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Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is committed to excellence in teaching and learning in all of its disciplines. The following are a selection of research studies intended to have direct application to teaching, together with teaching innovations already being implemented in the classroom.

2017

A Developing Discourse for Music in Higher Education?

In this paper I consider music in higher education, specifically in the context of undergraduate arts programmes that are generally conceived as part of humanities and/or social sciences. Revisiting Keith Swanwick’s grounded philosophical explorations from A Basis for Music Education (1979) to Teaching Music Musically (1999) I problematize articulations of music falling under the various umbrellas of arts, humanities and social sciences, asking what is implied by identifying or ‘disciplining’ music and musicology in these areas.

I begin with a cursory review of philosophical positions that consider music within the field of humanities, along with those that also incorporate social science perspectives. Critically, I consider the extent to which curricular and pedagogical developments, artistic and technological innovations, and social and political change have in various ways combined to challenge assumed epistemological positions vis-à-vis music in higher education. Also presented is an appraisal of discourses in higher music education, identifying, on the one hand, disparities between curriculum documentation and curriculum-as-practice and, on the other hand, instances where experiences of music that accord with human development and/or socio-cultural. consciousness tend to be un-recognized and arguably, under-utilized.

In the paper’s final section I consider undergraduate music modules on aspects of popular music and film music that I currently teach at Dublin City University. This is done with reference to concepts of knowledge, experience, criticism and analysis as consistently developed in Swanwick’s writing. The paper closes by asking in what ways innovations in undergraduate music curricula might influence conceptions of musical knowledge and experience in the wider university. Or put another way - and adapting the title of the recently published collection of Keith Swanwick’s (2016) writings – what shape might a developing discourse for music in higher education take?

Contact: John O’Flynn [john.oflynn@dcu.ie]

Dissemination: O’Flynn, J. (2017) ‘A Developing Discourse for Music in Higher Education? [Plenary Lecture/Keynote, Teaching Music Musically in the 21st Century: Keith Swanwick at 80 – A celebration in Music Education, The European University in Nicosia.

Designing for Language Learning: Agency and languaging in hybrid environments.

Since the beginning of the 21st Century, we have witnessed a remarkable shift in the ways learning takes place across networks, multiple sites and timescales. As the world changes, language teaching is facing growing pressures to rethink and redesign language learning environments to respond to the demands of the ‘knowledge society’. While new digitally enhanced learning spaces offer new affordances to language teachers and learners, they also increase the complexity of language teaching and learning. Furthermore, it has become evident that the affordances of new tools and spaces for learning are not always realised in formal education. Language teachers, who are willing to embrace new technologies and transform their teaching practice, need to reconceptualize their approach to language, language learning, and language teaching. 

In this paper, we argue that a renewed focus on design is needed. Following a brief discussion on languaging and agency, we present three educational design models and approaches, namely learning design, designed based research and activity theoretical designs, which are being used to assist course designers and teachers with the design of technology-rich learning environments and activities. We argue that design models rooted in cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) in particular can help us address the challenges briefly outlined above. Drawing on CHAT principles and their applications to design for language teaching and learning, we revisit the design of a Finnish literacy skills course offered to international students at the University of Jyväskylä (Jalkanen & Vaarala 2012a, 2012b, 2013) and its enactment, with a particular focus on the development agency and languaging episodes.

Contact: Françoise Blin [francoise.blin@dcu.ie]

Related Publication: Françoise Blin & Juha Jalkanen (2014) Designing for Language Learning: Agency and languaging in hybrid environments. Apples – Journal of Applied Language Studies 8 (1): 1-5 http://apples.jyu.fi/article/abstract/241

Implementing a standardised annual programme review process in a third-level institution

Purpose: Ideally, quality should be, and is, an integral element of education, yet capturing and articulating quality is not simple. Programme quality reviews in third-level education can demonstrate quality and identify areas for improvement, offering many potential benefits. However, details on the process of quality programme review are limited in the literature. This study aims to report on the introduction of a standardised programme review process in one university.

Design/methodology/approach: Using a standardised template, the annual programme review (APR) process captured student voice, external examiner reports, statistical data and action/s since the previous review. Following completion of programme reviews across the university, the APR process was itself evaluated using questionnaires and focus groups.

Findings: Findings showed that the programme chairs understood the rationale for the review, welcomed the standardised format and felt the information could inform future programme planning. However, in the focus group, issues arose about the timing, ownership and possible alternate use of the data collected in the course of the review.

Research limitations/implications: This case study demonstrates the experience of APR in a single third-level institution, therefore, limiting generalisability.

Practical implications: APR offers a comprehensive record of the programme that can be carried out with efficacy and efficiency. The study illustrates one institution’s experience, and this may assist others in using similar quality evaluation tools. Using APR allows quality to be measured, articulated and improved.

Social implications: Using APR allows quality, or its lack to be to be measured, articulated and improved in the delivery of education at a third-level institution.

Originality/value: This study demonstrates the experience of the introduction of an APR process in one higher education institute. Programme review is an important and essential part of academia in the 21st century. At third level, quality assurance is, or should be, a central part of academic programmes and delivery. The review of the first implementation has provided valuable information that will inform future programme review processes. Academic programmes grow, evolve and need to be reviewed regularly. It is hoped that the information reported here will aid others developing academic review procedures.

Contact: Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl [mairead.nicgiollamhichil@dcu.ie]

Related Publication: Sheelagh Wickham, Malcolm Brady, Sarah Ingle, Caroline McMullan, Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Ray Walshe, (2017) "Implementing a standardised annual programme review process in a third-level institution", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 25 Issue: 3, pp.362-374, https://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-05-2015-0021

Integrating eportfolios into an assessment strategy in an undergraduate Geography module

Abstract

As educators, we aim to promote learning among our students and do as much as we can to encourage students to take ownership of their learning process. However, occasionally, students struggle with a particular aspect of a discipline, and the struggle itself becomes a barrier to their success. This paper examines one such experience – an undergraduate module in geography within a Higher Education Institution in the Republic of Ireland. The module was one which students traditionally found difficult, and where learning objectives were not being achieved. By changing the assessment method, building assessment for learning into the lectures, students were encouraged to take a more hands-on approach to their learning. This was complemented by the use of an eportfolio for both formative and summative assessment of the module. The eportfolio platform allowed students to build a collection of media, reflect on their learning experience, and receive feedback from peers and the lecturer concerned. Building an eportfolio into the assessment meant buy-in from all students. It promoted continuous, autonomous learning outside the classroom. Student performance was significantly enhanced and feedback from students on their learning experience was overwhelmingly positive.

Introduction

Many of us who teach in Higher Education have a module that students struggle with. While the enthusiasm of the lecturer may not be lacking, the ability of students to succeed within the module appears to be deficient. This can create a sense of frustration on the part of both lecturer and student. The module “The making of the Irish landscape” has been taught for over a decade to second year undergraduate students of Geography, with class sizes ranging from 70 to 100. Students taking the module have come from a humanities background into a program which is humanities-rich. The module, however, has an earth science focus, and draws on concepts from geology and Quaternary science. Thus, the lecturer has struggled with the student perception of the module as ‘hard’, and students have struggled to attain the learning outcomes.

