Let’s Talk Education Research

Let’s Talk Education Research is a monthly research podcast hosted by Dr Peter Tiernan from the School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies at the DCU Institute of Education. Each month Dr Tiernan speaks with a member of academic staff from the Institute of Education about a recent research publication or project. The purpose of the podcast is to provide a platform for staff to discuss their research publications and research projects, provide an additional avenue for colleagues to disseminate their research, to build an archive of research activity for the faculty, and to promote national and international connections with like-minded researchers.


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Just Rami, Director of the FETRC Research Centre. Dr Rami discusses the foundation of FETRC, highlights projects and initiatives that are currently underway, and talks about the future of the centre.

You can find out more about FETRC here: ⁠https://www.dcu.ie/fetrc⁠

You can follow FETRC on Twitter here: ⁠https://twitter.com/FETRC_DCU⁠

You can find out more about Dr Rami here: ⁠https://www.dcu.ie/policyandpractice/people/justin-rami⁠

You can also follow him on Twitter here: ⁠https://twitter.com/rami_justin


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Malgosia Machowska-kosciak and Dr Maria Barry about their research into integrating migrant voices into teacher education in Ireland. The project, which is funded by The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, uses digital stories to tell authentic stories of young people's experiences of identity, belonging, representation, racism, and discrimination while growing up in Ireland. During the podcast, Dr Machowska-kosciak and Dr Barry discuss many issues which impact belonging such as teacher representation and the representation of minority groups in the curriculum. Their research highlights the need for openness regarding identity and encourages teachers not to ignore the topic with their students. The digital stories emerging from this project can be used as a stimulus for conversation on teacher education programmes to tackle the themes of identity and belonging.

You can find out more about Malgosia and Maria on their staff profiles.⁠

For more information on their work, you can visit the Intercultural Education website.


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Audrey Doyle about her recent publication titled “Disturbing the teacher’s role as assessor: the case of calculated grades 2020–2021 in Ireland.”

Audrey begins by providing listeners with an overview of the assessment context during Covid-19, detailing the dramatic shift from state examinations to teachers as assessors. In this study, Audrey speaks with teachers about their experiences of assessment during this time and draws out the challenges and opportunities faced by teachers, as well as teachers' perceptions of their future role in the assessment of their learners.

You can access the open-access paper here ⁠https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03323315.2023.2236597⁠

You can find out more about Audrey at her staff profile here: ⁠https://www.dcu.ie/policyandpractice/people/audrey-doyle⁠

You can also connect with Audrey on Twitter here: ⁠https://twitter.com/Audrey_MDoyle



In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Sinéad McCauley Lambe about Move Write. Move write is a whole-body sensorimotor approach to handwriting. Sinéad provides a detailed overview of the research that led to the development of the Move Write programme. Sinéad worked with teachers and students from 10 schools in the Dublin area to develop the programme. Evidence suggests that the Move Write programme has a positive impact on students’ writing ability and motivation to engage in the writing process. The Move Write programme is published by ABC School Supplies and will be launching in a limited number of schools from September 2023.

You can find out more about Sinéad and her work on her blog here: ⁠https://sineadmccauleylambe.com/2023/03/12/move-write

On her staff profile page here: ⁠https://www.dcu.ie/inclusiveandspecialeducation/people/sinead-mccauley-lambe⁠

You can connect with Sinéad on Twitter here: ⁠https://twitter.com/sinlambe⁠

For more information about the Move Write kit, visit the ABC School Supplies website here: ⁠https://www.abcschoolsupplies.ie/product/move-write-complete-kit


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Orna Farrell and Prof Mark Brown about the EDEN Annual Conference 2023. We discuss the history of the EDEN community and its core values, before focusing on the annual conference 2023. Dr Farrell and Prof Brown provide an overview of the conference, including the overarching theme of hope. They detail how this was evident throughout the conference sessions and keynote speakers. Our conversation highlights the importance of community to the EDEN management committee and the ways in which this is fostered throughout the year. Dr Farrell and Prof Brown discuss the importance of positivity and action in an education landscape that is increasingly more connected with technology rather than a binary choice of digital vs face-to-face. EDEN’s strategic plan is also discussed, which focuses on developing leaders of the future.

