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Topic: Moving Towards Inclusive Practices: Continued Professional Development that Connects Teachers’ Practices to Inclusive Pedagogy

Abstract: Policies advocating inclusive education (IE) have been adopted and implemented in many countries, including India. This paper is based on a research study that investigated the inclusion of children with special needs (CWSN) in an urban private school (referred to as MPES) in Bengaluru, Karnataka. An interpretive approach was used to investigate the meaning of inclusion and SEN at MPES, the model of inclusion (MoI) followed, implementation processes in the school and the roles and understandings of the key individuals who contribute to this process.

A case study approach was developed and informed by questionnaires (120), semi-structured interviews (66) and observations (16 sessions) as data collection tools. The sample population consisted of the principal, teachers and children with and without SEN. A key finding from thematic analysis of data was that teachers did not use technical terminology such as inclusive pedagogy, differentiated instruction (DI) or universal design for learning (UDL); and held a view that they were not trained for teaching an inclusive classroom. Several teachers shared in their interviews and questionnaires; and were observed to use approaches that pointed towards principles of inclusive teaching. Some teachers intuitively developed strategies based on class dynamics and immediate need. These included usage of flow-charts and mind maps, giving specific and explicit instructions, a lesson plan that included discussion, reading and writing; and behaviour management strategies such as classroom rules, rapport-building and shared responsibility. Hence, schools such as MPES that are moving towards inclusive practices would benefit from continued professional development on two fronts: 1) connecting teachers’ practices with inclusive pedagogy and 2) moving towards shared belief and collective agency based on individual teachers’ personal self-efficacy.  These would be the starting point for continued positive change to co-create shared vision, goals and beliefs; thus, contributing to an inclusive culture.




Topic: Pedagogy for Re-envisioning Single Motherhood in Picturebooks

Abstract: The visual grammar of single motherhood representation in Anglophone children’s picturebooks offers a site for developing critical awareness of how an illustrator’s use of space, figures, and colour can reinforce or challenge broader cultural narratives. The pedagogy under discussion in this paper aims to provide teachers and creatives with the skills to analyse and teach multimodal discourse analysis (MMDA) [Coats 2018]. This includes developing the ability to negotiate the meaning of difference [Enciso 1997] and code-switching awareness [Morton 2014]. The pedagogy is founded on three principles: the conventional nature of cultural meanings, the importance of interpretive strategies to negotiate the visual grammar of a specific topic (e.g., single motherhood), and the development of multimodal storytelling and interpreting skills. This approach shifts the educator’s focus from visual literacy to a holistic pedagogy of the image.

Students will learn about illustration as an interplay between conventional signs – symbolic repertoire – involved in depicting single mothers and artists’ unconventional methods to tell a visual story in an individualized manner. Illustrators organize visual composition and often leave out details, providing readers with the space to create their own individualized storylines. This approach not only guides readers but also enables them to develop their own interpretations.

To illustrate this approach, the paper discusses two picturebooks – Jessixa Bagley’s Boats for Papa and Yuyi Morales’ Dreamers. These books exemplify how different authors can approach the same subject matter in opposite ways, providing unique and valuable insights into the visual grammar of single motherhood. By using these examples, this paper aims to demonstrate how this pedagogical approach can enable individuals to engage with and negotiate the meaning of difference in a variety of contexts.




Topic: Reimagining A Positive Direction for Education

Abstract: Reimagining A Positive Direction for Education (RAPIDE) is a two-year project (2021-2023) with a collaborative team made up of partner universities and schools in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, and Hungary. The project pool together new research and insight from each country to collectively strengthen the inclusivity of the education systems across Europe through digital learning opportunities.

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these challenges have been made more visible. One example is the digital poverty and digital exclusion experienced within many communities across Europe. However, the pandemic and its impact on educational provision has not been all negative and led to changes within educational provision that were long advocated. Some changes have been implemented of necessity at a speed that might not have been foreseen.