The module had been taught for ten years in the traditional lecture fashion, with the aid of a presentation tool. Each lecture was accompanied by a handout and support material in the form of additional readings in a Virtual Learning Environment. A large quantity of information was given to the students in the course of each lecture. The module was assessed through an end-of-semester exam and a group-based project during the semester. However, students struggled with the material presented, and the results from the module were consistently lower than other modules done by the same students. There was also a lack of fulfilment for the lecturer in teaching the module, as they could see that students struggled – the initial perception of the module’s difficulty was borne out by the results in the final assessment.

Need for a change

Following discussions with colleagues, a decision was taken to change the mode of delivery of the module to make the content more accessible while also engaging the students in their own learning and assessing student learning in the lecture setting. In the past, lectures had information flowing in one direction – from the lecturer to the student group. The initial changes in the module were around adapting the teaching to include in-class assessment for learning, structuring lectures around a series of learning outcomes, each with the condition and criteria of performance. This focused teaching in the module around discrete concepts. Learning in each outcome was centered on tasks that the students engaged with, and discussion with the lecturer. To aid student learning, many of the learning outcomes were associated with a document (either a map, a diagram, an academic article a graph or a video) which students were asked to engage within the lecture itself, with the lecturer posing questions around the documents, and the students working in peer-groups to answer these. This enabled the lecturer to circulate and to help students tease out the various topics, thus creating a community of learning. Each lecture session became two hours (instead of the traditional one hour twice a week), and each session began with an overview of what would be learned in the class, and how it would be learned. "Traditional" teaching was not abandoned completely, but instead was used to explain a context for the tasks the students were engaged with.

The changes in delivery necessitated a change in the pace of module – the amount of information given to the students was reduced as it became clearer to the lecturer which concepts were key and which were secondary.

Integration of eportfolio into the assessment - rationale

Although there was some success in this new method of delivery, as evidenced by a reduction in the failure rate for the module, students were still struggling to achieve the learning outcomes, and the mean grade for the module was still below 50%. After a two-year trial period of delivery of the module in this fashion, the university began piloting an eportfolio based on Mahara. The opportunity to integrate the existing assessment for learning in the restructured module into the summative assessment, using the eportfolio tool, was taken. Thus, the eportfolio was not an add-on, but formed an essential part of the assessment strategy. JISC (2008) suggests that, for the effective use of eportfolios, it is important to define the purpose of the eportfolio from the outset. For the purpose of this module, therefore, the eportfolio was defined as a place for students to create pages based on their learning in lectures, for the purpose of summative and formative assessment. Individual pages would be submitted to the lecturer as part of the summative assessment of the module, and would act as summative assessment allowing the lecturer to see the students' learning as the module progressed. The use of the eportfolio platform within the module, it was hoped, would further engage students in their learning, as well as providing a means of peer- and teacher- feedback to students. This is in line with Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2005) who assert that formative assessment and feedback can help students to take control of their own learning helping them to become self-regulated learners.

Students were asked to create a page within their digital portfolio based on their learning for six of the eleven lectures. Each page was to include a reflection on what the students had learned during the class, also incorporating extra reading from texts included on the bibliography for the module. Students were required to upload at least one artifact of something that they created during the lecture (lecture notes / a diagram they were asked to draw etc.) and to write a reflection on why that was important for their learning. They were asked also to include a website that could help their learning for that topic, and to conclude each page with a piece on how that week’s lecture fitted into the bigger picture of the module as a whole. A template page (F. 1) was provided to the students within the eportfolio platform. Subsequently, students were asked to share three of these pages with a peer, who would comment on their reflections. Students were required to submit each of their reflections before the following class, therefore forcing them to engage with the material between classes, and tapping into their short-term memory.

eportfolio-pages

Figure 1: Template for eportfolio pages provided to students.

Student engagement

Although initially the students were somewhat reluctant to engage with the process of reflecting on the lecture using the eportfolio, by the end of the module students were putting a significant effort into each of the pages. The initial hesitation was due to the fact that the eportfolio was a totally new platform not only to these students but to the university. These students were the first to engage with the platform, and therefore had no peers to look to for help, and felt somewhat overwhelmed by the technology rather than the task itself. This was overcome by doing some in-class work on the eportfolio, with the learning technologist explaining how to get the most from the platform, as well as being online for any queries that the students had about the eportfolio. After the first fortnight of classes, students were much more comfortable using the platform, and were changing fonts, adding videos and image galleries and changing the look and feel of the template skin to allow it to reflect their own personality. Students who initially were less than enthusiastic about spending time reflecting on their learning, and writing down what they learned, now were reporting spending between four and six hours each week on revising their lecture notes and completing extra reading and research on the topics. The difficulties that were encountered and overcome, the embracing of the eportfolio despite an initial reluctance due to the time investment required, are consistent with what O'Keeffe and Donnelly (2013) found in their study of postgraduate student use of an eportfolio. On sharing their work with others, students in this module commented on what they found difficult, and offered suggestions of online sites to their peers to aid understanding of the topics they found difficult. On the part of the teacher, seeing the level of understanding of the students each week allowed for better tailored classes and exercises, as well as being able to scaffold the learning of those who were struggling.

The results

The catalyst to implement this change in the assessment of the module was to enhance student learning and to increase a sense of fulfilment on the part of the lecturer on seeing that the students were able to succeed in the module. Figure 2 shows the mean grade, in percentage, achieved by the students over a seven-year period. The number of students each year varied from 70 to 90. Figure 2 also shows the percentage of students who failed this module in each of the academic years. The failure rate in the academic year 2016-17 has significantly reduced. Moreover, the mean percentage attained by the student group over the seven years, which had remained quite consistently the high 40s until the introduction of the eportfolio, rose by almost 10% to 59% in the academic year 2016-17. This underlines the success of imbedding the eportfolio into the assessment.

graph-pass-failure-rate

Figure 2: Graph showing the mean percentage attained by students on the module in academic years 2010-11 to 2016-17, and the failure rate (in %) of the module in each of these years.

Students were overwhelmingly positive about the use of eportfolios as part of the assessment. In the end of year module feedback, 70% of the respondents specifically mentioned the eportfolio-based assessment as one of the strengths of the module in an open question. Common threads through the student responses included the "learning of material as we went along", with students engaged in the material week on week, and the creation of their own study notes, including extra reading, for use as study aids afterwards. Students also commented on the sense of calm they experienced coming up to the examination period itself knowing that they had already successfully completed the readings. This all contributed to the sense of achievement on the part of the students. On the part of the lecturer, it was very satisfying to read the examination papers and to see that the students had really engaged with the material, had understood it and had overcome the difficulties of the subject area.

Conclusion

The integration of an eportfolio as part of the assessment of this undergraduate module has been highly successful. Although the implementation of the assessment, for both the lecturer and the students, is time-consuming, this was not seen as an impediment to the assessment strategy by either party. Students who were initially reluctant to spend time on the eportfolio were, after completing the module, asking for this approach to be implemented in other modules.

The feasibility of using eportfolios in the manner demonstrated here throughout a program may not be possible. A variety of assessment types, balancing student time with assessment demands, is required for most programs. Also, in the study presented here, the time spent by the lecturer in reviewing and providing feedback to the students was considerable, and would not be possible if every module were assessed in the same way. Nonetheless, the benefits of the eportfolio scaffolding the learning that was happening in the lecture, and that learning being taken outside of the lecture hall and into the space in between classes, can be seen in the results obtained by the students.

