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Research Presented at ESAI Conference

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The annual conference of the Educational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI) took place last month with the theme of ‘Reconstructing education: what matters?’ Hibernia College faculty shared three presentations looking at preliminary research findings on the introduction and use of the Cohort app in the School of Education, the importance of play in infant classes and embodied practices in early intervention with parents.

The Purpose of Education

Scholars, practitioners, policymakers, emerging researchers and others gathered at the conference to reflect upon and discuss possibilities in education. ‘It is the sense of interconnectedness, the encounter between the teacher and the child or young person, which is the greatest purpose of education’, the ESAI asserted, and looked to the ways digital technology in teaching and learning support this encounter.

Facilitating Collaborative Teaching and Learning

Dr Keith Young, Lecturer in Education, and Dr Jean Henefer, Lecturer in Education (Research), presented the abstract of their paper ‘Facilitating collaborative teaching and learning: an exploration of the introduction and use of the Moxtra Cohort app.’ The forthcoming paper will share the preliminary findings of a mixed-methods investigation of the introduction and use of the Cohort app (2021–2022) in the School of Education at Hibernia College. Read more discussions about the Cohort app’s impact: Seminar on digital collaboration and teaching and learning and Hibernia College’s educational technology showcased.

The aim of the ongoing research presented at the conference is to study the use of the app to facilitate collaborative teaching and learning and to foster the development and enhancement of virtual learning communities across Hibernia College’s Professional Master of Education (PME) programmes. Following the presentation, Dr Henefer and Dr Young were joined by Janet Benson from Learnovate Centre to respond to questions from the audience.

Holistic Restructuring of Early Intervention

Dr Carol-Ann O’Síoráin, Lecturer in Education, along with Dr Miriam Twomey, Zarah Doyle and Dr Conor McGuckin, presented ‘Embodied practice or reactive exercises: holistic restructuring of early intervention’. They shared their findings about the experiences of parents of children with additional needs and how the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the families’ challenges.

Play-based Pedagogy

Dr O’Síoráin also presented ‘Play always matters: It matters even more in infant classes now’ with Dr Margaret Kernan, Lecturer in Education (Early Childhood); Elva Casey, Acting Programme Director of the PME in Primary Education; and Fiona McArdle, Lecturer in Education (Primary). Their research looks at student teachers’ understanding of play-based pedagogy, its benefits and implementation.

Next Steps for Research

The 2022 annual conference extended the ESAI’s strong tradition of providing a forum for the dissemination of research that considers past, present and potential contributions and influences at local, national and international levels.

The research presented by Dr Young and Dr Henefer conveyed the innovative approach to using technology to support knowledge sharing and collaboration in a blended learning environment at Hibernia College. The presenters look forward to the final stage of the research when they will host focus groups with participants.

The research presented by Dr O’Síoráin, along with her colleagues from different institutions, advocated for early intervention and better support for parents of children with additional needs.

The next steps of the School of Education’s research on play-based pedagogy will use the data to build a report for the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), plan a focus group and create professional development sessions for adjunct faculty.

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