DCU Institute of Education Strategic Plan 2017-2022 September 2018

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DCU Institute of Education Strategic Plan 2017-2022

                 September 2018
Education for our changing world; unprecedented change, challenge, and

System expansion, diversity and ambition

       One of the defining features of the Irish education system is the predicted growth in
       demand; by 2021 the most conservative estimates place an additional 60,000 students in
       our school system. A commitment has been given to provide a place in Higher Education for
       every student who wishes to attend. This demographic pattern is rare in the developed
       world and offers many opportunities and competitive advantages to Ireland, over other
       countries facing a crisis of funding the cost of an increasingly ‘elderly’ state, costs that far
       exceed any costs of keeping a younger population healthy and educated.

       This predicted growth is not simply a matter of more of the same; our population is
       becoming more diverse; we speak more languages; we align ourselves with more and
       different religious and philosophical perspectives; and we are becoming more politically

       Our young and diverse population may well look to higher education to lead in the
       development of new models of civic participation and engagement, and for the
       development of new tools for activism and mobilisation.

       The growth in scale in our education system is matched by a growth in ambition. The
       Department of Education and Skills’ Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 aims to position
       Ireland’s education and training system as the best in Europe over the decade ahead. Early
       indications are promising; at the end of 2017, the data from the Progress in International
       Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) showed that Ireland’s fourth class students were among the
       highest performing in the world.

       There are risks associated with this growth in demand for higher education. Low cost models
       of provision may become attractive to policy-makers and to institutions as a response to
       increased demands. Such models may bring new challenges to quality, with increasing
       emphasis on achieving the qualification, and less on the ‘student experience’. Private and
       for-profit providers will see Ireland’s increasing demand as an opportunity to extend their
       reach, and may, in the face of funding challenges for public institutions, come to represent a
       new elite in higher education. For teacher education, the risks may be more acute given the

established relationship between the quality of teachers and the quality of the educational
        experience and outcomes of children and young people.

        Ambition for the system is not without its drawbacks. As the system strives to meet goals
        and targets, there is a risk that the achievement of the target can become the purpose of the

The rise of data

        Metricophilia (Smith 2011), an unjustified faith in numerical quantities as having particular
        status for evidence, is on the rise. The emergence of new tools for measurement, and the
        increasing accessibility of data analytics is likely to accelerate this phenomenon.
        Governments and policy-makers are particularly attracted to numerical data, and the field of
        contemporary education policy continues to be heavily influenced by the concept of effect
        size (in the meta-analytic work of John Hattie for example) and by the data produced by
        large scale international test programmes (such as PISA). Despite significant challenges to
        the rigour of both meta analyses and international tests, their influence is likely to continue.
        For example, Ireland’s Action Plan for Education, contains more numeric targets than any
        other kind of indicator for most of the education system. Schools are now required to gather
        and report more data than ever before; demand for professional development for teachers
        and school leaders in understanding and using data is growing.

        Alongside this trend, however there is growing concern that numbers and statistics may not
        always be an accurate representation of social realities and processes. In 2016 the polling
        data for the US election, and for the Brexit referendum in the UK failed to capture the
        intended voting patterns of the electorate. The study of social media, and new kinds of civic
        fora is growing in scale and credibility in the social sciences.

        Martin Lindstrom’s ‘small data’ theories have found their way into education discourse
        through the writings of Pasi Sahlberg who suggests that in embracing the big data from
        international tests, school system leaders may be missing the small clues in the complex
        relationships of classroom and schools that might be a better guide to improvement. For
        those working in educational research, and in the preparation of the next generation of
        teachers and leaders, this ‘small-big’ data tension adds to the well-established tensions
        between quantitative and qualitative paradigms in social science research.

Educating in the Post-Truth era.

       Chomsky was worried about the role of the media in manufacturing consent; he questioned
       who controlled the content. The coming question is less about the control of the content,
       but about the control of the content flow. Consent is being manufactured, say contemporary
       philosophers, but it is being manufactured by an unwitting citizenry as the algorithms of
       many of the platforms we use to share our insights and experiences, ensure that we only
       share them with like-minded people.. The media revolution, the hegemony of algorithms,
       the internet of things and the ubiquity of connectivity – all of these are already shaping our
       interactions with information and knowledge and with each other, and will continue to do
       so. Research is starting to document the impact of these trends on the so-called ‘digital

       Much attention and concern is focused on children and young people in this context, and in
       the role of schools and teachers in developing critical and informed engagement with the
       content flow. Universities and other higher education institutions have a particular
       responsibility to lead in challenging hegemonic thinking and in developing and disseminating
       alternative perspectives and futures. DCU’s commitment to teacher education within the
       university is significant in that context. Most of those entering teacher education
       programmes at the Institute of Education were born in this century. The grew up with
       content flow. Supporting the development of their ability to question and critique should be
       central university-based teacher education.