Adopting this attitude of building on the benefits of the changes made to educational provision as a result of the pandemic, the RAPIDE project will surface examples of where innovative practice has been piloted of necessity during the pandemic and work cooperatively with a range of key stakeholders to ensure that lessons learnt during the pandemic are not lost. The project will highlight and build on these lessons, to enhance educational provision for the future. By means of intellectual outputs (IOs), the project collaboratively develops resources and tools which build on successful digital practice by educators to better prepare and deploy the education and training of professionals for equity, diversity, and inclusion challenges across education sectors.

Project outputs provide a new vision for education, innovative tools to support educators in provision of an effective, inclusive educational provision and to build a learning community that effectively includes all those with a stake in that provision.


Topic: Developing a Professional Development Programme in India for Mainstream Teachers to Cater to the Diverse Learning Needs of Students

Abstract: This research study investigates the professional development needs of mainstream teachers in India, teaching in upper primary and secondary classes to cater to a class of diverse learners. The research was conducted in mainstream private, English medium schools in four metropolitan cities of India: Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. A mixed methods and multi-step approach was used for data collection. Stage one utilized an online questionnaire (N=280) while stage two used focus group discussions with teachers and semi-structured interviews with the other key stakeholders: heads of schools, special educators, section heads and counsellors (8 focus groups and 16 interviews). The study explored several aspects of teacher training for inclusion such as the challenges faced by teachers in catering to the needs of diverse learners, their professional development needs, perceptions on the efficacy of the methods currently used to meet their professional development needs and suggestions about the content and features of an ideal professional development programme (PDP).

This paper reports on one aspect of this study-the framework of an exemplar PDP for inclusion. Suggestions for the content of an exemplar PDP comprised-knowledge of diverse needs and identification, inclusive teaching practices, differentiated instruction, classroom management, lesson planning, subject/age specific training. The common features mentioned by participants were that the PDP should be practical, regular, conducted at frequent intervals, have follow-ups, provide access to the resource person and involve interaction with experts and other schools. The insights gained from the research will help define the framework of professional development programmes for teachers and thereby influence policy and practice. It is anticipated that teachers who are trained thus, will be more effective in catering to the different aspects of a child’s education and also to the different types of learners, making them learners for life; the key tenets of quality education.




Topic: Gaining Confidence in Teaching Writing Through the Tidewater Writing Project’s Professional Development Program

Abstract: "We will discuss the findings and implications of a research project on teachers’ confidence after they participated in a year-long professional development (PD) provided by the Tidewater Writing Project (TWP). The TWP is located within our university and is associated with the network of the National Writing Project (NWP), Our PD was conducted using the “teachers teach teachers” approach at an at-risk primary school. Although teachers believe that writing is a universal learning tool and there is a greater need than ever before to use writing as a communication tool (Dornbrack & Dixon, 2014), many students do not receive the necessary instruction, and therefore lack the writing skills needed. We believe high-stakes testing may hinder the implementation of writing to learn, as teachers feel they need to prepare students for standardized tests instead of engaging them in writing processes.

The two constructs, teachers’ self-efficacy of writing and self-efficacy of writing instruction were measured using a 5-point Likert scale survey modified from Locke, Whitehead, & Dix (2013), who also crafted their surveys to examine teacher self-efficacy in a writing PD context.

Statistical analyses suggest that the participating teachers’ self-efficacy toward writing instruction was increased, but not self-efficacy toward their personal writing. Increased writing confidence leads teachers to improve their writing instruction by utilizing frequent informal writing, writing in all content areas, and evidence-based activities, which may promote best writing practices across content areas. After completing the program, the teachers agreed, both as writers and teachers of writing, that more creative and informal writing activities such as journaling should be counted as ‘true writing to learn.’ The findings of this study contribute to a growing body of knowledge in the field of professional development of teachers.




