of Education degree and explores the course as a new approach to teaching ethical education. Data collection involves the administration of an on-line questionnaire devised using Survey Monkey. It is anticipated that findings will be used to guide future development of the course.

Evaluation of the Global Teacher course

Rowan Oberman
The Global Teacher course is a ten hour compulsory course for third year BEd students exploring pedagogy and principles for teaching for and about human rights, global justice and equality. Data generation involves the completion of an evaluation questionnaire by the students in the final session of the global Teacher course and two focus group sessions with volunteer students. It is anticipated that the findings will contribute to research in the area of initial teacher education and global citizenship.

Being and Belonging: Student-Teachers' Contextual Engagement during School Placement

Enda Donlon, Elaine McDonald, PJ Sexton, Sabrina Fitzsimons and Helen Leonard
School Placement is recognised as a valuable period for the professional development and personal growth of student-teachers. Within the Republic of Ireland, School Placement is currently experiencing a period of great change due in no small part to recent Teaching Council of Ireland policy (2011, 2013). As part of this understanding of school placement, the ITE programme at MDI, DCU has introduced a 'contextual engagement period' as a mandatory element of each student's placement. This period consists primarily of "non-teaching hours in schools [...] to facilitate greater emphasis on classroom observation, collaborative work with experienced staff, and greater engagement with the life of the school" (Teaching Council of Ireland, 2013). This research seeks to explore the opinions and experiences of student-teachers and school principals/deputy principals with regard to the Contextual Engagement Period (CEP) that MDI student-teachers undertake as part of their Initial Teacher Education (ITE) School Placement.

The Impact of Accidental Policy in Revolutionising Irish Teacher Education

John Smith
In the last decade initial Irish teacher education has undergone revolutionary change and change looks like becoming a constant motif as the focus shifts along continuum of teacher Education. The policy context for the governance and regulation of teacher education is also in flux. Many of the changes to programmes and to structures will emerge as intended but there will also be accidental policy outcomes. This research is interested in analysing and interpreting this shifting 'policyscape'.

Teacher and teacher educator collaborative study: Exploring the impact of co-teaching science

Sandra Austin
The aim of the study is to use a collaborative approach between a teacher educator and a primary teacher to advance new pedagogical approaches in STEM education, to increase confidence and competence in the teaching of STEM subjects and to shed light on the challenges and tensions associated with the teaching of primary science. The methodology involves a collaborative self-study and co-teaching in a primary classroom. Using an action research model of reflection – plan, act, observe, reflect – the collaborators in the study are working together to progress their professional development while also identifying opportunities to advance pedagogical approaches to STEM education.

Investigating the subject matter knowledge of Irish pre-service teachers

Therese Dooley, Miriam Ryan, Aisling Twohill, Siún Nic Mhuirí, Ronan Ward
This project aims to examine the mathematical subject knowledge of Irish pre-service teachers and to identify areas of mathematical strength and areas in which further support is required. It also aims to refine the assessment instrument used for audit to render it suitable for a cohort of students who have experienced Project Maths.

What students and their lecturer learn as a result of collaboratively creating a dramatic performance with children based on a curricular theme

Una McCabe
This is a qualitative study focusing on the role of aesthetic learning in the Drama classroom. The methodology involves formal reflective discussion and journaling to encourage metacognitive processing of student and lecturer experience.

Reflective Practice in Initial Teacher Education: Is there a difference in the depth of reflections from student teachers involved in the different curricular areas of Physical Education and Religious Education/English?

PJ Sexton, Enda Donlon, Sabrina Fitzsimons, Elaine McDonald, Helen Leonard and Paul McFlynn
This project relates to reflective practice undertaken by students on concurrent teacher education programmes during their school placement. Through analysis of students' weekly reflective statements and reports from student teacher feedback sessions, reflective practice in the colleges of both partners (Mater Dei Institute (DCU) and University of Ulster) is problematic. In this regard we consider it an important area for further research. This study aims to identify the depth of reflection of student teachers' weekly reflective statements in both Physical Education and Religious Education/English to examine their perceptions of reflective practice in relation to their own ITE professional development; enhance both colleges approach to reflective practice on the BRelEd/English ITE programme and the PGCE PE programme; and contribute to national and international dialogue on reflective practice in ITE.

