Current Volume (Vol. 44, 2021)

Educational Inequality in Primary Schools in Ireland in the Early Years of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy: An Analysis of National Assessment Data

Anastasios Karakolidis, Alice Duggan, Gerry Shiel and Joanne Kiniry

Drawing on data from the National Assessments of Mathematics and English Reading (NAMER) 2009 and 2014, the current study compares inequalities in reading and mathematics achievement that may be attributed to demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, before and after the initial implementation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2011-2020. The results indicate that the improvements in overall pupil performance, observed following the initial implementation of the Strategy, were accompanied by reduced inequalities. While all examined groups of pupils saw improvements in both reading and mathematics over time, the improvements particularly favoured groups of pupils who had lower performance than their counterparts in 2009, leading to smaller performance gaps in 2014. The findings are complemented by the results of multilevel analysis which showed a significant reduction in the variance in pupil performance attributable to between-school differences, as well as to selected demographic and socioeconomic factors, after the introduction of the Strategy. The implications of these and other findings are discussed. [DOWNLOAD PDF]


Relationship Between Learning Motivation and Learner Autonomy Among Chinese English Language University Students

Ruth Wong and Yuan Luo

English language teaching in China has recently undergone significant development from a traditional teacher-centred approach to one that is more student-centred. How to develop students’ motivation and cultivate their awareness of autonomous learning have become important questions for educators. This study aimed to explore the relationship between motivation to learn English and learner autonomy, drawing on culture-relevant theoretical frameworks and using questionnaire data obtained from 201 undergraduate students learning English as a foreign language in two universities in China. Results indicate a significant positive correlation between learner autonomy and motivation to learn English (r=.51; p<.01). Significant positive correlations between dimensions of motivation and learner autonomy were also found (.4 < r < .6). Implications of the findings for English language teaching and learning are discussed. [DOWNLOAD PDF]


Students’ Access to Technology, Attitudes to ICT, and Their Performance on PISA 2015 Science in Ireland

Sarah McAteer, Lynsey O’Keefe, Caroline McKeown, Gerry Shiel and Jude Cosgrove

This paper examines relationships between several aspects of ICT (availability, use and attitudes) and students’ science achievement in PISA 2015. Results are examined for Ireland, comparison countries and on average across OECD countries. Compared to their peers in other OECD countries, students in Ireland reported lower availability of ICT at school, and were less likely to use ICT in school and at home for schoolwork but also showed greater interest in ICT and higher perceived ICT autonomy and competence. Perceived ICT autonomy and competence had significant positive correlations with science performance. Hierarchical linear models indicated a negative relationship between science performance and general ICT use at school level, and between performance and availability of ICT at student level. The findings are examined with reference to lower-than-expected performance in Ireland on PISA 2015 science. The need to further embed digital technologies into teaching, learning and assessment is considered. [DOWNLOAD PDF]