CASTeL’s research priorities are:
This Education project is aimed at supporting primary school teachers from Ireland, Germany, USA and Mexico to effectively teach about sustainability. The project will involve 80 primary school teachers from the four countries participating in a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme, based on competencies-oriented sustainability education (Wiek et al., 2011). The programme will support teachers in helping children to develop essential sustainability competencies while engaging with various subject areas in their respective National Curricula. The project partners will explore the transferability and scalability of the CPD model to establish if the programme can lead to changes in school education, which ultimately would result in a generation of children with deeply rooted sustainability competencies.
10th Congress of European Research in Mathematics Education
CERME 10 took place at the Croke Park Convention Centre, 1–5 February. This congress, hosted by the Institute of Education, Dublin City University, was the largest conference in mathematics education to take place in Ireland to date. The 772 participants (including 42 from Ireland) came from 52 countries (29 of which are in Europe).
CERME 10 was organised under the auspices of the Centre for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning (CASTeL). The Local Organizing Committee comprised members of the School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies (Institute of Education) with support from the School of Mathematical Sciences (Faculty of Science and Health). Immediately preceding the conference, YERME Day (for Young Researchers in ERME) was held on Tuesday 31st January and Wednesday 1st February on the St Patrick’s Campus of DCU. It provided an opportunity for participants to meet key European researchers in mathematics education, developing an understanding of their work and methodological approaches.
The theme of the conference, Research, practice and collaboration in science education underlines aspects of great relevance in contemporary science education research: the need to reflect on different approaches to enhancing our knowledge of learning processes and the role of context, designed or circumstantial, formal or non-formal, in learning and instruction. Highlighting these themes does not mean underestimating or neglecting other important aspects of science education research and practice.
ESERA 2017 is cohosted by CASTeL, DCU and EPI-STEM, University of Limerick
Differential Equations for Physicists
Investigating Students’ Difficulties with Differential Equations in Physics
There are numerous cases in physics where the value of a quantity and changes in that quantity are related. For example, the speed of an object depends on its acceleration. Except in highly idealized settings, the analysis of these cases requires students to recognize, set up, and solve a differential equation (DE). In many universities, including DCU, DEs are studied in mathematics before they are applied in physics. However, the aims of mathematicians and physicists can be very different, leading to different emphases in instruction and consequently, difficulties for students in applying mathematical knowledge of DEs in the physics setting. Other potential reasons why DEs present a problem for physics students include gaps in students’ mathematical knowledge, conceptual issues with DEs, and educational transfer issues. The aim of this project is to identify and understand students’ difficulties with differential equations in physics, and to develop a pilot curriculum that seeks to resolve them.
Facilitating Lesson study in Mathematics
Lesson Study is a teaching improvement process that has origins in Japan where it is a widespread professional development practice. However, it is now practised internationally (e.g., US, China, Europe incl.Ireland) with student teachers and in schools/HEI’s. Working in a small groups, teachers/educators collaborate with one another, discuss learning goals, plan an actual classroom lesson (called a “research lesson”), observe how their ideas work in an actual lessons with students and then analyse the lesson from the perspective of students’ learning and development of thinking. Lesson Study has been used as a basis of research, and teaching and learning activities in SPD since 2006. It is currently being used to
- develop preservice and qualified teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching,
- research primary/post-primary transitions in mathematics and
- facilitate school-based CPD.
Enhancing the teaching and learning of Energy at Junior Cycle
Energy in Energy is an exciting new programme developed by CASTeL, to facilitate Junior Cycle students to learn about energy. The programme provides a range of activities that investigate energy in a real world way, exploring how and why as a society, we need to develop new ways of looking at our energy resources. Exploring our Energy is underpinned by and supports the Junior Cycle Curricula in Science, CSPE, Geography and Home Economics. The activities in this programme will help young people to develop their knowledge about energy, energy efficiency and conservation through inquiry pedagogy. CASTeL facilitates a teacher education programme for science teachers to experience the programme and activities as a learner and to support teachers in adopting an inquiry approach for the teaching of energy concepts at Junior Cycle level. The teachers’ brochure (teachers-guide) gives a brief outline of the resources which can be individually downloaded from their website here.
