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Christina Sturgeon wins Best Education Essay in Ireland



Christina Sturgeon pictured at her BEd graduation in July 2018



Christina Sturgeon, who graduated in July 2018 with a BEd Honours from St Mary’s, has been awarded the 2018 prize for Best Education Essay in Ireland from the Undergraduate Awards, the world’s leading undergraduate awards programme.

Her essay, on using smartphone technology in the classroom, was initially ranked as being in the top ten percent of all the education essays submitted internationally this year. It was put forward for final consideration among those top essays and was declared the regional winner for the island of Ireland. The Undergraduate Awards programme told Christina, “You should be very proud of your achievement and for showcasing St Mary’s University College on this international stage.”

The title of Chirstina’s piece was Teachers are interested and pupils are equipped…so what is holding us back? — Smartphones in Pedagogical Literature and Post-Primary Practice

Christina said her work was, in part, inspired by recent news items about schools which were proudly banning mobile phones on school grounds. 

“In times of dire funding cutbacks, when it is so difficult to supply schools with all the required ICT hardware, it seemed odd that schools were taking pride in banning these little sophisticated (and very expensive) personal computers which nearly every child is bringing to school on a daily basis in their pockets.”

When asked about the power of phones to distract children from their school work, Christina replied, “Well, if all they are used for is accessing social media, then, yes, children will see them solely as a distraction. But if children can be introduced to all the educational resources available through their phones, then perhaps we can convert these powerful devices into something positive. Teachers I surveyed expressed an overwhelming interest in pursuing this possibility — quite in opposition to the current trend toward banning phones entirely.”

St Mary’s would like to congratulate Christina on this significant achievement and to wish her well in the future.

Christina is the latest in a significant line of impressive St Mary’s students to win this prestigious award:

2013:  Catherine Fitzpatrick 
Multiculturalism and the Inclusion of Newcomer Children in Schools in Northern Ireland

2014:  Megan Turner 
Mind and Memory, Understanding and Delight: Literature and Memory in Education

2017:  Breda O’Kane 
Grammar Wars:  A Critical Surveys of Recent Research on the Teaching of Grammar in Schools and its Impact on the Quality of Students’ Written Communication.