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]

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Queen’s University Belfast receives £500k to improve gender equality within STEM

Posted in Governance and administration on August 23rd, 2018 by steve

“Queen’s University Belfast has received over £500,000 funding for research that aims to improve gender equality within STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Despite numerous gender equality initiatives, fewer than 10% of the UK’s engineers are women – the lowest percentage in Europe – and the proportion of women studying engineering and physics has remained virtually static since 2012 …” (more)

[QUB, 22 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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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)

[BreakingNews.ie, 15 August]

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Dr Tara Shine: ‘The scientific world is simply not designed for women’

Posted in Research on July 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“‘The scientific world is simply not designed for women’, declares Dr Tara Shine. The environment and development consultant is travelling to Antarctica in January 2019 as part of a global leadership programme for women scientists called Homeward Bound, which has the evocative tag line ‘Mother Nature needs her daughters’ …” (more)

[Sylvia Thompson, Irish Times, 12 July]

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Latest University Rankings Exhibit More Than One Disparity

Posted in Governance and administration on March 5th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Trinity was in a celebratory mood this week, as the latest QS World University Subject Rankings placed four Trinity subjects in the world’s top 50. The four subjects are perhaps unsurprising – English, classics, nursing and politics – but it’s a reminder once again that, despite the preponderance of funding and focus on STEM, arts subjects remain dominant …” (more)

[University Times, 4 March]

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‘A gender equality paradox’: Countries with more gender equality have less female STEM grads

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Research on February 18th, 2018 by steve

International“Countries with greater gender equality see a smaller proportion of women taking degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), a new study has found …” (more)

[TheJournal.ie, 18 February]

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Women in stem and my 2018 list

Posted in Life on January 19th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“A previous post was obviously meant to be provocative – in a good way – but it seemed to provoke an angry response in some quarters. Anger is a big thing on social media as is taking offense (often on behalf of others) as is, most annoyingly, virtue signalling …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 19 January]

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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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Bonus points for everything?

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on December 5th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The new foreign language strategy is to explore the potential of bonus points for languages for school-leavers planning to study languages (‘Plan for more school pupils to study foreign languages’, News, November 4th) …” (more)

[Seán McDonagh, Irish Times, 5 December]

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It’s official: STEM is a thing and it’s all about real world problems and stuff

Posted in Teaching on November 28th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“From the recently launched STEM Education Policy Statement (emphasis mine): ‘STEM is about igniting learners’ curiosity so they participate in solving real world problems and make informed career choices [sic]. STEM is interdisciplinary, enabling learners to build and apply knowledge …'” (more)

[educationandstuff, 28 November]

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Only six graduates in training to be physics teachers

Posted in Teaching on November 28th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“As few as six graduates are in training to be physics teachers in secondary schools, new figures indicate. The shortage of qualified teachers threatens to undermine Government plans to make Ireland the best in Europe in so-called Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – within a decade …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 28 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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How do we sell careers in STEM to young girls?

Posted in Governance and administration on October 3rd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Girls can do anything boys can do, right? Not according to the 29% of parents and teachers who still perceive STEM subjects as fitting more closely with boys’ brains, personalities and hobbies …” (more)

[Irish Examiner, 3 October]

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STEM: from harmless acronym to dangerous idea?

Posted in Research, Teaching on September 21st, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Before I start I want to mention something about the School of Biotechnology because it has had an impact on a lot of my thinking around STEM. The signature programme of our school is the BSc in Biotechnology …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 21 September]

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One third of parents and teachers think tech is ‘for boys’, study finds

Posted in Life on September 6th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The gender stereotypes of parents and teachers play a large role in putting young girls off careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers, a study has found. The study found 53% of girls in secondary school drop Stem subjects due to pressure from parents …” (more)

[Jack Power, Irish Times, 6 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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Women in STEM: a better way

Posted in Governance and administration on August 2nd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“One of our summer duties in DCU is to visit our students who are out on work placement – what we call our INTRA programme. I generally find it to be an interesting experience especially when I visit the big multinational pharma companies …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 2 August]

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Women in STEM

Posted in Governance and administration on June 29th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“2015 data – enrollments in Irish Universities (Mater Dei and St Pat’s included as they are now incorporated into DCU). Note: gender balance in science reflects male dominance in physics and maths and female dominance in biology. Interestingly, there is parity (more or less) in chemistry …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 28 June]

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With a Rethinking of the Arts/Science Distinction, Trinity has the Opportunity to be Pioneering

Posted in Teaching on June 26th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“With some exceptions, Trinity’s degree structure is divided on clear lines. Much like the campus itself, with its hubs of the Arts Block and Hamilton Building, most students take a course that’s neatly labelled under ‘Arts’ or ‘STEM’, with courses that bridge the divide often finding themselves lost in a confusing and bureaucratic maze …” (more)

[University Times, 25 June]

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