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. 


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Digital learning

Teaching online is becoming increasingly important for academics, but if you want your students to be switched on in your classes then your content requires good design which adds value.  An article in the Guardian today offers practical tips on how to actively engage with your learners online. Read more by following the link below.

Students in a library with tablet

Digital learning

Thursday, 27 April 2017

How eBooks lost their shine

The Guardian today reports on how just a few years ago, the Kindle was being blamed for the death of the traditional book but the latest figures published by the Publishing Association show a dramatic reversal of fortune with the sales of consumer eBooks dropping by 17% while sales of physical books are up 8%. Consumer spending on books was up £89m across the board last year, compared with 2015. James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstones, says that the UK has “adopted” ebooks and they will remain a substantial market but publishers and readers have rediscovered their love of the physical, and books once more are being celebrated as objects of beauty. Read more from this interesting article by following the link below. 

Young readers

How eBooks lost their shine?

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Use of laptops in class harms academic performance

The Times Higher Education reports on a recent study which warns that using a laptop in class can significantly damage students' academic performance. The findings of this study emerge as increasingly academics permit and often encourage the use of laptops in class. The paper, based on an analysis of the grades of about 5,600 students at a private US liberal arts college, found that using a laptop appeared to harm the grades of male and low-performing students most significantly. Although the authors were not able to definitively say why laptop use in class caused such a negative effect they explained that this was “either due to the superiority of pen and paper, the unforeseen influence of distractions, or some other unseen factor”. Read more from the article by following the link below or accessing the journal through the library ejournal portal. 

students use laptops

Laptops affecting performance

Monday, 3 April 2017

Journal embargoes under fire

A recent article in the Times Higher Education looks at publisher embargoes and the recent criticism of the phenomenon from UK politicians. Having heard evidence that publishers are using embargoes as "news management" tools the Science and Technology committee have stated that they take a "dim view" of the issuing of press releases about academic research that is not openly available and have argued that it impedes fact checking and public debate. In their report, the group say that they believe the embargo system “should reduce inaccuracies in news reporting” but instead it often makes the journalists’ role in scrutinising scientific developments “more difficult". Read more by following the link below or log on to the journal through the library ejournals portal. 

Private and confidential

Journal embargoes under fire

Thursday, 30 March 2017

University management: Overpaid and overbearing?

According to the preliminary results of  a major survey, more than three-quarters of UK university staff are dissatisfied with the way their institution is run. An article in the THE today looks at some of the first findings from the National Senior Management Survey, which is being developed by academics at eight universities and has attracted more than 2, 200 respondents so far. Early data reveals that only 15.9 per cent of respondents agreed that they felt respected and valued by senior management, and 71.6 per cent disagreed, while three-quarters (74.1 per cent) said that their senior managers did not deserve the salaries they were paid. Read more of the significant findings by following the link below or browsing the THE e-journal from the library home page. 


men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Overpaid and overbearing....

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Time for research technologists?

Writing in the LSE Impact blog recently, Andy Tattersall argues that following on from the success of the learning technologist, a role that has helped drive innovation in teaching, perhaps it is time for universities to consider the idea of the research technologist. He outlines a role that embeds the research technologist within the university department where they can make recommendations on appropriate online tools, provide technical assistance and also offer guidance on accompanying issues of ethics or compliance. With this level of support Tattersall believes that academics can improve the communication, dissemination and impact of their research. Read more at the London School of Economics Impact blog by following the link below. 



The research technologist




Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Fake news...old news...

The idea of "fake news" has received a lot of attention recently, and how to spot truth (as opposed to truthiness) from lies and fact from fiction has become an essential skill.  If you want to be more satisfied than satisficed when it comes to news and facts try to attend the All Aboard 2017 workshops happening across the campus beginning Monday 3rd April.

For further details please follow the link below..


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Lectures or active learning?

A comment piece in the Times Higher Education recently argued that while research in higher education is driven by discovery, innovation and a willingness to take risks, often the same evidential rigour is not being applied to teaching. According to the author evidence is growing that the traditional lecture-based model of teaching, while still very prevalent, doesn’t work that well for students. He goes further to suggest that classroom sessions that use more active approaches, such as group discussions, in-class quizzes and clicker-questions, result in a deeper understanding of the concepts and in higher grades. Read more by following the link below to the THE website. If you have problems accessing the article you can go directly to the journal via the library e-journal portal or through the Nexis UK database. 

Lecture, boring, lecturer, students

Lectures v active learning

Irish government plan to curb essay mills

The Department of Education plans to prosecute companies known as "essay mills" that write assignments for students in exchange for money. The practice allows students to circumvent their college's plagiarism detection systems because the software used by universities only detects material copied from previously published academic texts. Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said that he plans to give powers to prosecute “essay mills”, and is considering a ban on these companies advertising their services. Read more by following the link to the Irish Times below.

 The scale of contract cheating is difficult to estimate, though there have been about 1,000 cases of students in Ireland being disciplined for plagiarism since 2010

Plan to curb essay mills


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The myth of learning styles?

Several recent articles in the Guardian Higher Education pages have discussed the use of the learning style approach in schools especially after a recent report by eminent academics voiced concern over the popularity of the method among some teachers. According to the report, teaching children according to their individual “learning style” does not achieve better results and should be ditched by schools in favour of evidence-based practice. Others argue that while learning styles do exist they don't enhance education. Read arguments from both sides of the debate by following the links below. 

Children put their hands in the air during a lesson.

