Three Mary Immaculate College (MIC) lecturers have been awarded prestigious teaching and learning awards under the T-REX Module Innovation Framework for 2020.
Dr. Aisling Leavy, Head of Department of STEM Education, Dr. Mairéad Hourigan lecturer in the Department of STEM Education and Patrick Burke, lecturer in the Department of Language and Literacy, are among nine lecturers from across Ireland to receive the T-REX MIF award which recognises and encourages module leaders in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Early Childhood Education to re-envision their modules to incorporate the T-REX platform into their teaching.
The T-REX (Teachers’ Research Exchange) initiative, which is led by MIC and run in collaboration with University of Limerick, NUI Galway and Marino Institute of Education, is an online platform where teachers, students and other educational professionals in Ireland can come together to talk, collaborate and learn from one another. The project opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for student teachers and teachers as it provides an online space through which they are supported in engaging with and in research.
Following a nationwide call in 2020, applications were received from ITE and early childhood education module coordinators around the country. An independent review panel consisting of lecturers in teacher education, teachers and student teachers conducted a rigorous review of applications from which nine awardees were selected who impressed the panel in terms of their creativity, value for student learning and exploitation of what the T-REX platform has to offer.
Dr. Leavy & Dr. Hourigan’s winning module focused on the lesson study approach in mathematics education. The module, involved student teachers working collaboratively using the T-REX platform to engage with each other as well as participating classroom teachers to plan, discuss and review integrated STEM lessons, examining children’s learning.
Commenting on the award Dr. Leavy & Dr. Hourigan said, “We are delighted to be awarded T-Rex funding to enable us to continue our research with teachers in classrooms. This funding provided valuable resources and a great impetus to expand our research network and work alongside practicing and preservice teachers.”
Patrick Burke’s module involved incorporating T-REX into an elective module which focusses on evidence-informed approaches to teaching language and literacy. The module seeks to encourage research collaborations between groups and students partnered with practising teachers. In commending Patrick’s proposal to the independent review panel commented that the module would “have genuine value for students and members of T-REX as [students would] be investigating real-life research questions informed by teachers’ contextualised experiences with opportunity to bridge the theory to practice gap and open channels of communication among key educational stakeholders.
Patrick Burke commented on the award noting: “Unpacking the research in literacy education is not necessarily an easy enterprise. Too often, research findings have negligible impact on teacher knowledge and practice. T-REX provides a unique platform to help bridge the gap between the journal article in a database and the junior infant in a classroom. I am really looking forward to expanding this work.”
The other awardees include: Dr Ann-Marie Young from University of Limerick; Dr Rhona McGinn from Marino Institute of Education; Dr. Marie Campbell and Dr. Deirdre Harvey from St. Angela’s College, Sligo; and Dr. Sinéad McNally and Dr. Lorraine Harbison, both from Dublin City University (DCU). Each of the awardees will receive financial support, pedagogical support and technological support to develop their modules.
Marie Ryan, T-REX Project Manager and a lecturer in the Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies at MIC, said, “It is wonderful to see ITE lecturers all over Ireland embracing T-REX in their teaching and to see the range of modules receiving awards. From maths education, to language and literacy education and professional placement, the modules selected for these awards demonstrate that research skills can be built incrementally in a permeated manner embedded within all module types.”
She continued by saying, “The awardees have recognised the potential of T-REX to transform the learning experience for the students and to foster a professional identity that encompasses teacher-as-researcher in a meaningful embedded manner. I wish to congratulate Aisling, Mairéad and Partick in particular -it is fantastic to see such innovation in module development in MIC and very encouraging to see lecturers in MIC embracing T-REX, an MIC led initiative, as a teaching and learning tool”.
This T-REX Module Innovation Framework Awards are supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. The T-REX Project is a national project funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and the Alive! Group, which consists of the Teaching Council, National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NCCA) and the Centre for Effective Services (CES).