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Exploring the impact of a key skills approach to teaching and learning in secondary education
Dempsey, Majella
THESIS 11589 This dissertation reports the findings of a quasi-experimental research study, on the impact of the implementation of a key skills approach, to teaching and learning in second level schools. The last decade has seen many countries grapple with the development and implementation of key competences in education. At the Lisbon Council in March 2000, the European Council agreed a new strategic goal, called the Lisbon Strategy, to strengthen employment, economic reform and social cohesion as part of a knowledge economy. The Lisbon Strategy coupled with the subsequent development of the European Framework of Key Competences that explicitly outlines the key competences that citizens require for their personal fulfilment, social inclusion, active citizenship and employability in a knowledge based society, has significantly influenced education policy throughout Europe (European Commission, 2007b). This had a major influence on education because it linked education with social policy, labour market and overall economic policy, positioning education as both the solution and the problem. The literature review revealed a paucity of research on the impact of implementing a competence based approach to teaching and learning. In the Irish context this research was all the more urgent in light of proposed reform of lower secondary education and concerns about the readiness of young people for third level education and the world of work. In an era when educational research is often criticised for not having an impact on policy development, this research aimed to inform policy and practice. In 2006, the Key Skills Framework was developed for senior cycle education in Ireland (NCCA, 2006), which led to NCCA working with schools and teachers to demonstrate how key skills could be developed in teaching and learning. The data and resources from this NCCA key skills initiative was used to develop the intervention used in this research for the implementation of key skills. The aim of the intervention was to provide clear signposting of how key skills can be implemented in schools and a model for professional development connected with ten key characteristics. It involved the development of a theory-driven designed intervention that was investigated using quasi-experimental methods, which controlled for threats to validity, supported by data that mapped the process of the intervention. A non-equivalent quasi experimental control group design was used to gather evidence on three key hypotheses. The three hypotheses were: 1. The Key Skills approach will result in positive changes in the teacher?s pedagogical practice. -- 2. The Key Skills approach would result in more favourable student academic outcome measures for students -- 3. The Key Skills approach would result in positive changes in students? attitudes and beliefs about learning. The matching of the test group with the control group was central to the success of the quasi experiment. The two groups were matched on variables deemed important to the research and those that were possible to control. Participants in the four schools took the pre-test. The matching was checked based on these data and schools were deemed well-matched. The intervention was implemented in two schools and participants in all four schools took a post-test. Considering the complexity of working with schools and taking all the different threats to validity into account, it was essential to use qualitative methods to enhance and support the quantitative data to enable causal inferences to be made. Questionnaires and interviews were used to measure attitudinal and practice outcomes. Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate State Examinations Commission (SEC) examination results were used to track academic achievement. A matched sample of 116 students took a pre-test (T1) and a post-test (T2) on students? feelings about school and school work using an inventory developed in previous research (Entwistle and Kozeki, 1985). A sample of 48 students was interviewed at T1 and 41 at T2. A total of 80 teachers completed questionnaires at T1 and at T2 and 20 teachers were interviewed at T2. The mapping of the process of implementation and the use of qualitative data in addition to quantitative data enabled insights into what was happening in the ?black box? of implementing a key skills approach to teaching and learning. The methodology for evaluating impact is underdeveloped and this research sought to illustrate how quasi-experimental design could offer a viable solution. The key finding was that the culture of schooling at senior cycle in Ireland, where the environment of learning was characterised by rote learning and the epistemological dominance of the teacher, was incompatible with the development of key skills. Academic outcome data showed that the intervention schools outperformed control schools, however, due to the lack of a paired sample, data were compromised. The use of key skills pedag...
Keyword(s): Education, D.Ed.; D.Ed. Trinity College Dublin
Publication Date:
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Citation(s): Majella Dempsey, 'Exploring the impact of a key skills approach to teaching and learning in secondary education', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). School of Education, 2016
Publisher(s): Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). School of Education
Supervisor(s): Murchan, Damian
First Indexed: 2018-12-15 06:12:06 Last Updated: 2020-10-29 06:16:07