Teach, Learn and Research – Attending the MORSE Conference

The Methods of Research in Science Education (MORSE) is a one day conference aimed at providing useful and usable information to those working in education about the processes of ‘doing’ educational research, held on November 2 2018 at St Laurence’s Church in DIT Grangegorman. Attending this conference has provided me insight on the ways to approach teaching and educational research, and methods for the preparation and execution of teaching strategies. Below, key points in each of the attended keynotes.


Using Excel for Thematic Analysis in Teaching

Ronan Bree

  • Teaching & Learning – Data has to be really clean before presenting.
  • Qualitative analysis – Leads to biased data, unreliable (Braun and Clarke, 2006).
  • Thematic analysis – It is all about identifying themes.
  • How can we analyse data? By using colour schemes, like electronic post-it notes, by using Excel.
  • Sorting by color provides a greater qualitative analysis capability to the dataset, although planning the system takes the longest time.
  • Materials of the talk can be found on this link.

Methods for Investigating the Impact of Undergraduate Research

Dina Brazil

  • Action research methodology – it has to be positivist, using surveys, inquiries…
  • Before research, concern is important. It has to attain for context, collaboration, change in thinking, evidence based improvement, generation of knowledge.
  • Action research framework is a necessary addition to the research plan.
  • What does it take to research? Have a concern, knowing why and how to solve it.

Science Outreach – A Dilemmatic Approach

Veronica McCauley

  • Dilemmas have been used in Science Education to promote constructivist education, contextualized inflection.
  • For example, understanding the concept of magnetism by building a magnetic car (brainstorming).
  • Use of cartoons to relate the concepts taught.
  • Teacher’s beliefs do not reflect in their practice.
  • We have to promote, overall, inductive thinking.

Design Experiment Methodology

Majella Dempsey

  • The speaker introduces the concept of the Pasteur quadrant, a fundamental understanding with applicable practice, not focusing only on curriculum.
  • All taught has to be based on usable knowledge, starting from an intervention as to set the problem.
  • The design-based research requires methodological creativity + disclosure of research to peer-reviewed method. It needs to be collaborative and interdisciplinary.
  • Task development and evaluation in science teaching and learning: all tasks need to be assessed at the same level of detail.

Research-Validated Inquiry-Based Education Models

Paul van Kampen

  • In research, avoid doing too much too soon.
  • First step: read literature, target conceptual difficulty, design short learning and structured inquiry structure.
  • Do not focus on the right answer. Do not provide factual knowledge.
  • Plan: I want to teach collaboration, experimental data, with teaching concept of speed. What does success look like in this endeavour? How do they know they have learned? And partial success? What if the students did already know how to do it (although a preliminary test may have been useful in this aspect)? We have to take all these questions into account when we do educational research.

Interview-Based Research

(I didn’t get the speaker’s name)

  • Epistemic beliefs – How do we get to know something? What evidence do we use? (study case)
  • We have to conduct explicit and indirect questioning, and infer about their interaction with knowledge.
  • We have to sketch a plan for the interview, sketch the interview study sheet.

Research Methods 101

(I didn’t get the speaker’s name either)

  • Education research is as important as scientific research.
  • Research in education has to be contextualised with literature.
  • Education needs a plan. In chemistry, you can repeat an experiment, while you cannot expect to interview xxxx students.
  • Why write a research question? It keeps you focused on your research topic, and helps how you can present your research in a project. If you write several research questions, expect several papers. You have to make checkpoints to help readers follow the research structure.
  • Projects need to follow a pedagogical order. A mix between qualitative and quantitative theoretical perspectives is an accurate approach for education research.
  • We need to disseminate research before publication! (Twitter, blog…)

Along with the keynotes, several activities were carried out. For instance, a research idea worksheet was filled in which we had to assess our research strategies in a structured manner. In another activity, we sketched an early plan for an interview study, also in a structured manner.

In general, this conference has given me materials that will prove to be extremely useful in my academic career, and has given me insight on the education research strategies followed by scholars in the area. I probably wouldn’t have had these inputs hadn’t attended this conference, and has definitely changed my vision of the education research field.

However, if I needed to take something home, I was extremely interested in the works carried out in the field of inductive thinking in chemical education. I truly believe that, by letting students learn at their own pace, and making their own deductions with little inputs, the dissemination of complicated science concepts becomes far more fluid. And, last but not least, I was impressed with the usefulness of menti.com for teaching and science dissemination applications, and will definitely use it in my undergraduate labs and in my future teaching activities.


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