Mind the Gap: Addressing the Transition from Primary to Post Primary Mathematics Education
The main aim of this research is to investigate issues surrounding the transition from primary to secondary mathematics education in Irish schools.
This project is a collaboration between Dr. Mark Prendergast, Trinity College Dublin; Dr. Niamh O’Meara, University of Limerick; Dr. Clare O’Hara, Central Statistics Office and Dr. Lorraine Harbison, CASTeL.
Maths through Stories: Transforming the way mathematics is taught and learned globally – one imaginative story at a time
Maths through Stories is an international collaborative survey study exploring primary teachers’ beliefs concerning the integration of children’s literature in primary mathematics teaching and learning. The project is led by Dr. Natthapoj Trakulphadetkrai, University of Reading. Team members come from England, Australia, Finland, Hong Kong and Japan. The Irish team consists of Dr. Mark Prendergast TCD, Dr. Lorraine Harbison CASTeL and Sue Miller, DCU.
Follow the link http://tinyurl.com/h8u4387 to complete the on-line survey and find out more about the project.
Alternatively, find us on Twitter at @mathstoriesEIRE
Further information can be found at http://www.mathsthroughstories.org/
Technology enhanced Resources for Mathematics Education (TeRMEd)
The overall project, funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (NFETL), aims to develop technology enhanced formative assessment resources that will improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in first year service mathematics modules. The research role in the project initially involved the identification of common problematic concepts and procedures, the types of resources students use and those resources recommended by lecturers (Ní Shé et al. 2017). The second research element is the evaluation of the technology enhanced resources developed and trialled by the project team members.
Enabling Assessment for learning by improving feedback in the Classroom
Embedding assessment for learning practices in the classroom means managing the learning landscape to enable opportunities for both teacher and student to be active participants in all areas of the learning process. Gathering evidence of student progress and achievement in learning is a fundamental essential in this process, as well as students knowing what success looks like and how they might get there. How learning is shaped by the nature of feedback is a common theme across assessment literature. More feedback on feedback is called for. This research project examines how effective feedback can enable students become independent, self-directed, life-longer learners and develop self-efficacy, to enable assessment for learning practices become embedded in the classroom ‘learning culture’, to promote student learning is my current research focus.
Assessment and Development of Scientific Literacy in Secondary Schools
This research aims to investigate how scientific literacy is assessed and developed in the secondary school curricula of Ireland and Scotland, specifically the Irish Junior Cycle science specification and the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence National 5 science courses. The research consists of case studies examining student and teacher (both pre-service and in-service teachers) experiences of carrying out inquiry based on socio-scientific issues.
The project was awarded funding from the NCCA Research and Development Programme for 2015/16.
Professional Vision and pre-service science teachers
This research project involved the development of a module for pre-service science teachers aimed to broaden pre-service science teachers’ views of science teaching, and to extend the types of teaching they experienced as students. Qualitative methods were used to establish the pre-service teachers’ views through the lens of Professional Vision. A new analysis framework was developed that combines argumentation, sense-making and transactivity. This framework was used to investigate the type of discourse the pre-service teachers engaged in while carrying out an open inquiry activity. Their interpretation of a videotaped class in which a group of lower secondary school students engaged in the same activity was also analysed.
Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching
Improving the mathematical knowledge for teaching of pre-service mathematics teachers
Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) refers to the wide variety of mathematical knowledge that is required for teaching mathematics. As described by Ball and co-workers, this concept involves a variety of different types of knowledge, referring to the teacher’s general and specialized knowledge of mathematical content, and to their knowledge of mathematics vis a vis their students and classroom teaching. It comprises a ‘third leg’ of mathematics teacher education, in combination with the development of mathematical content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. This project focusses on means of developing pre-service teachers’ MKT in the university setting, and on how that MKT is enacted in school placements.
National programme to help children learn about energy through the primary science curriculum
Exploring our Energy is a programme to help children learn about energy through the primary science curriculum. The programme explores energy and science in a real world way, exploring how and why as a society, we need to develop new ways of looking at our energy resources. Exploring our Energy is underpinned by and supports the Primary Science Curriculum (DES, 1999). It will help children to develop their knowledge about energy, energy efficiency and conservation. Based on sound theory, the programme involves good practice, real life learning experiences and whole-school approaches. This programme has been developed through a collaboration between CASTeL and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).