Pedagogical Interventions

To Inform the Pedagogical Reform of General Chemistry through the Development of Pedagogical Interventions that aim to improve the learning experiences and outcomes of Undergraduate Students’ and Post-Graduate Laboratory Demonstrators

Abstract: A report by the Higher Education Authority (HEA, 2014), states that the non-progression rates of students from Level 8, University degree programs has remained at 9% from 2007 to 2011. It goes on to inform how the successful completion of the first year of undergraduate study is key to going on to achieve a Higher Education qualification. To facilitate the reduction of this non-progression rate, Universities should be committed to enhancing and strengthening the approaches to teaching and learning which they employ.

In keeping with the long term goal set out by the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 to provide students with access to teaching "that has been kept up to date and relevant through scholarship, research and professional development" (2011, pg.11) the University of Limerick has pledged its commitment to meet and exceed this ambition through the establishment of the Engaged Learning; Learning and Assessment Strategy 2014-2018. Stream 1 of this strategy aims "offer students a wider choice and new modes of provision through strategic developments in technology enhanced learning and continuing professional education" (2014, pg. 14).

The increasing infiltration of students into third-level institutions in Ireland every year is resulting in the extensive diversification of the student landscape in terms of students’ previous learning experiences, previous academic achievements and contrasting learning styles (Darmody & Fleming, 2009). The work of the Chemical Education Research Group (CERG) at the University of Limerick highlights the expansive array of the learning needs of students enrolled in first year, General Chemistry modules that must be addressed to ensure students’ successful progression (Regan et al, 2011, Hayes and Childs, 2010).

This research project sets out to ascertain successful progression, to work towards achieving the aims set out by the Engaged Learning strategy and to enhance students’ learning experiences during General Chemistry.

  1. Darmody, M., & Fleming, B. (2009). ‘The balancing act’ - Irish part-time undergraduate students in higher education. Irish Educational Studies, 28(1), 67-83.
  2. Hayes, S. & Childs, P. (2010) 'Retaining Weaker Students; A Pilot Project in Chemistry at the University of Limerick.' Contemporary science education research; learning and assessment, 353.
  3. Higher Education Authority (2014) Higher Education System Performance Volume 1 2014-2016, Dublin: National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education, Higher Education Authority.
  4. Regan, A., Childs, P., & Hayes, S. (2011) 'The use of an intervention program to improve undergraduates' chemical knowledge and address their misconceptions.' Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., Vol 12(2), pp 219-227
  5. Report of the Strategy Group (2011) National Strategy for Higher Education 2030, Dublin: Department of Education and Skills
  6. University of Limerick (2014) Engaged Learning; Learning and Assessment Strategy2014-2018.

Researcher: Aishling Flaherty
Commencement Date: September 2014
End Date:  August 2017