'Intelligent Action' or 'Fluff'?: An analysis of the levels of reflection attained by student teachers on School Placement

PJ Sexton, Helen Leonard, Enda Donlon, Sabrina Fitzsimons, Elaine McDonald
Depth of reflection is identified as a key consideration in literature pertaining to reflective practice in Initial Teacher Education. Implementing a successful approach to reflective practice in such programmes takes time, effort and resources. Dewey (1933) argues that "reflection is a complex, rigorous, intellectual, and emotional enterprise that takes time to do well." This study seeks to ascertain the levels of reflection achieved by a cohort of student teachers on one concurrent ITE programme. Representative samples of reflective statements written by third year students in response to set questions on different skill were analysed against Hatton & Smith's (1995) depth model of reflection. This paper reports on the findings of this analysis and the implications for considering alternative approaches to facilitating deeper levels of reflection among student teachers.

Study No.2 in the series 'Intelligent Action' or 'Fluff': An analysis of the levels of reflection attained by student teachers on School Placement

PJ Sexton, Helen Leonard, Enda Donlon, Sabrina Fitzsimons, and Elaine McDonald
The importance of reflective practice in the continuum of professional development is of particular significance in light of recent Teaching Council policy. Reflective practice has also been identified as problematic in past MDI student-teacher feedback sessions. In this regard we consider it an important area for further research. This study aims to establish the extent to which student-teachers are reflecting on their practice with a view to enhancing their reflective capacities in terms on their ongoing professional development as teachers. It is Study No.2 in the series 'Intelligent Action' or 'Fluff': An analysis of the levels of reflection attained by student teachers on School Placement. As first years this group followed the skills set model; as 2nd years they followed the Rolfe et al. (2001) model; as 3rd years they followed the Rolfe et al. (2001) model having had instruction on its proper completion and experience of it the previous year.

Pedagogical Approaches to Developing Student Teachers' Reflexive Practice for Inclusion

Órla Ní Bhroin
Working with a group of twenty-five BEd 2 students taking the specialism in special and inclusive education, this study explores the use of reflexive practice in the education of student teachers and changes and developments in their understandings of special educational needs and disability, and of their role in relation to teaching and learning for pupils with additional learning needs arising from their engagement with the specialism. Data generation involves document analysis of students' reflective writing and blog analysis of students' discussion. It is anticipated that findings will contribute to theory on student learning and inform course development.

iPads, a gadget or a teaching tool in physical education

Susan Marron, Maura Coulter

Evaluating the use of co-teaching as a strategy in a large class setting at Third Level

Ann Marie Farrell, Anna Logan
This research aims to evaluate the effectiveness of co-teaching as a teaching strategy in a large class setting (400+) using a workshop framework with the BEd 1 cohort who are participating in the core SIE modules, ED152: Introduction to SEN. Research questions on student perspectives focus on how effective co-teaching is as a strategy in helping them to learn about the concepts targeted in the workshops and about co-teaching as a strategy. Research questions on teacher educator perspectives focus on the opportunities and challenges arising from this approach and the impact of the strategy of co-teaching on teacher educator teaching.

Preliminary evaluation of the integration of SEN in year 2 of the BEd programme

Ann Marie Farrell
In the new four-year BEd programme, SEN has been explicitly integrated across modules. This integration has been supported by information sharing at Education Faculty meetings and by support materials provided on Loop and made available to staff and students. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the process of integration of SEN with a view to informing future practice in teacher education. Data collection involves survey of staff involved in the process and survey of the BEd 2 cohort and focus groups of volunteers from both participant groups of staff and students.

