News

TERG members Jeff Buckley, Niall Seery, Jason Power and Joe Phelan published an article in Research in Science and Technological Education titled “The importance of supporting technological knowledge in post-primary education: a cohort study”.

The article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1080/02635143.2018.1463981

Abstract

Background
Substantial research highlights the differences between scientific and technological knowledge. Considering that learning is heavily focused on the acquisition of knowledge, it is important to examine the individual and systematic implications of these types of knowledge.

Purpose
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact on overall educational performance as a result of engaging with technology subjects at post-primary level.

Sample
A five year cohort study was designed to gather longitudinal data from a total sample of 1761 pupils’ grades from the Irish Leaving Certificate examination. The sample was distributed across four schools.

Design and methods
Grades from the Irish Leaving Certificate were selected because the examination is considered high stakes as it serves as the country’s primary mechanism for matriculation into third-level education. Individual examinations are designed externally to schools by a government body ensuring the validity of each examination in capturing the holistic interpretation subject syllabi. Finally, a points system is used to score each examination facilitating comparisons between subjects.

Results
The results show that pupils who study the technology subjects are statistically significantly less likely to perform well overall in comparison to pupils who study science and mathematics subjects. They also show that for pupils who study the technology subjects, those subjects are statistically significantly likely to be their best performing subjects.

Conclusions
Due to the array of variables impacting subject selection, a definitive causal explanation cannot be deduced from the data for these results. However, it is possible to infer that the variance in knowledge types between the science and technology subjects has an impact on the results. A case is made that a compulsory technological component should be incorporated into educational curricula to provide a comprehensive and general education and to facilitate the holistic development of pupils.

TERG members Jeff Buckley, Niall Seery and Donal Canty published an article in the International Journal of Technology and Design Education titled “Investigating the use of spatial reasoning strategies in geometric problem solving”.

The article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-018-9446-3

Abstract

A core aim of contemporary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is the development of robust problem-solving skills. This can be achieved by fostering both discipline knowledge expertise and general cognitive abilities associated with problem solving. One of the most important cognitive abilities in STEM education is spatial ability however understandings of how students use this ability in practice are currently underdeveloped. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate how levels of spatial ability impacted both performance and approaches to problem solving. In the context of graphical education, selected due to its significant overlap with technological, mathematical and engineering knowledge, a repeated cross-sectional study design was implemented to gather longitudinal data of student approaches to problem solving. A battery of psychometric tests of spatial ability was administered to two cohorts and problem solving was examined through a variety of graphical problems. The findings illustrate a relationship between attaining higher levels of spatial ability and performance. Participants with lower levels of spatial ability evidenced the utilisation of models to a greater extend with a particular emphasis on models with the capacity to alleviate the need for spatial reasoning.

Date: 10th March 2018
Venue: Haninge, Sweden

The ResearchED conference in Haninge saw 3 presentations from 4 TERG members. This was the first ResearchED conference at which TERG was represented. What became clear throughout the day was that the mission of ResearchED resonates with the guiding principles of TERG, potentiating progress in practice through the dissemination of use-inspired basic research. This conference manifested as a forum in which a multitude of stakeholders in education had the opportunity to present and converse about realising the aim of an evidence-based educational practice.

Andrew Doyle’s presentation titled ‘Agendas, Influences and Capability: Perspectives on Practice in Design and Technology Education’ was the first contribution by a TERG member. He spoke about part of his PhD research which looks at what effects teachers’ practices by applying the critical lens of “amplifiers and filters” of practice. This research is of particular relevance to the discussion around the realisation of evidenced-based practice in technology education.

Dr Niall Seery and Dr Donal Canty co-presented on the ‘multiple perspectives and applications for the use of ACJ‘ and demonstrated the context of their applied research on the use of ACJ as assessment as learning. They acknowledged this research was the result of their attempt to reconcile the “struggle between learning and assessment’. In the presentation, Niall and Donal re-enacted aspects of the introductory lecture they gave to 1st year initial technology teacher education students in a module aimed at developing students’ own epistemological stance on what is evidence of capability. The role of ACJ in mandating students’ to make explicit their distinctions between evidence of capability was highlighted as critical the students’ development. Their research showing the pedagogical utility of ACJ as an ipsative assessment tool was also showcased.

