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Further Education & Training Research Centre

Research Fellows | People | Further Education & Training Research Centre


Research Fellows

Carl Sheridan

Carl SheridanCarl studying an MA in Education by research and is supervised by Dr Justin Rami. Through his research he hopes to get a broad view on the contrast between 2nd chance education (Youthreach) and 3rd level education. Carl is currently a Teacher with 9 years experience at Youthreach Blanchardstown. His background is in corporate management, working for companies such as Diageo and the Irish Greyhound Board.



Sarah Gunning

Sarah GunningSarah Gunning is a PhD student in the School of Education Studies with a concentration in educational leadership. Her research is focused on gendered student leadership juxtaposed with current debates in gender quotas both nationally and internationally. Broadly conceived, her doctoral work is an inquiry into the extent male and female student leaders exhibit both transactional and transformational traits with an emphasis on ‘involved and informative’ parts of speech. Influenced by Biber and Pennebaker, she examines the use of ‘function words, reflective pronouns and active verb term’ usage among emergent leaders, in a university setting. She holds a BSc (First Class) Honors Degree. Currently, she is a Research Fellow with FETRC and Teaching Assistant in the School of Education Sarah has presented at a number of conferences on educational leadership and barriers between Further Education and Higher Education. Sarah can be contacted at: sarah.gunning3@mail.dcu.ie


Tracy Phillips

Tracy PhillipsPrior to her employment in the Further Education and Training sector Tracy was employed in the hospitality industry specifically in training development and quality assurance. Tracy studied in Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City University (DCU), Trinity College and is currently completing a research PhD in FETRC.

Tracy has been employed in the Further education and training sector for over twenty years. She has been involved in the direct design and delivery of QQI (FETAC) programmes as a teacher to both adults and adolescents. Tracy is currently employed as the coordinator of Youthreach Blanchardstown a position she has held for over fifteen years during this period she has represented Youthreach on national and European reviews and development projects relating to direct provision, management, quality assurance and certification. Tracy has been involved in many Further Education and Training staff development programmes and has promoted developed and organised many in-service and community of practice events including the delivery of modules on DCU’s BSc in Education and Training.

Along with staff development Tracy has a keen interest in the following areas blended learning, leadership, change management, mediation and mentoring. Tracys current area of inquiry is the impact Youthreach has on the lives of current and past students; under the supervision of Justin Rami.

Dearbhail Lawless

Dearbhails PhD research investigates the participation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds within the education sector has come under increased focus in Ireland over the last twenty years. Legislation has advocated for equal opportunity with emphasis placed on the inclusion of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  One of the objectives in The Education Act, 1998 is “to promote the equality of access to and participation in education and to promote the means whereby students may benefit from education”. The Report of the Action Group on Access to Third Level Education (2001) acknowledges the essential role education plays in breaking away from the cycle of disadvantage or the continued social exclusion experienced by those born into poverty. “Education is fundamental to the creation of an individual’s life options and, as such, is a major factor in the response to poverty and the risk of poverty” (p.31)

Pathways, access programmes, and dedicated funding streams have developed across the country with measured success in increasing participation from lower socio-economic groups. FETAC or further education courses used as a bridge into higher education is increasingly viewed as an option by students, parents, institutions and other stakeholders. Yet, the streamlining and transparency of this route across the board is still vague in parts. Participation rates have increased, yet the current student cohort still largely portrays a picture of middle and upper class success within the higher education sector. Current research gathers views from a number of stakeholders with little emphasis on the perspectives of participants and non-participants from these communities.

This research seeks to gain further understanding of the pathways and access routes into higher education, and the successes and barriers faced by these students and non-participants, through the perspectives of:

  • Individuals from disadvantaged communities [current non-participants]
  • Students in higher education identified as disadvantaged
  • FETAC entry students
  • Individuals offered places in HE through FETAC that didn’t take accept their offer
  • Staff working in Access Offices in higher education institutions
  • Teaching staff in higher education
  • Teaching staff in FETAC colleges

 It will map the pathways and access routes into higher education institutions and universities including FETAC entry, specific initiatives such as the NAVET pathway into the Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Education & Training, Dublin City University and the HEAR programme.


Mickey Monaghan

Mickeys Ed Doc thesis asks the question –“Can the inclusion of Mindfulness Training into QQI Level 5 improve the coping skills of Healthcare Assistants in Palliative Care?”. The Focus of the Research seeks to - 1. To identify existing attitudes of healthcare assistants around their use of mindfulness while working in Palliative Care, 2. Determine whether palliative care tutors are willing to introduce mindfulness to their taught programmes., 3. To look at the benefits and limitations of using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy approaches within the palliative care program specifically for Health Care Assistants., 4. To explore Mindfulness Based Approaches in the context of Palliative Care Work. Justification for the Research - To explore whether or not the inclusion of mindfulness into palliative care training can help improve the coping skills of healthcare assistants in their profession.As a tutor who has taught palliative care for the past seven years, the author has noticed a slight gap in the research on healthcare assistants in Ireland. That is as far as the author has read, the question “Can the inclusion of Mindfulness Training into QQI Level 5 improve the coping skills of Healthcare Assistants in Palliative Care?” has not been asked and therefore would wish to research the above question. It is the authors hope that the above research could contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the training of Healthcare Assistants in Ireland.

Pamela Skerritt

Pamela’s PhD research focusses on Volunteering for the emergency care worker denotes a commitment to assisting in the community, in current educational times, pressure is abundant to complete continuous upskilling. This research will be a comparative study between the need for clinical professional competency and continuous professional development.

The goal of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of the role of a volunteer, understand how  knowledge, skills & attitude affect personal practice, and how changing climates in all social economical contexts impact on the future of volunteerism.  Change within any context can be both positive and negative, but with good practices and deeper understanding of all individuals, we may be able to make the path ahead clearer and less fragmented, we must volunteer to change, but change also to volunteer in new educational contexts. Community practice and engagement are essential components of emergency volunteer practice, and time management essential to providing valuable service. For the volunteer, ensuring professional skills and appropriate care is linked to continuous upskilling and training, thus placing added time pressures to everyday commitments and working life.