Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

Learning Innovation Unit

Teaching Reflections

Teaching and Learning News

Dr. Eilish McLoughlin wins prestigious NAIRTL award 

Dr. Eilish McLoughlin from the School of Physical Sciences has been awarded a National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) award. NAIRTL received 37 nominations for this year’s awards, with only 5 awards being made in total across all Higher Education Institutions, making this a significant achievement for Eilish and for DCU. The Hon Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness presented Eilish with her award at the NAIRTL Awards Ceremony, which took place on 9th November in the Marble Hall of Dublin Castle. 

Eilish plays a key role in integrating physic research, teaching and learning at DCU and beyond. Her involvement runs the gamut of teaching and learning activities: from science outreach and student recruitment to developing new physics modules for industrial training and conducting research in physics education. Through her energy, enthusiasm, organisational talent and excellent communication skills Eilish has made a significant difference to many students. She manages to combine great sensitivity to the needs of students with a real dedication to the teaching of physics in an exciting, rigorous and thorough fashion. 

Eilish has played a vital role in modernising teaching methodologies and transforming laboratory experiences into an experiential learning environment. Her work in developing inquiry/problem-based learning, conceptual tutorials, interdisciplinary science, peer tutoring and actively promoting the use of technology has been central to the establishment of DCU as one of the leaders in physics pedagogy. She has led a range of activities designed to help students adjust to the university environment and to enhance the first year experience and her orientation programme for first year physics students has been adopted by other schools both within and beyond DCU. 

Since 2008 Eilish has been the Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning (CASTeL) leading a dynamic collaboration between 20 academics focused on improving the learning of science and mathematics at all levels in the educational system. Under Eilish’s leadership CASTeL has set itself the national objective of promoting the use of effective pedagogies and assessment in science and mathematics and driving changes in Ireland to support the professional development of mathematics and science teachers. 

In 2009, Eilish led a successful proposal under the EU FP7 programme Science in Society and was awarded €3.4M funding for the ESTABLISH project, which focuses on the use and dissemination of inquiry based approaches for teaching science at second level. This project, which has 13 European partners, is coordinated by Eilish and has the potential to assist in the transformation of the science education experience at the pan-European level. Through this research activity Eilish has gained a strong international recognition for her research in physics/science teaching and learning which has led to her coordination and partnership in subsequent EU proposals. 

Eilish also has a strong involvement in numerous ventures across and outside of DCU. She is a mentor on the DCU Uaneen Module and a member of the DCU Access Teaching Advisory Group. She is a member of the Faculty of Science and Health Marketing Group and organises science talks and activities for students both in DCU and in local schools. She has been rotating chairperson and leader of the Irish Physics Olympiad team since 2003. She is an active member of the Institute of Physics (IOP) in Ireland, representing DCU on the Irish committee, chairing the IOP Education Group in Ireland and is a member of the IOP Education Board for the UK and Ireland. In conjunction with Discover Science and Engineering Eilish has been a facilitator on the Discover Primary Science to support primary school teachers in teaching science in their classrooms. She also works closely with second level teachers: at pre-service level, through the BSc in Science Education and at in-service level through the MSc in Science Education; and hosting workshops in partnership with the Second Level Support Service, Discover Science and Engineering and as National Chair of the pan-European project Science on Stage. She is the National Leader for the Intel Teach Advanced Online Programme and has led the international piloting of this programme with pre-service teachers. 

Professor Brian MacCraith, Dr. Eilish McLoughlin, Professor Greg Hughes

Professor Brian MacCraith, Dr. Eilish McLoughlin, Professor Greg Hughes

Teaching and Learning Day 2010 

Innovation and excellence in teaching and learning at DCU were celebrated at this year’s Teaching and Learning Day and presentation of the President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching, which took place on 3rd June. The event celebrated the outstanding work of a total of 51 nominees for the awards, as well as the innovative teaching and learning projects of colleagues across the university through their poster presentations. Recipients of this year’s awards were: Dr. Paul van Kampen (School of Physical Sciences) in the Academic category; Michael Breen (School of Law and Government) and Dr. Brian Harney (DCUBS) who were joint winners in the New Lecturers/Tutors category; and Colette Lyng (School of Nursing) in the Academic Support category. 

