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Research

The mission of the Irish-medium Research Centre is to engage in enquiry-led scholarship in the area of Irish-medium education. The centre engages in research informed teaching and learning that enriches the student experience on academic programmes. The work of the centre is fully aligned with the College mission statement and ethos. It supports St Mary's Strategic Plan for Research, in collaboration with other research centres/groups. The Irish-medium Research Centre also contributes to the wider Irish language community.

 

Centre Activities

 

Research & Impact

Research in Irish-medium education in St Mary's aims to make a valuable contribution to this developing sector. Academic research makes impact through a range of pathways – cultural, resources and services, quality of educational provision. For example, research carried out on the early years in Irish-medium schools has informed early years practice and inspired further research in this area. Recent research into the various models of Irish-medium provision in Ireland informs a current debate into this question and has implications for policy and planning. Research published on best practice in Irish-medium education has been extensively disseminated among teachers and student teachers and its influence has channeled into Irish-medium classrooms throughout the country. Much of the research to date has had a very practical focus and produced high quality materials for use by Irish-medium teachers. Ultimately, the interests of pupils inspires this team. The further development of Irish-medium provision at third level has been enhanced by the work of the team. This is particularly valuable because of the unique role that St Mary's has played in developing teacher education for Irish-medium practitioners.

 

Public Engagement

The importance of public engagement is a basic tenet of the Irish-medium Research Centre's approach to research. Public engagement is planned and facilitated through a variety of means. At one level, the researchers commit to contributing to the work and consultation that informs government policy on Irish-medium issues, culminating in reviews and strategies that are put to public consultation, such as the Review of Irish-medium Education (DE, 2009) and Strategy to Enhance and Protect the Development of the Irish Language 2015 – 2035 (DCAL, 2015).

The team works in close partnership with schools, in particular, when they are planning and developing research. The voice of schools is heard via an Irish-medium Partnership Committee as well as via a network of communication events where consultation with stakeholders takes place. Public engagement is also considered when research draws towards a close and the results are communicated to the public at conferences and also at other professional forums.

It is fortunate that the Irish-medium researchers are so closely connected with the Irish-medium sector and this affords many opportunities to identify those priority needs and interests of schools that could be supported by research. It is the aim of the centre to ensure that the process of public engagement does not rely upon informal communication and solid relationships only, but is accommodated in a structured and systematic way, fully integrated into the work of the Irish-medium Research Centre.

 

Educational Activities

The Irish-medium Research Centre is committed to using its growing corpus of original research to enhance the educational experience of students and to contribute to the educational and cultural experience of the wider community. Educational activities are carried out in collaboration with international partners. Engagement with HEIs in other European countries has also resulted in opportunities for students to travel and share their knowledge with peers in Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Staff are well travelled and have disseminated research findings and have taught in other institutions that value multilingualism and a diverse cultural environment - more recently in the Basque Country, Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.

Closer to home, the team values and nurtures its strong connections with Gaeltacht communities. This is reflected in the central role of the Gaeltacht in educational activities organised by staff and students. A Gaeltacht-based research focus is also evident in ongoing work on Donegal writers.

The educational activities in the centre are planned to encourage participation by postgraduate students who elect to do the Irish-medium Education Option at St Mary's University College. A suite of six M-level modules have been designed and delivered, addressing both the pedagogical and linguistic needs of teachers and other professionals working in the sector. Students use the tools of action research and evaluative research to reflect on aspects of their professional practice and they complete a dissertation research project on an Irish-medium research issue.

Educational activities in the College are carried out in a unique and creative environment where high quality resources for pupils in IME schools are produced. The Áisaonad is closely linked to the Irish-medium Research Centre and staff collaborate closely on various educational initiatives. Educational activities in the centre also include translation work on a prolific range of texts, many of which is written for pupils in the Irish-medium schools.

The focus on resources for Irish-medium schools has inspired many of the BEd4 students to carry out research in this area, particularly since the introduction of the Capstone Module. Over the past two years students have completed their capstone research on different genres of literacy including diaries, big books, songs and poetry collections. At the end of the process the students have produced an academic essay on their particular genre of literacy, analysis of texts in the genre and resources to enhance literacy. The value in this exercise is that it gives the students an academic insight to literacy as well as providing a practical exercise in the development of rich resources, informed by research. A Capstone Conference is organised to give students the opportunity to disseminate their work.

 

 

Centre Members

 

 

From L to R: An Dr Gabrielle Nig Uidhir, Mr Padaí de Bléine, An Dr Seán Mac Corraidh (Chair), An Dr Eibhlín Mhic Aoidh, Mrs Denise Mhic Aoidh.


 

Current Research Themes

 

The Irish-medium Research Centre contributes to research in immersion and Irish-medium education in early years, primary, post-primary and tertiary education. This includes aspects of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, policy, partnerships and linguistic development in the Irish language. Members of the research team have particular expertise in the translation and adaptation of texts and resources for the Irish-medium sector.

 

 

As the current Chair of the Irish-medium Research Centre, I welcome queries regarding research related to the broad themes which impact on Irish-medium education in the national context and globally on immersion education issues. For any queries relating to the Centre's activities please contact Denise Mhic Aoidh (d.mckee@smucb.ac.uk 02890268210).