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4th Workshop
Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Europe

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Group 1: How to include research in teacher training projects, i.e. active student participation.

Content of this report:

Workshop participants

Chair persons:
Walthes, Renate
Kovács, Krisztina
Hofer, Ursula
Jaritz-Tschinkel, Gerti
Mendelova, Elena
Preda, Vasile Liviu
Rodney, Peter
Királyhidi, Dorka
Gadó, Márta
Mazurkievic, Jelena
Kelemen, Csilla

24th September, Session 1
Theme: How to include research in teacher training projects, i.e. active student participation?

Introduction by Renate Walthes

Before we are able to discuss the implicit question of the title, we first of all should ask, why should research be part of teacher training programmes?

If you consider the order given in the diverse examination regulations you may agree that there is no exact demand on research abilities. Teacher Training should regard scientific orientation as well as practice and the ability to reflect teacher tasks etc. So why are we working on this subject?

Several answers are possible. I will try to outline some of them:

  1. There is one aspect which immediately springs to mind. For writing their thesis students need methodological and methodical knowledge. To design an empirical study not only statistics are relevant but also how to construct and formulate hypothesis, how to verify or falsify them. This is the common argument for all university studies at a graduate level.
  2. All the rankings and surveys the OECD has set up in recent years centres on educational research. Empirical educational research and research about teaching, comparision of several learning and teaching levels are more relevant than ever. Traditional subjects of education sciences such as, pedagogical history, systematic pedagogy are decreasing in importance whereas empirical educational research is increasing. Chairs of educational research are springing up like mushrooms.
  3. Giving the schools more autonomy is combined with the requirement for self-development, quality assurance and evaluation.
  4. Individual assessment, screening- and testing methods call for methodical. methodological competences.
  5. Even if a single teacher will never meet the challenge of assessment, evaluation and quality assurance: to be able to read and understand the results of surveys and compare written examinations.
  6. Further development of education and rehabilitation of people with visual impairment depends on research.
  7. Research programmes at national or international level will guarantee visibility and help to keep or increase the standard we have achieved.
  8. As representatives of universities or colleges, teacher-training courses are one main task, but other tasks such as research, student exchanges or further education programmes are just as important.

We should consider this workshop as a first in a row of several meetings to construct e-g- a working group on research aspects.

To be at work with the different aspects of research, we have to limit ourselves to a few aspects during this conference

Together with Kristina Kovacs we suggest focussing on two aspects: the question of how research is included in the different teacher-training programmes and the discussion of how it will be possible to link research activities together, e.g. in one of the European programmes.

Research activities in the European programmes.

Due to the fact that Peter Rodney, counsellor and evaluator of EU Programmes, e.g. Sokrates, Comenius, Erasmus was a member of the research group during the first session, the participants discussed several aspect of how to write a good proposal, how to construct it in a way that it would be accepted, how to support it with relevant data. They also talked about why should teachers have to do some research in methodology. They looked into research-programmes in national and international level. Several programmes were mentioned, where participants can join, such as Equal, ENEA, Socrates, Leonardo, or Tempus,

Peter Rodney, who is the counsellor and evaluator of the EU programmes dealing with disability, helped the participants by giving advice in formulating a proposal that is more likely be accepted. Application should consider the following advices:

These are just some of Peter's useful pieces of advice.

Peter Rodney also offered his help in constructing a good proposal and finding partners. Anybody can get in touch with him before handing in a proposal. According to his experiences 80 % of the proposals dealing with impairment and disability were rejected.

After that the participants from Portugal, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Switzerland talked about their own experiences in ongoing EU projects. The members of the group also discussed the possibilities and the forms of national level research as well.

24th September, Session 2
Theme: Quality of Research and research programmes

In all scientific fields, the quality of research is evaluated and measured by certain criteria. The participants were asked to comment on the following proposal from Renate Walthes

Scientific quality of research.

The appraisal of the quality of research depends on the innovative potential of the work, the originality of the problem, the approach, the contribution which is made to develop the research-field, the keeping of high methodical and technical standards and how the results will receive national and international recognition. The concept of research based on these considerations is a wide one, all common methodical approaches are included, the concept ranges from experimental research, via field study, case study, hermeneutic reconstruction to evaluation and developmental research. Common characteristics are intersubjective comprehension, verification of the results and reception through the scientific community. In some cases dissemination of the results into practice, politics and society may belong to the research process.

