PME in Primary Education
Catherine chose to change career and pursue teaching after a very positive experience in teaching science to local primary school students as part of the Junior Achievement Programme.
Research Paper Title
An Integrative Literature Review: Exploring Strategies to Implement the Principles of the Self-Determination Theory to Motivate Children to Learn and Enjoy Mathematics
Motivation is a critical factor in learning. The focus of this report was to explore how teachers can promote internal motivation in children, specifically in relation to teaching mathematics. Following an integrative review process, twelve papers (n = 12) were selected and analysed thematically in the context of wider research and policy literature to identify strategies that could help foster intrinsic motivation. Findings included benefits to student motivation associated with teacher professional development, a collaborative classroom environment, use of digital game-based technology, and an integration of arts subjects into mathematics teaching. This review provides direction for future policy, research and teacher practice to help motivate children to learn and enjoy mathematics.
Catherine Curtin graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Degree in Microbiology from University College Cork and has worked for over 15 years in pharmaceutical laboratories and manufacturing operations in various multinationals in Ireland. Catherine completed a Master’s in Biopharmaceutical Science from Sligo Institute of Technology while working full-time in 2014. She chose to change career and pursue teaching after a very positive experience in teaching science to local primary school students as part of the Junior Achievement Programme. Graduating with a First-Class Honours in the Professional Master of Education (PME) from Hibernia College in 2021, Catherine is looking forward to sharing her interests in science, sports, music and Irish with her students.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project?
The focus of my research project was to explore how teachers can promote internal motivation in children, specifically in relation to teaching mathematics. This research project highlighted the importance of understanding, reflecting upon and adapting teaching behaviours and strategies to create a learning environment that supports and promotes a child’s sense of autonomy, relatedness and self-efficacy so that they are motivated to learn and enjoy mathematics. It is also important to highlight that a teacher needs to be supported themselves first before they are able to best support and motivate the children that they teach.
What motivated you to undertake this research?
The central idea for this dissertation originated from my participation in an effective, active and dynamic mathematics station teaching session for Senior Infants during the Foundations of Education Observation week. I was fascinated to note that the children were highly engaged, thoroughly enjoyed and totally absorbed in actively exploring the number story of 10 and 20 through board games. Children were observed taking turns, debating their next move, supporting each other in a constructive manner when a child made a mistake, as well as laughing and celebrating another child’s game success. The source of motivation for this lesson appeared to be driven internally by the children, with no encouragement or reward required from the teacher.
What impact has it had on your practice?
This review has enabled me to become very aware of how my own attitudes, beliefs and confidence to teach a subject can have a profound impact on the classroom environment, my selection of teaching strategies and how a child values themselves and the subject in question.
How important do you feel research will be in your future practice?
The policies investigated and the projects included in this research project have shown me that continual professional development and research review are key components to enable a teacher to first become aware of, to reflect upon and if necessary, act upon their own internal processes. I have learned that continual professional development and research also provide valuable information on the most effective mathematical practices and strategies and I will therefore ensure to engage with both of these areas to improve my future teaching practice.