Jeff Buckley presented on ‘spatial ability and fluid intelligence‘ and the significance of his research regarding these cognitive abilities in STEM education. Specifically, he spoke about the capacity of technology education to act as a unique context for exploring intelligence in education. In considering the relationship between discipline knowledge and domain general cognitive abilities in educational performance, and the fluid nature of knowledge in technology education, Jeff highlighted the potential significance of fluid intelligence and spatial ability in both technology and STEM education.

Jeff Buckley successfully completed his 90% seminar as part of his PhD studies at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. The title of his presentation was “Investigating the role of spatial ability as a factor of human intelligence in technology education: Towards a causal theory of the relationship between spatial ability and STEM education”. The opponent for the seminar was Emeritus Professor Richard Kimbell from Goldsmiths, University of London and the agenda of the seminar was to both assess the work completed to date and identify areas for improvement. Initially, Jeff began the seminar by presenting his PhD research to date. In his presentation he synthesised results from five journal articles and discussed their implications for both technology and STEM education. Following this, Prof. Kimbell challenged Jeff on his work relative to three broad themes; epistemology, assessment, and pedagogy. Finally, the discussion was opened to the audience.

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TERG members Jeff Buckley, Niall Seery and Donal Canty published an article in Educational Psychology Review titled “A heuristic framework of spatial ability: A review and synthesis of spatial factor literature to support its translation into STEM education”.

The article is available here: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-018-9432-z

Abstract:

An abundance of empirical evidence exists identifying a significant correlation between spatial ability and educational performance particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Despite this evidence, a causal explanation has yet to be identified. Pertinent research illustrates that spatial ability can be developed and that doing so has positive educational effects. However, contention exists within the relevant literature concerning the explicit definition for spatial ability. There is therefore a need to define spatial ability relative to empirical evidence which in this circumstance relates to its factor structure. Substantial empirical evidence supports the existence of unique spatial factors not represented in modern frameworks. Further understanding such factors can support the development of educational interventions to increase their efficacy and related effects in STEM education. It may also lead to the identification of why spatial ability has such a significant impact on STEM educational achievement as examining more factors in practice can help in deducing which are most important. In light of this, a synthesis of the spatial factors offered within existing frameworks with those suggested within contemporary studies is presented to guide further investigation and the translation of spatial ability research to further enhance learning in STEM education.

TERG members Jeff Buckley and Niall Seery published an article in Design and Technology Education: an International Journal titled “Balancing Curriculum Intent with Expected Student Responses to Designerly Tasks”.

The article is available here: https://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/DATE/article/view/2302

Abstract

Design activities form an extensive part of design and technology education with a link being posited within the pertinent literature between the cognitive activity of learning and the cognitive activity of design. It is therefore critical that design educators’ understand the effects that design constraints can have on the learning process. This paper aims to examine the potential to affect student responses and associated learning from design tasks based on the manipulation of task variables. A study was designed to examine the effects of two modelling systems – one parametric and one non-parametric – on the thought processes and design journeys of the students. The findings suggest that the use of parametric modelling can emphasis student thinking on technical considerations while the use of a freeform moulding CAD system affords a more creative orientation. Qualitative findings demonstrate the capacity of students to select appropriate strategies to complete the design task, further indicating that relaxing design constraints can support student learning in design activities. Considering curricular intentions to develop both technical and creative competencies, this study presents empirical findings illustrating how teachers can strategically design tasks which balance expected student responses with intended learning outcomes.

Book Review

Jeff Buckley also published a review of Loughborough Design Press’ most recent publication by Ken Baynes and Eddie Norman titled “Design Epistemology and Curriculum Planning”.

