Tuesday, 15 January 2019

New Book Calls for A Radical Shift in Transforming Language Teaching and Learning

A new book Transforming Language Teaching and Learning by Dr Patrick Farren in the School of Education at NUI Galway, calls for a radical shift in how we understand and approach language teaching, learning, and assessment in schools. Dr Farren carried out three studies in collaboration with educators and student-teachers at NUI Galway, King’s College London, Boston College, MA, and neighbouring post-primary schools. Dr Farren, says: “The studies examine modern foreign language teaching and learning from an autonomous language teaching and learning perspective.  Language is understood not only in terms of competence but as language in use, which is an action-oriented process. The classroom is understood as a space in which learners are immersed in the target language. The studies examine the impact of social interaction linked to target language use in context, and of critical reflection in which learners plan, monitor, and self-assess. Assessment for learning strategies and use of a portfolio are seen to support learners in developing the capacity to accept responsibility for their language learning.” Dr Farren added: “Engaged learning is seen to enhance autonomous language teaching and learning by integrating ‘new’ literacies such as, critical, digital and media literacies, and intercultural literacy, with the development of the traditional and basic literacies of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It suggests that a more integrated, whole school approach to language teaching and learning would support language learners in making connections across languages and cultures, and by implication, support the development of a more cohesive society. Overall, it shows how teachers can develop a more encompassing professional identity as research practitioners and leaders with the capacity to make evidence informed decisions based on moral values.” A native of Buncrana in County Donegal, Dr Farren has taught and carried out research in countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the US.  The book includes interviews with international experts, Dr Paul Black on assessment, and Maria Brisk on addressing the needs of English language learners.  Writing in the Foreword to the book, Dr Jane Jones, Head of Modern Foreign Language Teacher Education, King’s College London, refers to how teachers in the studies are understood as “creators and not just deliverers of knowledge”, and how the book is “a liberating account of what happens when student-teachers and teacher educators not only understand the moral purpose of teaching but inhabit a space in which conditions are created for a transformative pedagogy to flourish”. The principles of language empowerment, critical consciousness, interdependence, and moral values are at the centre of participants’ interpretations of ‘transformative pedagogy’ in the book.  The book will be of interest to teacher educators, parents, student-teachers, researchers, students in any sector of education, language teachers and parents of children taking the new junior cycle programme, education bodies, as well as the general reader with an interest in language learning and education.   The book is published by Peter Lang International, and is available online from the publisher and from www.amazon.com.  -Ends-  


News Archive

Monday, 14 January 2019

A team of researchers from NUI Galway and the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil have had their opinion article published in the international journal Trends in Plant Science, proposing to use gene editing technology for the production into tomatoes of capsaicinoids, the spicy compound found in chilli peppers. Co-author of the article, Dr Ronan Sulpice from Plant and Botany Science, Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “All genes necessary for the production of capsaicinoids are already present in tomatoes. However, they are silent, and we are proposing to activate them using gene editing technology. However, the challenge is massive because the pathway responsible for the synthesis of these compounds is very complex, so we are very likely far from the day we will consume spicy tomatoes.” Senior author of the article, Dr Agustin Zsögön at the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, said: “Engineering the capsaicinoid genetic pathway to the tomato would make it easier and cheaper to produce this compound, which has very interesting applications. We have the tools powerful enough to engineer the genome of any species; the challenge is to know which gene to engineer and where.” Spicy tomatoes could be commercialised for food consumption, but the main aim is to use them as biofactories for capsaicinoids production towards industrial uses. The rationale is that tomatoes are much more yielding than peppers, with up to 110 tonnes of fruits per hectare compared to around 3 tonnes per hectare, and have more stable yields. As a result, tomatoes would allow a much higher production of capsaicinoids.  These spicy compounds have significant nutritional and commercial uses, such as in cancer treatment, anti-inflammatory and pain medication, and even pepper spray. Currently efforts are ongoing in Brazil to produce the tomatoes, and first results are expected by the end of this year. If successful, the scientists are considering even more imaginative ways that tomatoes may be used to produce other high value compounds. Importantly, this work remains hypothetical, in the context of how to regulate CRISPR gene-edited crop varieties. Switching on an already present gene using a process called mutagenesis is different from transgenesis, the introduction of foreign genes into an organism. In 2018, the EU and the US came to opposing decisions on how to classify these newer forms of gene-edited plants. So, while the prospect of spicy tomatoes may raise the interest of some people, we are a very long way from commercially growing such varieties. To read the full opinion article in Trends in Plant Science, visit: https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(18)30261-9 -Ends-

