Universities resist quotas on teacher-training courses

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on February 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Third-level colleges are resisting plans by Minister for Education Richard Bruton to introduce quotas on the number of teachers they train in specific subjects. As part of a series of measures to boost the supply of teachers in key subjects such as science, maths and languages, Mr Bruton has announced plans to introduce subject quotas for postgraduate teacher education programmes at second level …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 12 February]

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Comments on the new STEM policy document of the DES

Posted in Teaching on December 18th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The STEM Policy Document produced by the Department of Education and Skills was recently launched. It follows on from the report produced by an advisory group chaired by DCU President, Brian McCraith. That report was generally sensible and made some good suggestions about how science and technology education could be improved in schools …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 18 December]

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Teaching science in schools

Posted in Teaching on December 4th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – Chris Shepherd’s article on how to recruit specialist teachers should be read, learned and inwardly digested by the Cabinet (‘Intervention key to getting critical mass of physics teachers’, November 30th). And then acted on in full by the Department of Education, line by line, to help in the recruitment of qualified teachers of maths, physics and chemistry …” (more)

[David McConnell, Irish Times, 4 December]


Engineering in the Leaving Cert

Posted in Teaching on November 29th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“About 6% of those studying Engineering for the Leaving Cert are female. Why is this? First, Engineering is probably not offered in many all-girl schools. Second, the Leaving Cert engineering syllabus is bloody awful. I’m an engineer and I find it boring …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 29 November]

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Shortage of science and maths teachers threatens Stem strategy

Posted in Teaching on November 27th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“An acute shortage of teachers in key subject areas such as maths and science threatens to undermine ambitious Government plans to boost uptake of Stem subjects such as science, technology and maths. Minister for Education Richard Bruton is due to launch a policy strategy on Monday aimed at making Ireland a ‘European leader’ in Stem education by 2026 …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 27 November]

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Many junior scientists need to take a hard look at their job prospects

Posted in Research on October 26th, 2017 by steve

“For his 2012 PhD thesis, the sociologist Chris Platts surveyed and interviewed more than 300 young footballers — aged 17 and 18 — at UK club academies who were hoping to pursue a career in the game. He told the newspaper The Guardian this month that just four of them currently have gained a professional contract. That’s a drop-out rate of 99% …” (more)

[Editorial, Nature, 25 October]

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The peer review system has flaws. But it’s still a barrier to bad science

Posted in Research on September 20th, 2017 by steve

International“Democracy and scientific peer review have something in common: it’s a ‘system full of problems but the least worst we have’. That’s the view of Richard Smith, a medical doctor and former editor of the illustrious British Medical Journal …” (more)

[Brenda Wingfield, The Conversation, 20 September]

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Why Men Don’t Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science

Posted in Research on August 29th, 2017 by steve

“Earlier this summer Google engineer James Damore posted a treatise about gender differences on an internal company message board and was subsequently fired. The memo ignited a firestorm of debate about sex discrimination in Silicon Valley …” (more)

[Alison Coil, Wired, 25 August]

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More girls take up higher-level STEM subjects

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on August 18th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Girls studying science subjects took greater advantage than boys of changes to the college entry system that rewards average students for sitting higher level exams. Latest State Examinations Commission figures reveal proportionately more girls moved up to higher level in the three main science subjects …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 18 August]

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Are school-leavers rejecting science?

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on July 19th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“They are according to this article in the Examiner. However, let’s look at the data. The table below gives the number of first preferences for each ‘discipline’ after the February and July deadline. The % change is based on the February …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 19 July]

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Why we need to get rid of STEM

Posted in Research, Teaching on June 23rd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“On the surface, ‘STEM’ is a harmless acronym, a handy and catchy way of promoting disciplines that, let’s face it, are pretty important in this technological age. But, to an engineer like me who has worked in a science faculty for my whole career, the idea of lumping science and engineering together, along with maths and ‘technology’, seems a bit … simplistic …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 23 June]

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It’s ‘too difficult’: Why 40% of students say they didn’t study science in college

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 26th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“A survey has indicated that 40% of students didn’t choose to study science at college because they found it too difficult. The independent survey was commissioned as part of the launch of the 54th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition today …” (more)

[TheJournal.ie, 26 April]


Why I didn’t march for science

Posted in Research on April 24th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“This is the age of Science Communication. Science communication used to conjure up images of the BBC’s Horizon programme (when it used to be good) or of Carl Sagan talking about ‘billions and billions of suns’ or, if we go back far enough, of Jacob Bronowski talking about the Ascent of Man. These days, though, science communication has become big business …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 23 April]


Patchy progress on fixing global gender disparities in science

Posted in Research on March 8th, 2017 by steve

International“Although women are publishing more studies, being cited more often, and securing more coveted first-author positions than they were in the mid 1990s, overall progress towards gender parity in science varies widely by country and field. This is according to a massive report released on 8 March that is the first to examine such a broad swath of disciplines and regions of the world over time …” (more)

[Erin Ross, Nature News, 8 March]

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The problem with Stem

Posted in Teaching on February 13th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Anyone who reads this blog regularly probably knows that I have a bit of a problem with the term ‘Stem’. ‘Stem’ covers everything from botany to theoretical physics to mechanical engineering. ‘Stem’ is more than a harmless acronym; it represents an attempt at a unification of the various science and technology disciplines to create a sort of super-discipline …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 13 February]

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Women in STEM ‘more likely to burn out’

Posted in Life on January 26th, 2017 by steve

“Women working in university science departments report higher levels of job-related burnout than men, suggests new research. The study points to reasons why women working in science might leave academia and offers ways for universities to better support them …” (more)

[Holly Else, Times Higher Education, 25 January]

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Gender gap emerges in maths and science in Irish secondary schools

Posted in Teaching on December 7th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The gender gap is widening when it comes to science and maths in secondary schools, with boys performing significantly better than girls in the subjects …” (more)

[Joyce Fegan, Irish Examiner, 7 December]

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Some quick thoughts on TIMSS

Posted in Teaching on December 1st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“TIMSS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study) doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like PISA but it is important nonetheless. The results from the 2015 tests have just been released and the Irish Report is available here. For a small country on the periphery of Europe, we are doing quite well …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 1 December]

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Science Europe lobby group hit by sudden exodus

Posted in Research on November 30th, 2016 by steve

EU“Influential research organizations are pulling out of Science Europe, the Brussels-based advocacy group that aims to champion researchers’ interests with European Union policymakers. All but one of France’s research-funding organizations are preparing to leave the group at the end of this year …” (more)

[Inga Vesper, Nature, 29 November]

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Scientific papers get more authors

Posted in Research on November 30th, 2016 by steve

International“As readers of scientific journals can attest, the list of authors on a typical research paper appears to be growing longer and longer. The trend is laid bare by data from Scopus, the biggest database of abstracts and citations of papers …” (more)

[Economist, 25 November]

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