The review is available here: https://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/DATE/article/view/2357

TERG members Jeff Buckley, Adrian O’Connor, Niall Seery, Tomás Hyland and Donal Canty published an article in the International Journal of Technology and Design Education titled “Implicit theories of intelligence in STEM education: perspectives through the lens of technology education students”.

The article is available here: https://t.co/puPVrkcp5w

Abstract

The educational significance of eliciting students’ implicit theories of intelligence is well established with the majority of this work focussing on theories regarding entity and incremental beliefs. However, a second paradigm exists in the prototypical nature of intelligence for which to view implicit theories. This study purports to instigate an investigation into students’ beliefs concerning intellectual behaviours through the lens of prototypical definitions within STEM education. To achieve this, the methodology designed by Sternberg et al. (J Pers Soc Psychol 41(1):37–55, 1981) was adopted with surveys being administered to students of technology education requiring participants to describe characteristics of intelligent behaviour. A factor analytic approach including exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling was taken in analysing the data to determine the underlying constructs which the participants viewed as critical in their definition of intelligence. The findings of this study illustrate that students of technology education perceive intelligence to be multifaceted, comprising of three factors including social, general and technological competences. Implications for educational practice are discussed relative to these findings. While initially this study focuses on the domain of technology education, a mandate for further work in other disciplines is discussed.

TERG members Andrew Doyle, Niall Seery, Donal Canty and Jeff Buckley published an article in the International Journal of Technology and Design Education titled “Agendas, influences, and capability: Perspectives on practice in design and technology education”.

The article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-017-9433-0

Abstract

A philosophical shift in policy now situates the development of technological capability as the focus of Irish technology education. Internationally, the effectiveness of curricular reform in the discipline has previously been called to question, as the legacy of the preceding vocational craft subjects has been seen to throttle the evolution of practice in aligning with emergent policy. As Irish technology education shares this vocational heritage, this research seeks to explore the effectiveness of policy change through an investigation of current practices in the discipline. Specifically, this research seeks to explore the alignment of teachers’ perceptions of practice in terms of the focus of learning activities and educational outcomes as prescribed by curricula. A methodological framework was developed to explore teachers’ (n = 15) perceptions, ecologically rooted in the tasks and activities they use to teach in their classrooms. The results suggest a misalignment between what teachers conceive as important to the discipline, and their enacted practices. The paper unpacks the contentions surrounding this misalignment and discusses factors which appear to influence teachers’ perceptions, forming a greater understanding of what influences practice in the discipline.

Date: 10th – 14th July 2017
Venue: Philadelphia

The 34th pupils’ attitudes towards technology saw five paper presentations from TERG members Niall Seery, Donal Canty, Jeffrey Buckley, Joe Phelan and Andrew Doyle.

Niall presented on 
‘Illustrating Educational Development Through Ipsative Performance in Design Based Education’ (co-authors: Donal Canty, & Jeffrey Buckley) which demonstrated the potential of ACJ in aiding the development of a students’ individual performance through repeated engagement in ACJ judging sessions of peers.

Donal’s paper, 
‘Integrating Peer Assessment in Technology Education through Adaptive Comparative Judgment’ (co-authors: Niall Seery, Eva Hartell & Andrew Doyle) highlighted the effectiveness of ACJ when embedded as assessment as learning by getting students to make judgments of their peers’ work.

Jeff presented his PhD research, ‘
An Exploratory Analysis into the Relationships between Spatial Factors, Domain-Free General Capacities and General Fluid Intelligence’  (co-authors Niall Seery, Donal Canty and John McGuinness) which spoke to the utility of such research in affording the translation of cognitive factors into STEM educational practices.

Joe presented the first paper of his PhD research outlining 
‘A Proposed Research Agenda for Investigating the Nature of Designerly Thinking in Action’ (co-authors: Jeffrey Buckley, Donal Canty & Niall Seery) which speculates on the affordances of cognitive psychology in the investigation of designerly activity.