Friday, 11 January 2019

NUI Galway will host a CAO information evening for students, parents, guardians and guidance counsellors in the Radisson Hotel in Letterkenny on Thursday, 17th January from 7-9pm.   The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and the undergraduate courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand to answer any individual questions in relation to courses and practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to its innovative programmes developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. NUI Galway is launching three new Arts degrees for enrolment in 2019. This includes a BA (History and Globalisation), BA Government (Politics, Economics and Law) and a BA Education (Computer Science and Mathematical Studies). The University will also launch a new degree in Law and Human Rights for 2019. At the information evening there will be a representative from across the University’s five colleges available to answer questions about the programmes on offer, entry requirements, and placement and employment opportunities. Representatives from Shannon College of Hotel Management, an NUI Galway college will also attend the event. Members of the Accommodation Office will be on hand to answer any queries about on-campus or off-campus options, including the new Goldcrest on-campus development, which sees 429 new beds this year, bringing the total of on-campus beds to 1193. Letterkenny based company Optum, a leading information and technology enabled health service business, and a major employer in County Donegal, provide scholarships for Donegal students applying to a number of NUI Galway programmes. A representative from Optum will be on hand at the information evening to provide information on the scholarships and the application process. Sarah Geraghty, Student Recruitment and Outreach Manager at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has strong links throughout the North West, having opened a medical academy in Letterkenny in addition to providing Irish language courses in Ionad Ghaoth Dobhair. We are delighted to have the opportunity to visit Donegal and showcase all of the undergraduate courses on offer at NUI Galway and throughout the West. With so many courses on offer, this event is a perfect opportunity for prospective students to meet current students and lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit for them.” With the CAO deadline for applications approaching on 1st February this is the perfect opportunity for parents and students to find out more about the opportunities at NUI Galway, and how to make the right CAO choice for them. For more information contact Grainne Dunne, School Liaison Officer on grainne.dunne@nuigalway.ie or 087 2440858. -Ends-