Topic: “It Is Not Worth Mentioning”: Considering the Role of Value in Language Learning

Abstract: As the emphasis increases on English language learning in EFL/ESL contexts, research continues to seek ways to understand influences on learners’ performance. Previous research indicated that students are discouraged when they are engaged in what they perceive to be nonvalued activities. Thus, this research sought to extend our understanding of learners’ beliefs by addressing the role of value as a critical determinant of learners’ performances. It precisely aims to understand learners’ perceptions of the value of learning English and what underlies their beliefs. This study was conducted adopting a qualitative mode of inquiry, specifically using narrative and semi-structured interviews as data collection methods. The research participants were EFL learners at a Saudi university and were purposively selected. The sample included both successful and less successful language learners as per their English achievement scores. Data analysis showed that students particularly talked about the value of English when justifying their engagement with or neglect of learning it. However, most participants talked about their beliefs about the insignificance of learning English to them. Among the reasons cited were teachers’ practises and attitudes, mode of teaching, and shared peer beliefs. The findings of this study further our understanding of learners’ experiences by shining a light on contextual influences affecting learners’ perceptions of the value of language learning. Understanding learners’ beliefs about the value of English and the reasons underlying these beliefs provides policy makers, teachers, and researchers with a valuable opportunity to direct their attention to addressing, researching, and finding solutions to the issues reported.




Topic: Art, Aesthetic, Empire, and Imperialism: Postcolonial Reading of Possession, Virginity and Autonomy in The Outcry

Abstract: James applies his argument about women’s aesthetic and ethical freedom, echoing Kant and foreshadowing Said, to a financially embarrassed English aristocratic family in The Outcry. I argue that Lady Grace’s aesthetic regard for the paintings owned by her family reveals her kinship with the art objects as those around her reduce both her beauty and the paintings’ beauty to their capital value, given that her father, Lord Theign, looks to sell them to the highest bidders, Mr. Bender and Lord John, to pay off his debts. The conflict between Grace’s disinterest and autonomy and the interest and instrumentalism of the men coveting her and the paintings she loves intensifies when research assigns one of the paintings to the master Mantovano. Although Grace may be less vulnerable than other Jamesian heroines, ie., Fleda, Tina, or Isabel, she remains to some degree a prisoner of aristocratic constraint and patriarchal restriction. Yet she escapes her presumed prison by affirming her sexual autonomy in the face of its monetization with the help of Hugh Crimble, who inspires her as no associate of Fleda, Tina, or Isabel inspires them, not even Ralph Touchett. Of course, Grace enjoys considerable aristocratic privilege as long as she accepts the constraints that pay for it, but she is willing to forgo them to give the Mantovano to the nation and give herself to a commoner who cannot treat her as an investment because their marriage will deprive her of any inheritance and grant her autonomy less precarious than Fleda’s or Tina’s.




Topic: Access to Universal Education in Developing Nations in the light of COVID-19

Abstract: “According to the World Bank report (2021) COVID-19 has created the worst crisis for education and learning in a century. The pandemic has had a profound and disproportionate impact on marginalized populations in developing countries, like India, particularly with respect to access to education. The widespread closure of schools due to health concerns and the lack of resources to implement remote learning have resulted in widespread educational disruption and inequality. The main reasons are economic issues such as inability to pay school fees or the need to generate incomes (World Bank 2020). According to UNDP “gender gaps in education have widened with school closures and because of girls’ increased dropout rates, owing to teenage pregnancies and early marriages” (UNDP, 2015: 4).

Objective: Evaluating the impact of the pandemic on student learning and professional development of teachers.

Methodology: One school case study, using existing data sources (test scores, attendance records), mixed methods design to get a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the pandemic on learning and teaching.

Findings & Conclusions: Findings of the study have shown that the pandemic continues to have a disproportionate impact on students, exacerbating existing disparities and challenges. Key findings: (1) Digital Divide Amplified (2) Disrupted Learning (3) Economic Impact (4) Mental Health (5) Professional Development & Capacity Building for Teachers (6) Gender Gap Widened

Conclusion: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of addressing existing inequalities and ensuring universal access to quality education for all students, regardless of their background. This will require sustained efforts from governments, international organizations, and the private sector, working together to address the digital divide and provide effective solutions for remote learning. It is also crucial to support the mental health and well-being of students and teachers.




