Recent Submissions

  • A six-component conceptualization of the psychosocial well-being of school leaders: devising a framework of occupational well-being for Irish primary principals

    McHugh, Rita (Informa UK Limited, 2023-06-13)
    Drawing on a multidimensional conceptualization of occupational well-being, this mixed methods study aimed to ascertain levels of psychosocial well-being of a sample of Irish primary principals (n = 488). A Framework of Occupational Well-Being was devised which facilitated the first psychometric measurement of their levels of burnout, job satisfaction, trait mindfulness, work motivation, perception of fairness and the satisfaction/frustration of basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence and relatedness). Subsequent interviews provided supporting qualitative data and an evaluation by principals of the current management structure of Irish primary schools, 90% of which are governed by Catholic Boards of Management to whom principals are answerable in all their professional decision making. As employers, Boards’ compliance with EU and Irish Occupational H&S directives is examined toward an understanding of the level of protection provided to principals. Results reveal high levels of burnout, anxiety, depression and autonomy frustration among principals alongside low levels of trait mindfulness and low perception of fairness regarding workload and remuneration. Beyond its application in the education sector, the Framework of Occupational Well-Being may prove useful for policy makers and as an assessment tool for employers of other white-collar workers as it provides both a definition of psychosocial well-being and a means by which to measure it.
  • Integrating 21st-Century Skills into Irish Primary Schools: A Pilot Study on the Outcomes, Experiences and Observations of Teachers Prepared

    Meegan, John; Casey, Elva; O'Brien, Niamh (2022)
    The implementation of 21st-century skills and competency-based learning in European and OECD countries' educational curricula indicates affirmative action across global educational systems to develop a wider breadth of skills beyond traditional literacy and numeracy skills. There is broad agreement and significant common interest across national and international competency frameworks concerning the importance of 21st-century skills. This consensus is underpinned by the need for education to equip learners with transferable knowledge and skills rather than relying upon well-worn procedures. From the Irish primary school context, there is an explicit focus on, and pathway to, the development of 21st-century skills beginning with Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and progressing to the development of the new draft Primary School Curriculum. This skills and competency pathway continues into post-primary school settings as students transition into the Junior and Senior Cycle stages of their education. With this explicit focus on competency and skills-based education, many schools seek to develop skills through innovative teaching methods or by employing specific skills-based interventions. This report presents a small-scale pilot study of the 'Magical Leaders' programme, a 21st-century skills intervention programme suitable for primary school students between 10 and 12 years of age. The mixed-methods study investigated teachers' attitudes and perspectives of the Magical Leaders programme, the 21st-century skills outcomes, the programme's resources and the core peer-to-peer teaching methodology. Using focus group discussions and adapted reliable and validated scales, the findings of this research have highlighted the positive development of students' 21st-century skills, teachers' and students' perspectives of engaging with the programme and the peer-to-peer teaching methodology. Several challenges to programme delivery were identified, including the programme's digital components, teacher training, lesson preparation time and adherence to programme fidelity.
  • Can teachers be trained online?

    Breakwell, Nicholas; Quigley, U.; McManus, A. (2005)
    This paper describes the establishment and delivery of a Blended Learning Higher Diploma in Education, being a professional qualification for Primary School teachers in Ireland. This innovative course represents a major departure from the traditional mode of delivery of teaching training in Ireland. A careful analysis of student feedback and examination scores is therefore of crucial importance to inform further development of the course and to contribute to innovation in teacher training both in Ireland and internationally. The two primary modes of course delivery, that is an Entirely Online mode and a Blended Learning mode, were compared in terms of qualitative feedback from the students themselves and quantitative results from the formal assessment procedures. Across a range of questions that covered perceived workload, satisfaction with objectives and learning outcomes and perceived career benefit, the mode of delivery had no effect on student levels of satisfaction with the course. There was a small but significant grade improvement for Blended Learning courses over Entirely Online courses. However, alternative hypotheses make it difficult to attribute this grade increase to the mode of course delivery. The mode of delivery of course content does not affect student satisfaction or the ability of students to perform well in formal assessment. It is therefore concluded that a blended learning educational system that includes online education is a highly appropriate mode for the training of primary school teachers.
  • The Results: Using Swivl for Digital Observation in an Online or Blended Learning Environment