       The role of education in offering opportunities and choice is widely supported in Irish and
       international educational policy. The Department of Education’s Delivering Equality of
       Opportunity Plan aims to enable ‘education to more fully become a proven pathway to
       better opportunities for those in communities at risk of disadvantage and social exclusion’.
       Much progress has been made in Ireland in this direction, but two challenges remain. The
       first is that education has also become a proven pathway to preserve, and even enhance,
       intergenerational advantage. The second is that the circumstances of communities and
       families with low levels of educational engagement and achievement, are characterised by
       multiple indicators of exclusion - ill-health, poor nutrition, higher rates of unemployment
       and lower rates of civic participation. Transforming the lives of these families and
       communities is a part of the mission of DCU; for those teaching, researching and learning in
       the Institute of Education, it is a particular imperative. The teaching workforce in Ireland

does not reflect the diversity of the student population. We are already playing a part in
       developing a more diverse teaching population. Maintaining momentum in this direction will
       be important in the medium to longer term.

Teachers; changing identities and expectations

       While research about teacher identity is extensive and diverse, most scholars share a view
       that teacher identity is shaped by a combination of personal history, professional experience
       and political environment, albeit in different measures depending on the theoretical
       perspective of the study. In Ireland, as elsewhere, the political environment for teachers and
       teaching is becoming increasingly significant in re-shaping teacher identity. The widely-cited
       assertion that ‘the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers’
       is proving a double-edged sword for teachers in some systems. One the one hand, it has
       giving rise to improving pay and conditions for teachers in emerging economies, to greater
       attention to and investment in initial and continuing education and raised status for the
       teaching profession. For some more developed systems, the increased attention has not
       been as benign. Professional autonomy has been replaced by government-designed
       frameworks of standards supported by credentialing and regulatory processes, and, in other
       systems, by the testing of students and even of teachers themselves. Initial teacher
       education continues to be subject to ongoing scrutiny and reform initiatives. A feature of
       some of these initiatives continues to be to truncate the period of preparation for teaching,
       and/or to decouple it from the university setting to being it more directly under government

       While initial teacher education in Ireland has been subject to external review, and is
       relatively tightly regulated (through the requirements for professional registration)
       government policy continues to support university-based initial teacher education built
       around the three components of academic study, professional practice and research.
       However, this is not the only model of ITE available in Ireland, and, as the demographic
       trend leads to greater demand for teachers, it seems reasonable that other, less costly,
       models of ITE will become increasingly attractive to government, particularly given the wider
       challenge of higher education funding.

       The irony of any government pressure to deliver more teachers, faster and cheaper is that
       the same government, reflecting the expectations of families and communities, expects

teachers to do more and be more every day. Notable recent developments include new
roles in curriculum planning as central prescription gives way to increasing school autonomy,
and new roles in assessment across early childhood, primary and post-primary education. All
of this work requires sophisticated technical acumen on the part of teachers, as well as a
commitment to professional learning. While the concept of the continuum of teacher
education has rhetorical strength in Ireland, it remains to be seen whether policies and
structures will follow. In 2017/2018 issues in teacher supply for both the primary and post-
primary sectors have generated debate about the attractiveness of teaching as a career.
While the media have reported a ‘crisis’ in teacher supply, applications to initial teacher
programmes have increased. Nonetheless, the discourse around the teaching profession in
Ireland is shifting somewhat, although as yet, the implications of that shift are unclear.

To transform lives and societies through education, research, innovation and engagement.

By 2022, the DCU Institute of Education will be recognised as a global leader in the field of
education, as an innovative provider of teacher education, and as a centre of excellence in
educational research. It will be centrally engaged in transforming the Irish education system and will
be a significant contributor to knowledge creation and policy development across international
education systems, through leadership of and participation in a range of research and policy

We are committed to

    ●    education as a public good, a human right of individuals and communities and a force for
    ●    equality and inclusive practice
    ●    social justice and critical global citizenship
    ●    respectful and ethical relationships and the wellbeing of all members of the learning
    ●    developing and sustaining partnerships
    ●    curiosity, innovation and engagement
Our Educators
Sharing our values, our graduates will be

    •    passionate about education and its potential to transform lives and communities
    •    committed, believing in the potential of every learner
    •    competent, creative and critical in the design of teaching, learning and assessment in their
         chosen field/subject/sector
    •    open, adaptive, flexible and responsive
    •    critically reflective in their personal and professional development, and engaged in or with
    •    independent thinkers, contributing to the development of the education system wherever
         they work
    •    engaged in lifelong learning
    •    open to the opportunities afforded by developments in technology


                        Actions                                Indicators of Success/Progress

1.1 Align and connect   Review all our programmes to           Review Framework and
                        ensure that teaching, learning and     process agreed and in use for
                        assessment are aligned, coherent,      review and planning for new
                        and engaging and challenging for       programmes

                        Provide better connections across      All undergraduate and post-
                        programmes for all students            graduate students experience
                        through shared modules, and/or         shared modules and/or
                        workshops.                             workshops. Some of these are
                                                               with other faculties.
                        Design events that allow for greater
                        connections and interaction
                        between students across the full
                        range of Institute programmes.

                        Informed by good practice,             Our placement arrangements
                        regulatory requirements and            and processes are informed by
                        research, develop a vision for high    the vision of the IoE Educator
                        quality placement experiences          and recognised as such by
                        across the Institute. Align all        students, schools/settings.
                        placement experiences with             They are administratively
                        common documentation,                  efficient and reflect the
                        procedures and feedback loops.         partnership between the IoE
                                                               and placement settings.

1.2 Gather feedback     To ensure that our graduates are       Working with DCU Alumni, our
                        prepared for the changing world of     graduate forum will meet at
                        education, we will establish a         least every six months. Insights
                        graduate forum to provide feedback     from the forum will inform the
                        on the relationship between studies    review proposed at 1.1 above.
                        at the Institute and professional
                        practice in education and training.

                        Initiate a programme of research on    Programme in place
                        the relationship between initial       underpinned by a sustainable
                        teacher education and professional     funding model led by a
                        practice, beginning with Gaeilge.      Professor of Teacher

1.3 Placement           Evaluate the placement experience      Cohesive and comprehensive
                        in all our programmes to ensure        policies for placements in such
                        that it is enriching for students,     areas as preparation, support,

Actions                               Indicators of Success/Progress

those who mentor them, and for       mentoring and development
the settings where they are placed.  for both students and tutors,
                                     as well as coordination and
                                     management of placement.
                                     Shared policies and procedures
                                     are also in place on
Lead national and international      communication with students
networks for reflection and research on placement issues and on
that supports placement. Increase    assessment and feedback.
opportunities for the
internationalisation of placement


                          Actions                                  Indicators of Success/Progress

3.1 Build capacity        Continue to develop the research         80% of academic staff of the
                          capacity of staff across the Institute   Institute are research active by
                          through professional development         2022.
                          seminars and workshops,
                          participation in international           All academic staff have
                          networks, mentoring and                  doctoral-level qualifications or
                          secondment arrangements.                 are close to completing
                                                                   doctoral-level studies.

                          Initiate a Citation Action Plan, which   50% of staff will have a Q1/Q2
                          includes provision to all staff of       journal article or equivalent
                          training in research and publication     high quality publication by
                          metrics, and altmetrics.                 2022.

                          Create and sustain a community of        DCI is ranked for Education in
                          practice among post-graduate             the University rankings.
                          research students and researchers in
                          the Institute                            An increase of 50% in number
                                                                   of post-grad research students.
                          Resource and implement a
                          postgraduate research student and        Postgraduate research
                          post-doctoral researcher professional    students and post-doctoral
                          development strategy, with an            fellows/ researchers will have
                          integrated research dissemination        research profiles publicly
                          and development plan for emerging        visible on IOE website/ DCU
                          research leaders.                        Research Engine.

                          Identification of a number of            A number of emerging
                          emerging research leaders amongst        research leaders will have
                          the postgraduate                         been identified within the
                          research/researcher/ postdoctoral        researcher community in IOE
                          community, and progression of same       and progressed through the
                          towards academic route in line with      ‘development of talent’ action
                          the action to develop talent within      plan.
                          the broader DCU Strategic plan.

3.2 Enabling structures   Provide a semester of research for all   All staff have opportunities to
                          staff within 36 months post-doctoral     lead, or contribute to at least
                          award.                                   one research project or
                          Implement agreed sabbatical and
                          fellowship schemes to support the        By 2022 at least 40% of staff
                          advancement of priority research         will have acted as PI or co PI on
                          areas of IoE, and monitor outcomes       a research proposal or project.

from these initiatives on an ongoing
                                                              The Institute is recognised as a
                     Support staff and researchers in the     global leader in a number of
                     dissemination of research and other      areas of educational research.
                     published work through media and

                     Support the dissemination of             By 2022, IoE success in small
                     research undertaken in taught            and large-scale external
                     undergraduate and post-graduate          funding competitions from
                     programmes.                              national/EU research funding
                                                              frameworks will have doubled.
                     Appoint a research support
                     person/grant writer to assist staff in   The Institute is recognised as a
                     submitting research proposals.           global leader in a number of
                                                              areas of educational research.
                     Provide additional opportunities for
                     staff to engage in inter- and multi-     The IOE publication profiles
                     disciplinary research with colleagues    will have expanded to include
                     within and across the faculties in       more inter- and multi-
                     DCU, and colleagues from other           disciplinary (innovative)
                     institutions.                            research undertaken by IOE
                                                              staff, IOE students (including
                                                              research at all levels) and
                                                              researchers in other
                                                              institutions in Ireland and

                                                              By 2022, IoE success in small
                                                              and large-scale external
                                                              funding competitions from
                                                              national/EU research funding
                                                              frameworks will have doubled.

3.3 Set priorities   Taking account of the University-wide    The review of the IoE research
                     research prioritisation exercise, the    centres/clusters, as agreed in
                     vision and mission of the Institute,     the Incorporation process, is
                     and emerging policy needs, agree a       complete and research
                     set of rolling priorities across the     priorities identified
                                                              The IOE research priorities
                                                              have been identified and
                                                              corresponding actions have
                                                              been integrated within these
                                                              Centres and the Schools of the

3.4 Structures and      Integrate a fair, transparent and       The workload model will show
processes               equitable workload model that allows    year on year increases in
                        for meaningful engagement in            quality research activity and
                        research and research-informed          outputs by staff (The first
                        practice by all staff within the IoE,   Review of workload model will
                        reflects the priorities of the          begin after pilot year 18/19).
                        University, and the particular
                        requirements of Initial Teacher

                     3.GROW AND SUSTAIN OUR AMBITIONS

Actions                                  Indicators of Success/Progress

3.1 Attain a global       Benchmark the Institute against          The Institute is recognised as
position                  internationally comparable institutes,   one of the leading institutes of
                          faculties and centres under a range of   its kind in the world
                          headings including staff/student
                          ratio, research output, structures,    Enhanced engagement with
                          programmes and engagement.             international students in place
                                                                 from inquiry to enrolment to
                          Working with the International Office, graduation/credit completion.
                          develop a plan for international       Target for recruitment met.
                          student recruitment, building on
                          research networks and international

                          Explore the potential for an             Strategy in place for
                          international summer school bringing     international visitors/fellows
                          education researchers and policy-        and/or summer school hosted.
                          makers interested in Ireland’s
                          education success to DCU.

3.2 Generate income       Informed by the University policy,       Consultancy policy in place,
                          develop an Institute of Education        supporting local, national and
                          consultancy policy.                      international engagements
                                                                   based on staff areas of
                          Create a new programme of                expertise.
                          continuing professional development
                          programmes that support our              The Institute’s work is
                          graduates, support professional          reflected in COSAN, the new
                          development and generate modest          national framework for
                          income.                                  professional development.

3.3 Expand the offering   Develop new undergraduate and            A range of new programmes
                          post-graduate programmes in              are in place, beginning with an
                          conjunctions with our international      enhanced EdD offering in
                          networks, and other University           September 2018, and a nee
                          faculties.                               BEd in Languages in 2019.


                           Actions                                  Indicators of Success/Progress

4.1 Wellbeing              Establish a wellbeing plan for           Staff wellbeing is included in all
                           academic and support staff of the        considerations of programme
                           Institute of Education                   and research development,
                                                                    and the workload model.

                           Actively engage with DCU Estates on
                           the working environment for all staff.

4.2 A welcoming culture    Further develop IoE induction            We continue to have
                           programmes for all staff.                competitive recruitment for all
                                                                    posts; post-induction staff
                                                                    report a strong collegial sense.

                                                                    Staff joining from international
                                                                    contexts have opportunities to
                                                                    opportunities to spend time in
                                                                    schools/educational settings.

4.3 Flexible working and   Support flexible working                 Staff are supported in the
sabbaticals                arrangements for staff, taking           pursuit of fellowships,
                           account of school and team needs.        semesters in other institutions,
                                                                    and in taking annual and other
                           Develop return-to-work                   leave entitlements.
                           arrangements for staff ending periods
                           of maternity or other extended leave. Flexible family- and commuter-
                                                                 friendly working is in place for
                                                                 all staff.