Winnesr of the 2010 DCU President's Award for Excellence in Teaching: Michael Breen, Dr Paul van Kampen, Professor Richard O’Kennedy, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Dr Brian Harney and Colette Lyng

Michael Breen, Dr Paul van Kampen, Professor Richard O’Kennedy, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Dr Brian Harney and Colette Lyng 

Date for your diary: The 2011 Teaching and Learning Day will take place on 11 May 2011 

New LIU assessment and feedback resource 

Wordclous listing various forms of assessment

You can access the LIU’s new assessment and feedback resource Focus on Assessment and Feedback at www.dcu.ie/ovpli/liu/Assessment-Feedback. This resource provides an overview of th e purpose of assessment in Irish third level education, describes a range of possible assessment approaches and outlines good practice guidelines relevant to DCU staff. 

Learning technology: Wimba collaboration suite available 

A number of tools from the Wimba collaboration suite are available for staff to trial during the current academic year. Wimba collaboration suite is comprised of three tools that can support provision of online and blended learning opportunities: Wimba Classroom: A live synchronous classroom facility environment that includes audio, video and application sharing facilities (www.wimba.com/products/wimba_classroom). Wimba Pronto: An instant collaboration system (www.wimba.com/products/wimba_pronto). Wimba Voice: An audio solution that provides a range of audio tools for learning (www.wimba.com/products/wimba_voice). The above tools have been integrated with DCU's Moodle virtual learning environment. Please contact morag.munro@dcu.ie if you are interested in using Wimba. Many thanks to ISS for their help in facilitating this trial. 

Screenshot from WImba classroom  

Wimba Classroom


Wimba Voice

Screenshotfrom Wimba pronto

Wimba Pronto

DCU Learning Innovation Fund (LIF) Project Scheme awardees

The LIF Project Scheme provides seed funding to support projects aimed at enhancing teaching an learning activities. Funding recipients in 2010 are as follows:

  • Ellen Breen and the Library Subject Librarian Team: Plagiarism: Online Tutorial and Quiz
  • Trudy Corrigan, Education Studies: Intergenerational Learning Project- Teaching and Learning between generations
  • Yvonne Crotty, Education Studies: Should I Think Differently at Third Level?
  • James Fitzgerald, Law and Government: The Cross-Cultural Teaching of Terrorism in a Collaborative Blended Learning Environment
  • Dónal Fitzpatrick, Computing: The Production and Delivery of Audio Tactile Diagrams Using Moodle
  • Noelle Higgins and Yvonne Daly, Law and Government: The Role of Moot Courts and Mock Trials in Irish Legal Education
  • Greg Hughes, Physical Sciences: Tutoring Course for Common Entry Students
  • Alan Kennedy and Lisa Looney, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering: Online Interactive Learning Tools for Mechanics
  • Theo Lynn and DCU Business School/ Applied Language & Intercultural Studies colleagues:  Teaching Through Second Life
  • Aoife MacCormac, Biomedical Diagnostics Institute: Learning Modules for a Taught MSc In Biomedical Diagnostics
  • Shane Martin, Francesco Cavatorta and John Doyle, Law and Government: Developing Research Skills Training at Undergraduate Level
  • Derek Molloy, Electronic Engineering: Real’ Electronics Experiments that Support and Promote Offcampus Independent-Learning
  • Declan Moran NCSR/Physical Sciences: Innovative Laboratory Module Leveraging Research Infrastructure
  • Eabhnat Ni Fhloinn, Maths Learning Centre: Head Start Maths 
  • Brien Nolan and Eabhnat Ni Fhloinn, Mathematical Sciences: Peer assisted Groupwork Tutorials in Mathematics
  • David White, Shane Linnane and Stephen Daniels, Electronic Engineering: Educational Renewable Energy Computer Game/Simulator

LIU writers’ group for educational researchers 

The LIU weekly writers' group meets every second Wednesday afternoon from 2pm – 4pm. The purpose of the group is to allow colleagues engaged in educational research a regular time and space to work on articles, book chapters or any other writing project. The main purpose of the weekly group is to write, so discussion and other activities are kept to a minimum. You can join the group at any time and attend when it suits you best. If you are interested in joining the group or finding out more, please email: morag.munro@dcu.ie.

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