All posts by aokane

Designing Professional Development for Teachers of Older Struggling Literacy Learners

In this formative experiment, a series of Professional Development (PD) sessions are designed, facilitated, and iteratively evaluated by the researcher working collaboratively with a cohort of teachers who work with Adolescent Struggling Literacy Learners (ASL) in small-group or individual settings. The PD aims to develop the understanding and ability of these teachers to design and implement a
Literacy Intervention (LI) to suit the needs of their students in their educational context. The LI will apply recommendations from research regarding effective components of instruction for adolescent struggling literacy learners, to practice. Each Teacher will apply the learning and support from their PD sessions to the design of a LI for the ASLs in their context. The teachers will be initially supplied with a framework to guide their design and LI implementation. At each PD session, the teachers will engage in collective sharing of practice and working together as a community of professionals. This study will document the development of the participating teachers’ understandings and practice, the adjustments to PD as it responds to the needs of the teachers, and the modifications made to the LI they create to support the literacy needs of their students.
This study will serve to bridge the gap that exists between educational theory and practice by observing how the authentic environment and experience of teachers impact the design of PD for teachers who seek to work with such pupils in the future.

Trading Places: Sharing the experiences of practitioners as they move into Further Education and Training (FET) teaching roles.

Changing career from a current occupation to a teaching role is not as smooth a transition as one might expect. Our recent study identified a range of personal and professional issues that arose for FET tutors as they transferred their professional ‘ways of thinking and practicing’ (Hounsell, 2003) to an FET teaching-learning environment. Their motivation to teach was driven by a desire to share their knowledge, skills and work experiences in order to empower young people and adults who had returned to education. Their new career aspirations and expectations did not match up with the reality of their experiences of teaching and of the purpose of FET.
Similar to the SCoTENS funded SAFETTI Study (, findings also revealed that in ‘trading places’ some struggled to accommodate their evolving personal and professional identity from practitioner to teacher. Recommendations included the need for a more extensive study to be conducted, to explore in greater depth the aspirational vs reality of moving into FET teaching, ideally in a North/South context.
We are seeking partners to work with us on a research project that will focus on the subject of role change from that of practitioner within a discipline to teacher of the disciplinary knowledge, skills, and practices, and the relationship of all of this to personal and professional identities.

The role of the parent in the transition process of a pupil from pre school to primary

This qualitative study using case study data collection methods examines the issues around transitioning pupils from pre school to primary from a parents perspective .
Recently NCCA produced pupil profile booklets were introduced . These are filled in by pre school practitioners and parents . Due to GDPR regulations parental permission is needed before pupil profiles can be transferred to the primary school . In cases where this is not requested profiles are not given to the junior infant teacher and valuable information which has the potential to inform her practice is lost . This research hopes to highlight the need for information . Many parents are unaware of the lack of communication between education settings . Teachers and pre school staff need to improve professional relations and work together to help parents in establishing best practice in the transitioning process .

Narrative Emergence in the Work of Widening Participation Initiatives Supporting Teacher Diversity

This research project reflects upon the emergence of multiple dimensions, and dynamics, of narrative in the ongoing work of widening participation projects/initiatives focused on supporting teacher diversity. This study will reflect on the creation of critically reflexive spaces for the telling and retelling of emerging narratives (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) of communities of learners, educators and activists in response to enduring, inclusive and ‘risky’ questions such as ‘what it is to be a teacher?’ and ‘what do we want to change in education?’. The potential of narrative spaces and processes to disorientate the wider field of teacher education and the hegemonic stories that circulate in the profession on what it is to be a teacher will also be considered.

Digital Literacy in Practice: Students Creating Video for Assessment

Digital literacy is an essential skill for 21st century life. It encompasses many elements such as the ability to source, evaluate and synthesise digital information. It also includes the ability to create and share content using digital tools, whereby creators can express views, opinions, and facts in a coherent manner. Video is an extremely popular medium, especially with university-age students. This study seeks to examine student experiences (benefits, challenges, learning) in creating video as an assignment, in place of a traditional written piece of work.

Investigating the impact of the ‘Active Schools Flag’ and exploring the potential for a similar initiative within Northern Ireland’s primary sector.

This research project seeks to investigate the impact that the ‘Active School Flag’ has had on primary schools in the Republic of Ireland, thinking specifically about the delivery of physical education and the focus on promoting healthier lifestyles across the wider school community. Furthermore, similar awards, programmes and initiatives from around the world, such as the ‘Active Schools Network’ in Scotland and the ‘Physical Literacy: Guide for Schools’ in Australia will also be examined, in order to consider international success stories and lessons learnt within the following areas:

1. PE as an Area of Learning – delivering a primary curriculum that is progressive, inclusive, broad and balanced.

2. Participation in Physical Activity – maximising: the time allocated to PE in each primary year group; recreational activities at break and lunch and each school’s extra-curricular provision.

3. Whole School Community – fostering partnerships across and beyond the school.

4. Holistic Health – educating all members of the school community on the connection between healthier lifestyles and improved holistic well-being, ie healthy body, healthy mind.

Building on this research, this project aims to create a similar ‘Active Schools’ initiative that would be suitable for implementation within Northern Ireland’s primary sector.

