The 3U peer observation pilot initiative ran from October 2016 to June 2017. Teaching staff in the three partner institutions (RCSI, DCU and Maynooth University) were allocated a peer observation partner, and each partner observed and provided feedback on their partner’s teaching practice. An evaluation of the peer observation process was initiated to explore and reflect on how a process of cross-disciplinary and inter-institutional peer observation supported reflection on teaching practice and enhancement of teaching practices.
Disciplines Inquiring into Societal Challenges (DISCs): Enhancing Teaching and Learning for Active Citizenship
Societal challenges and sensitive topics must be engaged by teachers and learners in higher education to enable active citizens who are prepared to engage conflicts of values and inequalities in diverse societies. The importance of engaging societal challenges through teaching and learning is captured in the national strategic prioritisation of internationalised (intercultural), gender conscious, and community-oriented learning experiences (HEA 2018; 2016 a, b). This project builds the capacity of Irish HE to meet staff teaching and learning development needs in relation to these strategic priorities, in an integrated, interdisciplinary manner. The project will develop a DISCs Strategy and Structured Implementation Plan, which align with and enhance the National Professional Development Framework. DISCs Champions from across key disciplinary domains will be identified within the partner institutions. Champions’ development needs regarding teaching through intercultural, gender-conscious and community-based methods will be identified using student evaluation of, and staff reflection on Champions’ existing practices. The professional competencies, needs and values of each Champion will be mapped within and across disciplines and partner institutions. This mapping, and an international literature review, will inform a pilot interdisciplinary DISCs Competencies, Values, Methods and Learning Outcomes model which maps on to the 5 National Professional Development domains. Professional development plans will be created for each Champion, using existing digital tools and badges, and professional education in intercultural and gender-conscious teaching methods. Intra- and inter-disciplinary staff teaching and learning artefacts generated through the process will be uploaded on the project website. Evaluation of the pilot Competencies, Values, Methods and Learning Outcomes model will lead to the development of an inter-institutional DISCs Strategy and Structured Implementation Plan. The Plan will be sustained through the project website and by DISCs Champions supporting future staff development.
An E.U. pilot study in Maynooth University to promote the key competency ‘Learn-to-Learn’ among a group of 40 participating students
INSTALL (Innovative Solutions to Acquire Learning to Learn) promotes acquisition of the key competence ‘Learning to Learn (L2L) in HE by developing and implementing an innovative group training process called Narrative Mediation Path (NMP), targeted at disadvantaged students. The NMP is based on the psychological concept of mentalisation (as the ability to understand oneself or someone else’s mental state) to develop and enhance L2L.
Mentalisation allows individuals to become aware of their, and others’, mental state (thoughts, beliefs, emotions, wishes, motivations) and recognise, elaborate and modulate emotions throughout the learning process. A ‘Reflective Competence’ is developed as students increase their ability to Mentalise.
The objective of this programme is to encourage learners to think about their own learning experiences in order to understand more about how they themselves learn and how they can improve their own learning in the future.
40 participating students from a mix of disciplines applied to attend a 6 week training programme designed to develop their Reflective Competence, using the NMP methodology. This NMP methodology comprises 4 modules:
The NMP methodology was tested and validated throughout the project by partners and associated partners (external).
EU funded, 30 month project, completed in March 2014. E.U. partners: University of Frederico II, Naples (lead partner), University of Seville, and the National School of Political Studies and Administration, Bucharest.
The students reported feeling more confident about their studies and indicated that they were likely to, or had already begun to use some of the strategies introduced in the NMP sessions in their own studies.
Many of the students also liked how the sessions provided an opportunity to meet other students who had also experienced academic challenges (e.g., preparing for exams), and that they could share their experiences and what they had learnt from these experiences, with each other.
A Reflective Functioning instrument developed by the lead partner (Italy) was administered at the beginning and end of this programme to measure ‘Reflective Competence’ among participating students as a result of attending this NMP training programme. Scoring is still with the lead partner, results are expected soon.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Further Information about the INSTALL Project
Aligning Maynooth University's Accredited T&L Programmes with the National PD Framework
This project set out to benchmark Maynooth University’s Professional Certificate in Teaching and Learning for Tutors and Demonstrators and its Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education with the National Professional Development Framework, and redesign both programmes to align with the Framework. The project resulted in a PD Framework Alignment Toolkit which is now available for use by other HEIs across the sector. The toolkit provides templates and guidance to HEIs who wish to map and redesign existing offerings in line with the Framework and supports individuals to map existing and planned accredited formal and non-formal professional development to the Framework
Established in the summer of 2014, the Maynooth University Summer Writing Institute For Teachers (SWIFT) draws from the US National Writing Project model and is designed to provide an opportunity for dedicated teachers, from all education levels, to meet, share good practice, write, and learn more about writing and supporting the development of writing and writers. Approximately 100 participants have attended the summer institutes to date with many of them noting the profound impact that being a part of SWIFT had on them as writers and teachers. Maynooth University Writing Centre staff and SWIFT participants have researched perceptions of the institute and have communicated their findings in an article entitled ‘SWIFT beginnings – exploring the effectiveness and transformative character of a Summer Writing Institute For Teachers (SWIFT)’ in Innovations in Education and Teaching International. This article highlights participants’ reactions to the institute, which are overwhelmingly positive, and notes the transformative potential of the initiative. In addition, there is an ongoing longitudinal study which is designed to capture the medium term impact of the work.
Due to a variety of circumstances the institute itself will be suspended for the summer of 2019 and instead a reunion of previous SWIFT fellows will take place on the 11th July. The purpose of this event is threefold: to allow all previous SWIFT Fellows to meet and share practice, and to write; to hear participants’ stories about the impact that being a SWIFT Fellow has had on their practice and on their students' learning; to seek advice from Fellows about 'where to next' for SWIFT. It is anticipated that SWIFT will resume in summer 2020 in its original week-long format. In addition, the processes associated with becoming an international associate site of the US National Writing Project are being explored at present.
The summer institute would not be possible without the generosity of the academics, teachers and writers who contribute their professional expertise on a voluntary basis as facilitators and advisors. Similarly, the institute relies on support from Maynooth University year-on-year through the Centre for Teaching and Learning, and the University Writing Centre budgets.
If you would like to learn more about SWIFT please do not hesitate to contact us on email@example.com
The Supporting Transition: Enhancing Feedback in First Year Using Digital Technologies (Y1Feedback) project was a collaborative initiative between Maynooth University (Lead), Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, and Dundalk Institute of Technology. The project which ran from 2014- 2106 was funded by Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, which aims to enhance the quality of the learning experience for all students at third level, be they full-time, part-time or flexible learners.
The Y1Feedback project specifically sought to address challenges associated with feedback in the first year of Higher Education and to leverage the potential of digital technologies to support and enhance feedback approaches.
Further information on the Y1Feedback project can be found here: http://y1feedback.ie