You can find out more about the EDEN conference 2023 here: ⁠https://eden-europe.eu/event/eden-2023-annual-conference-in-dublin

You can find out more about EDEN here: ⁠https://eden-europe.eu


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Aoife Brennan. Dr Brennan is Head of School at the School of Inclusive and Special Education in the Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Aoife has spent many years researching the impact of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) on inclusive practice. Aoife begins this podcast by discussing the overall timeline of her research and how, from doctoral level, she has continued her investigations in this area. This episode first draws on Aoife’s recently published paper titled “Teachers’ experiences of transformative professional learning to narrow the values practice gap related to inclusive practice”. The paper stems from a desire to improve the confidence of teachers to meet the diversity of needs of all learners. The paper identifies PLCs as a tool for providing meaningful and transformative development in this area. The study showed that the PLC helped to enhance teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion, enhanced their efficacy, their ability to enact inclusive practices, and their collaboration with one another. When the study ended, questions arose, such as: does the impact last? how can we sustain the learning? A follow-on intervention found that a culture of collaboration had developed from the PLC, which lasted over time. The second part of the episode focuses on Aoife’s current research project which broadens out the scope of the PLC, bringing in new schools (including primary and post-primary) and participation from a wider range of staff (e.g. SNAs). This project, funded by the Teaching Council, found that teachers viewed PLCs were a safe space that facilitated collaboration and collegial support around problems of practice. Finally, Aoife speaks about an upcoming comparative study which examines the links between face-to-face and online professional learning communities.

You can read Dr Brennan’s paper titled: “Teachers’ experiences of transformative professional learning to narrow the values practice gap related to inclusive practice” here: ⁠https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0305764X.2021.1965092⁠

To find out more about Dr Brennan and her work, you can view her academic profile here: ⁠https://www.dcu.ie/inclusiveandspecialeducation/people/aoife-brennan⁠

You can also find Aoife on Twitter @aoifebren123


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with members of the CASTeL research centre about their conference ‘STEM Education in Ireland: Spotlight on Research Impact and Practice’, which took place on Thursday the 25th of May 2023. CASTeL is Ireland’s largest research centre in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Centre Director, Dr Clíona Murphy began by providing an overview of the CASTeL centre and its mission, followed by an introduction to the themes of the conference - how they emerged, and their importance to the CASTeL centre. She also highlights the innovative, collaborative approach used in the development and presentation of these themes at the conference. Dr Aisling Twohill provided an overview of the conference theme ‘STEM education and global challenges’. Aisling talks about the importance of preparing students for the future and the need to tackle global challenges such as climate change, fake news, migrating populations, and inequality. STEM education will play a crucial role in supporting students design solutions to these problems. Dr Paul van Kampen provided an overview of the conference theme ‘STE and M education: context and tool or inseparable’. The purpose of this theme was to question the relationship between mathematics and the other STEM areas. On one end of the spectrum we can view mathematics as a tool for science, technology and engineering, on the other, everything is integrated. Dr Paul Grimes provided an overview of the conference theme ‘STEM education research for impact’. This theme focused on the different types of impact that can be achieved by education and researchers in the STEM field - including publications, impacting children's perceptions of science, and raising critical questions. Finally, Dr Gillian Roehrig talks about the key global challenges facing STEM education and the importance of sharing practice and the development of a common goal for STEM education.

You can find out more about the CASTeL and their conference here: ⁠https://castel.ie/

You can also find out more about the contributors: Dr Clíona Murphy @clionamurph, Dr Aisling Twohill @aistwo, Dr Paul Van Kampen @PaulvanKampen, Paul Grimes @grimesp3, and Prof Gillian Roehrig @ghroehrig