Topic: Learning to Lead: Reflections on a Year of Crisis and Growth

Abstract: In this presentation, I reflect on my experience serving as Associate Dean for Curriculum Development and Innovation at the University of Washington Bothell for the past year. I stepped into this leadership role in an emergency moment with little leadership experience. As a relatively young woman on the teaching track, I am a seasoned instructor but am not used to sitting in the rooms of power. Add to this the fact that our institution - a minority-serving, public university with a social justice mission - is experiencing a crisis of enrollment and that my job required cutting the curriculum by 10% in the first six months, and you will understand why I have spent this year seeking out effective models for leading with both compassion and skill. In this paper, I employ an autoethnographic approach to explore and narrate the historical moment and my experiences, and turn to thinkers in the fields of leadership studies and contemplative studies to articulate an ethos of engagement and commitment for the years ahead. I reflect on the different models of mentorship I have experienced over the course of 15 years in academia, and describe the commitments I have made to myself, my colleagues, and my institution in terms of leadership style and modes of engagement. Drawing from the field of Contemplative Studies, I center a reflective approach to decision making that elevates curiosity as a key intervention in times of conflict. Drawing from the field of leadership studies, I am committed to an adaptive approach as we navigate the enormous cultural and organizational changes that began during the Trump presidency, exacerbated throughout the pandemic, and the outcomes of which are still unknown.




Topic: Barriers to Carrier Progression for Women Academics

Abstract: For this qualitative research, in-depth interviews were used, employing an interpretivist approach to provide a rich account of the subjects’ personal, cultural and institutional experiences.

One of the key findings of this research was barriers to carrier progression for female academics which were not only institutional but cultural and social which presents a very unique insight in this area. The importance of work-life balance and multiple identities were consistently highlighted along with the societal expectations which did impact their careers and further progression in academia in the context of Pakistan.




Topic: Educational Displacement as a Risk Factor: Interrupting the Pathway of Radicalization in Schools

Abstract: This research was motivated by the findings of a 2021 Report on Radicalization by the National Institute of Justice in the U.S: a) Although the definition of terrorism as ideologically motivated violence in service of a political, racial, or religious goal has scholarly consensus, the process by which this ideology is seeded requires further research; b) a lack of a sense of belonging and meaning in adolescents and young adults is a prominent risk factor of targeted violence; c) there has been a consistent focus on radicalized populations as compared to populations that are both vulnerable to and manipulable by radicalizing forces as well as populations that can interrupt or block the process of radicalization (“Homeland Threat Security Assessment” 2020) While these findings are crucial in understanding reasons for radicalization and deradicalization efforts, little to no research exists that attempts to explain radicalization pathways and preventive strategies against radicalization. To advance our understanding of the radicalization pathways and channels of prevention, this research (1) improves our understanding of students who radicalize and (2) introduces Educational Displacement as a pivotal risk factor of radicalization and targeted violence that requires immediate attention to build preventative strategies in classrooms and schools. The reigning orthodoxy in the field treats radicalization as a moment, caused by particular instances of bias or perceived mistreatment (Hamm & Spaaij 2017; Smith 2018; Youngblood 2020). However, there is a conspicuous absence of a model of radicalization that informs our understanding of a student’s pathway to radicalization as a process shaped by multiple factors and stakeholders. Dr. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, through her work on radicalization in young adults and adults in Balkan and Southeast European contexts, developed such a model, tracking the sequence by which Educational Displacement precipitates radicalization (Sabic-El-Rayess 2022).




Topic: Discursive Violence Analysis: An Epistemological Shift Towards Operationalizing Inequities in Education

Abstract: This research study introduces a new methodological approach, the Discursive Violence Analysis (DVA). Discursive Violence Analysis is a qualitative methodology that is the conceptual convergence of Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis, and Critical Legal Studies that operationalizes systemic oppression. This conceptual framework expands the existing repository of qualitative methodology that recalibrates how researchers identify, qualify, and interpret various disparate discursive social practices as evidence of racism. The Discursive Violence Analysis frames how scholars interrogate racism and how racism is institutionalized and codified within education and networking social systems. This presentation aims to provoke an inclusive and empirical engagement on ways to reimagine epistemology within education scholarship—suggesting that ways of knowing racism and understanding racism have experiential origins. Gleaning from 19,000 pages of discovery of a 2013–2014 court case, Smith et al., v. Henderson et al., in the United States, this study explores the intersection of discursiveness and school reform policy; positing that permanent school closures are an example of violence against African-American students because of the discursive practices that steer these closures. In this study, Smith et al. v. Henderson et al. as a milieu to illustrate how DVA can be employed methodologically. This study asks how discursive practices that steer school closures present as discursive violence and how DVA can be used to understand school closures in a predominately African-American and urban school district. Analysis shows how discursive practices, deployed during the proposed closure of 20 Washington, D.C. public schools, legitimized and normalized discursive violence against African-American students.




