CÚRAM Teachers in Residence Programme

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CÚRAM's Teachers in Residence programme is the first residency programme in Ireland to bring primary and secondary school teachers together in one forum. The goals of the programme are to 1) increase teachers' enthusiasm for teaching science, 2) increase students' awareness of the relevance of science in their lives, and 3) increase students’ confidence in their ability to do science. Since 2016, the programme has provided dedicated training to 71 teachers all over Ireland.

We have developed a CPD programme that supports both primary and secondary school teachers in STEM education. Teachers work directly with our centre’s researchers to co-create high-quality content for the classroom that is relevant, practical, and easily transferable. Our researchers provide real-life examples for teachers and their students to learn the relevance of STEM research. The content developed is shared with all participants and is available online for all teachers. Teachers receive 10 ECTSs at no cost through the National University of Ireland, Galway, which can be used towards a postgraduate degree. The fully-funded programme acts as a springboard for teachers to continue their postgraduate education.

The programme has a dual effect of increasing teachers’ enthusiasm for teaching science and making their students’ perception of science more positive. Also, since our researchers contribute to the delivery of lectures, the programme is sustainable and trains our researchers in public engagement skills, which are crucial to their career development.

The programme can provide a model for other research centres to facilitate similar STEM teacher training. This can ultimately increase the number of students choosing STEM courses at university, which is important for sustaining knowledge-based economies that are dependent on the quality and quantity of STEM graduates.

Basic information

Country: Ireland

Coordinator: SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, https://curamdevices.ie/

Partners:

Programme: Other

Project Acronym:

Target groups: education authorities, parents, primary school students, researchers, secondary school students, teachers, trainee teachers

Topic: Biomedicine, Materials science, Medical sciences, Physiology, Education

Start year: 2016

Url: https://curamdevicesengage.ie/teachers-in-residence/

Contact person: Sarah Gundy, sarah.gundy (at) nuigalway.ie

The first goal of the Teachers in Residence programme is to increase teachers’ enthusiasm for teaching science. Evaluation of this outcome is performed by having teachers complete pre and post- questionnaires to measure changes after completing the module. Teachers are asked to respond to questions by choosing ‘Strongly Agree’, ‘Agree, ‘Neutral’, ‘Disagree’, or ‘Strongly Disagree’. The results show an increase in the number of teachers answering ‘ Strongly Agree’ after participating in the module when asked to rank ‘I am enthusiastic about teaching science’. Results also show there was an increase when askedto rank ‘I am continually finding better ways to teach science’. These findings indicate that the module increased teachers' enthusiasm for teaching science and our first outcome was achieved.

Our second and third goals of the Teachers in Residence programme are to increase students’ awareness of the relevance of science in their lives and increase their confidence in their ability to do science. Evaluation of these goals is performed by having the students of teachers participating in the module complete child-friendly pre and post-questionnaires. Students are asked to respond to open-ended questions regarding what they liked and did not like about science, and why they thought science was important in their lives. Students are also asked to circle the person that best describes how they feel about learning science and why they circled the person.

Two hundred and two pre and one hundred and ninety-eight post-questionnaires were completed from nine primary classes ranging from third to sixth class. In all classes, when students were asked why science was important in their lives, post-questionnaires showed an increase in responses referencing ‘makes more things possible’ and ‘makes you know more about how everything works’. These findings indicate that the module increased the awareness of the relevance of science in students’ lives and our second goal was achieved for primary students. The pre and post-questionnaire results for secondary students show no difference in responses when they were asked why science was important in their lives.

Two hundred and four pre and one hundred and eighty nine post-questionnaires were completed from nine secondary classes. The majority of classes were fifth year (seven classes), with one third year class and one Leaving Certificate class. When secondary students were asked why they circled the person that best describes how they feel about learning science, post-questionnaires showed more responses stating they are ‘getting better’ and ‘improving’. This suggests that the module increased students’ confidence in their ability to do science and our third goal was achieved for secondary students.

CÚRAM's Teachers in Residence programme supports primary and secondary school teachers in science education. CÚRAM researchers present to teachers on specific areas of research in the fields of medical devices, biomaterials, cell-based therapies, cardiovascular systems, diabetes, health economics, and treatments for COVID-19. This is followed by Q&A sessions and discussions about adapting the information for lesson plans and linking it with curricula. Teachers collaborate directly with researchers to develop content for the classroom while learning about the medical device research being carried out at CÚRAM that will improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. Additionally, resources for the classroom are discussed and distributed, including inquiry-based teaching approaches and lesson-plan kits developed by teachers for teachers that are linked to the current primary and junior cycle curricula. Lesson plan kits developed from previous years' teachers including homeschooling resources and Irish versions can be downloaded at www.curamdevicesengage.ie/teachers-in-residence/.

A short video giving an overview of the programme can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o25-bMDbQbg.

 

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