The added benefit of the students creating pages within an eportfolio is that they can tag both relevant content within these pages and also have them available to future employers should they be required to show evidence of learning in the specific area of the module. This is particularly important as many of the students on this module have traditionally gone on to become teachers. In the Republic of Ireland, where this study is based, the Teaching Council require of student teachers that they create a professional portfolio of work which shows the lifelong learning process of the student (Teaching Council, 2017). Many of these students will be able to include these pages within this professional portfolio, and the pages will be accessible by the students when they themselves go into the classroom to teach some of this material in the future.

Acknowledgement

The DCU Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) have supported this project throughout the year, particularly of Lisa Donaldson, who selflessly has been at the end of emails for both staff and students. Diane Holtzman provided very helpful feedback on this article, and was very supportive throughout the writing process.

References

JISC. (2008). Effective Practice with e-portfolios: Supporting 21st-century learning. Retrieved from http://www.ssphplus.info/files/effective_practice_e-portfolios.pdf

Nicol, D., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2005). Rethinking formative assessment in higher education: A theoretical model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Quality Assurance Agency Scotland: Reflections on Assessment, 2, 105-119.

O'Keeffe, M., & Donnelly, R. (2013). Exploration of eportfolios for adding value and deepening student learning in contemporary higher education. International Journal of ePortfolio, 3(1), 1–11.

Teaching Council. (2017). Initial teacher education: Criteria and guidelines for programme providers, Dublin, UK: Teaching Council of Ireland.

Contact: Susan Hegarty [susan.hegarty@dcu.ie]

Leaders or led?

A qualitative analysis of how young people explore express and experiment via new media in an Irish higher education context

This study reviews of students' multimedia projects and reveals how a complex web of institutional, local, global and gender issues influence the process of digital media creation by young adults. The significance of this research lies in the study's longitudinal nature, which examined students' final-year multimedia productions over a 12-year period (2003–2014) in a university setting.

The analysis provides a unique insight into how sociocultural norms, access to technology and institutional forces such as the curriculum and lecturers' subject area of expertise, as well as politics and Ireland's economic recession, have influenced and shaped student voices. It also provides the opportunity to track how the student voice changed and adapted in response to events both inside and outside the university and to identify areas of silence and question what they might mean.

The potential for student-produced multimedia to carry gendered qualities, especially regarding audience orientation and media type, is highlighted. Student-produced multimedia artefacts and accompanying written documentation are analysed in terms of genre, media type, audience and purpose, with gender providing a useful overarching framework to further refine the analysis.

Contacts:

Miriam Judge [miriam.judge@dcu.ie]

Declan Tuite [declan.tuite@dcu.ie]

Related Publication: Judge, M. and Tuite, D. 2017: Leaders or led? A qualitative analysis of how young people explore express and experiment via new media in an Irish higher education context. Learning, Media and Technology, 42(1): 28-53 https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2016.1095764

Mother-Tongue Diversity in the Foreign Language Classroom

Perspectives on the experiences of non-native speakers of English studying foreign languages in an English-medium university.

This study considers the position of university language students whose mother tongue is other than the medium of instruction. Specifically, it investigates the attitudes and experiences of non-native English speakers studying either German or Japanese as foreign languages at an English-medium university.

The findings indicate that the non-native speakers (NNSs) of English consider themselves to be at an advantage over the native speakers (NSs) of English in the study of German and Japanese as Foreign Languages, despite the fact that the medium of instruction is English, at least in the early stages of the language module. This is primarily owing to the fact that the non-native English speakers are already experienced language learners with an extensive linguistic repertoire. This view is supported by the NSs of English.

Some concerns are expressed by non-native speakers of English in relation to an assumed knowledge of culture and society of the host country. The implications of these findings are discussed. Diverging from previous studies, this research focuses on learners of languages other than English and contributes to recent discussions on the increase in linguistic and cultural diversity and its impact within the foreign language classroom.

Contacts:

Jennifer Bruen [jennifer.bruen@dcu.ie]

Niamh Kelly [niamh.kelly@dcu.ie]

Related article: Bruen, J. and Kelly, N. (2017) Mother-tongue diversity in the foreign language classroom: Perspectives on the experiences of non-native speakers of English studying foreign languages in an English-medium university. Language Learning in Higher Education, 7(2): https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cercles.2017.7.issue-2/cercles-2017-0014/cercles-2017-0014.xml

Pedagogical translation and the language student

Despite increasing research into the effectiveness of using translation in foreign language teaching there are still links between translation studies and language education that need to be made in order to properly theorise and thus be able to exploit pedagogical translation. This article explores the student as an essential, yet neglected, element to explore in this field. The purpose of this empirical research is to gain an overview of the students’ perceptions of translation into the L2 (or inverse translation) in the foreign language classroom and see in what ways their own attitude towards translation and its impact on their language learning are related. The results of the pilot study reveal translation to be an exciting skill that is central to foreign language teaching and learning. The analysis of the data obtained gives indications of how language teachers may optimise the implementation of inverse translation in the classroom. The study suggests that there is a need for further research on the impact of translation in the language classroom that combines a focus on both the teachers’ expectations and the students’ achievements.

Contact: Lucia Pintado [lucia.pintado@dcu.ie]

Related Publication: Currently under review

Poetry and Education

Related publication: https://www4.dcu.ie/icps/POST-II.shtml

Contact: Michael Hinds [michael.hinds@dcu.ie]

Revisiting gender and foreign language education research: Institutional discourse and language ideologies in Ireland

The relationship between foreign language participation and the gender of the learner garnered significant interest from the 1980s in many L1 English countries, in the context of what came to be known popularly as a crisis of boys’ educational achievements. Although sociolinguistic and applied linguistic research has witnessed an exponential rise in the study of power relations and identity negotiation during the language learning process, issues of learner gender in foreign language education research merit further attention, as a gender-gap in participation and attainment continues to exist in English-speaking contexts, with little research appearing on the Irish context.

This paper will draw upon interviews with and observation of students enrolled in a west of Ireland secondary school, conducted during an ethnographic field research period in 2012. It will discuss the way in which students discursively gender language learning, the relationship between gendered discourses and students’ language ideologies, and way in which this contributes to the reproduction of such ideologies in wider society. The findings of this research indicate that there exists a cyclical relationship between the popular and discursive gendering of foreign language education and the reproduction of such discourses by students, with implications for the uptake and further study of foreign languages in Ireland.

Contact: Jennifer Martyn [jennifer.martyn@dcu.ie]

Dissemination: Martyn, J. (2017) Revisiting gender and foreign language education research: Institutional discourse and language ideologies in Ireland, AILA-Europe Junior Researchers Meeting, University of Vienna (September 6th-7th)

Should we still teach a beautiful novel by a racist author?

