SPUK|Resources|Education|Secondary|Case Studies|Fingal Community College
SPUK|Resources|Education|Secondary|Case Studies|Fingal Community College
Fingal Community College was delighted to take part in a case study in the use of scanning pens. Fingal Community College is part of the Dublin Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB). Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB was established on 1st July 2013 under the Education and Training Boards Bill 2012, as an amalgamation of County Dublin VEC and Dún Laoghaire VEC. It has a corporate structure which is made up of a democratically appointed committee and a management (executive) team. The administrative area covered by DDLETB reaches from Balbriggan in North County Dublin, to Dún Laoghaire in South County Dublin and Lucan in West County Dublin.
The services we provide include Primary level education, Second level education, Further Education and Training and YouthReach in addition to other community-based education programmes and services. All services are delivered at local level.
Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETBs target clients include:
Students and/or their parents/guardians
Communities throughout the County
Young people and volunteers
Applicants and grant recipients under the various student support schemes administered directly by the ETB
Voluntary and Sporting Organisations
Our Head Office is based at 1 Tuansgate, Tallaght, Dublin 24. Fingal Community College is in Swords, North County Dublin. The school is a Second level school which has a broad range of learners. Our students complete the Junior and Leaving Certificate state examinations. We also have learners pursuing the Level 2 Learning Programme (L2LP) and this year we are introducing the Level 3 Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) programme in senior cycle for a small group of students.
As part of this study the school were loaned ExamReaders for 6 weeks of the last term. Three students were invited to take part. The students range in age from 14 to 18 years. The students used the pens for class and homework, and, general preparation for their end of year exams.
Each of the students have specific educational needs. All three are dyslexic, Student X has cerebral palsy which impacts on his gross and fine motor skills. He is studying for his Leaving Certificate in June 2018. Student Y is in fifth year, she will complete her Leaving Certificate in June 2019. She used the pens to prepare for and complete her end of year exams. Student Z is a second-year student, as mentioned he is dyslexic and English is his second language. The study commenced with an initial training meeting on the 30th April, students were shown the basics of using the ExamReader and encouraged to use the pen extensively. Teachers were informed that the students would be using the pens in class and asked to also encourage their use. A meeting was scheduled for the following week for initial feedback.
After the meeting took place, the students confirmed that they were using the pens and reported no initial problems. I met the students briefly on a weekly basis to review their progress. When the project finished a focus group meeting with all three students. The findings shown in the students’ exact phrasing are as follows:
What do you like most about the ExamReader?
I could study independently. Normally my dad reads my homework/study tasks to me but I could pick up my pen and get started whenever I wanted.
The pace of reading can be changed but I found the default pace was perfect but really liked that I could have changed it. I also experimented with the different voices but went back to the default as I liked it best.
The pen was very reliable and mostly error free. I am left handed and found it brilliant that I could switch the pen easily to suit me.
I was independent. I could get on with my work and didn’t need to ask the teacher for help reading texts in class.
I found the pen very easy to use.
I mostly used the pen for homework as we were at the end of the term and teachers were revising what we had done over the year in classes. Earlier in the year we do a lot more independent reading in class and I would definitely use the pen in class a lot more then.
The pen was great for helping me prepare and read back over essays for my summer tests.
I used the ExamReader during my summer tests. I was in a separate centre and would normally have a reading assistant, with the pen, I didn’t need the help of the reader I could complete the tests using my pen. I could see myself using the pen in the main centre next year which would be great.
The pen was perfect for the exams as it reads line by line and that was mostly all that I needed in the tests.
I use the pen to check the pronunciation of words in English but also for my French homework.
Please describe how you are using the ExamReader?
Managing the pen to run in a straight line was difficult at first. So, I used a ruler to guide the pen along the page. As I got more used to the pen I could use it without the ruler. I used the pen in class and at home. I used it for long periods of time.
The ExamReader pen was great for reading revision/test questions which generally are spaced out.
I didn’t use it in class, I only used it for homework.
Please describe how the use of the ExamReader has affected your students’ academic work?
Student X- Greater amount of homework completed.
Student Y- Homework was done more quickly. More time to study for tests.
Student Z – Very helpful for study.
Please describe how it has helped your student’s confidence/independence?
Student X (FG)
The pen has allowed this student to be independent. He used it in class and was able to complete tasks without his assistant. This student will progress to a level 6 course at a College of Further Education next academic year. Use of the pen has demonstrated to him that he can be completely independent in his study and has motivated him for the next stage in his education. He uses the reading assistant rather than the ExamReader in his Leaving Cert as this was the accommodation awarded to him by the RACE. Student X felt that he would like to progress to the point that he could use the ExamReader in his exams in college next year. He was delighted to have access to the pen and there was a discernible boost to his confidence. This was also evident to other members of staff who commented independently that they could see improved engagement in preparation for his exams.
Student Y loved the pen and fully embraced using it in both classes and at home. She said that she felt more prepared for the end of year tests as the pen had improved her study output and she was able to complete tasks quickly freeing up time for extra study. She commented that this in turn “motivated her to do more work”.
This student has learned that her auditory processing is a strength, that she finds it easier to recall information that she has heard. She has received some test results and confirmed that there is an increase in the grades she achieved. She is hoping to get a pen for next academic year when she will be preparing for her Leaving Certificate.
Student Z is the youngest of our testers. He was reluctant to use the pen in class. With more encouragement he is more likely to use the pen in class. Next year he will be studying for his Junior Certificate and he may be more motivated to overcome his shyness about using the pen in class.
Please describe any areas in your school where you feel the ExamReader has made an impact for example academic results, resourcing of staff and cost savings.
Student X- Reading tasks more efficient
Student Y- Students have more time to complete independent study.
Student Z- Reduces the need for reading assistants in class. Cost saving for state examinations as students will not need a separate centre for access to Reader/Reading Assistant.
How likely are you to recommend the ExamReader to others?
Student X – Definitely recommend for everyone!
Student Y - Want a pen myself.
Student Z – Definitely worth it!
Any additional comments?
Each of the students have very different levels of ability and varying special education needs. There is no doubt that they all benefitted from use of the pens. The senior students (X and Y) got better value out of them as they saw the practical benefits and were prepared to explore the pens to maximise their efficiency. I would recommend the ReaderPens for each of them as they would benefit from being able to read longer texts, make notes using the Dictaphone and save key words.
Taking part in the case study has proved thoroughly worthwhile. The pens have enriched the teaching and learning for our students. In a short space of time I have seen their confidence grow and their motivation increase. I see a future for using the pens in our school as they present the opportunity to enhance student access to the curriculum and will facilitate efficiency in our use of resources such as Special Needs Assistants and exam superintendents.