Andrew presented on his paper looking at 
‘Professional Continuity: Investigating the Alignment of Technology Teachers’ Internal Capability Constructs’ (co-authors , Niall Seery, & Donal Canty) which demonstrates the capacity of ACJ to capture teachers’ constructs of capability based on their judgment of student work in D&T.

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Presentations from TERG members

Date: 12th June 2017
Venue: Athlone Institute of Technology
Presenters: Prof Eddie Norman, Prof Ken Baynes, Dr Niall Seery, Dr Donal Canty, Jeffrey Buckley, Joe Phelan, Andrew Doyle, Ebba Berggren

TERG hosted a Design Education Research Seminar at Athlone Institute of Technology. The seminar consisted of contributions from Professor Ken Baynes and Professor Eddie Norman on their work in Design Education Reseach. This was followed by presentations by TERG members, proposing innovative conceptual and practice-based approaches to undertaking Design Education Research. These presentations were complemented by a concluding critique of the nature of the enactment of, and, the assessment practices in design education which highlighted the critical need for progress in the area. The seminar was primarily intent on reconciling the agendas of research with the enactment of practice in the area.

Workshop Title: Sharing the Potential of Assessment: An Introduction to Democratic Assessment

Date: 18th February 2017 (9:30 to 4:30 – Lunch and refreshments included)

Venue: University of Limerick

Presenters: Dr Donal Canty, Prof Richard Kimbell, Dr Niall Seery

The DALTA project at UL strives to utilise technological developments to enhance teaching, learning and assessment in a way that will support effective pedagogy and authentic student centred learning. Technology enhanced and mediated learning has shown much promise and there are numerous examples of technologies that have enhanced teaching, learning and assessment in our schools and beyond. However, work is required to synthesise these offerings so as to support, acknowledge, and reward individual differences, interpretations and conceptions, to further improve schooling as a whole. With the increasing use of portfolios and e-portfolios in education to capture pupil learning, their use and purpose has become the centre of much scrutiny and acclaim. Validly assessing the skills and performance of pupils captured through portfolio based mediums is a central focus of this research project.

The DALTA project intends to assist and disseminate research in the area of assessment to 2nd level teachers in Ireland. The first workshop will take place on the 2nd of June 2016 at the University of Limerick.

The objectives of the workshop are:

  • Disseminate current assessment innovation and research activities in technology education through the provision of an update on DALTA activities
  • Further explore the challenges of assessment and classroom practice in relation to pedagogy and capability
  • Assess responses to the ‘DALTA Design Challenge’ using Adaptive Comparative Judgements
  • Discuss the potential of ACJ in supporting learning using the experience of the ‘DALTA Design Challenge’ as a catalyst
  • Gather feedback from practicing teachers on further enhancing and employing DALTA related educational activities

Professor Richard Kimbell discussing holistic judgements as a method of assessment at the 3rd DALTA workshop at the University of Limerick

Dr Donal Canty leading an ACJ judging session on the ‘DALTA Design Challenge’ at the 3rd DALTA workshop at the University of Limerick

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Workshop Title: Sharing the Potential of Assessment: Exercising Teacher Professional Judgement

Date: 26th November 2016 (10:00 to 3:30 – Lunch and refreshments included)

Venue: Athlone Institute of Technology

Presenters: Dr Donal Canty, Dr Niall Seery

The DALTA project at UL strives to utilise technological developments to enhance teaching, learning and assessment in a way that will support effective pedagogy and authentic student centred learning. Technology enhanced and mediated learning has shown much promise and there are numerous examples of technologies that have enhanced teaching, learning and assessment in our schools and beyond. However, work is required to synthesise these offerings so as to support, acknowledge, and reward individual differences, interpretations and conceptions, to further improve schooling as a whole. With the increasing use of portfolios and e-portfolios in education to capture pupil learning, their use and purpose has become the centre of much scrutiny and acclaim. Validly assessing the skills and performance of pupils captured through portfolio based mediums is a central focus of this research project.