This article is about a beautiful book by a not so beautiful (racist, in fact) author, Forrest Carter’s The Education of Little Tree (1976). I will first reflect on the usually fraught (and sometimes cosy) relationship of literature and morality. I then will give a flavor of the moral fiber of Carter’s novel and then turn to some darker undercurrents, examining whether they intersect with the value of the work, whether we need them to intersect, and whether they ultimately submerge any initial judgments of the book. The core issue is how and whether to continue to teach such works as worthy and beautiful literature despite deeply disturbing facts about the authors of such works. Finally, as we often have personal connections to our favorite books, how should such connections factor in while choosing whether to teach such works even if now aware of their problematic legacies?

Contact: Peter Admirand [peter.admirand@dcu.ie]

Related Publication: Admirand, P. International Journal of Ethics Education (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40889-017-0042-2

Task design for online speaking practice: Effects on learners' Foreign Language Anxiety and Self-disclosure

The emergence of videoconferencing tools in the 1990´s provided language learners with opportunities to carry out speaking practice anytime and anywhere. Thus allowing learners to develop their social and communicative skills in their second language (L2). However, there are a number of learning barriers which can prevent language learners from learning and using the L2. In this regard, Language Anxiety is one of the key factors that has been shown to impact on L2 learning (Ellis, 2015). In fact, Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) (Horwitz et al., 1986) can inhibit learning and communication in the L2 (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991).

This article presents a case study developed in a 5 week e-tandem project in which 10 language learners (5 Spanish and 5 English native speakers) participated via videoconference in order to establish a relationship between task types and FLA levels during speaking practice. Based on a mixed methods approach, the study explores the correlation between four different communicative task types (spot the difference, role-play, problem-solving and opinion-exchange), their levels of required self-disclosure and their effects on FLA. In addition, it also analyses the self-disclosure elements present in each task type as well as in the conversation.

Ellis, R. (2015). Understanding second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. A. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 70(2), 125-132.

MacIntyre, P. D. & Gardner, R. C. (1991). Investigating language class anxiety using the focused essay technique. Modern Language Journal, 75, 296-304.

Contact: Iker Erdocia Íñiguez [iker.erdocia@dcu.ie]

Dissemination: Fondo Garcia, M. and Erdocia Íñiguez, I. (2017) Task design for online speaking practice: Effects on learners' Foreign Language Anxiety and Self-disclosure, Paper presented at Eurocall 2017 Southampton.

2016

The risks of 'university speak': Relationship management and identity negotiation by mature students off campus

Research finds that participation in higher education is generally empowering for mature students but that it can also create tensions in their off-campus relationships. This article reports on findings from an ongoing study of the experiences of mature students at university in Ireland and draws from interviews with 15 such students in the final year of their studies. Following similar research by Baxter and Britton in the UK, the article considers how mature students experience and represent changes in their identities and social relationships brought about by entry to higher education. Specifically, the article focuses on the risks associated with using newly acquired academic language (or ‘university speak’) off campus. The findings reported here complement existing research and offer support for Baxter and Britton’s suggestion that mature students often experience compartmentalisation and fragmentation in their self-identities.

Contact: Neil O’Boyle [neil.oboyle@dcu.ie]

Related Publication: O’Boyle N. (2015) 'The risks of ‘university speak’: relationship management and identity negotiation by mature students off campus'. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 25 (2):93-111, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09620214.2015.1018921

Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students   

Intercultural competency is a skill increasingly required of all higher education staff. The ICOS 'Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students' DVD and training guide is an unparalleled resource for use across the sector, a thoroughly accessible tool for the efforts of higher education institutions to build receptive and empathetic environments for international students. Developed over a three year period and launched in 2015, it brings together the experiences and perspectives of a range of international students on living and studying in Ireland. Interview segments on a wide range of themes are further explored in the 130 page training guide that accompanies the DVD, including participative exercises for use by facilitators. The pack, which was authored by former ICOS trainer Louise Staunton and edited by Dr. Ciarán Dunne, draws on ICOS' experience of offering intercultural awareness training to higher education academic and support staff over many years, and the video resources are able to bring the experiences and perspectives of a range of international students into a training context in the most direct way possible. The 'Diverse Voices' training pack also features many experienced higher education sector professionals discussing issues of best practice. Whilst the focus of Diverse Voices is on the Irish cultural context, the themes explored will resonate with anyone interested in intercultural competence development.

Contact: Ciarán Dunne

Related Output:

Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students. 
ICOS (2015) Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students. Ireland.   

Motivational diversity among adult minority language learners The sociolinguistic context of Irish, a minority language which is also the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, presents a multitude of issues for consideration in relation to Irish language teaching and learning. This article reports a small-scale (n= 12) exploratory qualitative study of the range of motivations to be observed among adult learners of Irish in Ireland. It examines the extent to which current theoretical formulations are adequate to explain these motivations. It is argued that certain types of adult learners of Irish are likely to be motivated by affective factors such as identity, linguistic heritage and cultural connections which are distinct from the integrative/instrumental formulations of the Gardner et al. model. The motivation of other learners, however, may more closely approximate these traditional constructs. The study involved a ground-up categorisation of the self-expressed motivations of 12 adult learners of Irish from diverse backgrounds. It reveals five potential categories of learner motivations with most learners having multiple motivations. Results are discussed in terms of the relevance of current formulations of motivation in the research literature to the context of adult minority language learning. Pedagogical implications for the improvement of adult Irish language learning are also outlined.   

Contact: Colin Flynn [colin.flynn@dcu.ie]

Related publication: Colin Flynn & John Harris (2016) 'Motivational diversity among adult minority language learners: Are current theoretical constructs adequate?'. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 37 (4):371-384 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2015.1072204

Can Intercultural Experiences foster Creativity? The relevance, theory and evidence 

Abstract

This article focuses on the relationship between intercultural experience and creativity, with a specific focus on the thesis that engagement with cultural diversity can foster creativity. Having highlighted both the need for creativity and various challenges associated with defining and measuring it, a comprehensive theoretical rationale for the potential of intercultural experiences to enhance creativity is presented. This is accompanied by a thorough review of fourteen relevant empirical studies. Overall, the article highlights a growing body of empirical data supporting the argument that intercultural experiences can enhance creativity, but also draws attention to the complexity of this process, including multiple factors which influence this relationship. 

Contact: Ciarán Dunne

Related Publication:

'Can Intercultural Experiences foster Creativity? The relevance, theory and evidence'. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 2017 3 (38)

Making Sense in Religious Studies: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing
  

The Making Sense series offers clear, concise guides to research and writing for students at all levels of undergraduate study. Designed especially for students in religious studies, this volume outlines general principles of style, grammar, and punctuation while also covering issues such as how to conduct academic research in religious studies, how to read religious texts, how to write essays and short assignments, how to document sources, and how to give an oral presentation.

Contact: Brad Anderson [brad.anderson@dcu.ie]

Related publication:

Bradford A. Anderson, Margot Northey, and Joel Lohr (2015) Making Sense in Religious Studies: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing, 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/making-sense-in-religious-studies-9780199010349?cc=ie&lang=en&# 

 

Fostering Cosmopolitan Dispositions

This chapter contributes to debates on justice and equality in higher education by centring on the fostering of cosmopolitan dispositions in a university setting in Ireland, but with wider relevance for countries facing similar pedagogic challenges of interculturality. The cosmopolitan construct is understood here to mean an engagement with the world through critical intercultural dialogue and is grounded in a philosophical narrative that hearkens back to the age of the Stoics but which is being renewed by contemporary scholars in the field of education. The chapter foregrounds ‘capability’ over ‘competence’, seeing learning and development as a set of freedoms and opportunities based on beings and doings that the individual student has reason to value. This is illustrated with empirical examples of pedagogical praxis drawn from insider-practitioner, multicultural classroom settings, which have informed the development of a matrix of capabilities, including cosmopolitan citizenship, voice and agency, and affiliation, presented and elaborated here.

