Professor Hamsa Venkat, Naughton Family Chair in STEM Education, has welcomed three international scholars to DCU Institute of Education as part of a new initiative that will give researchers in the developing world access to DCU’s internationally-recognised expertise and research leadership in the area of education. Through the Naughton STEM Education Scholars programme, international researchers Dr Lynn Bowie, Mr Vinay Lautre and Dr Kavish Moheeput will spend two months developing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education research projects at DCU.
The three projects that are enabled by the programme focus on STEM education interventions at early years and primary levels, with an emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion. Following a month-long residence collaborating with academics in DCU Institute of Education, the scholars will roll out their interventions or studies and commence data collection in South Africa, India and Mauritius. During a second research visit in 2024, project findings will be analysed and prepared for co-publication with support from DCU academics.
Speaking about the programme, which is supported by the Naughton Foundation, Prof Venkat said:
“The Naughton STEM Education Scholars (NSES) programme is about supporting the growth of STEM education internationally, using DCU’s expertise to do this. We are particularly alert to supporting STEM education in the developing world, where access to good quality education remains elusive for many.”
Dr Lynn Bowie, South Africa: Mathematics Education
Dr Lynn Bowie is director of Mathematics at OLICO Maths Education, a non-government organisation (NGO) that works with learners in disadvantaged schools in South Africa. She is also a Visiting Associate at the University of Witwatersrand. Dr Bowie has developed material and programmes to support mathematics learning at all levels, and has been involved in training both teachers and youth facilitators for after-school maths clubs. Her research interests include the preparation of primary mathematics teachers, understanding learning gaps in mathematics and work on the mathematics curriculum.
During her time at DCU, Lynn will be working with Prof Hamsa Venkat on developing and researching a WhatsApp-based course aimed at supporting teachers and youth facilitators to improve their mathematical knowledge for teaching in order to run effective maths clubs. The project aims to deliver a course at scale to teachers and youth facilitators who are geographically dispersed and often will not have access to sophisticated technology. This research will investigate whether such a course can make a meaningful contribution to improving educators’ mathematical knowledge for teaching.
Mr Vinay Lautre, India: Digital Education
Vinay Lautre is a doctoral student and Educational Resource Centre and Design Lab coordinator at the Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education (CETE), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He holds an MA and MEd from RTM Nagpur University, and has 14 years’ experience as a teacher educator in colleges in rural India and as a consultant for teacher training programmes.
Vinay’s research will focus on technology-enabled practices adopted during COVID-19 by teachers and subsequently sustained in schools. While the literature documents many reasons digital technologies are not used in rural schools in India, little is known about the reported continued use of technology-enabled practices post-Covid. In a study focused on upper-primary level education in the Bhandara district of rural Maharashtra, Vinay will investigate why and how the use of digital technologies has been sustained in some schools, working closely with DCU academic Dr Margaret Leahy.
Dr Khemanand (Kavish) Moheeput, Mauritius: Science Education
Khemanand Moheeput has a PhD in Computational Physics. He is a lecturer in the Science Education department at the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), who previously worked as a secondary school Physics teacher. At MIE, he works with educators from early childhood to secondary levels, with a focus on curriculum development, Science, Physics and STEM education.
Khemanand Moheeput is collaborating with colleagues from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education on projects in STEM and Critical Thinking. As part of the Naughton STEM Education Scholars (NSES) programme, he will work alongside DCU’s Dr Cliona Murphy to investigate how professional learning can be used to enhance the teaching and learning of science at early childhood level.
The Naughton Family Chair in STEM Education is the first in Ireland to focus on STEM education at primary level and in early childhood education. In 2022, Professor Hamsa Venkat, an expert in mathematics education, took up the newly created position which was established with support from the Naughton Foundation.