Minister Bruton Launches Campaign to Encourage Learning of Foreign Languages and Announces Funding for School Exchanges

Posted in Teaching on September 17th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Government prioritizes teaching of foreign languages in context of Brexit. €15,000 for schools to offer school exchanges. Upskilling opportunities for teachers and new website launched as resource for schools, students and teachers. The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD today (17th September 2018) launched a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of foreign languages and announced new funding for teacher upskilling and school language exchanges …” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 17 September]

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English grades are ‘back to normal’ in Junior Cert results

Posted in Teaching on September 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“More than 62,000 Junior Cert students are celebrating their results today, although many middle-ground students will be disappointed there is no repeat of the bumper share-out of ‘honours’ grades that marked the introduction of the new-style English written exam last year. At English higher level, there was a slight increase in the proportion of candidates achieving a ‘distinction’ – the equivalent of a traditional A – while the number awarded a ‘higher merit’ (75-90%) is broadly similar to last year …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 12 September]


I have my PhD, but what is the value of a university education?

Posted in Teaching on September 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Four years ago in this newspaper, I wrote an article about falling in love with a man; a man who died in 1677. In March of this year, I wrote another piece about that man, the philosopher Baruch Spinoza. At that point, I was a month away from submitting my doctoral thesis in philosophy, which was heavily influenced by and including Spinoza, and I had fallen out of love with him …” (more)

[Laura Kennedy, Irish Times, 12 September]


International report endorses work of teachers and lecturers

Posted in Teaching on September 11th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The latest OECD international indicators – Education At A Glance 2018 – highlight the excellent work of Irish teachers and lecturers. Once again, the report emphasises the value of educational attainment to both the individual and society …” (more)

[Teachers’ Union of Ireland, 11 September]

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NUIG Freshers to partake in consent workshops

Posted in Teaching on September 10th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The National University of Ireland Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU) are to run the first ever consent workshops at two of their student residences, Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village. Organised by the NUI Galway Smart Consent Programme, over 40 trained volunteers will participate in the education of sexual consent to first year students …” (more)

[Caroline Boyle, Trinity News, 10 September]

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Notes from Maynooth

Posted in Teaching on September 7th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“A few people have asked me to comment a little bit on difference between Higher Education Institutes in the United Kingdom and here in Ireland from the point of view of teaching and learning. I can’t do that systematically of course because I’ve only ever been at one University in Ireland, Maynooth, and that for only a year …” (more)

[In The Dark, 6 September]


UL student group taking strong stance on sexual consent classes

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on September 4th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor is considering making classes on sexual consent compulsory in all Irish colleges, following a series of workshops at the University of Limerick …” (more)

[Nicole Glennon, Limerick Post, 3 September]

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College quotas to prevent too many teachers in certain subjects

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on September 4th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Quotas are to be introduced in certain college courses to prevent an oversupply of secondary school teachers in certain subjects. In addition, more places will be made available for students who wish to teach subjects where there is a shortage …” (more)

[Irish Examiner, 4 September]

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A Sign of Progress

Posted in Teaching on September 1st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The other day I saw this sign on my way into work the other day. It has been put up near the Science Building on Maynooth University campus, and is a planning notice that hopefully will start the process of constructing extra buildings for science in Maynooth. Among the facilities the new buildings will provide are new teaching laboratories …” (more)

[In the Dark, 1 September]

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Essay writing services must be banned to stop cheating, say academics

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on September 1st, 2018 by steve

“The British government has been urged to outlaw essay writing services that allow university students to pay for coursework for their degrees, after a study found that use of ‘contract cheating’ is rapidly increasing around the world. The study by Prof Philip Newton at Swansea University’s medical school collected evidence from surveys taken among students in higher education …” (more)

[Richard Adams, Guardian, 31 August]

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Some thoughts on constructivism in a STEM context

Posted in Teaching on August 31st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Constructivism is now the dominant ideology within the Irish educational establishment. For a long time I’ve struggled to understand what constructivism actually is because most definitions seem pretty vague to me. But while perusing the UCD Teaching and Learning pages I came across this list of the characteristics of a constructivist learning environment and I’ve added a few comments on each point …” (more)

[An Irish Blog about Education, 31 August]


Barnacle, Schmidt and Cuthbert, ‘Expertise and the PhD: Between depth and a flat place’