Friday, 11 January 2019

NUI Galway researchers who established and rolled out the national SMART Consent programme have just announced a major four-year programme of research and implementation on Active Consent, funded by Lifes2good Foundation in partnership with Galway University Foundation and NUI Galway. The programme was officially launched by the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD and Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway today (Friday, 11 January). The Active Consent programme will be led by NUI Galway’s SMART Consent team; Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins, and Kate Dawson from the School of Psychology, and Dr Charlotte McIvor from the Centre for Drama and Theatre Studies. The programme targets young people from 16-23 years of age in order to promote a positive approach to the important issue of sexual consent and will partner with a range of schools and sporting organisations in the delivery of the Active Consent initiative. Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, commented: “I wish to congratulate Dr Pádraig MacNeela and his team of researchers in securing funding for this programme, Active Consent. It is an important step forward and takes a new and original approach, which we need on issues to do with equality and sexual violence. The team are taking on a difficult subject in a positive way that respects young people’s capacity for independence and decision-making. Within the Department of Education, I am leading the call for a collective national standard for our higher education institutions on supporting consent and responding to sexual violence on campuses. I am confident that my expert group, of which Dr MacNeela is a member, will be reporting back to me within the next two weeks and we will then be in a position to devise national standards that all of our higher education institutions will have to implement. In conclusion we all have the same mission, to make our institutions safe and respectful places of learning for all. The Active Consent programme will help to put Ireland at the forefront of this progressive action.” Welcoming the announcement Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is committed to ensuring that all our students have a safe and positive experience with us. We are also determined to ensure we share our knowledge and expertise in research, practice and the arts to address wider societal challenges. The work of the SMART Consent team is a real example of how our academic scholarship can have a substantive social impact as it contributes in a very practical way to the important work of promoting sexual consent in Ireland. Through this new Active Consent programme our University, with the generous philanthropic support of Lifes2good, will promote and share new strategies to develop young people and promote positive messaging on active sexual consent. I am confident that this Active Consent programme will have a positive impact on the lives and futures of countless young people and I commend Lifes2good Foundation and our partners in education and sporting organisations for their initiative in joining us in this important work. Together we can achieve the culture of respect and equality that we wish for our young people.” Key aims of the Active Consent programme To design and implement practical tools and strategies that reach young people from 16-23 years of age with positive messaging on active sexual consent.To promote active consent so that young people feel confident and skilled in communicating with their partners about intimacy. To reach across three key youth settings (higher education institutions, senior cycle in schools and sports organisations). To support young people using multiple implementation methods that will include workshops, drama, training, videos, and online resources. To promote critical thinking about pornography, supported by an online platform on consent education for students, parents, and teachers. Dr Pádraig MacNeela said: “We want to promote a positive, proactive approach to sexual consent, and this funding gives us a unique opportunity to do this over the next four years. There is a unique team behind this programme, from Psychology and Sexual Health Promotion, to Drama and Theatre Studies. We are combining Irish research data with proven youth engagement methods and the creative arts to support a full range of sexual consent messaging.” Dr Siobhán O’Higgins said: “The opportunity to deliver core messages about consent across all settings will promote joined up, consistent support for positive relationships. The messaging is important, but it is also critical that we work in partnership with institutions and groups in each setting to address their specific needs and opportunities.” Creative Arts Creative arts and communications are at the centre of the team’s work, using drama, film and other methods as communication strategies to deliver statistics, research findings, and messaging on positive sexual health. Dr Charlotte McIvor says: “To change social norms in the long-term, we believe that consent messaging should be delivered in ways that engage, entertain, and educate. Using the creative arts allows us to pose questions as well as give answers, and show the human and emotional dimensions of the grey areas of consent.”  The SMART Consent team have worked in partnership with students and staff at colleges such as NUI Galway, GMIT, DCU, UL, NCAD, among others, to train facilitators and deliver sexual consent workshops. Over the four years of this new programme, the team will establish partnerships across schools and sports settings as well. The first partnership they have in place for secondary schools is with the WISER Programme (AIDS West), delivered across approximately 50 primary and secondary schools in the West of Ireland. James Murphy, Co-founder of Lifes2good Foundation, said: “As a graduate of NUI Galway, I welcome the opportunity to give something back to the University, especially for such an innovative programme such as this. In my business life I have found that research pays dividends. I also know that good marketing works. This programme is based on research with the ambition to project a message that resonates with as many young people as possible. It will support boys and young men in a non-judgmental way to engage in meaningful reflection that promotes active consent.” Maria Murphy, Co-founder of Lifes2good Foundation, added: “As a mother of four adult children, I am convinced of the need for programmes such as this in Ireland. This is a major grant for Lifes2Good Foundation over four years, but it is the start of what we hope will be a national programme taken on by government to impact young people in Ireland for many years to come. The main focus of Lifes2good Foundation is on vulnerable women and children. But we are interested in preventative strategies as well as remedial, and this programme focuses on attitudes and beliefs as a foundation for positive behaviour.” Lifes2good Foundation and Galway University Foundation are Galway based foundations. Together they will enable the Active Consent programme to support research and implementation in colleges, schools, and sports clubs across Ireland from 2019-2022. Lifes2good Foundation funding is supported by partial matched funding from NUI Galway. View two short interactive films on consent that invites viewers to experiment actively with the idea that one sexual encounter can have many possible outcomes when it comes to the negotiation of consent between partners. See films: ‘Tom and Julie’ and ‘Kieran and Jake’ here: http://www.nuigalway.ie/consent=omfg/   Video on Consent is OMFG (Ongoing, Mutual, and Freely Given): https://youtu.be/AtSP3gAJpuw -Ends-


Events Calendar

Upcoming Events Time / Date Location
University Breastfeeding Meeting 12.00 Wednesday,
16 January 2019
On Campus, AS203 River Room
Sir Christopher Frayling: Frankenstein - The first two hundred years 18.00 Wednesday,
16 January 2019
On Campus, Huston Main Room, Block Q
Sir Christopher Frayling: Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece 15.00 Thursday,
17 January 2019
Main Room, Block Q
HEAR DARE Application Information Day 10.00 Saturday,
19 January 2019
ILAS Theatre (Institute for Lifecourse and Society), North Campus

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