Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Centre for Open Science to offer researchers $1,000...

The Centre for Open Science (COS) is planning to give $1000 to scientists who are willing to pre-register their research. In order to receive the funds, the researcher will need to agree their hypotheses with a reviewer before beginning the experimental process.  It is hoped that this will stop researchers straying from the original hypotheses or overestimating insignificant, or less significant, data in order to get published. 

There has been some criticism of the idea, with commentators afraid that it may confine researchers and limit the scope of experiments.

It’s an international competition with further information available from COS. For further information on this story please click on the link below.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Do the Irish have an unhealthy obsession with third level?

The Irish Times reports today that plans to overhaul the apprenticeship system could be the most significant change to the Irish education sector in decades. While Ireland now has the highest proportion of young people with third-level qualifications across the EU a recent report by the Higher Education Authority noted that 16 per cent of entrants to third level fail to progress to second year. Not only does this raise questions about the adequacy of careers guidance, but it also challenges us to reconsider the suitability of third level for a significant minority of school leavers. An opinion piece in the Times today claims that the Irish obsession with third level is unhealthy while arguing that employers increasingly want workers with on-the-job experience. Read more from the two articles below. 

Gemma Linehan at CIT, where she is studying as an apprentice mechanic. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Mindfulness at university

The Guardian today reports on the growth of mindfulness in universities and asks is it just a silly fad as some critics insist or does it have some potential benefit in combating student and staff stress. With the University of Cambridge offering courses to combat stress and Aberystwyth announcing plans to become “the UK’s first mindful university' mindfulness is very much in the news. It has long played an important role in universities in the US and in Australia and has been offered as a postgraduate course at Exeter University for over a decade. Read the debate below by clicking on the link.

Mindfulness at university

Monday, 25 January 2016

Understanding professional doctorates

A new report commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on professional doctorates is now available online. The review provides an overview of the current landscape of professional doctorates across higher education institutions in England. The report recommends that sector bodies and institutions develop a more strategic basis for provision of professional doctorates. Furthermore, it reaffirms equivalence between professional doctorate and PhD qualifications, highlighting the importance of the research context and the impact requirements on professional practice. The report may be accessed by clicking on the link below. 

Link to HEFCE report

10 articles doctoral students should read

If you are doing a doctorate, the Times Higher Education suggests that there are 10 articles you really must read. The articles cover everything from selecting your topic to securing a top job when your years of hard graft come to an end. If you are unable to access the article, sign up for a free 5 article subscription directly with the journal, or access from the library database Nexis UK.

student, studying, library

Essential PhD tips...

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Students have unrealistic expectations of academic workload

As reported in the Irish Times today, many students have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the level of work required to perform well at college. Speaking at an Oireachtas committee for Education, Greg Foley from DCU stated that attendance rates for third-level lectures are falling and claimed that many academic staff attributed this to a growing dependency culture in which students rely on material posted on the internet by their lecturers and become reluctant to study or read any material beyond this. While student surveys indicated satisfaction with the performance of lecturers in higher education, Foley said it was clear that the quality of teaching and learning had been affected by the 'death of a thousand cuts'. Read more by clicking on the link below. 

Attendance rates for lectures at third-level are falling as students increasingly opt to rely on notes posted online by their lecturers, an Oireachtas committee has heard. File photograph: Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Eight smart ways to use social media in universities

It's hard to imagine a life without social media. An article in the Guardian today suggests that while it's easy to dismiss apps such as Snapchat and Instagram as mere distractions in the classroom, they can work wonders for learning and teaching. The article looks at how some of the resources available such as Twitter and Facebook can be used to liven up your teaching and create more challenging and stimulating learning environments. The article is available to view by clicking on the link below. The second link leads to an article on podcasting for academics. 

The key to app-iness: new tools can boost engagement and support collaboration.

Smart apps to use in your teaching

Podcasting to reach a wider audience

Big Brother is coming to universities!

The Guardian reports today on a new study published by the UK Higher Education Commission which claims that an increasing use of data monitoring will lead to radical change in higher education. The report 'The potential of data and analytics in Higher Education' envisages higher education as an Amazon-style service providing recommendations on courses, work experience and membership of student societies based on individuals’ backgrounds, and on those of previous students with a similar profile. While the report urges universities to engage with data tools, it also warns of potential ethical considerations with concerns about how much say students and staff will have. Read more from the link below. 

Students in library

Big Brother is watching...

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

HEA releases new report on retention and progression rates....