Posted in Teaching on August 30th, 2018 by steve

Abstract: Expertise is under sustained interrogation. We see it in so‐called edu‐scepticism and pessimism about graduates’ apparently diminishing employment prospects, challenges to the role of Higher Education institutions as arbiters of knowledge and post‐truth rhetoric more broadly. This paper examines how the PhD is being discursively positioned in this context. We ask what these changing conceptions of expertise, education and work mean for how PhD‐level expertise is understood. Drawing on a range of sources, from the scholarly to the wider media, we draw together five exemplar models of expertise to expose the transforming ratio between generalist, transferable skills and specialist knowledge. The evident diminution of specialisation raises numerous issues for the PhD as it is increasingly called upon to serve multiple and potentially contradictory needs: an innovation society on the one hand and the discipline on the other. Reconciling the tension between depth and breadth is an important issue for a degree whose hallmark is – or at least has been – depth.

Robyn Barnacle, Christine Schmidt and Denise Cuthbert, Expertise and the PhD: Between depth and a flat place, Higher Education Quarterly. First published: 29 August 2018.


Brian Cox, exams and what Level 8 means

Posted in Teaching on August 28th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“In a recent interview, Brian Cox, physicist and science communicator, said this: ‘I think it is the wrong message that their job as students is to pass an exam. It really is not; it is to understand their subject’. I think we’ve all encountered the student who seems to be a good exam performer but when you chat to them in a lab or work with them on a project, you are puzzled as to how they are doing so well. But, in my experience, this sort of student is rare …” (more)

[An Irish Blog about Education, 28 August]


Does It Matter Where Students Sit in Lecture Halls?

Posted in Teaching on August 22nd, 2018 by steve

Lectures are a staple of higher education, and understanding how students interact and learn within the lecture theatre environment is central to successful learning. In a new study published in FEBS Open Bio, researchers examined students’ reasons for choosing particular seats in a lecture hall, and investigated how seating positions correlate with student performance …” (more)

[AlphaGalileo, 22 August]


The Leaving Cert, the national fixation

Posted in Teaching on August 21st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“August is a maddening time if you work in education especially during that period when the Leaving Cert results are issued and the CAO offers announced. Twitter and the media are full of ‘commentators’, the majority of whom suggest that the Leaving Cert is ‘not fit for purpose’, while failing to mention what that purpose might be. There are a number of types …” (more)

[Greg Foley, An Irish Blog about Education, 21 August]


Age, Memory and Learning

Posted in Teaching on August 20th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Today’s a big day for prospective students at Irish universities. It’s the day when the Central Applications Office (CAO, the equivalent of the UK’s UCAS) makes offers of places to students based the Leaving Certificate results that were announced last week …” (more)

[In the Dark, 20 August]

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Bruton plays down high failure rate in ordinary level maths

Posted in Teaching on August 16th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said officials will examine whether there are ‘lessons to be learned’ from the volume of students who failed ordinary level maths in this year’s Leaving Cert exam. However, he played down concerns over the issue and said the proportion of failures at ordinary level was linked to greater numbers taking on the higher level paper …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 15 August]

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Leaving Cert and rote memorisation

Posted in Teaching on August 16th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – Your Editorial (‘A signpost, not a destination’, August 15th) says in relation to our two-year Leaving Cert course: ‘A new study by Dr Denise Burns of DCU indicates that rote learning (sic) continues to dominate over critical thinking’. It’s true that rote memorisation dominance exists. It’s also true that critical thinking shortcomings can be rectified easily – and ought to be, for level-playing field purposes – during the first semesters of third-level courses …” (more)

[Joe Foyle, Irish Times, 16 August]

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Engineering body concerned at number of students sitting Leaving Cert STEM subjects

Posted in Teaching on August 15th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The representative body for engineers in Ireland has raised concerns over the number of students sitting STEM subjects in this year’s Leaving Cert, saying 2018 has not seen a marked increase for the first time in several years. Results obtained from the State Examinations Commission has shown that almost one-third of Leaving Certificate students sat the higher-level mathematics paper in 2018, a figure that has more than doubled when compared to 2011 …” (more)

[, 15 August]

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More than 3,700 Leaving Cert pupils fail maths exam

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on August 15th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“More than 3,700 students have failed their Leaving Cert maths papers, effectively locking them out of many third-level courses which require a pass as a basic entry requirement. The bulk of those who failed to secure a pass grade sat the ordinary-level paper where the failure rate was just under 10% …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 15 August]

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