THE NEST PROJECT: AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO TEACHER TRAINING.

Logue Collins, Pauline and Dunne, Kate and Rausch, Angelica (2011) THE NEST PROJECT: AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO TEACHER TRAINING. In: LIN LEARNING INNOVATION NETWORK.

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Abstract

This paper presents a critical analysis of The NEST Project (GMIT, Letterfrack) as an innovation in teaching and learning within the context of staff development. A central objective of the GMIT Letterfrack teacher training programme, Design & Technology Education Programme (DTE), is to develop highly professional mentors and reflective practitioners. To this end a pilot project called NEST (Nurturing Excellence in Student Teachers) was launched in 2010. This twelve week voluntary programme involved training fourth year students (NEST leaders) to peer mentor third year students (NEST participants) in the context of Teaching Practice. Both parties were required to engage in reflective practice using the traditional medium of a personal diary journal. This unique element of GMIT teacher training espoused a co-learning and dialogical approach, based upon a social constructivist model of education. The aim of the research was to ascertain the effectiveness and the viability of the NEST project. A number of research methodologies were employed during the academic year 2010-2011, including: individual questionnaires; qualitative interviews; focus groups; digital forum discussions and a critical evaluation of relevant digital media. With respect to peer mentoring, a critical analysis revealed that, in the majority of cases, both leaders and participants benefited significantly from NEST, and recommended its continuance. In regard to reflective practice, the response was more ambiguous. Both parties indicated clear dissatisfaction with the traditional diary based methodology, however, an unexpected development was that a number of students independently adopted a more technological approach, and effectively employed technologies such as Skype and Email for both communication and reflection purposes. Out of subsequent focus groups emerged the overwhelming consensus that future NEST projects would offer participants the option of traditional and/or digital tools for use in reflection. A further significant outcome of this student-led paradigm shift towards a prioritisation of the use of technology in the NEST project, was that the module leaders/researchers opted to engage in staff development in the area of technology and education with a view to more effectively advancing NEST goals.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Depositing User: National Forum
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2015 07:48
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2015 07:50
URI: http://eprints.teachingandlearning.ie/id/eprint/2762

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