Contact: Veronica Crosbie [veronica.crosbie@dcu.ie]

Related publication:

Crosbie, V. (2016) Fostering Cosmopolitan Dispositions, In: Socially Just Pedagogies, Capabilities and Quality in Higher Education, Palgrave Studies in Global Citizenship Education and Democracy, pp 129-152

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/978-1-137-55786-5_7

 

Using reciprocal peer teaching to develop learner autonomy: An action research project with a beginners' Chinese class
   

Peer teaching has been used as a mechanism for promoting learner autonomy in a range of language learning contexts. This article explores how absolute beginners in a Chinese class can engage in reciprocal peer teaching (RPT) from the start of their language learning experience and how this contributes to the development of their autonomy as learners in addition to improving their linguistic competence in Chinese. RPT, as it is implemented in this study, entails students working in teaching teams, with each team taking responsibility in turn to teach the whole class during a short beginners' course in Chinese. The study was conducted as an action research project in three cycles, with modifications to the form and content of students' engagement in each cycle based on analysis of data from students' reflective language learning journals and group reports. The findings suggest that the cooperative and challenging activity of RPT fostered students' individual responsibility and motivation for learning while at the same time developing group solidarity in the classes. Individual and group development together served to promote the learner autonomy. The findings also suggest that the reciprocal element, whereby each student identifies with both teacher and learner roles at some point during the course, is critical in this intervention, functioning as a catalyst for students' activities.

Contacts: Weiming Liu [weiming.liu@dcu.ie] and Ann Devitt

Related publication:

Using reciprocal peer teaching to develop learner autonomy: An action research project with a beginners' Chinese class, Language Learning in Higher Education (2014), 4 (2)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2014-0025     

Internationalization and Geography Fieldwork: Opportunities for Skills Enhancement  

This article outlines the approaches to internationalization undertaken by the Geography Department at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra in Dublin. It begins with an overview of the potential of the discipline of geography for internationalization, before explaining some existing practices within the Department which are intended to foster both mobility and internationalization at home. The core of the paper is a discussion of an approach to internationalization through fieldwork which has been developed and refined in the Department over the past eight years. The module is described in detail, together with an examination of learning outcomes and an evaluation of the various IT, linguistic, disciplinary and interpersonal skills fostered by this approach.

Contacts: Ruth McManus [ruth.mcmanus@dcu.ie] and Gerry O’Reilly [gerry.oreilly@dcu.ie]

Related publication: 'Internationalization and Geography Fieldwork: Opportunities for Skills Enhancement' Journal of the Comenius Association, 2011, (Vol 20), pp. 20-25   

Practice and Theory in Geography: Experiences from international collaboration for teacher education    

This paper explores how collaboration between university Geography departments in different countries can enhance practical competencies and skills, while bringing innovative approaches to the teaching and learning of Geography at all levels. A major objective is to empower students in geographical thinking and doing by building on their latent skills and knowledge. The spatial perspective must be flexible so as to encourage innovative teaching strategies and technologies. Two experiences of international collaboration between undergraduate geography students are examined. The first case study focuses on joint course experiences of Dutch and Irish students collaborating on the organization and delivery of geographical fieldwork; the second centres on interculturalism, globalization, and good citizenship as worked on by Irish and American students. While both cases involved online interaction, in the first case the students met following a preparatory period of online collaboration, whereas in the second case the only interaction was online and the students never met face-to-face. Both experiences were generally positively received, and serve to highlight the potential for new generations of teachers to use ICT in order to share their geographical empathy and stories across national boundaries, constructs and curricula.

Contacts: Ruth McManus [ruth.mcmanus@dcu.ie] and Gerry O’Reilly [gerry.oreilly@dcu.ie]

Related publication: McManus, Ruth and O'Reilly, Gerry (2015) 'Practice and Theory in Geography: experiences from international collaboration for teacher education', http://www.j-reading.org/index.php/geography/article/view/87 

Teaching and Learning: Using the Irish Historic Towns Atlas at third level
    

Since its inception in 1981 as part of a wider European scheme of historic town atlases, the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA) has published 26 fascicles in hard copy. Following conversations with the IHTA team based at the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) regarding the possibility of digitising the atlases, the Carlingford atlas (O’Sullivan & Gillespie 2011), was chosen as an exemplar for digitisation, principally due to the scale of the town. Subsequently, areas within Dublin were digitised, using fascicles I, II and III of the Dublin IHTA.  The project was undertaken by undergraduate BA geography students during a GIS module. This paper illustrates the potential opportunities and challenges of creating a digital version of the IHTA to be used as a visualisation and research tool, and the potential for student learning about both the development of towns and the skills involved in creating digital maps.

Contacts: Jonathan Cherry [jonathan.cherry@dcu.ie] and Susan Hegarty [susan.hegarty@dcu.ie]

Related output: Jonathan Cherry with Susan Hegarty (2015) GIS in practice and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas. [Invited Lecture], Teaching and Learning: using the Irish Historic Towns Atlas at third level, sponsored by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Royal Irish Academy.

 

 

 

2015

Blended Learning in Communication Studies

From September 2015, CM137 ("History and Structure of the Media") which is offered to students in Communication Studies and the Joint Honours Degree has been delivered using blended learning methods. The previous 2-3 hour "live" lectures have been replaced with online lecture delivery. This is augmented by new weekly seminars moderated by the course coordinator and which are built around questions relating to the previous weeks online lecture. Each lecture is broken down into a series of 20-minute-long video presentations which are "released" to students every Wednesday. Students can download the videos from the Loop page or watch them via a private Youtube page. This allows students to access the course content at a location, time and pace of their own choosing. The online videos are produced using Camtasia, a piece of desktop video recording software which permits blending of straight to camera video and audio, powerpoint presentations, web content etc into a video presentation. The move to blended learning is a response to the increasing scale of the class, with negative consequences for the quality of delivery and which has raised timetabling difficulties. By limiting the face to face element of the course to smaller-scale seminar groups, the course coordinator can directly interact with students who are in position to raise questions that they may not feel able to in class. The ultimate goal is to improve student engagement while retaining larger class sizes. The intention is to publish a reflection on whether learning outcomes have improved at the conclusion of the module, in conjunction with the Teaching Enhancement Unit.

