All posts by Eimear Donnelly

Exploring Teacher Confidence in the Teaching of Poetry at Leaving Certificate and A level

Employing a two-phased mixed methods approach, this project aimed to explore teacher confidence in the teaching of post-16 poetry across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with a view to informing teachers’ professional development needs in this field. In so doing, it seeks to establish:

  • How confident do English teachers assert themselves to be in the teaching of poetry at post-16 level?
  • What commonalities exist between the key learning experiences reported by teachers in their development as poetry educators?
  • What impact does teacher confidence have on approaches to teaching post-16 poetry pedagogy?

Exploring Teacher Confidence in the Teaching of Poetry

Writing and iPads in the Early Years

The aims of this small scale study on writing and iPads in the early years were:

To ascertain the views of teachers who are using iPads in the classroom for writing, on how the iPad changes children’s engagement in and enjoyment of the writing process.

To investigate teachers’ views on the benefits and challenges of using iPads to teach writing in the early years.

To ascertain the views of children on their use of iPads for writing activities in the classroom.

Writing and iPads in the Early Years Report

Teacher Education Tutors’ Practice in ICT

The overall aim of this project is to investigate Initial Teacher Education (ITE) tutors’ perceptions of purpose and practice in the use of ICT. Two key research questions will be the focus of this study: • What are the models of practice utilised in the ITE provision? • What challenges are faced by ITE tutors in terms of their own professional development in new and emerging technologies? The place of ICT in teaching and learning continues to be fundamental, especially in knowledge-based economies. However, relatively little recent work has been done on the perceptions of Initial Teacher Education tutors’ understanding of the role of ICT in the professional education of student teachers. Some may see their role as ‘functionalist’, preparing student teachers to use ICT within current school requirements; others may consider their role in a more strategic way to include a critique of existing policies and practice while in some instances, tutors may regard their role as ‘transformative’ by enabling students to support new ways of learning through embracing highly innovative approaches.(Hadyn, 2014, Haydn and Barton, 2008). However to what extent are these ‘models’ or paradigms evidenced in the pedagogy of the ITE tutor? To date little empirical evidence exists to address this question, nor have other models of practice been identified.

Teacher Education Tutors’ Practice in ICT Report


Teacher assistant partnerships in special schools

The number of assistants in schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland has increased significantly over the years in response to changes in educational policy and although the role of the assistant has been the focus of many research studies, ambiguity still surrounds the role.  There is also a notable gap in the research on the topic of working relationships between assistants and teachers, particularly from the perspective of the assistant.  The aim of this project was to investigate the nature of teacher-assistant partnerships in special schools from the perspective of the assistant.

Teacher assistant partnerships in special schools

Sharing Beliefs: Sharing Education

This project had three main aims. First, to facilitate cross-border interprofessional learning for stakeholders in policy and teacher education contexts around recent developments in policy and practice of teaching about religion and beliefs in schools. Second, to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to develop responses to current challenges in this area. Third, to investigate in particular the current and potential use of dialogue and collaborative learning opportunities as pedagogical tools for teaching about religion and beliefs in schools and in initial teacher education.

Sharing Beliefs-Sharing Education Report

Pre-service Teachers’ Understanding of Information and Digital Literacy

This study focused on students undertaking teacher training courses and aimed to examine preservice teachers’ knowledge and awareness of IL and the presence of these skills on their initial teacher education (ITE) courses. The views of the teacher educators were also explored. Data was collected using two online surveys which were
distributed to students and teacher educators on two university campuses (Dublin City University and Ulster University).

Pre-service Teachers’ Understanding of Information Literacy


Playful Learning Across Ireland: a student teacher intervention in Early Years Education

In an attempt to resolve some of the lingering tensions involved in implementing play as
learning in early years classrooms across the island of Ireland, a shared form of professional
development known as ‘Playful Learning’ was delivered together to a group of student
teachers in the final years of their degree programme both in Northern Ireland and the
Republic of Ireland. The professional development programme was two-fold: it involved a
shared programme of study on up-to-date research and practices on playful learning and
teaching and a playful learning intervention, where students, both North and South, had the
opportunity to plan and implement a series of playful learning experiences in an early years
classroom/setting of their choice. This report details the impact of such an intervention on
student teachers’ beliefs and practices about playful approaches to teaching and learning
and will attempt to unpick the underpinning features of a high quality playful learning
approach in practice.

Playful Learning Across Ireland Report

Minority language pupils and the curriculum – closing the achievement gap

The aim of this project was to hold two seminars on teaching English as an Additional Language (EAL), one at Ulster University in Coleraine and the other at Marino Institute of Education in Dublin, and to produce a digital resource based on these events. The seminars were entitled Minority language pupils and the curriculum – closing the achievement gap and were offered in February 2017 (Ulster University) and April 2017 (Marino Institute of Education). The digital resource was based on edited highlights from the content of the seminars and is now being used to disseminate outcomes from the two events. 

Minority language pupils and the curriculum – closing the achievement gap report


Bereavement, Seperation, and Divorce: The response of pre-service teachers to pupil wellbeing.

This research will documented the approach and response of pre-service teachers regarding their training, and confidence and competence in supporting pupils who have experienced loss. In particular the study seeked to answer the following research questions:

  1. Is loss an issue that effects the academic attainment and/or physical and psychological well-being of their students?
  2. How confident and competent do pre-service teachers feel about dealing effectively with cases of loss?
  3. How do pre-service teachers in the North and South compare and contrast in their approaches to supporting students who have experienced loss?
  4. Do schools feel that they need further ITE support in supporting students who have experienced loss, effectively?

Bereavment, Seperation and Divorce Report


Meeting the Needs of Children with Special Educational Needs in Multi-grade Classrooms

The purpose of the study was to investigate how mainstream teachers meet the needs of pupils with SEN in multi-grade classrooms. The aim of the research was to identify good practice and challenges with regard to the inclusion of pupils with SEN in mainstream, multi-grade classrooms in primary schools, as well as identifying how teachers overcome these challenges.

Meeting the Needs of Children with Special Education Needs in Multi-grade Classrooms