Current Research Projects in Education

The UCETNI projects

The  UCETNI (Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers, NI) Education Research Projects

These research projects are a product of unprecedented collaboration of experts across the local HEIs and draw upon the expertise of a range of local stakeholders.

Each project has a Steering Committee  whose members have been nominated by members of the UCETNI Committee. Dr Despina Galanouli is the Research Fellow for both.

Digiskills Baseline Study

The Digiskills Primary Schools Baseline Study  is novel both organisationally (HEI collaboration)  and methodologically (teachers as researchers).

This research project has been funded by NI Screen, the national screen agency for Northern Ireland.

Digiskills is a collaborative, long-term structured programme, designed to build capacity within formal education for digital skills and computing.

This project, which is led by Dr Pamela Cowan (QUB) and Professor Linda Clarke, (UU) has been developed and overseen by a Steering Committee which is made up of  representatives from all the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers in Northern Ireland, under the auspices of UCETNI.

The project’s aim was to gather baseline data on the use of ICT by primary school teachers in the classroom but also data on teachers’ continuing professional development in ICT, their confidence levels and their attitudes towards ICT. Three sources of data (principals, primary school teachers and primary school ICT coordinators) ensured data triangulation.

The 'teachers as researchers' element was central to the project in keeping with the Learning Leaders: Strategy for Teacher Professional Learning in Northern Ireland (DE, 2016). Most of the data collection was carried out by teachers (ICT coordinators) with support from the project’s Research Fellow.  

Funding for staff cover was provided and the school Principals and ICT coordinators attended a Digiskills Teachers as Researchers Workshop which aimed to provide basic research training and practical experience to the ICT coordinators. Data analysis is being carried out and it is hoped that the findings will inform policy development in the area of ICT in the primary school context.

Teacher Professional Learning Framework (TPLF) Project

The Teacher Professional Learning Framework (TPLF) project is led by Professor Linda Clarke and has been funded by the Department of Education (DE) within the context of their Learning Leaders: Strategy for Teacher Professional Learning in Northern Ireland (DE, 2016).  

This strategy set out DE’s vision for teacher professional learning as ‘Every teacher is a learning leader, accomplished in working collaboratively with all partners in the interests of children and young people”.

One of the objectives of the strategy is the provision of a structured framework for teacher professional learning which will enable teachers to take an informed approach to career-long professional learning and which will nurture and develop leadership skills, knowledge and attributes at all stages of a teacher’s career from ITE onwards.

The TPLF project’s main objective was to offer recommendations on how to implement this framework and, therefore, firstly involved desk-based research (reviewing current practice across the UK, the RoI and internationally and also other service-providing professions’ professional development practices including medical/nursing, social work etc.). Secondly it involved consultations with key-people (representatives from DE, ETI, EA, CCEA, CCMS, GTCNI but also the main teachers’ Unions, teachers etc.).

The project’s outcome, a set of recommendations for the design and development of a teacher professional learning framework which are also aligned with the Learning Leaders strategy have been developed and are currently under further consultation with the main stakeholders.

The Global Learning Project in Northern Ireland

Across a three year period running from 2015 to 2017, Ulster University carried out research to investigate the impact of the Global Learning Programme (GLP) on schools in Northern Ireland. The research included an examination of the programme's effect on the capacity of teachers to deliver global learning. It also explored the extent to which the GLP has helped pupils achieve global learning outcomes.

Professor Linda Clarke led the research, supported by Dr Lesley Abbott.