Friday, 9 June 2017

What makes a great PhD supervisor?

The relationship between a doctoral supervisor and their student is pivotal both to thesis success and ensuring academic and professional development but often the relationship can be complex and challenging. In a recently released video, three experienced supervisors, who were all recently shortlisted for a UK national award, offer their own ideas and insights into guiding the student through the doctoral process and building on the supervisor-student relationship. Follow the link below to the article in the Guardian Higher Education pages and a link to the video. 

For Isabel Torres, relationship-building is key.

PhD supervision article and link to video

Monday, 29 May 2017

Academics urged to embrace wider research dissemination

A recent report has claimed that scholarly publishing gives undue weight to commercial concerns thus stymieing the move towards open access and free sharing of knowledge. The report 'Untangling Academic Publishing: A History of the Relationship between Commercial Interests, Academic Prestige and the Circulation of Knowledge' has urged academics to resist signing over the copyright of their research to a “profit-oriented” academic publisher while recommending that university leaders seek ways to ensure that copyright remains with the author. Speaking to the Times Higher Education, Dr Aileen Fyfe the project lead, has said that what matters most is “what you publish” and that you “get lots of people to read it”. Read more by following the link below, by accessing the journal directly through the library e-journal portal or by accessing the database Nexis UK.

hanging from cliff face

Academics urged to embrace wider research dissemination

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Students warned against using essay mills…but not necessarily for the reasons you might think….

Sarah Marsh’s article in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper warns students about the dangers of being ripped off by spurious websites that promise to supply complete essays, reports or dissertations for time strapped (definitely not cash strapped) students.  It appears that some of these sites have a tendency to disappear after the money has been handed over without supplying the aforementioned goods.  Unfortunately, for the students they don’t appear to be protected by any form of consumer law.  There are clearly no money back guarantees in the essay mill business.  How shocking! 

Despite recommendations from the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) to make it illegal to encourage students to “commit acts of academic dishonesty for financial gain”, there are no guidelines and it’s clear that governments and institutions are struggling with this phenomenon. One key strategy at the moment seems to be based on encouraging students who are feeling the pressure to seek help from their institutions sooner rather than later. So much more of the “carrot” than the “stick” approach.

I suspect that there may be an idea among users of these sites that because the material they are submitting will more than likely pass through any anti-plagiarism software, that it’s not strictly cheating.  Students using these sites may also be wondering how any institution can detect the use of such services. And that’s probably the most important point, as yet, they can’t.  But here’s the sting in the tail; according to comments made in Marsh’s article, there is evidence to suggest that students are being blackmailed by sites to pay more money or else names will be supplied to their institution…. Oh what a tangled web….


For the full article please follow the link below…

Some light reading for the summer months….

If want to refresh your memory of Bloom's taxonomy, consider the importance of social and cultural issues surrounding learning with Vygotsky or reflect with Schon, then there are a number of excellent books on all the major educational theorists in the LTT collection.  However if you’re looking for more of a pithy overview of each of the major theorists, then Aubrey & Riley’s book, Understanding & Using education theories might be what you’re looking for.

There is a chapter dedicated to each well-known educational theorist, outlining their early life, major theories, some critique, and influences and links to other theorists.

Bob Bates applies the same practice of providing a brief, yet informative account of learning theories in his book, Learning theories simplified.  Beginning with the philosophy of Socrates and Aristotle through to assessment and curriculum planning, this is another “light” read for the summer…

For details and availability please follow the link/s below



Learning theories simplified


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Thinking outside the CAO...Apprenticeships

The Government is in the process of developing ambitious plans to increase participation in apprenticeships in Ireland.  Currently just 2% of school-leavers sign up to apprenticeship programmes and the hope is to significantly increase that number. 
Increasing participation faces a number of difficulties, not  least of which is funding and investment, but also the public’s perception of apprenticeship.  Although mostly associated with the construction, engineering and craft sectors, the Government hope to widen the scheme to areas such as IT and financial services.

For further details please follow the link to Carl O’Brien’s article in the Irish Times

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Turning students into critical thinkers

According to Prof Brian McKenzie of Maynooth University's centre for learning and teaching, an over reliance on rote learning and memorising for the leaving certificate has meant that students are often overwhelmed by content and unable to think critically about what they are learning. With employers emphasising that they need graduates who are able to evaluate evidence, make judgements and communicate ideas effectively, universities are more and more focused on giving students the tools to analyse and make sense of the world on their own terms thereby creating students who are independent problem-solvers and critical thinkers. Read more by following the link below. 


Turning students into critical thinkers

Teaching robots right from wrong

A very interesting article in the most recent Economist 1843 asks how in the age of artificial intelligence, we can teach robots not only to think for themselves but to know right from wrong. As self-driving cars on our roads make autonomous decisions that might affect the safety of other human road-users and roboticists in Japan, Europe and the United States develop service robots to provide care for the elderly and disabled this has become an urgent issue and one which has led some public figures to claim that artificial intelligence is the greatest existential threat to mankind. This article explores how our scientists are teaching our machines about the best way in which to live in the world. Read more by following the link below.