The most recent study of progression rates in higher education in Ireland is now available on line.  The report highlights the progression and retention rates for colleges, universities and institutes of technology throughout Ireland.  The data was gathered from 40,000 new students during the period from March 1st 2013 to March 1st 2014. The information is quantitative and gives retention and progression rates for various student categories, including socio-economic background, gender, age, subject area and institution.   Please click on the link below to access the full report.  There are also 2 copies available to borrow from the LTT collection in Bolton Street.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A new female vice-chancellor for Oxford

Oxford University has appointed a new vice-chancellor.  She is Louise Richardson, originally from Co Waterford, a former Harvard professor and principal of the University of St Andrews. Richardson is the first women appointed to the post in the 800 year history of the college.  She has already caused some controversy by suggesting that the university widen its admission policy to encourage more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply.  However the chancellor, Chris Patten, has expressed concerns that such changes may damage the prospects of attracting high achieving students…

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

As many as 80% of students in some courses failing to progress beyond first year

Are Irish students as tech savvy as we think?  Not according to Mary Cleary of the Irish Computer Society.  According to Cleary, competent and confident use of social media does not necessarily translate into marketable IT skills such as coding.  Her comments come in the context of the current debate surrounding the high level of student drop-out on some IT and engineering courses.
However, among a number of potential reasons for poor student retention it appears that lower mathematical performance at leaving cert level is a key factor.

Colleges may raise maths requirement due to high drop-out rates

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Active learning in a Donegal classroom

The Irish Times today reports on a teaching revolution in a Donegal school where classes come alive! The school in Bundoran has ditched the chalk and talk method and instead has introduced a student-led model where the classroom is arranged to facilitate group work and an active learning environment. The programme was piloted with first years initially, but now all teachers in the school have been trained in the new teaching methods and the school has become one of the top-ranking in Ireland. Read more below for a very interesting article which explains how the system works and why schools are signing up in their droves to participate. 

Link to.. Active learning in a Donegal classroom

Monday, 11 January 2016

Unequal Access to Higher Education

The Times Higher Education (THE) reports today that Higher Education access inequality is 'wider than previously thought'. The findings are taken from a Ucas analysis which suggests progress in reducing the gap between the most and least disadvantaged students has ground to a halt. Read more by clicking on the link below. If you experience any problems with access then sign up for a free subscription to the journal or access it through the library database Nexis UK.

'Mind the gap' lettering on a railway station platform

Higher Education access inequality

Non-progression rates for Irish third level courses

The Irish Times today reports that one in six students in the Irish higher education system is failing to progress past their first year. Figures released by the Higher Education Authority reveal that some 6,500 students did not progress to second year between 2012 and 2014. In particular there is concern over the drop-out rates in computer science courses given a severe skills shortage in the information and computer technology (ICT) sector. Academics have warned that students at third level are increasingly unable to cope with courses that require competence in maths and require extra support to pass their exams. Read more below from two recent articles in the Irish Times.

In general, university courses tend to have the highest retention rates. Photograph: The Irish Times

Link to: Non-progression rates..

Concern over computer science drop-out rates.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Irish higher education: a public good?

The Irish Times today reports that The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has joined with the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) to campaign against the “erosion of the publicly funded higher level education system and safeguard higher education for future generations.” Amid an escalating third level funding crisis and with the news that the Higher Education Authority is currently reviewing the performance of at least five Irish third level institutions to help return them to financial stability,
the campaign calls for the provision of free, publicly funded higher education as a 'public good'. Read more at the link below.

Link to Free HE as a public good..

Corrosion of conformity on campus

Joanna Williams makes a case today in the Times Higher Education, for what she sees as the true purpose of the university. In an interview to discuss ideas taken from her new book "Academic freedom in an age of conformity" she talks student censors, the elevation of subjective experience over ‘facts’ and the need to challenge ideas. She argues that universities are without a purpose demanding obedience rather than critical thinking from students. Her previous book is available in the LTT collection in Bolton Street and her new book will shortly be on order. Read more of the article by clicking on the link below. Any access difficulties can be resolved by signing up for a free subscription to the journal or accessing it through the library database Nexis UK.

Link to Corrosion of conformity

Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Student completion rates: a European comparison

An article in the Times Higher Education today examines the findings of a recent report by the European Commission which looked in-depth at how student completion rates vary across Europe. The report assesses how countries across the European Union compare in ensuring that students complete a degree course. Click on the link below to read more (if you experience any problems viewing the article sign up for a free subscription with the journal or access it through the library database Nexis UK).

Racetrack finish line

Student completion rates

Artisan academics or straw manism?

In the Times Higher Education today Jenny McDonald examines the response to calls for academics who are not highly productive researchers to be given more recognition. Lecturers are typically defined by their research profile or by their focus on teaching. But what about those scholars who do not fit into either category? A new study by Angela Brew and others, “Absent research: academic artisans in the research university” argues that "these academics make important contributions to institutional functioning as the university ‘artisans’ who work to ensure smooth functioning of both teaching and research activities". Furthermore Brew argues that this group of “artisans” is clearly distinct from teaching-only academics by virtue of the range of tasks they perform, and those who suggest that they are “lazy, unqualified or lacking the necessary skills to succeed” are wrong. McDonald concludes that the study deserves some attention in order to inform thoughtful and critical action.  Read the article (and the study) below by clicking on the link. If you experience any problems with access sign up for a free subscription to the journal or access though the library database Nexis UK. 

Straw scarecrow

Academic artisans..

10 most popular Guardian Education news stories in 2015

The Guardian looks back on the 10 most popular Higher Education articles in the Academics Anonymous series last year. Stories include those of dodgy supervisors, churlish students and desperately low pay. Click on the link below to recap on some of the hidden truths of academic life.

Hand on computer
A year in Higher Education