Using lesson study to develop mathematics educators' knowledge

Therese Dooley, Miriam Ryan, Aisling Twohill, Siún Nic Mhuirí, Ronan Ward
This project aims to use Lesson Study to develop the practice of members of the Mathematics Education Unit (MEU). This involves staff members working with teachers to develop, trial and analyse 'research lessons' in primary schools and to then use these lessons as a basis for work with BEd students. The 'lesson' taught to BEd students is observed by collaborating colleagues, and is video-recorded for analysis. Written artefacts developed during the lesson are collected and focus group interviews are conducted with students to gather feedback on the lesson content.

Research on how PME students respond to self and peer-assessment of the Subject Knowledge in Mathematics Audit (SKIMA)

Therese Dooley, Miriam Ryan, Aisling Twohill, Siún Nic Mhuirí
This study builds on ongoing research into the mathematical knowledge of students on initial teacher education courses. Students are required to complete a Subject Knowledge in Mathematics Audit (SKIMA) individually and to self and/or peer assess their audits. It is anticipated that findings will contribute to understandings of how assessment for learning practices might support the development of subject matter knowledge in ITE and inform the direction of Mathematics Education courses in the future particularly in relation to the incorporation of assessment for learning practices.

The Research Project in undergraduate teacher education: An opportunity for deepening subject-knowledge and pedagogy in early childhood mathematics education?

Elizabeth Dunphy

Longitudinal Study on Teacher Identity

PJ Sexton, Enda Donlon, Sabrina Fitzsimons, Elaine McDonald and Helen Leonard
Good teaching is a recurring research topic linked to all levels of education and is essential when one considers the impact a teacher has on the lives of their students. Modern research acknowledges that the nature of the teachers' work is ever changing. The meaning of teaching and teacher education is becoming more demanding as well as complex. Teachers are expected to teach for inclusive learning i.e. teaching educationally disadvantaged students, those with special needs and newcomer students to Ireland. Hence, due to the complex nature of teaching, defining what constitutes teacher identity can be difficult and problematic. This study aims to establish how student-teachers prioritise the different characteristics of what constitutes teacher identity with a view to enhancing their capabilities in the classroom and to contribute to their ongoing professional development as teachers.

Collaborative self-study in Higher Education: Understanding self and practice

Fiona King , Anna Logan
This research aims to evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative self-study as a professional development approach to understanding self and practice as a beginning teacher educator and developing teacher educator in the design, implementation and evaluation of new modules. The new modules are the BEd specialism SIE: Collaboration (301) and Curriculum and Pedagogy (302). The research method involves the use of an evidence-based evaluation framework for evaluating teacher professional development (King, 2014).

Rhetoric and reality: Student teachers' perceptions of their teacher educators

Catherine Furlong, Maeve O'Brien
Having researched teacher educator understandings of their own professional identities, and what they value in their ITE work (over several waves of data), this research takes cognisance of the perceptions of students regarding teacher educators and their influence on them as evolving professionals. This research explores the particular contributions made by teacher educators on the formation of teacher identity of BEd 3 students, against the backdrop of their specific identities, areas of specialisation, and their philosophies of teaching and learning. Methods of data generation involve a combination of on-line questionnaires with all BEd 3 students and focus group interviews with a selected sample. It is intended to compare previous findings relating to teacher educators with the student data set.

Student Achievement in Multi-Ethnic (ME) Schools

Krizan Vekic & PJ Sexton
Research in Ireland in the area of student achievement in multi-ethnic secondary school settings is limited. This is in stark contrast to the achievement-focused research to stem from more traditional countries of immigration. This research seeks to partly fill this void by exploring student achievement across four inner-urban voluntary secondary schools which went from mono-ethnic to multi-ethnic student populations between 2000 and 2010. Through the analysis of both quantitative (Leaving Certificate results) and qualitative data, the study highlights the positive impact the increased enrollment of minority ethnic students had on school academic standards. Nevertheless, it also sheds light on the challenges teachers faced during this period. The study highlights the need for a more focused approach to developing teacher’s cultural competencies during ITE, induction and the ongoing support of existing teachers through continuous professional development.