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Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Europe
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Group 1: How to include research in teacher training projects, i.e. active student participation.
Content of this report:
- Chair persons:
- Walthes, Renate
- Kovács, Krisztina
- Hofer, Ursula
- Jaritz-Tschinkel, Gerti
- Mendelova, Elena
- Preda, Vasile Liviu
- Rodney, Peter
- Királyhidi, Dorka
- Gadó, Márta
- Mazurkievic, Jelena
- Kelemen, Csilla
24th September, Session 1
Theme: How to include research in teacher training projects, i.e. active student participation?
Introduction by Renate Walthes
Before we are able to discuss the implicit question of the title, we first of all should ask, why should research be part of teacher training programmes?
If you consider the order given in the diverse examination regulations you may agree that there is no exact demand on research abilities. Teacher Training should regard scientific orientation as well as practice and the ability to reflect teacher tasks etc. So why are we working on this subject?
Several answers are possible. I will try to outline some of them:
- There is one aspect which immediately springs to mind. For writing their thesis students need methodological and methodical knowledge. To design an empirical study not only statistics are relevant but also how to construct and formulate hypothesis, how to verify or falsify them. This is the common argument for all university studies at a graduate level.
- All the rankings and surveys the OECD has set up in recent years centres on educational research. Empirical educational research and research about teaching, comparision of several learning and teaching levels are more relevant than ever. Traditional subjects of education sciences such as, pedagogical history, systematic pedagogy are decreasing in importance whereas empirical educational research is increasing. Chairs of educational research are springing up like mushrooms.
- Giving the schools more autonomy is combined with the requirement for self-development, quality assurance and evaluation.
- Individual assessment, screening- and testing methods call for methodical. methodological competences.
- Even if a single teacher will never meet the challenge of assessment, evaluation and quality assurance: to be able to read and understand the results of surveys and compare written examinations.
- Further development of education and rehabilitation of people with visual impairment depends on research.
- Research programmes at national or international level will guarantee visibility and help to keep or increase the standard we have achieved.
- As representatives of universities or colleges, teacher-training courses are one main task, but other tasks such as research, student exchanges or further education programmes are just as important.
We should consider this workshop as a first in a row of several meetings to construct e-g- a working group on research aspects.
To be at work with the different aspects of research, we have to limit ourselves to a few aspects during this conference
Together with Kristina Kovacs we suggest focussing on two aspects: the question of how research is included in the different teacher-training programmes and the discussion of how it will be possible to link research activities together, e.g. in one of the European programmes.
Research activities in the European programmes.
Due to the fact that Peter Rodney, counsellor and evaluator of EU Programmes, e.g. Sokrates, Comenius, Erasmus was a member of the research group during the first session, the participants discussed several aspect of how to write a good proposal, how to construct it in a way that it would be accepted, how to support it with relevant data. They also talked about why should teachers have to do some research in methodology. They looked into research-programmes in national and international level. Several programmes were mentioned, where participants can join, such as Equal, ENEA, Socrates, Leonardo, or Tempus,
Peter Rodney, who is the counsellor and evaluator of the EU programmes dealing with disability, helped the participants by giving advice in formulating a proposal that is more likely be accepted. Application should consider the following advices:
- not to prepare a proposal in a rush,
- we should check the calculation of the budget,
- we have to make references to previous researchers,
- we should try not be too complicated,
- it is better to start with a small project with small money,
- we should try to find partners and develop common goals,
- we should specify the tasks,
- the financial support should be distributed differently, because nobody does the same job within the project,
- you can no longer apply for funding for computers,
- not to concentrate just to gain money and so on.
These are just some of Peter's useful pieces of advice.
Peter Rodney also offered his help in constructing a good proposal and finding partners. Anybody can get in touch with him before handing in a proposal. According to his experiences 80 % of the proposals dealing with impairment and disability were rejected.
After that the participants from Portugal, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Switzerland talked about their own experiences in ongoing EU projects. The members of the group also discussed the possibilities and the forms of national level research as well.
24th September, Session 2
Theme: Quality of Research and research programmes
In all scientific fields, the quality of research is evaluated and measured by certain criteria. The participants were asked to comment on the following proposal from Renate Walthes
Scientific quality of research.