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Alan Gorman from the School of Policy and Practice at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Alan works across a range of areas including teaching methodologies, research methods, and policy analysis. He is the leader of the “Teacher Education and Professional Learning” Area of Professional Focus on the Institute of Education’s Professional Doctorate programme. Dr Gorman discusses his recently published article titled “Partnership or Prescription: a critical discourse analysis of HEI-school partnership policy in the Republic of Ireland.” During our conversation, Alan speaks about his interest in policy analysis and how policy frameworks are applied in educational research. This has particular resonance for Alan through his work on school placement and how policy impacts the relationship between HEIs and Schools involved in initial teacher education. The drive for the study was to analyse how teacher education policy impacts how HEIs, schools, and teachers participate in teacher education. The paper looks at the approaches taken by the Teaching Council in communicating with the various stakeholders. The paper finds that there was a marked difference in the language used for HEIs and that used for schools. The language in policy comes through as ‘managerial and direct’ to HEIs but ‘asking’ of schools. One of the issues raised by Alan in the podcast and in his paper is that treating partners differently in how they are addressed in policy, leads to challenges in creating and maintaining ongoing partnerships between the various stakeholders.

You can read Dr Gorman’s paper titled “Partnership or Prescription: a critical discourse analysis of HEI-school partnership policy in the Republic of Ireland” here: ⁠https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1359866X.2023.2177139

To find out more about Dr Gorman and his work, you can view his academic profile here: ⁠https://www.dcu.ie/policy-and-practice/people/alan-gorman

You can also find Alan on Twitter @alangorman22


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Eamon Costello from the School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global studies at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Eamon is Associate Professor of Digital Learning, working across a range of teacher education and professional programmes in the faculty. Before joining the Institute of Education, he worked in DCU’s open education unit - DCU connect - working with online learners across a range of programmes. Dr Costello gives listeners an overview of his recently published article on ChatGPT and educational AI, a topic of great interest and debate in recent times. Dr Costello takes a unique stance on the subject, drawing on philosophy to unpack the seemingly unending chatter we hear about topics and how these ‘non-truths’ gain attention through persistent talking. It only matters who is talking, rather than what they are saying. Dr Costello’s article picks up this discussion in relation to ChatGPT and AI in education. He argues that we have been here before in relation to EdTech and cautions against the dangers of this kind of hyperbole. Eamon’s contribution to the debate is to argue for clarity in the area, allowing time for reflection. Eamon provides a critique of studies on AI in Education, arguing that many are driven from the perspective of the developers and that different perspectives need to be drawn into the conversation. Finally, Eamon talks about the importance of Computer Science as a discipline in order to develop teacher and student skills in relation to the construction and deconstruction of AI and its implications.

You can read Dr Costello’s paper titled: “ChatGPT and the Educational AI Chatter: Full of Bullshit or Trying to Tell Us Something?” here: ⁠https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42438-023-00398-5

You can read Dr Colette Kirwan’s paper titled: “ADAPTTER: Developing a Framework for Teaching Computational Thinking in Second-Level Schools by Design Research” here: ⁠https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11528-022-00735-8

To find out more about Dr Costello and his work, you can view his academic profile here: ⁠https://www.dcu.ie/stemeducationinnovationglobalstudies/people/eamon-costello

You can also find Eamon on Twitter @eam0


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Neil Kenny from the School of Inclusive and Special Education at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University. He is Programme Chair of the Master of Education and Autism, which is a programme for teachers working with autistic students. Before joining DCU, Dr Kenny worked in Teacher Education in the University of Limerick. Dr Kenny gives listeners an overview of his recently published paper titled ‘Transformative Inclusion: Differentiating Qualitative Research Methods to Support Participation for Individuals With Complex Communication or Cognitive Profiles’. The overarching issue the paper addresses is inclusivity and collaborative research involving people from different backgrounds and with different motivations or intentions. The idea for the paper emerged from Dr Kenny’s experience using qualitative research methods in inclusive education research. The field has moved towards capturing qualitative data from a variety of participants, including those with different communication profiles such as those with neurodevelopmental differences. However, many researchers spend much of their time adapting these qualitative methods to suit their audiences. Neil and his colleagues set out to address this gap by outlining their approach to adapting research methods to suit participants from a variety of contexts, with diverse profiles. The paper begins by outlining the implications of the current situation, for example the challenges for individuals with intellectual disabilities or complex neurodevelopmental conditions providing their views and experiences using traditional qualitative tools. The paper then draws on existing literature and practical experience to present readers with a framework to guide researchers in the use of qualitative methods with diverse populations. Dr Kenny is keen to collaborate with colleagues in the area both nationally and internationally. He also launched a website for the Accessible and Collaborative Research Network (ACORN) to encourage collaboration in this domain.

