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Teacher responses to inquiry-based pedagogy in Irish post-primary schools : case studies on the use of a virtual chemistry laboratory as a vehicle for educational change.

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dc.contributor.advisor O'Reilly, John
dc.contributor.advisor McGarr, Oliver Donnelly, Dermot 2012-02-08T13:06:23Z 2012-02-08T13:06:23Z 2011
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract The lack of uptake of science subjects in Post-Primary Schools (Secondary/High Schools) and on to university is a continuous cause for concern, both nationally and internationally. In the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Report (2006 – 2013), the Irish government highlights the need for a greater focus on investigative approaches, the assessment of practical work, and the more effective use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) are currently attempting to address these issues through a revision of the current Irish science syllabi. This project describes the application of a Virtual Chemistry Laboratory (VCL), developed at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, to the Irish context in an attempt to address the aforementioned issues. The research consisted of 4 stages employing primarily qualitative data collection methods. Stage 1 entailed interviews with teachers and educational stakeholders around issues relating to the use of a VCL within the Irish education system. Stage 2 involved a case study of 5 teachers integrating the VCL into their classroom practice in whatever manner they saw fit. Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) was used as a research lens to capture features of teachers’ practice. Stage 3 followed on from Stage 2 with a case study of 4 teachers directed to use the VCL in a guided inquiry manner. Research tools included Inquiry Science Implementation Scale (ISIS), Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP), and Student Self-Assessment. Finally, Stage 4 required teachers to suggest problems they would like to be included on the VCL. The key findings of the research highlight the potential of the VCL as an ICT tool to act in an integrative manner to mediate and facilitate holistic change, rather than simply focusing on one individual aspect of change, e.g. concept development, making curricular intentions explicit (inquiry), new student and teacher roles, shared meaning in the change process (teacher ownership), curricular alignment, assessment of practical work or teachers as curriculum makers. The VCL provides a vehicle for change with the potential to integrate all of these things. Despite this potential, the findings also indicate a conflict in teachers’ practice between the entrenchment of cultural norms and change attempts relating to practical work, inquiry-based approaches, and the integration of technology. The findings would suggest that the high-stakes assessment is the seed of this conflict in teacher practice and it undermines many change efforts, in that it rewards mostly rote-learning. This is not to say that the attempts at change are not possible within the current assessment structure, but are significantly impeded by the cultural norms that the current assessment has created. In order to notably change how science is taught in schools, assessments must be developed that align with the espoused change efforts of the NCCA. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject science subjects en_US
dc.subject post-primary schools en_US
dc.subject ICT en_US
dc.title Teacher responses to inquiry-based pedagogy in Irish post-primary schools : case studies on the use of a virtual chemistry laboratory as a vehicle for educational change. en_US
dc.type Doctoral thesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.type.restriction none en

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