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- PublicationInvestigating Cognitive demand of Higher-level Leaving Certificate Mathematics Examination Tasks Pre- and Post- Curriculum ReformIn 2010 the phased introduction of the new Project Maths curriculum began in post-primary schools in Ireland. This new curriculum aimed to enable students to develop problem-solving skills by providing relevant, contextual applications of mathematics, while simultaneously increasing the levels of cognitive demand required of students. This research aims to investigate whether the levels of cognitive demand required to complete tasks in the Leaving Certificate Higher-level mathematics examinations changed as a result of the curriculum reform. The methodology of this research includes the systematic analysis of Leaving Certificate examination tasks, from 2007 to 2017, using an adaptation of the Stein and Smith (1998) task analysis framework. Using this framework, tasks were classified as being of high- level or low-level cognitive demand. Analysis of the data collected suggests that a statistically significant increase in the levels of high-cognitive demand tasks did occur following the curriculum reform. Our findings are discussed in relation to two recent studies that used different frameworks to examine the cognitive demand of tasks in post-primary mathematics.
- PublicationAn investigation of the factors that contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of autistic adults(University College Dublin. School of Psychology, 2022)Autistic people experience increased rates of mental health conditions and symptoms compared to their non-autistic peers; autistic women and trans people perhaps more so. However, there is not yet a consensus as to why this is the case. Through the lens of the neurodiversity paradigm, the present thesis aimed to develop an understanding of the factors that impact autistic people’s mental health, from the perspective of autistic people themselves. First, this thesis presents a systematic review and thematic synthesis of the perspectives of autistic females on what experiences have impacted their mental health and wellbeing. Findings suggested that the biological and psychological factors associated with being autistic interact with a variety of environmental and social factors, in turn shaping wellbeing and mental health outcomes. Second, an empirical mixed-methods study is presented, which investigated mental health experiences and the factors that contributed to mental health and wellbeing in mixed-gender samples. The qualitative phase consisted of semi-structured interviews with 20 autistic adults and the quantitative phase investigated key factors identified by interviewees in a sample of 236 autistic adults using standardised questionnaires. High levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms and low levels of wellbeing were reported. Autistic cisgender women reported higher levels of anxiety, while autistic trans people reported more depressive symptoms. Feelings of exclusion and isolation, childhood bullying, autism-related stigma and challenges related to the neurotypical environment were all found to predict mental health and wellbeing. Overall, the findings of the present thesis point to the need for community adaptations or interventions to create a more accessible and accepting society, as well as improvements in service provision for autistic adults.