04 SES 03 D JS, Action Research in School Development
Joint Paper Session NW 04 and NW 15
International research has demonstrated the persistence of inequalities in higher education participation; with students from socio-economically disadvantaged (SED) backgrounds having participation rates significantly lower than the national average. There are a myriad of complex reasons for this to do with culture and teaching practices in schools but the deficit in “social capital” in areas of disadvantage remains a major obstacle to be overcome in efforts to address the imbalance. Running parallel to this issue is the move to models of 21st Century Teaching & Learning (Dede 2010). International research has demonstrated that upon completion of secondary education the 21st century workforce is now required to have skills and capacities that the current education system is not suited to. The policy shift towards 21st century teaching & learning, as typified by the European Commission’s Improving Competences for the 21st Century (EU Commission 2008) which is manifesting in a reform of the Junior Cycle (ages 12-16) in Irish Schools, requires a re-examination of current approaches to teaching & learning if students are to develop the key skills which lie at the core of 21st century approaches. Finally the potential of ICT to enhance teaching & learning remains largely untapped in school systems, such as the Irish one, which rely predominantly on a transmission model of teaching & learning (McGarr 2009).
These observed deficits in education progression for SED groups, and in 21st century skill development, can be considered under a capital formation framework (StJohn, 2013). Theories of social (Coleman, 1988) and cultural (Bourdieu, 1984) capital have long been considered important when discussing the educational outcomes of SED students. For example, students who come from communities that historically have low progression rates to university often lack role models who can trasmit trusted information about how to nagivate the higher education system. Furthermore, 21st century skill development aligns well with the theory of human capital formation (Becker, 1962), which emphasises the stock of skills the student has (either innate or acquired) and how these skills can contribute to his or her level of “productivity”.
The current project has used the broad theories of capital formation and a social constructivist approach to pedagogy to develop a four-pronged education intervention called Trinity Access 21. This talk will give an overview of the four strands of the project, its implementation to date in 11 second level SED schools with 1,100 students, the research methodology being used to longitudinally track the impact of the project and the key results from the first year of the project rollout.
The project itself aims to answer two broad research questions; 1) how does participation in the Trinity Access 21 project impact upon the eucational aspirations of SED students and (2) how does particpation in the Trinity Access 21 projects effect the 21st Century teaching practices of secondary school teachers.
The first 3 strands of the intervention are derived from the USA NGO “College for Every Student” and are in the areas of student mentoring, developing leadership skills and career planning. Their aim is to help address the social capital deficit. But having raised aspirations students also need the skills and academic competence to achieve on their potential to develop so the project is also working with teachers in the target schools to help them adopt the Bridge21 model of team-based technology-mediated learning for use in the mainstream teaching classroom (Lawlor et al 2010, Conneely et al 2015).
References Becker, G. S. (1962). Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis. Journal of Political Economy, 70(5), 9-49. doi: 10.2307/1829103 Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste (Vol. null). Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95-S120. doi: 10.2307/2780243 Conneely C., Girvan C., Lawlor J. and Tangney B. (2015). An Exploratory Case Study into the Adaption of the Bridge21 Model for 21st Century Learning in Irish Classrooms. In Shaping our Future: How the lessons of the past can shape educational transformation, Butler D., Marshall K. and Leahy M. Dublin, Liffey Press: 348-381. Dede C., Comparing Frameworks for 21st Century Skills, in 21st Century Skills, J. Bellanca and R. Brandt, Editors. 2010, Solution Tree Press: Bloomington. p. 50-75. Lawlor J., Conneely C., and Tangney B., Towards a pragmatic model for group-based, technology-mediated, project-oriented learning–an overview of the B2C model, in TechEduca M.D. Lytras, et al., Editors. 2010, Springer: Athens. p. 602-609. McGarr O., The development of ICT across the curriculum in Irish schools: A historical perspective. British Journal of Educational Technology, 2009. 40(6): p. 1094-1108. St John, E. (2013). Research, actionable knowledge, and social change: Reclaiming social responsibility through research partnerships: Stylus Publishing, LLC.
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