    Lenehan, John; Lynam, Aoife; McCoy, Selina (2019)
    This paper is a follow-up article on the examination of the use of digital video to enhance professional development for online and blended learning programs in higher education. Our first article published on IJIOE presented a case for using Swivl robot for digital observation. The article provides particular reference to initial teacher education (ITE) and pre-service teachers. The results of a pilot study are examined to evidence pre-service teachers use of Swivl to self-reflect during school placement (i.e., time spent teaching in a classroom as part of an assessment). The results from the study provide strong evidence that the digital video footage created by pre-service teachers in order to self-reflect was highly supportive in developing their self-reflective practice and provides an overview of the usefulness of the technology employed. A more detailed overview of the project methodology can be found in our first paper: “A case for using Swivl for Digital Observation in an Online or Blended Learning Environment”. The aim of this paper is to provide the findings of this pilot study, its effectiveness within a blended learning college, and provide recommendations for those wishing to use similar technology.
  • Inclusion or Containment? A reality for learners with autism in mainstream primary schools

    O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Shevlin, Michael; Hibernia College; Trinity College (2021)
    In March 2018, Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). A fundamental aspect of this Convention is to develop a respectful, inclusive education for people with disabilities among their non-disabled peers. Ireland, while late to the notion of inclusive education, is working towards and with the EPSEN Act, and has legislated for a concept of inclusion in education (Government of Ireland, 2004). The question of who needs ‘special’ education in an ‘inclusive’ setting has come to the fore, highlighted by the education needs of children with autism. This article presents evidence of placement and educational experiences of children with autism that requires us to consider how inclusion is constructed and structured in our mainstream primary schools. It provides evidence of the stark reality that inclusion in practice reflects a ‘containment’ approach. Further, we are maintaining a concept that being a ‘different’ learner requires a ‘special’ approach and environment. This article argues that ethical sinkholes are created when there is little introspection on the ideology and practice of inclusion.
  • Discovering Gems: Authentic Listening to the ‘Voice’ of Experience in Teaching Pupils with Autism

    O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Shevlin, Michael; Mc Guckin, Conor; Hibernia College; Trinity College; Trinity College (2018)
    Empirical research on evidenced-based practice provision for people with autism values quantitative methods (Bond & Symes, 2014; Westerveld et al. 2015) over the qualitative methods that relay ‘voice’ through, for example, teacher interviews. Any attempt to justify educational practice must include the voice and views of all experts (Perry 2009). This article challenges the notion that the application of evidenced-based scientific programmes for autism specific intervention are the sole ‘best-practice’ approaches in schools. Presented as direct support is evidence on literacy teaching and learning - particularly from a ‘voice’ perspective - regarding the professional and ethical practice of a case study teacher as she ‘discovers gems’ when teaching pupils with autism. The article relates to findings from a programme of research that explored literacy practices, involving pupils with autism (N=35), their parents (N=34) and teachers (N=14), and observations of teaching and learning (N=189 hours) in autism specific classrooms (N=7) in mainstream primary education in Ireland.
  • Disrupted Transitions in Early Childhood Education – Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic

    O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Prendergast, Aoife; Hibernia College; Hibernia College (Children's Research Network Ireland, 2021)
  • Dinosaurs in the Classroom: Using the Creative Arts to engage young children with autism

    Twomey, Miriam; O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Mc Guckin, Conor; Shevlin, Michael; Trinity College; Hibernia College; Trinity College; Trinity College (2021)
    Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders that are characterised by challenges with social communication and restricted, repetitive behaviours and interests (American Psychological Association, 2013). Young children with ASD frequently have impairments in early social communication skills including language and joint attention (Tager-Flusberg, 2000). This paper draws on a longitudinal research project that included in-depth qualitative case studies of young children with ASD transitioning to early education settings. Findings include the importance of nuanced approaches to inclusion for children with ASD, and the recognition that all children, including children who are nonverbal, have a voice. Drawing from a review of the relevant literature, this article is structured around a discussion of the following themes: the challenges experienced by children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) participating with peers, the need for bespoke approaches to inclusion drawing on the creative arts and the importance of children’s voice and agency when children communicate differently.
  • Creating Communicative Opportunities for Autistic Children