Teachers should ditch 'neuromyth' of 'learning styles

Learning styles & their place in the classroom


Friday, 17 February 2017

THE Teaching Survey 2017: results & analysis

An interesting article in the Times Higher Education (THE) today assesses the results of the first major THE survey of university staff’s attitudes towards teaching. Initial conclusions from the study, surveying some 1,150 higher education staff over several months in 2016, show that teaching is a major source of satisfaction for university lecturers despite growing frustration with heavy administrative loads, bureaucratic burdens, badly prepared students who moan about their marks and the teaching excellence framework (TEF). Read more by following the link below. Register for a free THE account or log in to the library Nexis UK database to read more higher education news.  

Times Higher Education Teaching Survey illustration 2017


THE Teaching Survey 2017: results & analysis


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Class divide in Irish higher education

A recent Irish Times analysis of 2016 figures for student enrolment and grant data has highlighted the scale of the class divide in Irish higher education. The figures reveal that the proportion of students who rely on grants to pay for college is significantly higher in institutes of technology, especially in regional areas, whereas school-leavers from more affluent backgrounds are much more likely to have places in universities offering high-points degrees. Read more by following the link below. 

 An ‘Irish Times’ analysis of student enrolment and grant data for last year shows UCD had the fewest grant-recipients, followed by Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Class divide in Irish higher education


Friday, 3 February 2017

Managing your PhD supervisor

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh writing on the Times Higher Education blog today. The piece offers some useful advice to doctoral students and includes links to other relevant sites such as help with preparing for the Viva exam and a link to a PhD advice page on the THE site. Read more by following the link below. You may have to register for an account with the THE journal to access the article.

PhD, doctorate

Managing your PhD supervisor

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Is ORCID the new CV!

Writing in the Times Higher Education, Roger Watson suggests that ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID, could be a worthy replacement for the more traditional CV.  Arguing that the CV is no longer the objective and verifiable record it one was, he puts forward the case that ORCID already enables individuals to summarise their interests, record their careers and list publications and research grants. Read more of the article by following the link below to the THE. You may need to register for an account to see the full-text or access it through the library database Nexis UK. 

CV on old typewriter

Is ORCID the new CV?

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Are Irish parents to blame for lack of women in Stem?

A major Government-commissioned report into the shortage of female graduates in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) has found that despite having a general lack of information about career options, parents are heavily influencing their daughters’ career choices and are directing them away from the field. Brian MacCraith, president of DCU and chair of the Stem education review group, says there is “a job of work” to be done in informing parents of the career options. One of the measures the Stem working group is now focusing on is producing an information pack to guide parents on Stem and its career options. Dr Nora Khaldi believes that it's an exciting time to be working in this field and that there are lots of opportunities for women. The Irish Times article can be accessed by following the link below.  

Irene Sheridan, a professor of electronic engineering, and her daughter Alison O’Shea, who is working in the same field. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/ Provision

Are parents to blame?

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Institutes of Technology for the UK

The UK government has announced that a £170 million series of prestigious “Institutes of Technology” are to be developed to offer a “credible alternative” to the academic route of university for young people. Theresa May's industrial strategy will shake-up technical education to “level the playing field” for those who do not go to university. The institutes will offer 15 core technical routes that will give learners the chance to gain the skills that are in demand by local employers and will be tailored to the needs of regional industries. It is hoped that the new system will replace thousands of existing qualifications, many of which the UK government says are of a low quality. Read more by following the link below. You can also register for a free account with the THE. 



Institutes of Technology for the UK  

Thursday, 19 January 2017

How to make big classes feel small

Katherine Mangan, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, focuses on the personal lecture and reveals some trends and innovations in developing a stronger connection among students and their professors during large class lectures in U.S. colleges and universities. She also looks at how some lecturers have taken a strategic approach to engage their students by utilising technology and creating interactive lectures. In another article she lists 5 ways to shake up the classroom. Read more by accessing the Chronicle of Higher Education through the library ejournal portal. Link below. 




Library ejournal portal

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Round-up of useful articles on academic writing

A post on the London School of Economics (LSE) Impact Blog today rounds up all the best articles on academic writing posted on their blog in 2016. There are articles on all aspects of the writing process from writing the introduction to your journal article to increasing your chances of publishing in a peer reviewed journal. Posts include contributions from authors Pat Thomson and Patrick Dunleavy. Additional new posts on the blog today include Deborah Lupton's 15 steps for authors who have been asked to revise their manuscript for publication and an article on how feedback helps increase the impact of academic research. See a link to both posts below.


revise-and-resubmit

Round-up of articles for 2016

Deborah Lupton's 15 steps to review your article


Monday, 9 January 2017

Virtual reality: a new dimension in teaching?

An article in the Times Higher Education today explores the educative potential of virtual reality (VR) especially now that the technology is widely accessible. Advocates of interactive VR education including Dave Whelan, of Waterford based company Immersive VR Education, believe that it has the potential to change how students learn, and they argue that students are more engaged and remember far more of what they do in VR lessons compared with what they read, hear or see in a traditional lecture theatre. Whelan envisages a world where aeronautics students assemble jet engines in VR and engineers build bridges around them in a kind of “virtual Meccano set”. Although critics argue that this version of learning is over simplified they do agree that there is good research evidence that students remember and learn better when their experiences are active and they also accept that VR will play an increasing role particularly in online courses. Read the article below at the Times Higher Education. You may have to register for a free account to view. 

VR image of students inspecting a skeleton

VR a new dimension in learning


Non-progression rates in Irish higher education

In the Irish Times today it is reported that more than 70 per cent of students do not get beyond their first year of college in some higher education courses. While university courses have the lowest drop-out rates (between 10 /12 per cent) the highest rates of non-progression are concentrated among higher certificate (level six) and ordinary degree (level seven) courses at institutes of technology. Ireland has one of highest proportions of young people in Europe going into higher education but senior academics at a recent Oireachtas committee expressed concern that many students who are unsuited to higher education are being shoehorned into college. Read more at the Irish Times by following the link below. 



Non-progression rates in Irish HE