Report
Team Members

This project was led by Dr. Betty Higgs

The T4T team members have a lengthy history of collaboration, particularly in relation to their work on integrative learning having received several research grants and published two seminal texts (details below) in the area as well as contributing to various publications, seminars, workshops and conferences at both national and international level.

  • Higgs, B, Kilcommins, S. and Ryan, A. (eds.) (2010) Making Connections: Intentional teaching for Integrative Learning. Cork: NAIRTL.
  • Blackshields, B., Cronin, J., Higgs, B., Kilcommins, S., McCarthy, M. and Ryan, A. (eds.) (2015) Integrative Learning: International research and practice. London: Routledge.

In addition to the existing collaborations, the team has engaged a number a national and international advisors who will act as ‘critical friends’ for the project team and help link with other national and international literature and activities in this area.

Daniel Blackshields (Economics, UCC)
James Cronin (Arts, Social Sciences, Continuing Education, UCC)
Marian McCarthy (Education, Teaching and Learning, UCC)
Prof. Tony Ryan (Medicine and Health, UCC)
Catherine O’Mahony (Teaching and Learning, UCC)
Shane Kilcommins (Law, UL)
Kathryn O’Sullivan (Law, UL)

Aims

The ‘Scholarship of Teaching for Transitions’ research project provides a snapshot of existing national and international scholarship on teaching for transitions, with a particular emphasis on pedagogies for transitions. The research concentrates on the student’s journey as it relates to Higher Education, i.e. transitions in, through and out of third level. This research provides a resource for colleagues wishing to undertake their own research on teaching for transitions, or will be used to inform the development or revision of policies and practices based on supporting student transitions. This inter-institutional collaboration features staff from the University of Limerick and University College Cork, and from across a range of disciplines such as Medicine, Law, Geology, Economics, History, and Education. The T4T project team is primarily composed of members of the Irish Integrative Learning Project team which champions an approach to teaching that supports students to make connections between their disparate pieces of learning. Activities that support the integration of student learning can also help support students’ transitions into, through and out of higher education, hence the team’s interest in this particular area of research. The T4T project team is supported by a dedicated Research Assistant, Donna Alexander, who is doctoral candidate in the School of English and the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies in UCC.

Research Questions

1: What scholarly work and resulting frameworks exist internationally relating to teaching for transitions in higher education? 2: What scholarly and developmental work in Ireland has been carried out in the realm of teaching for transitions in Irish higher education? 3: How can this knowledge base be utilised effectively across the sector to enhance learner transitions in Irish Higher Education?

Methodology & Scope

The project team proposes to coordinate a systematic scoping exercise to map out existing research focused on teaching for transitions in Higher Education in Ireland. This will include published literature and research disseminated at conferences over the past 10 years. Given the overlap with the SoTL review project led by the UCD team, both groups have agreed to develop a shared wiki of resources and to co-create an annotated bibliography. The T4T team will first focus on international literature before examining Irish publications and resources to minimise duplication of effort with the SoTL review team. We will examine activities that are generated from scholarly work. We envisage a two-phased project. The first phase is a desk research project to be undertaken by a Research Assistant supported by the project team. The second phase will involve a series of focus groups to discuss the findings of the literature review and to articulate a series of recommendations regarding good practice in supporting scholarship and activities focusing on teaching for transitions. The focus groups will also include discussion of non-documented learning or impact as evidenced in grey literature such as institutional or departmental reports and provide updates on activities and any emerging research. Efforts will be made to ensure the same people aren’t drawn upon for the focus groups as may also be contacted in relation to the other Forum projects. Where overlap occurs the different project groups will share research questions to minimise the time commitment required by individuals to provide relevant information. A small number of practitioners may be asked to interview to deepen understanding of these pathways. Prior to the finalisation of the report, the project team will meet with representatives of the other forum funded projects, where relevant, to ensure the alignment of the analysis with these projects. The final report will include commentary from leading international experts in the area. The methodology outlined will be critiqued as part of the project, to allow the results to be validated (Hubball and Clarke, 2010).

Outcomes

Resource or database for future researchers – Evidence base for informing practice and policy The outcomes will include the following outputs: • An overview of transitions activities generated from scholarly work and annotated bibli-ography • A policy brief suitable for Higher Education (HE) management on systems and structures that support teaching for transitions with case studies of good practice that impact on strategic ambitions • A report and executive summary focussed on sharing good practices and recommenda-tions for nurturing and making use of scholarship focused on teaching for transitions.

Impact Goals

– Abstracts accepted at conferences – Engagement with webinar – Engagement of HE staff in the research review exercise – Effectiveness and robustness of methodology in capturing snapshot of Teaching for Transitions research – Identification and extension of network of Higher Education staff engaging in Teaching for Transitions research – Aligning with other National Forum research projects to create a SoTL community of practice where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts – Future activities emanating from the evidence base – More people utilising an evidence base to inform their teaching and learning practice – Recognition and reward in higher education of scholarly work in Teaching for Transitions