A) Research Goals for the Department of Education
- Conduct rigorous and ethical studies that can contribute to ongoing theoretical discussions around the nature of education
- Conduct rigorous and ethical studies that can have practical implications for policymakers, curriculum developers, and practitioners at a national and international level
- Disseminate the knowledge produced through peer-reviewed journals, conferences, and symposia.
B) Research Interest Areas
The faculty of the Department of Education at the UCY have worked in different areas covering a spectrum of factors associated with teaching and learning both at the generic and domain-specific level. The research interest areas and the particular research themes that faculty have worked on over the past five years are detailed below:
- Mathematics Education: The research of the Mathematics Education Group of the Department of Education at the University of Cyprus can be divided into the following areas:
1. Representations in the learning of mathematics and the role of pictures in problem solving
2. History of mathematics education
3. Epistemological, didactical and ontogenetic obstacles in the learning of mathematics
4. Transition from elementary to secondary education with respect to mathematics learning
5. Understanding the structure of mathematical thinking (3D geometrical thinking, whole numbers, fractions, proportional reasoning, functions, exponents and real numbers)
6. Cognitive styles and mathematics abilities
7. Integration of ICT in mathematics teaching and learning
8. Problem Solving
9. Intuitive rules in mathematics
10. Identification and education gifted students in mathematics
11. Mathematical creativity
12. Mathematics teacher education
- Science Education: Faculty in Science Education conduct research on the learning and teaching of science as a process of inquiry and on the use of educational technologies as a tool for promoting critical evidence-based thinking. We have worked with design-based methodologies to investigate the use of research findings in the development of conventional and online learning environments, such as the STOCHASMOS platform, within epistemological frames that safeguard a pervasive ownership of learning by all members of a learning community. We have also produced research-validated teaching-learning sequences that promote conceptual understanding and scientific thinking from the early years to high school. Particular emphasis has been placed on the investigation of conceptual, reasoning, epistemological and other difficulties that hamper the learning process in collaborative environments that are designed to promote inquiry as the process of science learning. Members of the Faculty have participated in various Science in Society projects, both within FP6 and FP7, and also took part in the High Level Working Group that authored the report Europe needs more Scientists! in 2004, and in an evaluation exercise of the Science in Society program in 2007.
- Curriculum and Instruction: Faculty members in this field have been conducting research on various levels. The theoretical framework of investigation is constructed through meta-modern approaches and participatory development through action research and self-development. It is argued that development of students and teachers is a self-monitored social construction that starts from introspection and leads to situated and collaborative learning. Action research procedures promote participative procedures that diminish external control and enhance collaborative participation, emancipation and meaning making. In addition, faculty has been exploring official curricula and textbooks as political and cultural texts, historically and at present, focusing, for example, on constructions of citizenship and identity. Such research has been informed theoretically by approaches in the theory, history and sociology of curriculum and its findings and implications have been explored particularly in relation to educational policy, teacher professional identity, action research and teaching methodology. Drawing upon these discussions, faculty has been involved in national and European projects on curriculum development, intervention and validation as well as on perceived, enacted, hidden and non-formal curricula focusing on topics such as the differentiation of teaching and learning in mixed ability classrooms; the sociopolitical dimension of curricula; meta-cognition, teachers´ development and lifelong learning. This work has contributed in locating Cyprus, as a context of political conflict but also of curriculum (post)-centralisation, in the international field of curriculum studies and has indicated problems in the re-contextualisation of the theory, epistemology and methodology of the field in new contexts.
- Evaluation of Educational Effectiveness: Faculty working in this area has been interested in exploring how factors at the teacher and school level contribute to educational effectiveness. For example, along with graduate students, faculty members have developed, tested, and validated a theoretical model of educational effectiveness which takes into consideration the dynamic nature of educational processes. The model has been used for teacher and school improvement purposes; experimental and action-research studies building on this model have been conducted both at the national and international level (e.g., Canada, UK, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Belgium). The research group working in this area has also contributed to the methodological development of the field, by developing new approaches for measuring the quality and equity dimensions of effectiveness (e.g., use of regression discontinuity approach, modeling variance on student achievement).
- Educational Management: Research in this area has focused on several aspects of educational administration and policy, including educational leadership and teacher job satisfaction. Moreover, issues relating to student choice in higher education have been investigated, mainly in the framework of the economics of education. Specifically, previous work has explored variables linked to teacher job satisfaction through both quantitative and qualitative techniques. In relation to the economics of education, research has focused on the investigation of student decision making processes in relation to education and career choice. Perceived rates of return to higher education were estimated and used as a dependent variable in logistic regression analysis to determine the impact of economic variables on the decision of students to pursue higher education. Currently, faculty members are conducting research in order to provide evidence on the perceived impact of a contemporary leadership model (transformational leadership) on school outcomes.
- Special/Inclusive Education: The two members of staff involved in the programme retain a long experience in the area of special and inclusive education.In the auspices of the graduate programme, and building on the undergraduate work that has developed in the Department over the last twenty years, they carry out research on the historical development of Special and Inclusive Education in Cyprus, the international and local legislation in the area, the role of the classroom teacher and the related professionals in the teaching and learning process, the involvement and role of parents and disabled adults. They are also deeply interested in the Disability Movement, the development of thinking and acting in the area of Disability Studies, disabled Cypriot and Greek artists and writers. This work has been presented in many international fora and conferences, has been published in Greek and English journals and has contributed significantly in placing Cyprus on the international map and furthering the international dialogue on inclusion.