4.4 Connecting             Make arrangements for video-             Staff are connected with each
                           conferencing use for University and      other and with meetings and
                           other meetings                           events at one click.

                           Develop and support a strategy for       A programme of social, cultural
                           effective meetings and other             and professional cross-school
                           engagements, with policies on            events is in place across the
                           attendance, papers, presentations        IoE.
                           and action planning.


                     Actions                                     Indicator of Success/Progress

5.1 Design for       Ensure that all students across all         Feedback from students and
Innovation           programmes have opportunities for           the graduate forum shows that
                     problem-based, inquiry-based and            these practices are embedded
                     collaborative learning experiences          in learning; student
                                                                 assessment has developed to
                     Plan for the engagement of all              reflect these practices.
                     students based on the St Patrick’s
                     Campus with the new Student                 Students have opportunities to
                     Innovation Hub in Glasnevin.                engage with the Hub in
                                                                 Glasnevin and with Hub
                                                                 activities on all campuses.

5.2 Participate      Play a leading role on the                  Creativity is one of the defining
                     development of the DCU Institute of         features of our graduates,
                     Creativity                                  reported by employers, and
                                                                 the graduate forum.

5.3 A cultural       Promote the cultural experience of          Engagement with the arts is
experience           students and staff through                  part of the experience for all
                     participation in the Arts and Culture       students.
                     Strategy and the new Cultural

5.4 Language         Promote the Irish language and              All staff have opportunities to
                     culture, as areas of national priority in   practise and improve Gaeilge.
                     education, in the context of an
                     increasingly diverse society where          Our programmes promote
                     culture is seen as dynamic, open and        appreciation and sensitivity
                     subject to change.                          towards all languages,
                                                                 including Irish Sign Language.

                     Lead research in the teaching learning      SEALBHÚ (Lárionad Taighde
                     and assessment of the Irish language        DCU um Fhoghlaim agus
                     through participation in SEALBHÚ            Teagasc na Gaeilge (DCU
                     with FHSS.                                  Research Centre for the
                                                                 Learning and Teaching of Irish)
                                                                 is recognised as a leading
                                                                 centre and the work is
                                                                 contributing to the teaching
                                                                 and learning in relevant


                          Actions                                  Indicator of Success/Progress

6.1 A perspective and a   Promote the integration of               Sustainability is included in the
focus                     sustainability as a theme in the         Review Framework for all
                          review of all undergraduate              programmes, and has been
                          programmes to ensure that all            integrated in all IoE
                          students have an opportunity to          programmes.
                          engage in the study of sustainability,
                          and in sustainability related

6.2 A strong foundation   Build on the work of the Regional        Education for Sustainable
                          Centre of Expertise in Education for     Development is one of the
                          Sustainable Development, the Centre      Institutes research priorities,
                          for Human Rights and Citizenship         and this is evidenced by
                          Education, and other research            numbers of postgraduate
                          centres within the DCU Institute of      research students and post-
                          Education to establish a programme       doctoral research fellows, as
                          of research in education for             well as successful research
                          sustainable development across the       grant applications, within the
                          full continuum of learning.              sphere of ESD

6.3 Work sustainably      Promote sustainable work practices       Staff working conditions
                          for all staff.                           promote wellbeing; the
                                                                   workload model is transparent
                                                                   fair and equitable;
                                                                   achievements are celebrated;
                                                                   work/life balance is strong.


            Actions                                Indicators of Success/Progress

7.1         Maintain and develop engagement        There are strong links to the
            with the communities associated        stakeholders associated with
            with the two denominational centres    both centres; the centres have
            in the Institute of Education.         claimed a key role within their
                                                   respective traditions.

7.2         Develop an ethical framework for       A number of MoU are in place
            stakeholder engagement supported       supporting a range of
            by memoranda of understanding.         partnerships that are mutually
                                                   beneficial and reflect the
            Build on established partnerships      overall aims and mission of the
            with the local communities in the      IoE and DCU.
            North Dublin and North City area and
            contribute to the development of
            educational links between these
            communities and DCU

            Consolidate existing partnerships
            with placement setting communities
            and develop new partnerships across
            the continuum.

7.3         Identify strategic international       Our international engagement
            partnerships with institutions and     is well-established and adding
            organisations and develop these into   value to the Institute and to
            mutually beneficial arrangements for   the partner institutions.
            staff and students.

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