Contact: Dr Roddy Flynn [Email: Roderick.Flynn@dcu.ie]  

Blended Learning in the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence

Dr. James Fitzgerald (DCU) and colleague Prof. Anthony Lemieux (Georgia State University [GNU]) have created and delivered a unique collaborative module on terrorism, which facilitates cross-cultural engagement on related topics between students based in the US and in Ireland. Originally developed in 2009, this blended-learning module offers an opportunity for (final-year BA) students at DCU and GNU to interact through discussion forums, chat spaces and collaborative Wiki group projects in order to consistently challenge popular pre-conceptions on terrorism and political violence, as well highlighting important cultural dynamics that inform such views. Feedback has shown that the module's significant emphasis on group discussion (mainly facilitated by discussion forums housed on a shared Moodle/Loop page) has helped to crystalise students' understandings of psychological and political components of 'terrorism', with the US students enrolled in Psychology degrees and DCU students in International Relations and Politics degrees. For the coming semester,Fitzgerald and Lemieux plan to expand the module to incorporate the voices of students from diverse locations--such as the West Bank and/or Beirut, Lebanon--in order to further enrich the parameters for debate and continuously challenge the basis of what students might understand as terrorism and political violence.

Publications:

Fitzgerald, J., Lemieux, A. F. 2011. ‘Embracing Subjectivities in the Collaborative Teaching of Terrorism: Pedagogy in a “Critical” Learning Environment’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 441-450. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17539153.2011.623425

Fitzgerald, J., Lemieux, A. F. 2011. ‘Pedagogy in a Blended-Learning Environment: The Utility of Discussion Forums and Wiki Group Projects’, Why Social Science Matters, Issue 5

Fitzgerald, J., Lemieux, A. F. 2010. ‘Across the divide: reflections of a collaborative class on terrorism’, Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 1. Available at: http://www.eliss.org.uk/CurrentIssueVol23/ViewArticlev2i3/tabid/286/itemid/117/pubtabid/293/repmodid/411/Default.aspx

Contact: Dr James Fitzgerald [Email: James.Fitzgerald@dcu.ie 

Smartphone Cinema Project

Evidence has shown that students have greatly increased their consumption of digital video, principally through video sharing sites. In parallel, students’ participation in video sharing and creation has also risen. As educators, we need to question how this can be effectively translated into a positive learning experience for students, whilst examining how willing students actually are to critically engage with digital video and analysing how best to hone their digital literacy skills. I have embedded a smartphone cinema project into a first year French module where students are thought the skills to make a short film in French on their phones whilst interacting with French native speakers, either on or off campus. The culmination of this project is a Pocket Cinema festival in DCU that allows students to showcase their creativity to their peers and to the wider community. This project was also implemented in a French module in JNU, in Delhi, resulting in an interesting cross-cultural examination of Irish and Indian students’ previous exposure to video creation, the students’ perceived challenges and concerns relating to creating video content for academic assessment and its anticipated benefits.

First prize winners at recent Pocket Cinema Festival

First prize winners at recent Pocket Cinema Festival

Publication: Loftus, M., Tiernan, P. and Cherian, S. (2014) Students’ readiness to move from consumers to producers of digital video content: A cross-cultural analysis of Irish and Indian Students, Education and Information Technologies 19(3): 569-582 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10639-013-9286-4

Contact: Dr Maria Loftus [maria.loftus@dcu.ie]  

Harnessing ‘Super-Diversity’ in Language Teaching

The student body is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of language, nationality and cultural background. For example, as well as speaking fourteen additional languages other than their mother tongues (Spanish, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, French, English, Irish, German, Arabic, Mandarin and Thai) the participants in this study have English, French, German, Hungarian, Russian and Japanese as mother tongues. The study itself explores ways in which linguistic diversity can be harnessed in the language classroom. A series of pedagogic interventions, designed for this purpose and implemented in four higher education language classrooms, were carried out. The interventions include awareness-raising of the language profile of students and their class groups, as well as facilitated comparison of the workings of key grammar concepts in the target language and in other languages in the learners’ linguistic repertoires. Analysis of participant feedback indicates that 36% of the participants were unaware of the other languages spoken by their fellow students prior to participating in the study, with 80% describing such knowledge as valuable to them. More than two thirds (70%) of participants described the interventions as aiding their study of their target language. It is proposed on the basis of this study that similar interventions will be mainstreamed in selected language modules.

Language Teaching

Publication (under review): Bruen, J. and Kelly, N. Language Teaching in a Globalised World: Harnessing linguistic super-diversity in the classroom. International Journal of Multilingualism.

Contacts: Dr Jennifer Bruen [jennifer.bruen@dcu.ie] and Dr Niamh Kelly [niamh.kelly@dcu.ie

Teaching Controversial Issues in the Humanities and Social Sciences

This study focusses on a didactic approach known as Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) which originated in the US political science classroom. SAC is intended to aid the learner in developing their own view on controversial issues and in understanding alternative views with the ultimate aim of locating a compromise position. An intervention was designed and used to introduce six university academics from such diverse specialisms as Contemporary Cultural Studies, European History and Politics, French Culture and Society, Children’s Literature, Business Ethics, Global Cultures, Asian Studies, and French, German and Japanese as Foreign Languages, all of whom deal with controversial issues in the classroom on a regular basis, see example from a Children’s Literature module below:

Cover image of controversial children’s book ‘ and tango makes three’ which tells the true story of two homosexual penguins raising a chick in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Tango

AND TANGO MAKES THREE copyright (c) 2005 by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrations copyright (c) 2005 by Henry Cole. Used by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

 The academics were introduced to SAC by way of reflective engagement with it in the role of learners. The controversial issue used for illustrative purposes in this case concerned the compulsory status of the Irish language within the Irish education system. Participants’ views on the teaching of controversial issues more generally were explored, the workings of SAC highlighted and attempts made to identify benefits and barriers to its inclusion in a variety of classroom settings.

Publication (under review): Bruen, J., Crosbie, V., Kelly, N., Loftus, M., Maillot, A. McGillicuddy, A. and Péchenart, J. Teaching Controversial Topics in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Ireland: Using Structured Academic Controversy to develop multi-perspectivity in the learner, Journal of Social Science Education, 16 (2)

Contacts: Dr Jennifer Bruen [jennifer.bruen@dcu.ie], Dr Veronica Crosbie [veronica.crosbie@dcu.ie], Dr Niamh Kelly [niamh.kelly@dcu.ie], Dr Maria Loftus [maria.loftus@dcu.ie], Dr Agnès Maillot [agnes.maillot@dcu.ie], Dr Áine McGillicuddy [aine.mcgillicuddy@dcu.ie], Ms Juliette Péchenart [juliette.pechenart@dcu.ie

E-Tandem Learning for International Business 

Tandem learning can function as a powerful complement to formal language learning classes in the development of both language proficiency and cultural intelligence. This teaching innovation involves cohorts of students from higher education institutions in Ireland and Austria completing letters of application and curriculum vitae and engaging in a process of peer review with one another via Google Sites and a shared Dropbox folder. One of the principal, initial reasons for incorporating e-tandem learning into this module was to increase levels of motivation and interest on the part of the students with the task at hand, previous experience having indicated that lower levels of interest were displayed by students in preparing applications for jobs than in other areas of the course. A key positive outcome has been a deeper level of engagement with the process of preparing job applications observed by the module coordinators in both institutions involved. Previous reflections and studies on e-tandem learning have reached similar conclusions emphasising that learners enjoy the novelty aspect of tandem learning and the fact that it is “significantly different from anything offered by previous language learning experience. Now in its third year, additional changes and enhancements proposed include more frequent and direct interaction between the language pairs and the inclusion of an interview element to the module via Skype or an alternative platform.]