- Language Arts: Faculty working in this area has been researching literacy related issues, from a theoretical and an applied perspective. The idea of literacy as a socially situated phenomenon and as a social practice is promoted and cultivated on a theoretical level. At the same time, through ethnographic and case study research projects, literacy practices in primary education have been investigated, focusing on teachers and learners but also on materials and curricula. The research team working in this area led several projects such as "The use of new language textbooks in Year 1 classrooms", "The discourse of electronic social networks", "Historical analysis of the language curricula in Cyprus" and so forth. Additional projects focused on the performance of literate identities, and the study of multimodality as textual as well as lived and embodied. The main challenge for the research team is to combine the multi-disciplinary understanding of language and literacy within the educational context and at the same time promote the global trends on literacy education in the specific sociopolitical and sociolinguistic context of Cyprus.
- Gender Studies: The UNESCO chair in Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment is interesting in investigating crucial temporary issues of gender, feminity, and masculinity. Research on gender equality and women´s empowerment includes among others the European project VICTIMS (students exposed to violence), the national programmes KEGYME (the gender profile in the local TV), POLITIA (Women politicians in the local TV), TERTIARY (the gender profile in the Tertiary Education of Cyprus). Gender studies research aims at knowledge building, sensitizing, and developing a constructive discourse on gender issues that will empower women´ s resistance to marginalized or/and naturalized constructions of gender and identity. Deconstruction of the patriarchal gender representations presupposes the consciousness of the role of history as a mechanism of construction and reproduction of segregated gender features and the production of knowledge about gender that establishes gendered power relations and control.
- Educational strategies for social inclusion: The INCLUD-ED research project ("INCLUD-ED: Strategies for inclusion and social cohesion in Europe from education", FP6- 028603-2) is an FP6 Integrated Project that analyses educational strategies that contribute to overcoming inequalities and educational strategies that generate social exclusion, particularly focusing on vulnerable and marginalized groups. Thus, INCLUD-ED: 1) Analyses the characteristics of the school systems and the educational reforms that are generating low rates of educational and social exclusion and those that are generating high rates; 2) Analyses components from educational practices that are decreasing the rates of school failure and those of the practices that are increasing them; 3) Investigates how educational exclusion affects diverse areas of society (i.e. employment, housing, health, political participation) and what kind of educational provision contributes to overcoming it; 4) Investigates how the educational exclusion affects diverse sectors of society, particularly the most vulnerable groups (i.e. women, youth, migrants, cultural groups, and people with disabilities), and what kind of educational provision contributes to overcome their respective discrimination; 5) Analyses the mixed interventions between educational policy and other areas of social policies and identify which are making steps forward to overcome social exclusion and build social cohesion in Europe; and 6) Investigates communities involved in learning projects that have developed the integration of social and educational interventions that contribute to reducing inequalities and marginalization, and to foster social inclusion and empowerment.
- Early Childhood Education: An array of crucial for early childhood education themes have been explored in varying studies focusing on early childhood participants' as agents of empowerment. Such studies include: a. issues that relate to the mentor-student teacher relationship and the power components of such a relationship, b. the empowering aspects of transition as it is experienced by first grade students and their reflective comments of the experience in kindergarten and first grade c. language and literacy issues such as the activity of talking about books with young children and analyzing the discursive nature of one-to-one book talks, as well children's own construction of simple and funny stories suggesting their understanding of genre. Our research tenet emphasizes power as experienced by EC participants and it is used as a framework to guide our work with EC students, teachers, parents and children.
C) Research Methodology
The faculty of the Department of Education of the UCY has employed a variety of methodological approaches, both quantitative and qualitative, to answer their research inquiries. With respect to quantitative methods, the faculty members have used both basic approaches (e.g., exploratory factor analysis, ANOVA, regression analysis, etc), as well as more advanced statistical approaches and techniques, such as multilevel modeling, IRT models, structuring equation models, and the Generalizability-theory framework. With respect to qualitative research, over the past five years, the faculty has employed different research strategies (e.g., ethnography, phenomenology, grounded theory, and action and applied research) and used a variety of data collection methods (e.g., in-depth interviews, observations, and documentary analysis). In addition to the quantitative and qualitative approaches described above, some faculty members have also used mixed method approaches both at the research design and the data collection and analysis levels. Finally, faculty and Ph.D. students have used meta-analytic approaches to synthesize quantitative research findings and have conducted secondary analyses of international comparative studies.
D) Research Training
The Department of Education offers a compulsory research course for undergraduate students that cover issues including research design, and the use of basic quantitative and qualitative methods. At the graduate level, the Department offers a variety of courses for Master and Ph.D. students, such as Qualitative Research in Education (EDU 682), the use of univariate and multivariate statistical techniques for analyzing quantitative data (EDU 683), multilevel modeling techniques (EDU 780), and structural equation modeling (EDU 788).