The aim of a PGCE is to prepare the student to become a competent teacher. This is achieved through a variety of teaching and learning methods which are summarised below:
• Tutorials: group or individually designed to advise in the preparation for school experience, curriculum projects and/or school based investigations.
• Practicals: involving simulations, role-play, practical activities and school experience.
• Workshops: designed primarily to allow students to examine the relationship between theoretical perspectives introduced in lectures and their main subject specialism.
"The Northern Ireland Curriculum aims to empower young people to achieve their potential and to make informed and responsible decisions throughout their lives." The overall aim of our PGCE programme at Ulster is to support this aim and to foster the development of pedagogical competences in the following three areas: - Professional Values and Practice; Professional Knowledge and Understanding and Professional Skills and Application. To achieve these aims the PGCE post-primary programme at Ulster University prepares student teachers to be competent in the following: - the ability to plan, teach and assess worthwhile learning activities in their subject area(s) in post-primary schools in Northern Ireland for the 11-18 age group; - the acquisition of the knowledge, understanding and skills that are essential for the promotion of learning among pupils; - to assume responsibility for developing as competent reflective practitioners, able to monitor and evaluate their teaching performance; - to realise a commitment to on-going personal and professional development in pursuit of sustained pupil learning and school improvement.
The aim of the PGCE English with Drama and Media Studies course is to prepare students to be a Teacher of English with Drama and Media Studies. Student teachers will learn how to teach English with a particular focus on the additional subject areas of Drama and Media Studies. A range of relevant educational issues such as Classroom Management, Special Educational Needs, Assessment, Information Communication Technology and Learning theory will be explored through subject sessions, lectures, and workshops. Students will also take part in mixed seminar groups in order to have opportunities to discuss these issues with other PGCE students from a range of different subject areas.
The English with Drama and Media Studies PGCE course is designed to enable student teachers to apply the principles and procedures of effective teaching in a variety of contexts related to their specialist subject areas.
The statutory curriculum and programmes of study for English in the Northern Ireland curriculum will be reviewed and analysed, with particular reference to KS3 and KS4, GCSE and AS/ A2. English literature and English Language, Media Studies, Moving Image, Drama and Theatre Studies will also be reviewed and time will be spent considering the development of vocational courses at KS4 and post-16.
A lot of independent study will follow on from subject sessions to ensure all students are aware of the multifaceted nature of the subject 'English' and its many embedded micro subjects.
Teaching and learning assessment
a) Formal lectures are a core activity in teaching the Professional Studies generic component of all modules being the most effective way of teaching large classes. Interactive delivery of lectures is promoted through the use of presentation software. Videos, tape recordings and the use of emerging technologies are also used to illustrate lectures. Access is provided to lecture notes which are posted on the PGCE's Virtual Learning Environment site.
b) Practical classes are fundamental to the study of pedagogy and the delivery of taught material in the main subject area. As outlined in the module descriptors, students engage in a diverse range of practical classes including work done in ICT labs. All practical classes are designed to develop core teaching skills and to link subject pedagogy to research and professional development. Health and Safety procedures in the classroom are emphasised in practical classes.
c) Seminars are used not only to extend the lecture topics but also equip students with the skills to seek relevant research material and to present the material as a lucid exposition and argument within a given time frame. With the increasing amount of information available on the internet, the knowledge and skills to select appropriate, educationally sound material are vital to all potential teachers. Students are also afforded the opportunity to make both individual and group presentations.
d) Tutorials are used to support students who need help with their studies. Tutorial time is built into the weekly university programme and the post lesson discussion led by the university tutor and class teacher are in the nature of tutorials.
e) Group work is an important element of the learning regimen in the School. It is used to help students integrate learning from a variety of sources, to provide opportunities to apply knowledge or case studies for class and seminar work. Role-playing and micro-teaching has also been used to stimulate student participation in classroom discussion.
f) Problem based learning. In order to gain experience of integrating the professional themes covered in each semester in the general lectures, towards the end of each university based teaching phase students are asked to engage in a problem-based learning activity. These take place in mixed seminar groupings and each group is given time to work collaboratively without direct supervision.
g) Course work assignments are an essential part of the teaching and learning strategy as it encourages students to be independent learners. Assignments take a variety of forms and are used to encourage students to read the education literature underpinning lectures, integrate and apply knowledge and improve writing skills. Assignments include structured essays, literature reviews, case studies, word-limited reports, poster presentations and the practical ICT Portfolio. It is expected that all students should be able to write a fully referenced educational/curriculum studies paper as evidenced by the School- Based Projects at Master's level. Evidence of achievement at Level 7 is sought through the quality of students' written assignments, designated at that level. In preparation, in subject sessions, seminars and through group problem-based learning activities students are encouraged to engage with, and evaluate, professional discourse on key educational issues. They are also introduced to the tools of enquiry necessary to collect appropriate evidence to evaluate their practice.
Within assignments there must be evidence of an investigative approach informed by a critical review of literature with the framing of appropriate questions related to educational issues. Students are expected to take cognisance of educational research, synthesise its outcomes and use it both to present higher order thinking and to inform and improve their practice. Assignments should reflect the professional discourse encountered in taught sessions and in literature. They should also critique aspects of their practice in a systematic and critical way in the light of this literature. Thus, the course fosters an understanding of the role of the critically reflective practitioner. The PGCE requires the successful student to demonstrate a high level of application of theory within all written assignments.
For all level 7 assignments, extended reading lists are provided that require students to underpin their writing by drawing on refereed journal articles and research data. The assignments all require the student to evidence a sophisticated level of critical reflection and the ability to synthesise a broad range of research literature and to link it appropriately to their own practice.
To support the student the PGCE course offers a range of lectures and seminars in developing academic writing skills at master's level. The PGCE is a competency based model and as such the award is based on evidence of holistic student competence and in accordance of the professional standards for teachers ( GTCNI, 2007). The PGCE course is fully cognisant of the Ulster University Qualifications and Credit Framework and successful completion of the PGCE the student will be awarded 120 credit points ( 60 at level 7 and 60 at level 6).
Work placement / study abroad
There is initially a one week primary placement that takes places in September, which the student teachers are to arrange. There are then a further two post primary school placements during the year, both in Northern Ireland schools. The first is generally in a non-selective Post-Primary school, beginning towards the end of October and lasting for around 11 weeks. A second placement, also of around 11 weeks, is generally in a selective Post-Primary (Grammar) School, beginning around late March. Placements are arranged by the University from a list provided by student teachers, as far as possible, and may be close to their home rather than the University if that is more convenient. Post primary school placements cannot be in a school that student teachers have attended, nor one with which they have close contact, perhaps by having a relative on the teaching staff.