You can read Dr Kenny’s paper titled “Transformative Inclusion: Differentiating Qualitative Research Methods, with Dr Neil Kenny” here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/16094069221146992

To find out more about Dr Kenny and his work, you can view his academic profile here: https://www.dcu.ie/inclusive-and-special-education/people/neil-kenny

You can also find Neil on Twitter @NeilKenny0


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Orna Farrell from the School of Policy and Practice at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Dr Farrell has been with DCU for eight years, working in the area of online education, with a particular focus on supporting mature students studying online, and academics in developing online learning materials. Over the years, her interest in learning design has grown, and her research focuses on the various tools and techniques that can be applied in online settings. Dr Farrell begins by introducing listeners to the digital learning design unit in Dublin City University, providing an overview of its main mission - preparing academics to teach online during Covid-19. She provides an account of the development of this initiative, including the focus on professional development and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The intervention combined theory, small group workshops, and technical tasks, which allowed staff to practice skills in a safe and supportive environment. As part of the initiative, Dr Farrell and colleagues reviewed staff Loop pages using a version of Quality Matters (an evaluation framework) and identified areas of development so that support could be individually targeted. While staff were initially sensitive about sharing their practice, the result was more tailored advice and not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. One of the major impacts of the project is the creation of a permanent digital studio in the university called “DCU studio”. Digital competence has increased due to the initiative and staff have had the opportunity to reflect on the different modes of learning available to them. Key findings of the paper include the value of Learning Design for institutions, not just in investigating online learning but learning in general. Learning Design is a profession that is not well understood in higher education institutions. There is a need to invest in learning designers and promote the value of the work they do. Dr Farrell’s study argues that on-demand, tailored learning is more impactful, helping to build confidence and competence. Dr Farrell is keen to connect with other learning designers and gather their experiences during Covid-19 and more generally.

You can read Dr Farrell’s paper titled ‘Learning Design in the Time of COVID-19: The Digital Learning Design Unit Story’ here: https://openpraxis.org/articles/10.55982/openpraxis.14.2.485/

To find out more about Dr Farrell and her work, you can view her academic profile here: https://www.dcu.ie/policyandpractice/people/orna-farrell

You can also find her on Twitter @orna_farrell


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Maurice O'Reilly from the School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Dr O'Reilly, who has been working in Education for over 40 years, is a mathematics educator and researcher with a special interest in the history of mathematics and mathematics education. Dr O'Reilly begins by introducing listeners to the Edward Worth library, its founder, location, and history. Following this, he speaks about an innovative research project undertaken by his students. Students began by visiting the library to get a sense of the history of the place and its founder. Students then selected a book and undertook to write about its author, its content, and its context. In collaboration with the Edward Worth library librarian, the students' work was migrated to an online exhibition which exposed the contents of the library to a wider audience. Dr O'Reilly speaks about the successes and challenges in engaging students in this approach, revealing a real sense of enjoyment experienced by students. Students, while initially intimidated, spoke about moving into a different space in learning about mathematics. Participating in the project allowed them to view mathematics and, in particular mathematicians, in a different light. Dr O'Reilly is interested in working with communities in Ireland and internationally.

You can find out more about the project on the Edward Worth library website and in Dr O'Reilly’s conference presentation.


In this episode of the podcast, I speak with Dr Aleesha Rodriguez from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellent for the Digital Child. Dr Rodriguez is a social media researcher and a science and technology studies scholar who has a particular interest in how technology shapes society and how society shapes technology. Dr Rodriguez provides a detailed account of her current research project: Consulting children – speculating about my digital future. In this project, Dr Rodriquez and her team work with groups of children, asking them to imagine digital technologies of the future and how they should look. The team ask children, aged seven to eight years of age, to draw their visions of technology, focusing specifically on the features, values, and ethics of these technologies. Children are prompted to think about these technologies in terms of their look, functionality, and purpose. Children’s designs are then brought to life by media and design practitioners who use the children’s ideas to inspire blueprints, prototypes, and design specifications of these technologies. A public exhibition will be held to showcase the designs created by children and how these were translated by the digital media practitioners. Dr Rodriguez’s work has many parallels and connections to early childhood research and educational technology research, and she is keen to connect with researchers in these fields to discuss opportunities for collaboration.

