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Kate O’Connell

PME in Primary Education

School of Education

Photo of  Kate  O’Connell

Location

Cavan


School

St. Mary’s N.S., Virginia, Co. Cavan


Education

Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy, Maynooth University

Professional Master of Education (PME) in Primary Education


Research paper title

The Current Status of Media Literacy Education in Irish Primary Schools and Discussion of the Use of Logic as a Tool to Improve Media Literacy

Education Research Papers Volume 4

Abstract

This small-scale research of five participants aimed to investigate the presence of media literacy in Irish primary school classrooms and explored teachers’ opinions on teaching logic as a tool to help children become media literate. A qualitative approach facilitated the exploration into the perspectives of primary teachers regarding the status of media literacy within Irish primary education. Findings from the semi-structured interviews indicated that media influence on children is increasing and highlighted a lack of engagement with media literacy in classrooms. Findings also indicated that teachers’ opinions on using logic as a tool to develop media literacy were strongly positive.

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Researcher biography

Kate O’Connell is a graduate of Hibernia College after completing the Professional Master of Education in Primary Education. Prior to beginning her teaching journey, Kate graduated from Maynooth University with a BA in English and Philosophy. She is passionate about helping children develop critical thinking skills, which led her to investigate the area of media literacy education. Kate emphasises the importance of helping children develop the skills to identify disinformation and to mitigate media influence. She recognises that children are the future, and we must prepare them for their future lives in a modern society. Most of all, she is passionate about providing every child with a safe and supportive learning environment. A little act of kindness goes a long way.

Research motivation

Can you tell us a bit about your research project?  

The title of my research project was The Current Status of Media Literacy Education in Irish Primary Schools and Discussion of the Use of Logic as a Tool to Improve Media Literacy. The purpose of my research was to investigate the presence of media literacy in Irish primary school classrooms and to explore teachers’ opinions on teaching logic as a tool to help children become media literate. This research also investigated whether Irish primary school teachers observe children being influenced by various forms of media.

What motivated you to undertake this research?

Social media has become a pervasive part of most people’s lives and, in my opinion, the influence of social media is increasing. I believe that there is a significant amount of misinformation present within the various media forms; this was the motivation for my research. Information is now readily available and easily accessed online, and I do feel that it is becoming more and more necessary to learn how to identify misinformation. In my opinion, it is essential that children develop the skills to temper media influence and to recognise the myriad of misinformation present within the various media forms. My undergraduate degree in philosophy had a pivotal role in motivating me to conduct this research, as this shaped my perspective on the importance of being a critical thinker. I believe that the development of critical thinking skills is fundamental to identifying and overcoming both media influence and misinformation.

What impact has it had on your practice?

I am conscious to plan lessons with opportunities to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills. It has also drawn my attention to the importance of comprehension as an essential reading skill and, therefore, I engage the children in critical discussion regarding the various texts that we encounter.

How important do you feel research will be in your future practice? 

I feel that research is important to all of us, now and in the future. As the curriculum reminds us, we are lifelong learners. I believe that it is important to keep updated with new research in order to progress and improve as a teacher. Engaging with different research makes me aware of other perspectives and ideas, which helps me improve my practice. I highly recommend doing CPD courses as they are a fantastic opportunity for teachers to explore new ideas, approaches and perspectives.