Enhancing Literacy and Numeracy Training
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Ireland has always prided itself on having a ‘world class’ education system. However, this was called into question when The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published the results from its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009, which indicated that Ireland’s scholarly standards of literacy and numeracy had fallen significantly. These findings urged education stakeholders to evaluate how the development of literacy and numeracy competencies was being addressed. The Department of Education and Skills (DES) emphasised the development of literacy and numeracy as being the remit of all teachers. Initial teacher education (ITE) programmes had a responsibility to ensure that its graduates had the knowledge to enable the consolidation of developing literacy and numeracy competencies in all classrooms. This thesis aims to explore the provisions made for literacy and numeracy training within one Irish ITE programme at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), to enhance training for its pre-service technical subject teachers. A mixed method case study was conducted, collecting data from pre-service teachers, school placement tutors, educational staff and experts in the fields of literacy and numeracy. The methods included questionnaires, dialogical reflection groups, focus-groups and qualitative interviews A key finding was the challenge in defining ‘literacy’ and ‘numeracy’. This ambiguity left pre-service teachers and teacher-educators unclear of expectations in the context of ITE and resulted in a misalignment between the theory being taught and pre-service teacher perceptions of their abilities and their practices. It was also found that the technical subjects are a catalyst for promoting and developing a student’s problem solving and critical thinking skills, which provide many opportunities for the development of literacy and numeracy competencies. A recommendation from this study is further training to enhance the development of pre-service teachers' comprehension of literacy and numeracy in the classroom and to create an awareness of their own abilities, through self-reflection. An output of this research is a series of ITE literacy and numeracy training workshops which address the challenges highlighted in this thesis.
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