The appraisal of the quality of research depends on the innovative potential of the work, the originality of the problem, the approach, the contribution which is made to develop the research-field, the keeping of high methodical and technical standards and how the results will receive national and international recognition. The concept of research based on these considerations is a wide one, all common methodical approaches are included, the concept ranges from experimental research, via field study, case study, hermeneutic reconstruction to evaluation and developmental research. Common characteristics are intersubjective comprehension, verification of the results and reception through the scientific community. In some cases dissemination of the results into practice, politics and society may belong to the research process.
To go into detail, the following aspects of scientific quality should be considered and valued:
- Existence of a distinct research programme, scientific profile, established priorities must be perceptible;
- Originality of formulation of a question and attempts
- Scientific impact, i.e. relevance of the contribution for further development in the international and national community;
- Scientific recognition (invitations to international conferences, membership in editorial groups of scientific journals and periodicals, experts for international scientific organizations, experts in reviewed journals, other prominent functions in the scientific system.
Categories of evaluation:
- Research is innovative and is contributing to the further development of the specific research field - visible and substantial. The institution is one of the international leading organisations in at least one research field.
- The institution is recognized by the international community and makes important contributions; its influence is high on a national level and the institution is one of the national leading associations in at least one research field.
- The institution is visible on a national level, competitive and accomplishes contributions of good and recommended quality.
- The institution gives a moderate contribution, but is partly visible and competitive.
- The scientific contribution is marginal with little originality. The quality of the outcome is indecisive; the institution is not permanently present in the scientific community.
- Little systematic and constant research is available. Research results are mostly not presented and communicated. The institution doesn't play any role in the further development of the scientific community.
Productive capacity should be measured by the following indicators:
- Publications in (peer) reviewed or international respected journals.
- Publications in (peer) reviewed or similarly regarded national scientific journals
- Publications in other scientific journals.
- Scientific monographs in well known publishing houses,
- Monographs published by the university
- Chapters in handbooks, other books
- Number of dissertations
- Contributions to international and national recognized conferences
- Professional publications for practice and policies.
Third party funds, grant, sponsorship
Just in the case of insufficient personal and financial infrastructure to gain third party funding / grant /sponsorship are essential to secure continuous research activity. Research based on third party funding are the most important tool to support up and coming scientific professionals. All scientific institutions should try to gain funding from national and international research supporting organizations.
Reports and ranking should consider the following aspects:
- Number of the projects funded by the leading national research organization
- Participation in programmes with main emphasis on one subject
- Participation in EU programmes,
- Amount of resources of third party funding,
- Number of the scientific employees in these projects.
Management and long term plans
To develop special education and rehabilitation as a discipline with a main emphasis on research depends decisively on the following:
- on a strategic development in staff and programmes,
- on the management abilities and
- on the will of the professors and staff to achieve their ideas.
To rank these criteria the following aspects should be considered:
- Is there a plan for how to develop the faculty or department in the direction of research?
- Is there a plan for how to participate in research programmes?
- How does the process of quality assurance and career advice for postgraduate students look?
- Is there publication plan for research results?
- Does the university or faculty have a developed system to reward exceptional research activities?
- Are there incentive programmes to improve the professionals?
To fulfill these criteria, great efforts are required in all departments.
As a possible step forward to figure out a research programme, the group worked on the task:
Find possible research topics
The group collected topics that might be put in research based on their personal interest. Several main topics with subthemes arose:
1. Early intervention
2. Communication problem of VI
- early diagnosis,
- non-verbal language system usable for deaf-blind children
- supported communication
- effect of electronic media on reading and writing skills
- how to develop social skills for students in inclusion
- comparison of teaching methodology of children with and without VI.
- can Braille be an alternative medium for students who are unable to read
- how elderly people cope with loss of sight (statistics, rehabilitation)
- how to adopt methods for elderly people
- follow up studies in all field
- how psychologysts should be trained to deal with VI.
- Comparison of grown up students in day-care centres and at home
5. Cerebral Visual Impairment
- collecting data (who they are, where they are, how many people belong to this category)
- what are their diagnoses
- special education therapy
- visual impairment among intellectually disabled children
- visual training for intellectually disabled
6. Vocational training
- supported employment, job coaching
- access technology in employment
Finally, the participants were asked to think about topics, which gain priority over the others based on importance and rationality, and the proposal of this topic more likely to be accepted. The choice should be based on scientific quality of a research, which was assembled by the chairpersons of the group.
From the outcome of yesterday's discussion the members of the first group have chosen three main topics for research which seemed to be most needed and relevant according to the participating countries.
The topics are:
- 1st Vision loss of elderly people:
- support system,
- ethical aspects,
- methods of their rehabilitation.