Topic: Multiplatform Approach to Asynchronous Continuing Medical Education

Abstract: Sustainable development and capacity building in global health partnerships through educational training programs for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is an important, yet challenging task. This study presents a case on how our multidisciplinary team of experts at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) has developed a multiplatform asynchronous program to deliver online educational training to healthcare professionals in the Republic of Armenia, a LMIC located in the southern Caucasus region. Specifically, this paper introduces our conceptual framework and the program design and evaluation logic model illustrating a step-by-step approach to conceptualization, development, testing, implementation, and evaluation of our multiplatform continuing medical education program offered through the Online Pediatric Education Network (OPEN). The program outputs discussed include virtual conferences, a website, online courses, a podcast, and a newsletter. The paper concludes with a discussion on the key findings from three semi-structured focus groups with 10 experts from the OPEN education program development team. The qualitative data collected from the focus groups was analyzed by applying two cycles of coding, where Cycle 1used in vivo and process coding for developing the initial codebook and Cycle 2 used pattern coding for broader themes. The data was coded using the Nvivo 12 software. Findings revealed several key lessons learned including the importance of intercultural competence and cultural humility, incorporating cultural characteristics in the training design, and establishing partnerships and collaborations in the target community of practice, among others. Findings also revealed several key challenges related to asynchronous content development, lack of time and availability of experts, stress caused by the pandemic, and technical issues. Our conceptual framework and the program design and evaluation logic model can serve as a model for healthcare education program managers and education researchers that focus on the development of asynchronous virtual medical training for LMICs.




Topic: Medical Implications of Remote Learning Climates for Students and Teachers

Abstract: The severity of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic transformed the educational landscape as well as future trends. Through mandated virtual learning environments, all stakeholders and participants were required to adopt remote learning in order to prevent a hall to education. This however, has led to potential medical implications that have not yet been fully explored or presented as of yet. The signs and symptoms compared to before and after this sudden adjustment has the potential to inform billions of people worldwide. The objective of this research is to precisely examine the medical implications of the remote learning setting for students and teachers, in order to identify the best course of action for mitigating potential health risks. Doing so can ensure policy makers and instructors are adequately informed for their future decisions and ensuring a proper safety net is put in place. Through a mixed-methods approach, an anonymous survey and in-depth interviews were conducted to accrue a detailed understanding of their experiences and perceptions. The preliminary findings from this research were that there are a range of medical implications associated with remote learning, including decreased mental health strength, increased screen time, physical inactivity, memory loss, and academic success. Teachers and students also repeatedly reported issues with ergonomics, inadequate home workspace setups, and other environmental factors that have had negative health impacts on their cognition. Key insights also featured teachers at risk of burnout at their education institution, and students having hesitancy to pursue higher education. However, there were positive effects also reported, notably, reduced communicable disease rates, school shooting incidences, and increased flexibility in managing health conditions. It is important for educational institutions to take steps to mitigate potential health risks, including confidential wellness workshops, integrated support systems, proctored electronic use, and funding for ergonomic concerns through enacting policy.




