In June 2017, we were delighted to host two Boston College MESA PhD students, Gulsah Gurkan and Sebastian Moncaleano, as part of the CARPE Research Experience Programme. The two students thoroughly enjoyed their experience, and shared the following account of their time in Ireland with us:
"Our Irish research experience programme began in March when the Chair of the MESA department, Prof. Larry Ludlow, announced a collaboration with Prof. Michael O’Leary, a PhD alumni of the department. Prof. O’Leary, Prometric Chair in Assessment at Dublin City University (DCU), is also Director of the Centre for Assessment Research, Policy and Practice in Education (CARPE). As a way to increase the scope of the work led by the centre, he reached out to Prof. Ludlow with the idea that graduate students of the MESA department could help his centre advance measurement related research projects while gaining hands-on experience in Ireland. Prof. O’Leary had two projects in which he envisioned MESA PhD students could have an impact and thus opened two positions for applications. After an interview process, we were selected as the lucky two to experience this partnership for the first time. The travel date was set for June 3rd and the months of April and May were devoted to organizing all the paperwork required for traveling.
Before we knew it, we were sitting at the airport waiting for our flight on the night of June 3rd, ready to visit Ireland for the first time. Next morning, we landed in Dublin where Prof. O’Leary greeted us with joy. He took us to the DCU campus where we would be lodged (former St. Patrick’s College) and showed us around. The next couple of days we had the opportunity to meet with the other colleagues with whom we would be working. We also met with Dr. Darina Scully and Anastasios Karakolidis, other members of CARPE, with whom we did not work directly but who made our stay in Ireland significantly warmer and enjoyable.
Gulsah worked with Dr. Kay Maunsell on developing an instrument to measure secondary school students’ learning about well-being. The aim of this project was to meet the needs of recent curricular reform within the Irish context as well as to address some current developments and discussions in the existing well-being literature. Meanwhile, Sebastian worked with Drs. James O’Higgins and Mairead Foody on the topic of bullying among adults in the workplace. Workplace bullying often goes unnoticed and unaddressed and can have negative consequences for both the victims (e.g. mental health difficulties) and the companies (e.g. reduced employee retention). The objective of this collaboration was to develop an instrument to measure workplace bullying. Although different, both projects had similar objectives. This helped us inspire each other’s work by constantly exchanging ideas about how to approach our research.
Although we worked tirelessly during the four weeks we were in Ireland, this didn’t stop us from doing some sightseeing! The first weekend we devoted our time to a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the city of Dublin, visiting its main museums and sites of interest. During our second weekend, we travelled to the west coast of Ireland to see Galway, the Kylemore Abbey, and the Cliffs of Moher. On our final weekend, we travelled to Howth to see the Baily Lighthouse (landmark related to James Joyce’s Ulysses). On some days, we also went downtown Dublin after work to enjoy food and drinks in traditional Irish pubs. We had the chance to visit the Guinness Brewery as well and attend the Riverdance, a theatrical Irish dance show. For these two awesome activities, we owe special thanks to BC Ireland for providing the tickets.
Sooner than we expected, July 1st arrived and we were boarding our plane back to Boston. By the end of our time in Ireland, there were many people we were grateful to for making our stay in Ireland an amazing and unforgettable experience."