- 2nd Cerebral Visual Impairment:
- epidemiological studies,
- anylysing the situations of their families,
- analysing the specific strategies the CVI students use
- 3rd Communicational problems of children with visual impairment, hearing and visual impairment, and multi-impaired visually impaired:
- analysing the communication situation.
Summary of the discussion:
First the group discussed the different systems how universities and colleges offer and support research work for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students based on criteria of the quality of teacher-training programmes.
Quality of the structure of the teacher-training programme and of the curriculum.
- Frame conditions should consider the location, the equipment , the qualification of the staff full time and part time.
- Structure of the framework of the studies
- In this dimension all aspects referring to the aims of the studies, the qualification profile of the graduate are included.
- Structure of the curriculum
didactics especially if the teaching form are appropriate and innovative
- clear difference between BA and MA or basic courses and main courses
- visible difference between teacher training and other educational programmes
- a curriculum based on modules with reliable offers
- a wide range of offers
- a valid methodical training as a basis to build on independent research learning
- reception of actual international research
- perceptible link between aims and offers
- evaluated and accompanied practice
organization of the programme
- innovative ways of teaching and organizing learning environments with the focus on self-regulation of the students
- preparing and evaluating
- supporting the lessons with e-learning aspects
- use of modern techniques to present
- offers of lessons should be well coordinated with the structure of the whole study programme.
- systematic efforts to replenish the study programme
- organization of the advice for the students
- are there trends to internationalize the study programme with foreign scientist and exchange programmes
Krisztina Kovács presented the research opportunities of Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Education, especially the model of Scientific Students' Association, where students are asked to prepare research and present it at a national conference.
There are different forms of research work students can attend. Some of them are obligatory some are optional. These are:
- Preparation for seminars in specific topics of the training course (continuous, obligatory)
- Preparation for the final thesis in specific topics advertised by the departments and professors (in 2,5 years, obligatory)
- Scientific Students' Association in specific topics of the curriculum or beyond the curriculum (twice a year, optional)
The Scientific Students' Association is a movement in Hungary, which takes an active role in the organization of research done by students. It has a 100 year history, but the official foundation was in 1951. Students initiated the establishment with a need for self study and quality learning according to individual interest based on the student-professor relationship.
The Scientific Students' Association has different bodies, like:
- National Council of Scientific Students' Association
- To coordinate the faculty, subject and department level of work
- To organize national conferences
- For professional lobbying
- Professional Committees
- To support the professional development in different subjects (in 16 sections)
- Institutional representatives
- To facilitate participation of students and professors at a given university
- To organize institutional conferences (every year)
The first national conference of the Scientific Students' Association was held in the 1954/55 school years. Next year we will have the 27th national conference. This conference is organized every second year in 16 sections. The sponsorship id provided by the National Council, the Ministry of Education and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. National conferences are preceded by selection conferences at institutional level. The opportunity to give a presentation at the national conference is only given to a student if the institutional representatives and invited experts recommend him.
There are some criteria for the evaluation of the students' research work and presentation. These are:
- Processing and style of the written text
- Knowledge of special literature
- Research methodology and equipment
- Analysing the results
- Up-to-date and importance of the topic
- Style of presentation
- Human and technical demonstration
- Professional competences, debating skills
Students studying visual impairment have been active in research work for many years. Here are some examples of topics they have given presentations on at national conferences of the Scientific Students' Association and won a prize:
- Characteristics of early development of children with visual impairment
- Hybrid books in education of children with visual impairment
- Effects of visual impairment on reading performance
- Language development of pre-school aged children with visual impairment
- Communication competencies of 0-3 year old children with visual impairment
- Development of body scheme of blind children
- Experience gained from screening school-aged children on Usher syndrome
After the presentation, the participants discussed some examples of research topics in VI. There was discussion on methodology of facilitating students to do research. Renate Walthes gave the participants some example of qualitative research methods, which would be useful for a more structured way of research for either students or for teachers.
Finally, the group formulated some suggestions for ICEVI Europe, which are as follows:
- We should have a platform for anybody who is in teacher training and research field in visual impairment to discuss methodical and methodological questions or aspects.
- We should facilitate the exchange of students who do excellent research.
- We should like to ask for a special day during the ICEVI - Europe conferences to focus on students' research, methodological aspects, and presentation of the results of students' research.
[ Next: Workshop's Topics by Marianna Buultjens |
Table of Contents |
Next: Group 2 ]