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Research

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

 

Group 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 research group. 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 group'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 research group 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 research group 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 research group.

 

Educational Activities

The research group 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 research group 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 research group 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 research group and staff collaborate closely on various educational initiatives. Educational activities in the research group also include translation work on a prolific range of texts, many of which are written for pupils in 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.

 

 

Research Group Members

 

 

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


 

Current Research Themes

 

The research group 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 group have particular expertise in the translation and adaptation of texts and resources for the Irish-medium sector.

 

 

As the current Chairperson of the research group, 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 research group's activities please contact Padaí de Bléine (p.blaney@smucb.ac.uk 02890268239).

 

 

Previous Research-Related Events

 

Comhdháil ar an Ghaeloideachas
D’fhreastail pobal léinn na hÉireann ar chomhdháil taighde dar teideal, Ag Treorú na Foghlama sa Ghaeloideachas, i gColáiste Ollscoile Naomh Muire, 3 Bealtaine, 2017. Is é an tIonad Taighde Lán-Ghaeilge sa Choláiste a reáchtáil an ócáid stairiúil seo agus d’éirigh go geal léi.
Thug taighdeoirí ó sheacht n-ollscoil in Éirinn agus ó réimse scoileanna agus eagras páipéir léannta, ag cur torthaí a gcuid taighde i láthair an lucht oideachais. Spreagadh misneach agus dóchas sa phobal éisteachta i ndiaidh dóibh léargas a fháil ar an taighde reatha atá ag soláthar fianaise d’fhorbairt na Gaelscolaíochta. Foilseofar na paipéir san iris, Taighde & Teagasc amach anseo. Ag deireadh na maidine, cuireadh an t-aoichainteoir, an Dr Pádraig Ó Mianáin, in aithne don phobal agus thug sé óráid lénnta a chuir dúshlán roimh an lucht eisteachta, ag cíoradh ceisteanna casta agus ag tarraingt aird an phobail ar ais chuig an chúis a spreag tiomantas don Ghaelscolaíocht sna laethanta tosaigh.
Ag am lóin, chuir daltaí óga Bhunscoil Naomh Proinsias dráma a scríobh a múinteoir ranga i láthair, bunaithe ar an úrscéal ,Matilda, agus fágadh an pobal iomlán faoi dhraíocht. Fuair siad ardmholadh ón phobal. Chuir mic léinn ceoil de chuid an Choláiste go mór leis an atmaisféar bríomhar cultúrtha.
Nuair a chríochnaigh na ceardlanna taighde, cuireadh tús leis an chéad ‘OideÓcáid’ trí Ghaeilge in Éirinn. Le linn na hócáide, rinne cúig dhuine dhéag de mhúinteoirí Gaelscoile cur i láthair, ag tabhairt spléachadh gasta ar shampla den teagasc eiseamláireach ina ranganna féin. Coinníodh an t-atmaisféar ceiliúrtha éadrom spraíúil le babhtaí amhránaíochta, le crannchur agus duaiseanna.
Dúirt an tOllamh Peadar Mag Fhionn go raibh taifead ceannródaíochta sa Choláiste maidir le soláthar an oideachais tosaigh do mhúinteoirí Gaelscoile agus go leanfaí den traidisiún, ag forbairt an Ghaeloideachais, agus taighde nua mar thaca faoi.
Cuireadh críoch leis an chomhdháil le béile sa Chultúrlann. Tugadh buíochas do na hurraitheoirí - Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, Foras na Gaeilge agus An Chomhairle um Oideachais Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta agus mar fhocal scoir, tugadh buíochas do Chathaoirleach an Ionaid Thaighde, Denise Mhic Aoidh.

 

 

Researchers from all over Ireland gathered in St Mary’s University College for a conference, organised by the College’s research group, Irish-medium Education, on the 3rd May 2017. The theme of the conference was ‘Leading Learning in Irish-medium Schools’.
The programme commenced with presentation of research findings by presenters from seven universities in Ireland. The range of current research that was disseminated was inspiring and a selection of papers will be published in the seventh edition of the academic journal, Taighde & Teagasc. Dr Pádraig Ó Mianáin was the guest speaker and during his address, he challenged the audience to consider the role of Irish-medium education, promoting the Irish language, extending access to the richness of the language and to the centrality of the relationship with the language community.
During a light lunch, pupils from St Francis’ Primary School in Lurgan enraptured the audience with their performance of a play that they wrote and based on the novel Matilda. Music students from the College added to the atmosphere of culture and entertainment with their performance of traditional airs.
At the close of the research workshops and during the final part of the day’s programme, the first ever Teach-Meet for the Irish-medium sector was organised. Fifteen teachers shared examples of innovative practice in their classrooms with the audience of peers from Irish-medium schools and St Mary’s BEd and PGCE students. During the Teach-Meet, the atmosphere was lively and stimulating, and professional presentations were interspersed with group singing, lively debate and the awards of prizes.
Professor Peter Finn, in his address, praised the research-base that underpins Teacher Professional Learning, introduced in St Mary’s to serve the Irish-medium sector in 1995 and he stressed the importance of the College’s partnership with Irish-medium schools.
The conference was brought to an end with a final word of thanks to sponsors, including Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, Foras na Gaeilge and An Chomhairle um Oideachais Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta. The Chairperson of the research group at the time of the conference, Denise McKee, received a presentation in acknowledgement of her leading role in organising the conference. Delegates enjoyed the conference dinner in Culturlann Mac Adaim Ó Fiaich.

 

Members of the conference organising team and students who participated in the conference,

accompanied by the Principal of the College and a representative from Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta

 

 

 

Delegates during the opening address of the conference

 


 

Delegates participating in one of the research paper sessions

 

 

 

Dr Pádraig Ó Mianáin delivering the keynote address at the conference