Basic Motor Competencies of Irish children – MOBAK

In the course of systematic quality assurance, increasingly the question to which extent learning outcomes are achieved by children in sports and sports education arises. The central learning objectives of Physical Education (PE) are the curriculum-based basic motor competencies (BMC) that enable children to play an active part in the culture of sports and exercise. Targeted diagnostics are an indispensable prerequisite for the systematic promotion of BMC. By describing the children’s level of motor competencies, information is gained that helps teachers to adapt their methodical and didactic behaviour to the children’s requirements. In order to assess and measure BMC, valid and practicable survey tools are needed. According to this line of argumentation, general teachers as well as PE teachers should apply an instrument that assesses BMC of their students to obtain a reliable and valid estimation of the prerequisites for learning in PE.
The main aim of this project will be to validate the MOBAK test battery in the Irish context (Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland). A partnership with a Northern Ireland University will allow to obtain scientific information and feedback about the status and distribution of children’s BMC and will further allow the comparison of children’s BMC two in the countries.

Building Boys’ Emotional Intelligence

This research wishes to investigate strategies used by boys’ post-primary schools to develop boys’ emotional intelligence.

Four key areas will be addressed:

The research will look at opportunities to develop such skills within the formal curriculum and the less formal hidden curriculum.
The research will include schools from North and South, and will investigate teachers’ perceptions of effective strategies and current practice, with a view to informing and sharing future best practice.

Using Zoom to Support and Sustain Learning Spaces for the Emerging Reflective Practitioner in Initial Teacher Education (Post Primary)

At Hibernia, the Post Primary Programme team are interested in exploring the impact of using collaborative features of Zoom to support the emerging reflective practitioner. The focus would aim to create and sustain online learning cultures across four schools in the South and one or two in the North of Ireland.

Research participants will include the student teacher, cooperating (classroom) teacher, school tutor supervisor and researchers in the Post Primary academic programme.

To date, we have secured four post primary schools in Donegal and Dublin and would now welcome partnerships with our Northern colleagues.

We wish to SCoTENS for funding and seek a SCoTENS member in the North who would be interested in partnership in this research.

The Children and Youth Programme – UNESCO: Published Reports

Who We Are
We are an independent collaboration between the two UNESCO Chairs in the island of Ireland at the UNESCO Centre at the University of Ulster and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway.

What We Do
We are an academic, independent monitoring programme, focusing on the well‑being of children and youth in Ireland and Northern Ireland, using a rights‑based approach.


Maternal Mental Health and Poverty: The Impact on Children’s Educational Outcomes
Abstract:A range of factors can undermine maternal mental health, with short and long term consequences for mothers and their children. The relationship between poor parental mental health and children’s well being is increasingly documented, with the evidence suggesting adverse developmental outcomes across the domains of a child’s life. More specifically, maternal mental health, particularly when combined with socio economic disadvantage, has been recognised as a pivotal influence on children’s educational outcomes. This thematic report focuses on the relationship between poverty and maternal mental health, and the impact of these on children and young people’s educational experiences in Ireland and Northern Ireland.Date: 29th October 2013PDFs:


Education for Civic Engagement in Post primary Schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland: A Rights Perspective
Abstract:The focus of this report is on policy and provision for education for civic engagement in post primary education in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This issue is topical and relevant in both jurisdictions. In Ireland reform of the Junior Cycle has led to a renewed focus on civic education and its cross curricular linkages. In Northern Ireland, education for civic engagement occurs within a divided society, giving rise to questions about its role in such a context.Date: 8th May 2013PDFs:

Click to download


Capacity Building for Inclusion: The Role and Contribution of Special Needs Assistants and Classroom Assistants in Ireland and Northern Ireland
Click to download Abstract:Historically, the basic right to education has been an automatic assumption for children in Ireland and Northern Ireland. For pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN), this has been a more ambiguous process, where the language, policy and legislation of education provision has alternately strengthened and diminished their educational options. This, our second thematic report, focuses on capacity building to support the inclusion of children with SEN within the mainstream school sector. The issue is explored specifically in relation to the role of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) in Ireland and the Classroom Assistant (CA) in Northern Ireland.Date: 4th September 2012PDFs:




Reviewing the Provision of Education for Young People in Detention: Rights, Research and Reflections on Policy and Practice
Abstract:This, the first of our Thematic Reports, addresses the relevant rights instruments and standards for education in the youth justice system, highlights the current legislative and policy context measured against international standards and assesses the role of education for young people in detention and draws concluding messages for policy in relation to custodial education and well being of children and young people.Date: 25th May 2012PDFs:


Click to download


Children’s Rights and the Family – A Commentary on the Proposed Constitutional Referendum on Children’s Rights in Ireland
Click to download Abstract:The UNESCO Chairs have produced a commentary in response to the proposed constitutional referendum on children’s rights in Ireland, with the intention of informing and adding value to current debates.Date: 21st March 2012PDFs:


Understanding Policy Development and Implementation for Children and Young People
Abstract:This, the second of our Foundation Reports, analyses the policy environment in relation to children and young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It reviews key policies and legislation relating to children and young people, including the pledges and commitments identified in each. Through consultation with relevant stakeholders, it identifies the main policy barriers and enablers and develops a framework to review policy development and implementation.Date: 30th January 2012PDFs:

Click to download


A Rights Based Approach to Monitoring Children and Young People’s Well Being
Click to download Abstract: This is the first of our Foundation Reports; it explores understandings of a rights based approach to monitoring children and young people’s well being, in particular, the relationship between rights based obligations and well being. It includes analysis of the debate on the relationship between child rights indicators and well being indicators currently used to monitor outcomes for children and young people. In doing so, the report seeks to provide clarity for policy makers and those working with, or on behalf of, children and youth.Date: 24th October 2011PDFs: