Abstract:

"How can I facilitate learning amongst my Leaving Certificate Applied students"?

Moira Cluskey

For many years my non-academic students have struggled to cope with the traditional Leaving Certificate course in French. It has served them poorly. Last year the Department of Education introduced the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme which recognises a wider range of their talents and abilities. The value-basis underpinning this course is that it should be an interactive, applied approach where students should experience some degree of success in learning. Our school has chosen to teach French to fulfil the foreign language requirement on the Leaving Certificate Applied course. No prior knowledge of it is required. Although I welcomed this new Leaving Certificate course and the opportunity to teach French on it, I was anxious about its delivery as I was faced with a truly mixed ability class. Some had studied French up to Junior Certificate level with minimal to average success in it. Others had never studied it before. I wanted to keep everyone involved in a sense of learning and progress, neither overwhelming some nor underchallenging others. And in keeping with the value-basis underpinning the Leaving Certificate Applied course I wanted to help each student to validate their effort and achievement.

My research describes the steps I took to try to facilitate their learning, how I and my students tried to learn new roles as educator and learners, and how they, to greater and lesser extents, gradually embraced autonomous learning and peer teaching. The story of this change is told honestly, in all its chaos and triumphs, through observations, reflections and evaluations.

I believe I can show that, following this intervention, I facilitated learning amongst my students, that I have helped them to validate their learning, and that they and I have grown in our awareness of the learning process. Finally, I believe that I, most of all, have learned that improvement is always possible if I am willing to commit myself to change, willing to take a risk.

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VALUE AND VIRTUE IN PRACTICE-BASED RESEARCH (2013) EDITED BY JEAN MCNIFF, DORSET, SEPTEMBER BOOKS.

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