Topic: The Role of Parental Support in the Social Emotional Learning of Children with Special Educational Needs

Abstract: This paper reports an investigation into social emotional learning (SEL) in children with special education needs in mainstream and special schools in Bengaluru, India. The objectives of the research were to investigate and explore the teaching strategies used to teach SEL to children with special educational needs (hereinafter referred to as CwSEN), how these strategies were deployed to promote social and emotional development and the challenges teachers faced while teaching SEL. A mixed-methods approach enabled data to be obtained through self-completed questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and observations. The data gathered and analysed led to the presentation of the findings in a thematic framework. The themes were i) Methods teachers adopt to teach SEL ii) Challenges teachers face while teaching SEL iii) Benefits of SEL and iv) Parental Support. While the first three themes emerged from findings that directly answered the research questions, the fourth theme was from an unexpected finding that emerged from the data gathered. The role of parental support in SEL in CwSEN, which is the focus of this paper, includes the importance of collaboration between school and parents for the child’s SEL, parental approach that impedes implementation of SEL and the positive outcome of parental support in the SEL of the child. Parents are one of the key stakeholders to impart SEL and to give the necessary exposure for CwSEN to implement SEL. There is a dearth of literature from India on SEL and this includes literature on the role of parental support in the SEL of CwSEN. This paper would thus contribute to the literature from India, on SEL and also on the role of parental support in the SEL of CwSEN.




Topic: Special Education: The Role of Structural Inequities in the IDEA

Abstract: "Race has no bearing on determining whether a child has a disability, the scope of the educational services she should receive, the classroom setting in which she should receive them, or the right of her parents to advocate on her behalf. However, structural inequities in the IDEA, including time-consuming and expensive procedural provisions and ill-defined standards for meeting the educational needs of children with disabilities, allow race and wealth to intersect with the provision of special education services.

The structural inequities in the IDEA manifest themselves in at least nine inflection points where race and special education meet. These inflection points appear in three categories that reflect the IDEA’s process for developing and delivering a child’s special education program. These categories are the IDEA’s procedures for developing and providing special education, the IDEA’s substantive educational requirements, and the IDEA’s enforcement mechanisms.

At many of these inflection points, educators exercise significant discretion over educational decisions, which can mask discriminatory intent or unconscious bias. At other points, parents with limited economic resources will have difficulty securing the advisors, attorneys, or experts they need to help them navigate the IDEA’s procedures and advocacy opportunities and to secure positive outcomes for their children. Because Black families have the lowest median income and wealth in the US, the negative impact that limited financial resources can have on IDEA outcomes is likely to have a disparate impact on Black students.

This article first describes the IDEA’s legislative history relating to Congress’s awareness of race discrimination in special education and the limited steps it took to address it. It then turns to describing the legal standards that apply at each inflection point and how these standards give educators discretion over decisions regarding special education and place economic burdens on parents seeking to secure positive outcomes for their children. The article then describes evidence suggesting that the intersection of race and special education creates racialized outcomes in the form of the overrepresentation of Black students in special education programs in general and in the intellectual disability and emotional disturbance disability classifications in particular. Finally, this article offers proposals to limit or eliminate the intersection of race and special education, identifying steps that states and school districts can take without congressional approval and then actions that only Congress can take."




Topic: Inclusion, Disability, and Sports: Case of the US Territories

Abstract: This project specifically focuses on the Special Olympics as an inclusive organization that uses sports to include people with intellectual disabilities in the mentioned U.S territories. I am particularly interested in disability and its relation to colonialism and belonging or inclusion in the territories. Through interviews, oral histories, and archival research, this project aims to examine Indigenous women’s experiences and participation in the Special Olympics games within the U.S. territories. I argue that disability sports are not adequate programs or solutions for inclusion—rather, inclusion cannot be merely about physical inclusion of disabled bodies but must also include people’s cultural attitudes and relations to land and place.  This study addresses the gap in research especially focusing on girls and women with disabilities— are often underrepresented in the literature. Moreover, women in Indigenous communities are seldom recognized as knowledge producers and “experts” in their lives or condition. Research questions that guide the project are: What is role in the Special Olympics in your lives? What are some efforts that must be taken for people with intellectual disabilities to be included in the community and to dismantle ableism? How does Indigenous communities implement inclusion for disabled people?




Topic: “Women’s Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Senegal: Narratives, Ethics, Empathy

Abstract: The presentation is based on my experience teaching women’s leadership and entrepreneurship in the context of French-speaking Africa. We study three companies founded and managed by women in Senegal (“Femme auto” and “Taxi Sister” and “Sooretul”, an e-commerce platform) through liberal arts approaches including storytelling, culture, and ethics. Through this inquiry, we explore how students develop critical competencies that enable them to enhance their capacity to rethink issues pertaining to economic justice and inequalities, broaden their knowledge of the world, and become leaders and entrepreneurs sensitive to ethical concerns.