 

University of Applied Sciences, Kufstein, Austria DCU

University of Applied Sciences, Kufstein, Austria [https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/Panorama01kl.jpg]
Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland [https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACentral_Mall_DCU.JPG]

Publication: Bruen, J. and Sudhershan, A. (2015) So they’re actually real?’ Integrating e-tandem learning into the study of Language for International Business, Journal of Teaching in International Business, 26 (2): 81-93. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08975930.2014.993009

Contacts: Dr Jennifer Bruen [jennifer.bruen@dcu.ie], Professor Aleksandra Sudhershan [Aleksandra.Sudhershan@fh-kufstein.de], Dr Annette Simon [annette.simon@dcu.ie

Innovation in language teaching and learning: ‘Twisted Dictation’

This piece of research describes a ‘twisted dictation’ teaching technique which draws on theories relating to translanguaging and codeswitching in second language learning and teaching. The study involved a small in-class quasi-experiment which sought to explore the effectiveness (or not) of using the emerging bilingual skills of the students as a teaching and learning tool in a geography through English Content-Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classroom in Northern Italy. In particular, the study sought to examine whether and to what extent the use of codeswitching/translanguaging between the native language and the language of instruction during content-related tasks might prove a useful technique for highlighting particular grammatical points in the CLIL vehicular language. Findings support the view that there is a place for the focused, planned and targeted use of the L1 during meaning-focused lessons in the language immersion classroom and that bilingual instructional techniques, such as the ‘twisted dictation’ used in the study, can be an effective means of both drawing students' attention to particular linguistic forms and of developing an enriched bilingual vocabulary. The authors suggest that the use of the L1 as a language teaching and learning tool is not limited to the CLIL or immersion classroom, but could be adapted for use in other language learning contexts.

Publication: Gallagher, F. & Colohan, G. (2014): T(w)o and fro: using the L1 as a language teaching tool in the CLIL classroom, The Language Learning Journal, DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2014.947382 Link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09571736.2014.947382

Contact: Fiona Gallaher [Email: Fiona.Gallagher@dcu.ie

Process and text: Teaching students to review the literature 

Examiners of theses regularly have to endure “literature reviews” that consist of extended lists of mini-summaries of books. Indeed, quite often “theses” amount to little more than a list of book-summaries masquerading as an argument. While there are excellent courses on qualitative and quantitative methods, most students have learnt how to conduct literature reviews exclusively through the method of learning by doing. Ultimately, there is no alternative to this age-old method. However, this essay is premised on the belief that a brief attempt to understand the general function of a literature review in social science should make learning by doing easier and more productive.

Publication: McMenamin, Iain (2006) Process and text: teaching students to review the literature. PS: Political Science & Politics, 39 (1). pp. 133-135. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20451693?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Contact: Professor Iain McMenamin [Email: Iain.McMenamin@dcu.ie

Understanding and enhancing the study abroad experience 

The notion often associated with study abroad that it will deepen students’ understanding of citizenship and expand it beyond national borders remains contested. While the Erasmus website claims that study abroad develops a sense of European citizenship, there is little research that documents how students themselves actually conceive of the term citizenship in practice or how a period of study abroad might transform such conceptualizations. In order to contribute to this debate, this paper analyses reflective pieces by undergraduate students on the nature of citizenship written before (n=16) and after (n=8) a year of study abroad as part of an Erasmus exchange programme. It presents an initial attempt to derive a typology of understandings for the term citizen from this data and to assess the impact of study abroad on these understandings. The findings of this pilot study (Figure 1) suggest that before students engage with study abroad, they have a tendency to articulate a relatively straightforward understanding of the concept of citizenship with a strong focus on the notion of ‘belonging’ to a country.

Figure 1: Understanding of citizenship pre- year abroad

Citizenship

In contrast, those in the post year abroad group recognise that the concept of citizenship is “difficult to define”, complex and composed of a number of elements. In addition, both obligations and responsibilities increase in importance and become more significant than rights for the post-year abroad group.

Figure 2: Understanding of citizenship post-year abroad

Citizenship post-year abroad

This study considers implications for further research and for the design of modules intended to prepare students for study abroad, with several of its recommendations having been implemented in second year language modules.

Publication: Bruen, J. (2013) The Impact Of Study Abroad On Language Learners’ Perceptions Of The Concept Of Citizenship: Some Preliminary Considerations. AISHE-J, 5 (3) http://ojs.aishe.org/index.php/aishe-j/article/view/134

Contact: Dr Jennifer Bruen [Email: Jennifer.Bruen@dcu.ie

Student Perceptions and Academic Impact of the Use of Social Media in the Foreign Language Classroom 

This case study documents the practices and perceptions of first year language learners using social media (Facebook) as part of their core language module in Dublin City University, and examines whether there is evidence of any academic benefit where students use social media. This evidence, along with the analysis of student perceptions, is used to highlight the merits and weaknesses of using social media in the foreign language classroom. The study looks at how social media can be used to support a socio-constructivist pedagogy in a language learning classroom, and explores whether or not it can enhance the language learning process. Student attitudes are analysed to see if there is evidence from a student perspective of the major tenets of a socio-constructivist pedagogy, such as peer-learning, collaborative activity and student-led classrooms.

Online Quiz Screen shot from an online quiz used as part of the study

Results from this study would indicate that students acknowledge that it can facilitate the acquisition of language, particularly grammar concepts and vocabulary, but students do not like it as a learning tool. Examining the academic impact it has, it can be said that weaker students have more to gain than stronger students where Facebook is used as a language learning tool. 

Contact: Dr Niamh Kelly [Niamh.Kelly@dcu.ie

3PLY: Exploring the potential for transformative workplace learning for and by teachers.

This project was funded by the Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South. It was conducted by Dr Annelies Kamp (Dublin City University) and Dorothy Black (University of Ulster). In the context of a new educational settlement (Vickers 2008) and an increasing overlap of education and work, the research explored the limits and possibilities associated with learning on the part of teachers, employees, and students ‘around’ workplace learning initiatives in second level schools on the island of Ireland.

The field research was undertaken in two schools in the Republic of Ireland and four schools in Northern Ireland during the period between September and November 2013. Further data was generated by way of desktop research of policy documents and extant research, and through the circulation of online surveys with the support of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors in the Republic and the Northern Ireland Schools’ Careers Association.

The central research questions asked:

  • How do teachers conceptualize the work experience and/or part-time work activities of students as part of the senior school curriculum in each jurisdiction?
  • How embedded is workplace learning into any careers programme and across school subjects?
  • To what extent does the learning generated in and through the organization, delivery and experience of workplace learning of young people diffuse throughout the broader school setting? How does this happen?
  • Does it make a difference who arranges the workplace learning experience (that is, school organized or organized by the student, or occuring within a part-time job)?

In summary, the research underscored the nuances of a new educational settlement. While it may a large-scale global trend for increasing numbers of young people to be working while completing second level schooling this was not supported in this small research project, particularly in the Republic where in a recessionary context part-time opportunities for young people had largely evaporated. As noted by some respondents, this elevated the call for meaningful workplace learning to be an integral part of the senior school curriculum as this may be the only workplace learning opportunity some students would have. This research suggests that severe limitations on time have compromised workplace learning in both jurisdictions, even where schools have a strong appreciation of and commitment to workplace learning for their students. Recommendations for further research were made, along with policy recommendations concerning resourcing, timetabling and management; professional development; collaboration and capacity-building; and communication and assessment.

