Science content of degree to be changed following review

THE science content of a degree needed to teach physics or chemistry is being changed after a review found the two elements were not sufficient.

A Teaching Council review panel said accreditation for the programme at University of Limerick should be conditional on a satisfactory review of the chemistry and physics elements. The four-year Bachelor of Science (Education) in Physics and Chemistry takes in around 10 students a year, giving them a science degree and a qualification to teach either subject to Leaving Certificate and science to Junior Certificate level.

It is understood the panel felt the content needed to be tailored to the needs of a teacher training programme rather than a solely science degree. It was also felt that some of the chemistry modules might need re-ordering.

“This review should be carried out immediately, in consultation with the Teaching Council. It should address the amount of time afforded to each of these courses and the content and structure of each,” said the report presented to the council in October and now published on its website.

The independent panel, chaired by University College Cork emeritus professor of education Áine Hyland, suggested unconditional accreditation for the programme’s education components.

The council has already received a detailed response from UL on the science components, setting out changes being made to the course structure.

“The council has asked a subject expert to comment on the UL submission but from its initial reading of it, the council is of the opinion that the university is now addressing the issues,” a spokesperson said.

The panel also made “critically important” recommendations that the sequencing of some science elements be reviewed.

The report noted, for example, that students are only introduced to basic concepts in physical chemistry near the end of the programme, but the concepts are referred to in earlier stages of the degree.

The review is one of the first four carried out by the council in its statutory role of ensuring more than 40 courses meet professional requirements for teaching at primary and second level.

A review of the Bachelor of Education degree at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, which graduates around 350 primary teachers a year, called for a review of the time allocated to the teaching of religion. The subject takes up 48 hours in the three-year programme, four times more than that given to science, geography, history and other core subjects.

This and two postgraduate courses at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and University College Dublin (for primary and second level teaching, respectively) were recommended for accreditation and their reviews were largely positive. They identified key strengths such as staff commitment and resources available to student teachers, but concerns were raised about staffing levels, use of technology and the need for more resources in colleges.


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