About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1-8
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0100

Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain

RESEARCH AS A TOOL TO UNDERSTAND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EXPLORING THE CASE OF A COHORT OF PRE-SERVICE PRIMARY SCIENCE TEACHERS IN IRELAND

M. Hamilton

University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College (IRELAND)
This paper explores the experiences of Bachelor of Education pre-service teachers in Ireland. The focus of the research was to highlight positive experiences and address challenges identified by pre-service teachers in their primary science education modules and classroom practice. This research comprised of two data gathering phases. The first tranche of data was collected at the outset of the students third year, in advance of their last science undergraduate module. Subsequently, additional second phase data was gathered following completion of the students’ last undergraduate science module twelve weeks later.

Participants were researched across two phases in order to:
(a) seek information on existing attitudes pre-module, with a view to addressing some potential concerns during delivery of the science module and
(b) to elicit post-module attitudes in order to identify emergent patterns and themes.

By modifying the module content and focus (based on early data responses) lecturers hoped to instigate some co-negotiation of the module content with students using a research-led approach. The research also provided insights into how student and lecturer needs might merge to enhance the student experience in future science education modules. Qualitative data collection in the form of written focus group reflections in the initial phase and open-ended questionnaires (completed individually by 170 participants) in the final phase, was collected. It is important to note that considerable constraints existed for lecturers in acting meaningfully on identified student needs following phase one. This was due to limited change being permissible on the existing accredited and approved learning outcomes, within the core science modules. This served to limit the level of response lecturers hoped to provide via module adjustments, based on direct research of the student cohort cited needs. This approval process designed to protect and maintain standards actually limited opportunities to address identified learning needs among the research participants. Findings across both phases were subsequently analysed to highlight a number of positives and challenges identified by students, in relation to pre-service experiences in science education. Inductive analysis was used to code, categorise and generate themes from patterns in the data. Three key themes that emerged in the findings are specifically discussed in this paper. These include challenges relating to a differentiated student cohort with varied experiences of science, a scepticism towards inquiry based science education approaches and issues of perceived low confidence and unpreparedness for primary science teaching. These three themes co-contributed to participants’ negative and fear filled experiences of teaching science, alongside some positive experiences which included; new ways of thinking, enjoyment shown by children towards science, acquiring new ideas and experiencing greater teamwork within their peer group. Student experiences will be discussed, analysed and reflected upon in this paper presentation. Solutions to merging lecturer-teaching needs with student-learner needs will be explored with a view to enabling greater opportunities for the pre-service primary science teacher to participate in the co-design of their learning, within their undergraduate experience.
@InProceedings{HAMILTON2017RES,
author = {Hamilton, M.},
title = {RESEARCH AS A TOOL TO UNDERSTAND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EXPLORING THE CASE OF A COHORT OF PRE-SERVICE PRIMARY SCIENCE TEACHERS IN IRELAND},
series = {11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-8491-2},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2017.0100},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2017.0100},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {6-8 March, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {1-8}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Hamilton
TI - RESEARCH AS A TOOL TO UNDERSTAND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EXPLORING THE CASE OF A COHORT OF PRE-SERVICE PRIMARY SCIENCE TEACHERS IN IRELAND
SN - 978-84-617-8491-2/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2017.0100
PY - 2017
Y1 - 6-8 March, 2017
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2017 Proceedings
SP - 1
EP - 8
ER -
M. Hamilton (2017) RESEARCH AS A TOOL TO UNDERSTAND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EXPLORING THE CASE OF A COHORT OF PRE-SERVICE PRIMARY SCIENCE TEACHERS IN IRELAND, INTED2017 Proceedings, pp. 1-8.
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