The DALTA project intends to assist and disseminate research in the area of assessment to 2nd level teachers in Ireland. The second workshop will take place on the 26th November 2016 in Athlone Institute of Technology.

The objectives of the workshop are:

  • Disseminate current assessment innovation and research activities in technology education through the provision of an update on DALTA activities
  • Further explore the challenges of assessment and classroom practice in relation to pedagogy and capability
  • Afford practicing teachers an opportunity to engage with Adaptive Comparative Judgements (ACJ) as a form of assessment
  • Discuss the potential of ACJ in supporting learning
  • Introduce the ‘DALTA Design Challenge’ for post-primary pupils

Dr Niall Seery discussing the nature and assessment of design activities in Design and Technology at the 2nd DALTA workshop at the Athlone Institute of Technology

Teachers engaging with assessment through Adaptive Comparative Judgement at the 2nd DALTA workshop at the Athlone Institute of Technology

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TERG members Adrian O’Connor, Niall Seery, and Donal Canty published an article in the International Journal of Technology and Design Education titled “The experiential domain: developing a model for enhancing practice in D&T education”.

The article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-016-9378-8

Abstract

Creativity and innovation are leading topics for the twenty-first century, not only in individual, cultural or social contexts but also within a wider perspective in business or economic development. For that reason, creative and innovative activities have started to feature in many design-based programs in second level education. Design and Technology (D&T) education has a special importance in promoting creativity and innovation, particularly when conceptual and material aspects of the design process reciprocally support one another. In the classroom, it is common for pupils to take part in creative and innovative activities in pairs or small groups. However, the complex and non-linear nature of these design-based activities calls for dynamic, collaborative problem solving. While collaborative settings and virtual learning environments in D&T education are receiving considerable attention in current research literature, we know very little about shared interactions in design-based activity. Accordingly, there is a need to examine both the collaborative and individual evidence of design-based activity by turning our attention to the interactions around that evidence as teachers and pupils engage in these activities. The purpose of this paper is to examine a pedagogical approach focusing on the social and cognitive interaction of teachers and pupils which is supported by technology and situated in the context of design-based activity. This research found that such interactions not only augmented the design process but led to a conceptual model which demonstrates evidence-based progress through the active configuration of knowledge and understanding.

Workshop Title: Sharing the Potential of Assessment: An Introduction to Democratic Assessment

Date: 2nd June 2016 (9:30 to 4:30 – Lunch and refreshments included)

Venue: University of Limerick

Presenters: Prof Richard Kimbell, Dr Eva Hartel, Dr Donal Canty, Dr Niall Seery and Dr Adrian O’Connor

The DALTA project at UL strives to utilise technological developments to enhance teaching, learning and assessment in a way that will support effective pedagogy and authentic student centred learning. Technology enhanced and mediated learning has shown much promise and there are numerous examples of technologies that have enhanced teaching, learning and assessment in our schools and beyond. However, work is required to synthesise these offerings so as to support, acknowledge, and reward individual differences, interpretations and conceptions, to further improve schooling as a whole. With the increasing use of portfolios and e-portfolios in education to capture pupil learning, their use and purpose has become the centre of much scrutiny and acclaim. Validly assessing the skills and performance of pupils captured through portfolio based mediums is a central focus of this research project.

The DALTA project intends to assist and disseminate research in the area of assessment to 2nd level teachers in Ireland. The first workshop will take place on the 2nd of June 2016 at the University of Limerick.

The objectives of the workshop are:

  • Disseminate current assessment innovation and research activities in technology education
  • Explore the challenges of assessment and classroom practice
  • Build a network of research collaborators and Partnerships in Irish Secondary Schools to support the translation of research to policy and practice.

During the workshop we will have a key note address by Professor Richard Kimbell and Dr Eva Hartel. Both speakers will join us for the full day workshop which promises to be engaging and informative with time allocated for discussion and activity.

Dr Adrian O’Connor discussing the use of technology in the classroom at the 1st DALTA workshop at the University of Limerick.

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