Publication: The full findings are available in the report, available from SCoTENS, or can be dowloaded from: http://doras.dcu.ie/view/people/Kamp,_Annelies.html.

Annelies Kamp

Contact: Dr Annelies Kamp [Email: Annelies.Kamp@dcu.ie

‘Teaching Media’: Decoding Brand Ambassadors and Their Cultural Universes

If the history of branding teaches us anything, it is that branding activities in the main have become much less focused on product attributes and much more focused on cultivating links between products and people. The most powerful brands nowadays are those that successfully create shared experiences and emotions, and that generate feelings of commonality and community (Arvidsson 2005). Brands can therefore no longer be considered mere guarantees of quality (as they were in the eighteenth century) but should be viewed as key components of how we build and define our relationships and fashion our very selves (Banet-Weiser 2012). It is this growing connection between brands and persons that students are required to think critically about here.

For this assignment, groups of students are required to choose a brand that employs a well-known “brand ambassador”. Students are asked to think about the rationale for this strategy and about what precisely is transferred to a brand when it employs a brand ambassador. Central to the assignment is that students analyze the union of brand and brand ambassador as representative of a particular “cultural universe”; their task is to critically analyze (or “decode”) this cultural universe and build a detailed impression of it for their classmates. For example, students are asked to consider if the cultural universe is inclusive or exclusive and in what ways; in doing so, they are asked to think about issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and ability. The assignment also requires that students apply some of the semiotic concepts they have been introduced to in class. For example, what does the brand ambassador’s image ‘connote’ in terms of wider associations (innocence, exuberance, sexiness, etc.)? Are there particular ‘codes’ of masculinity or femininity, of national identity, of historical periods etc. at work in the brand’s advertising? ‘Paradigmatically’, why is the choice of brand ambassador significant i.e. who else might have been considered a possible substitute and why? In short, this assignment asks students to think critically (and semiotically) about the cultural universes that brands compel us to be part of.

Contact: Dr Neil O’Boyle [neil.oboyle@dcu.ie]

Publication: Decoding Brand Ambassadors and Their Cultural Universes, Teaching Media Quarterly Volume 3, Edition 4 (2015): Teaching Brands: Critical Approaches

http://www.teachingmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/OBoyle.BrandAmbassadors.pdf

Cosmopolitan capabilities in the Higher Education classroom

This study, concerning the development of cosmopolitan citizenship, draws on theories of human development and capabilities from a social justice perspective, where individual wellbeing is articulated as having the freedom to live a life of one’s choosing. In the context of an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classroom this involves paying attention to pedagogical strategies, power dynamics and curriculum content as a means of developing valued beings and doings (or capabilities and functionings as they are described in the literature). Sample activities are presented and evaluated to see to what extent they achieve the desired end. These include critical pedagogical interventions, students’ artefacts and extracts from focus group interviews, class reports and reflective journals. Results from the textual data offer research evidence of successful curriculum change, demonstrating that the learning that takes place there can make a difference: in terms of the learners’ identity development, capability enhancement and cosmopolitan citizenship.

Contact: Dr Veronica Crosbie [Veronica.Crosbie@dcu.ie] Publication: Cosmopolitan capabilities in the Higher Education classroom, Journal of Social Science Education, 2014 (2): http://www.jsse.org/index.php/jsse/article/view/1280 

Entrepreneurship Education

This paper discusses some of the key theories that are employed to assess the outcomes of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education from the perspective of an individual or an individual student. From this, a selection of instruments are chosen and used in parallel on a student sample to examine and compare their reliability and validity in context, the aim of which is to make inferences about their applicability for future research in entrepreneurship education.

Contacts: Róisín Lyons (DCU), Ciarán mac an Bhaird [ciaran.macanbhaird@dcu.ie], Theodore Lynn (DCU Business School)

Related Publication: Lyons, MacanBhaird and Lynn (2015) Individual level assessment in entrepreneurship education: an investigation of theories and techniques, Journal of Enterpreneurship Education 18(1): http://www.alliedacademies.org/entrepreneurship-education/volume-selector.php or https://www.researchgate.net/publication/278404888_Individual_level_assessment_in_entrepreneurship_education_An_investigation_of_theories_and_techniques 

Designing an online oral language learning environment

Trying to learn a language independent of the mode of delivery, i.e. in a traditional classroom or online is a challenge for many language students. Developing oral language competencies in a language are acknowledged as being particularly demanding. This challenge is further exacerbated when opportunities for the learner to engage in informal language acquisitions situations are limited, for example in the case of lesser-used or minority languages.

This paper provides an account of the process engaged in by the SpeakApps project to engage with both technological and pedagogical issues in the development of the multilingual online oral language environment.’

Contact: Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl [mairead.nicgiollamhichil@dcu.ie]

Related Publication: Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl , Christine Appel , Colm Ó Ciardubháin , Sake Jager , Adriana Prizel-Kania , (2015) "Designing the online oral language learning environment SpeakApps", The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, Vol. 32 Iss: 3, pp.165 - 173 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJILT-12-2014-0034 

Social Loafing in Student Enterpreneurship Teams

This study examines team-work in the context of entrepreneurship education. It had a particular focus on a phenomenon known as ‘social loafing’, where members of a group do not participate fully (Burdett, 2003; Hansen, 2006).

References: Burdett, J., 2003. Making Groups Work: University Students’ Perceptions. International Education Journal, 4(3), pp.177–191. Hansen, R.S., 2006. Benefits and Problems With Student Teams: Suggestions for Improving Team Projects. Journal of Education for Business, 82(1), pp.11–19.

Contacts: Róisín Lyons Dr Theo Lynn Dr Ciarán Mac An Bhaird [ciaran.macanbhaird@dcu.ie]

Forthcoming Publication: Lyons, R, Lynn, T. and MacAnBhaird, C. (forthcoming) Social Loafing in Student Enterpreneurship Teams. In Elgar, Edward (Ed.) Collection of papers delivered to the Entrepreneurship Summer University in 2013 and 2014 (Lisboa and Lund). Title to be confirmed. 

Across the Divide: Reflections of a Collaborative Class on Terrorism

This paper attempts to provide some initial reflections of a collaborative cross-cultural class on the study of terrorism as a means of contributing towards a general pedagogy of the subject. While the experiences highlighted in this paper are held to directly correspond to this specific class, it is hoped that some general lessons can be taken and applied to other areas of pedagogy. In particular, this paper bears significance to the teaching of terrorism as a sensitive topic in the context of cross-cultural interaction as experienced through a blended learning environment.

Contacts: James Fitzgerald, School of Law and Government, DCU E-mail: [james.fitzgerald@dcu.ie]

Anthony F. Lemieux, School of Natural and Social Sciences, Purchase College, SUNY,735 Anderson Hill Road,Purchase, New York 10577 U.S.A. E-mail: [Anthony.Lemieux@purchase.edu]

Link to paper: Across the Divide: Reflections of a Collaborative Class on Terrorism