To go into detail, the following aspects of scientific quality should be considered and valued:

Categories of evaluation:

  1. Research is innovative and is contributing to the further development of the specific research field - visible and substantial. The institution is one of the international leading organisations in at least one research field.
  2. The institution is recognized by the international community and makes important contributions; its influence is high on a national level and the institution is one of the national leading associations in at least one research field.
  3. The institution is visible on a national level, competitive and accomplishes contributions of good and recommended quality.
  4. The institution gives a moderate contribution, but is partly visible and competitive.
  5. The scientific contribution is marginal with little originality. The quality of the outcome is indecisive; the institution is not permanently present in the scientific community.
  6. Little systematic and constant research is available. Research results are mostly not presented and communicated. The institution doesn't play any role in the further development of the scientific community.

Productive capacity should be measured by the following indicators:

Third party funds, grant, sponsorship

Just in the case of insufficient personal and financial infrastructure to gain third party funding / grant /sponsorship are essential to secure continuous research activity. Research based on third party funding are the most important tool to support up and coming scientific professionals. All scientific institutions should try to gain funding from national and international research supporting organizations.

Reports and ranking should consider the following aspects:

Management and long term plans

To develop special education and rehabilitation as a discipline with a main emphasis on research depends decisively on the following:

  1. on a strategic development in staff and programmes,
  2. on the management abilities and
  3. on the will of the professors and staff to achieve their ideas.

To rank these criteria the following aspects should be considered:

To fulfill these criteria, great efforts are required in all departments.

As a possible step forward to figure out a research programme, the group worked on the task:
Find possible research topics


The group collected topics that might be put in research based on their personal interest. Several main topics with subthemes arose:

1. Early intervention

2. Communication problem of VI

3. Education

4. Research

5. Cerebral Visual Impairment

6. Vocational training

Finally, the participants were asked to think about topics, which gain priority over the others based on importance and rationality, and the proposal of this topic more likely to be accepted. The choice should be based on scientific quality of a research, which was assembled by the chairpersons of the group.

25th September, Session 3

From the outcome of yesterday's discussion the members of the first group have chosen three main topics for research which seemed to be most needed and relevant according to the participating countries.

The topics are:

1st Vision loss of elderly people:
support system,
ethical aspects,
methods of their rehabilitation.
2nd Cerebral Visual Impairment:
epidemiological studies,
anylysing the situations of their families,
analysing the specific strategies the CVI students use
3rd Communicational problems of children with visual impairment, hearing and visual impairment, and multi-impaired visually impaired:
analysing the communication situation.

25th September, Session 4
Theme: How to include students in research work?

Summary of the discussion:

First the group discussed the different systems how universities and colleges offer and support research work for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students based on criteria of the quality of teacher-training programmes.

Quality of the structure of the teacher-training programme and of the curriculum.

  1. Frame conditions should consider the location, the equipment , the qualification of the staff full time and part time.
  2. Structure of the framework of the studies

Krisztina Kovács presented the research opportunities of Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Education, especially the model of Scientific Students' Association, where students are asked to prepare research and present it at a national conference.

Research Opportunities for Students in Visual Impairment at ELTE University Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Education
(paper by Krisztina Kovács, Hungary)

There are different forms of research work students can attend. Some of them are obligatory some are optional. These are:

The Scientific Students' Association is a movement in Hungary, which takes an active role in the organization of research done by students. It has a 100 year history, but the official foundation was in 1951. Students initiated the establishment with a need for self study and quality learning according to individual interest based on the student-professor relationship.

The Scientific Students' Association has different bodies, like:

The first national conference of the Scientific Students' Association was held in the 1954/55 school years. Next year we will have the 27th national conference. This conference is organized every second year in 16 sections. The sponsorship id provided by the National Council, the Ministry of Education and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. National conferences are preceded by selection conferences at institutional level. The opportunity to give a presentation at the national conference is only given to a student if the institutional representatives and invited experts recommend him.

There are some criteria for the evaluation of the students' research work and presentation. These are:

Students studying visual impairment have been active in research work for many years. Here are some examples of topics they have given presentations on at national conferences of the Scientific Students' Association and won a prize:

Discussion and Suggestions

After the presentation, the participants discussed some examples of research topics in VI. There was discussion on methodology of facilitating students to do research. Renate Walthes gave the participants some example of qualitative research methods, which would be useful for a more structured way of research for either students or for teachers.

Finally, the group formulated some suggestions for ICEVI Europe, which are as follows:

[ Next: Workshop's Topics by Marianna Buultjens | Table of Contents | Next: Group 2 ]