    O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Twomey, Miriam; Mc Guckin, Conor; Hibernia College; Trinity College; Trinity College (2021)
    Our approach to working with children with autism in this article is not about the engagement philosophies but rather is focussed at a social communicative level: not just hearing and seeing but listening and understanding, therefore, communicating respect and dignity to the child. This article provides case examples from a qualitative research project on the literacy practices of children with autism. The role of the qualitative researcher in this project is to seek to advance knowledge to assist practice and policy. This article sets out to engage you, the reader, in considering how you connect and communicate with autistic children in your practice. It is about communication and what communication might look like if we open our understanding to all possibilities. It is also about the balance of agency in the learning environment for children with autism
  • How field experience shapes pre-service primary teachers’ technology integration knowledge and practice

    Lynam, Aoife; McCoy, Selina (2022)
    The expectation for teachers to integrate technology within their classroom practice is growing. However, few studies examine the influences on pre-service teachers’ technology integration knowledge and practice, and the role of field experience in shaping these. Narratives from semi-structured pre-COVID interviews with 35 preservice primary school teachers in one teacher education programme in Ireland, some of whom used a digital camera, were analysed using an inductive thematic approach. Opportunities for pre-service teachers to develop their knowledge and practice were shaped by their interaction with the primary school context, the people within it and the digital resources provided, the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). While the initial teacher education programme provided opportunities and digital resources to support the primary teachers’ learning, the Zone of Promoted Action, these were ultimately shaped by the ZPD. The results have implications for professional development programmes striving to support teachers in developing innovative practice in a post-COVID era.
  • An arts based narrative inquiry into children’s experiences of the five foundations of the social-emotional and academic learning program you can do it! program achieve

    Meegan, John (2021)
    My research aims to narratively inquire into students’ experiences of the five foundations of the social-emotional and academic learning program ‘You Can Do It (YCDI) Program Achieve’ (2007) and explore the impact the program has had on their lives on and off the school landscape. I also present and explore how eight primary school children composed their individual stories to live by, a narrative form of identity (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), through stories shared throughout this inquiry. What might I learn by inquiring into these experiences, where children’s stories of the YCDI foundations and the program intersect and bump against school stories and other stories we live in (Morris, 2002)? How might inquiring into emerging tensions deepen understanding of cultural, institutional, and social narratives shaping the students' lives and stories? How might my inquiry expand knowledge about the YCDI program and the meeting of diverse lives on school landscapes? My research puzzle considered YCDI conversations as spaces where children engaged in meaning and identity-making, where tensions arose as stories bumped against dominant cultural, institutional, and social narratives in an out-of-classroom place (Clandinin & Connelly, 1999). The participants’ stories and my autobiographical narratives revealed the complexity of navigating the school landscape and the workshops. This complexity led to a re-imagining of the school landscape as a space where students’ and teachers’ lives and stories entwined, entangled, bumped, and shifted in relation to others in creative, curious, and often tension-filled ways. I understand the context for teacher knowledge in terms of the professional knowledge landscape (Clandinin & Connelly, 1995) and teachers’ personal practical knowledge (Connelly & Clandinin, 1988). I also wish to IV make space for students' personal learner knowledge to attend to their embodied lives, wisdom, and school experiences. Drawing upon the relational nature of narrative inquiry, I use the guiding metaphor of a ‘life-timeline’ to ground myself and my participants in the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space of the personal, social, temporal, and place or series of places (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). During the first stage of my inquiry, I came alongside my participants as we engaged in arts-based workshops based around the students’ experiences of the five foundations of the YCDI (2007) program; Organisation, Confidence, Getting Along, Resilience and Persistence. We came alongside each other again, one year later, where we engaged in one-to-one creative conversations where I shared their stories with them while also revisiting and, in some instances, restorying their pieces of art. This narrative inquiry has revealed numerous threads and plotlines such as storylines of YCDI foundations, storylines of the program's impact, storylines of competition, marginalization, resistance, tension, family, school, belonging, and care
  • New learnings, wonderings, and tensions: Explorations of a narrative inquiry into the impact of a social-emotional and academic learning program on students' lives

    Meegan, John (2021)
    Presented at CFP 7th International Irish Narrative Inquiry Conference, 16-17 June 2021, Maynooth University
  • Using digital technologies to promote inclusive learning and teaching practices

    Meegan, John (2022)
    Presented as part of a seminar series for the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
  • An investigation and analysis of the 21st Century Skills programme ‘Magical Leaders'

    Meegan, John; O'Brien, Niamh; Casey, Elva (2022)
    ATEE Conference 2022 Presentation