Irish Journal of Education, Vol. 43, 2020

Editorial for Volume 43
Gerry Shiel, Mary Lewis and Jude Cosgrove

Tom Kellaghan and the Irish Journal of Education: Works of a leader and a pioneer in educational research

Mary Lewis and Gerry Shiel

This article describes the contributions of Thomas Kellaghan (1933-2017) to the Irish Journal of Education between 1967 and 2015, bringing together the complement of research articles that he authored and co-authored for this journal. As a leading educational researcher of his time, he was devoted to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. Some consistent features of his work include transparency and integrity in the conduct of research and in the interpretation of findings; discernment in the use of tests and test data; attention to the requirements of policymakers; a focus on using resources economically; and an enduring concern for the disadvantaged. His articles in the Irish Journal of Education account for just a small segment of his publication record. The task of uncovering the full extent of his legacy to educational research is immense and well beyond the scope of this paper. [DOWNLOAD PDF]

A review of the school effectiveness literature: Lessons for Ireland

Lorraine Gilleece and Aidan Clerkin

This paper provides an introduction and review of some of the main findings from the international literature on school and teacher effectiveness and discusses the relative merits of several alternative approaches to judging ‘effective schools’. The assessment of school effectiveness in the Irish context is considered, particularly in light of the relatively low variance in achievement outcomes that is generally found between schools in Ireland. Finally, some conclusions are drawn, and a number of related issues are raised for the reader’s consideration. These include the importance of the home environment and early learning for later achievement outcomes, and the inclusion of non-cognitive and non-achievement outcomes in discussions of school effectiveness.[DOWNLOAD PDF]

The culturally capitalised graduate: Towards a wider reading experience for undergraduate students

Sue Norton

This essay considers higher education policy in Ireland that, in limited optional ways, is diversifying the undergraduate curriculum to incorporate wider reading across disciplines. Such policies, now gaining traction, aim to foster greater graduate employability, understood as the resilience and resourcefulness to secure positions in the workplace over time, and in fluctuating periods of supply and demand; they also support graduates to live more meaningfully in society. This essay’s three sections draw upon several sources including a business consultancy website, journal articles, and academic papers and reports. It extrapolates in particular from the research of Julia Preece and Anne-Marie Houghton (2000) who have observed the benefits of higher education qualifications for those living in socially disadvantaged areas in Great Britain, where graduates did not necessarily find paid work or graduate positions. It also refers to the positive findings of researchers in the University of Notre Dame Australia regarding the measurability of graduate attributes in the arts and humanities. Finally, it makes a case for, specifically, literary readings (both fiction and nonfiction) to be introduced broadly across disciplinary curricula, especially in the technological sector of higher education in Ireland. It cites as a template the now long-standing presence of college-wide reading programmes, such as Common Book and the Novel Experience in American and Canadian universities. [DOWNLOAD PDF]

Performance of mathematics in students entering university in Ireland: Has curriculum reform contributed to a decline in standards?

Gerry Shiel, David Millar and Rachel Cunningham

A series of studies published by staff and recent postgraduates of the University of Limerick show that standards in basic mathematics among university entrants enrolling in degree programmes in science and technology have declined in recent years, as measured by a 40-item Diagnostic test. The studies point to the introduction of Project Maths (the revised mathematics syllabus and associated teaching methods implemented in all post-primary schools from 2010 onwards) and the availability of bonus points for university entry to students taking mathematics at Higher level in the Leaving Certificate since 2012 as key contributing factors. This paper re-examines published data on the performance of First-year undergraduates on the 40-item test and concludes that, while standards on the test have dropped over a number of years, there is difficulty in attributing this to Project Maths. Instead, it is argued that reported performance patterns are most likely to have arisen from a changing mathematical profile among students entering science and technology programmes at UL, and, most recently, from a time-limited realignment of grades arising from the introduction of bonus points. [DOWNLOAD PDF]