We will discuss the topic through the question Michael Bérubé raised in his Presidential Address at the MLA: “Why should anyone bother with advanced studies in the humanities?”. Through the testimonies of the Senegalese women entrepreneurs, we will argue that it is essential to conceive alternate economic rationales, inside and outside academia, that take real life experiences and the consequences of economic policy into consideration. We will also contend that this reconceptualization which begins in the classroom can only be achieved by humanizing the acquisition of economic principles through an acute understanding of language, culture and history, and their effects on people, to develop students’ critical abilities as well as their senses of empathy.




Topic: A Constructionist Approach to the Co-Creation of a Culturally Responsive Computational Thinking Framework for Primary Schools in Ireland

Abstract: The WEAVE Project aims to co-develop a culturally responsive, computational thinking framework for primary schools in Ireland that is gender-neutral. It considers under-served audiences’ (e.g. females/lower-income communities) and ecological constraints along with their affordances (e.g. teachers’ knowledge) in order to reach participants not normally engaged with STEM. The project emphasises building computational thinking skills through co-creational approaches.

The project leverages culturally responsive computing theory (Scott & White, 2013) which aims to empower students to use digital technologies as a means to both critique social norms; to confront and transcend cultural hegemony in the classroom and beyond, and as a means to enact social transformation.

It is also underpinned by a constructionist approach which takes account of the active manner through which knowledge is constructed within the social, historical and physical contexts of a learning situation (Butler, 2007; Gay, 2018). The work on the WEAVE Project explores the potential of constructionist based learning environments as a means through which all learners can develop computational thinking skills. Within such environments computers are viewed as “tools people use to write, to design, to play with ideas and shapes and images” (Papert & Turkle, 1990, p. 153) and thus, a pluralistic view is taken towards how learners appropriate knowledge “by promoting recognition of the diverse ways that people think about and appropriate formal systems and by encouraging the acceptance of our profound human connection with our tools” (p. 153).

From the approach taken above, it is hoped that co-creating constructionist based learning environments will create the space for all learners, especially those in underrepresented groups (e.g. girls), to envision a place for themselves in technology and computing spaces (Brennan, 2016). A qualitative, process driven approach is taken to the evaluation of the WEAVE Project, which will conclude in June 2023.




Topic: Investigating Gender Bias and Discrimination on Campus: A Study of Italian Universities

Abstract: Learning has been shown to be impacted by discrimination leading to undesirable psychological, health, and academic outcomes (English et al., 2014). Discrimination has potent impact as it conveys to targeted individuals how their group is viewed by the broader society (Shelton et al., 2005). The present study investigates whether students report any perception of gender discrimination (GD) on campus and whether they are themselves agents of GD towards the teaching staff (TS).

The study used a self-administered 5-point Likert scale questionnaire consisting of 48 items covering the students’ own gender biases, the students’ perception of GD on campus, and the students’ discrimination towards the TS. Participants from 17 Italian universities participated (N = 44). Perception of GD among females and males was measured through Mann-Whitney U tests and ordinal regression was computed to verify whether the students’ perception of discrimination or their GD towards the TS are predictors of their gender biases.

On average, 77.7% of respondents did not experience any GD by the TS and only 5.55% admitted to any biases. The perception of GD at university did not differ significantly when the gender of the participants was taken into account (U = 203, z = -0.94, p = 0.349). The ordinal regression showed the students’ experience of having been discriminated against does not predict their biases (p = 0.11), but the students’ discrimination towards the TS is a significant predictor of their gender biases (β= 4.67, p < 0.01).

Results suggest that most respondents did not experience any GD by the TS, with only a small percentage being influenced by gender biases. However, the students’ stance towards the TS was significant, suggesting that it may be crucial to also consider the attitudes and behaviours of the students themselves in future research (cf. Centra & Gaubatz, 2000).

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