To find out more about Dr Rodriguez and her work, you can view her academic profile.
You can also find her on Twitter @_aleeshajoy


In this month's episode, Dr Tara Concannon-Gibney discusses her recently completed SCoTENS project titled 'An Exploration of the Use of Children’s Literature in the Teaching of Early Reading (EuCLER).' The study was completed with Dr Geraldine Magennis from St Mary's University College Belfast. 

You can connect with Dr Concannon-Gibney on Twitter (@DrTaraConGibney), by email: tara.concannon-gibney@dcu.ie, or through her profile: https://www.dcu.ie/languageliteracyandearlychildhoodeducation/people/tara-concannon-gibney

You can connect with Dr Magennis on Twitter (@GeraldineMagen2) or through her profile: https://www.stmarys-belfast.ac.uk/general/staff.asp?nq=1&mode=detail&StaffID=155

More information about SCoTENS can be found on their website: https://scotens.org


In this month's episode, Amalee Meehan discusses school ethos and how this influences the integration of newly arrived migrant students.

You can connect with Dr Meehan by email amalee.meehan@dcu.ie

Dr Meehan's recent publication on this subject is available (open access) here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666374022000863

The DCU Anti-Bullying Centre website is here: https://antibullyingcentre.ie/


In this month's episode, Dr Geraldine French discusses Early Childhood and the importance of slow relational pedagogy.

You can connect with Dr French on Twitter @GFrench_ECEC or on email geraldine.french@dcu.ie.

Dr French's publication on slow relational pedagogy is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V6no4KmbEDvunEWM3f6R4ECEMRWlm428/view


In this month's episode podcast, Audrey Bryan discusses a pedagogical framework - the Social Ecology of Responsibility Framework (SERF) - which she developed as a tool for climate change educators to promote deeper understanding of the complex relationship between individual actions or “ordinary harms” and wider social forces which are responsible for the global climate crisis (Bryan 2021). With reference to her recently published article “Pedagogy of the Implicated”, she discusses the rationale for the SERF as well as the theories, thinkers and concepts that inspired it, as well as some of the ways that it might be applied in classroom contexts.

You can connect with Dr Bryan on Twitter @audreypoststruc or email audrey.bryan@dcu.ie

Pedagogy of the Implicated, published in Pedagogy, Culture & Society, is available here: https://doi.org/10.1080/14681366.2021.1977979


In this episode, I speak with Professor Mathias Urban, Desmond Chair of Early Childhood Education and Director of the Early Childhood Research Centre at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Mathias provides a wonderful insight into Early Childhood Education and the role his centre is playing in shaping research, policy and practice in the field.

You can find out more about Mathias here

You can find out more about the Early Childhood Research Centre here and follow the centre on Twitter @dcu_ecrc


In this episode, I speak with Professor Michael O'Leary about the Centre for Assessment Research, Policy and Practice in Education (CARPE). Michael speaks to me about the origins and development of the centre, highlights some recent research completed by the centre, and discusses what's next for CARPE.

You can find out more about CARPE and what they do, on their website www.dcu.ie/carpe. You can also connect with CARPE on Twitter @carpe_dcu


In this episode, I speak with Dr Ger Scanlon about the PASTE project. This investigated supported transition for school leavers with intellectual disabilities.

The Progressing Accessible Supported Transitions to Employment (PASTE) project investigated the concept of supported transition for school leavers with intellectual disabilities, as a means of accessing mainstream opportunities in further / higher education, training, and employment (FETE). The study was undertaken by two researchers from Dublin City University, Ireland, across 2017 and 2018. This study investigated outcomes for school leavers with Intellectual Disabilities, who engaged with the WALK PEER supported transition model during their final two years in school. The research process focused on: a) capturing the viewpoints of students attending two special schools, their parents and carers, recent school leavers, and education professionals, and b) measuring employer viewpoints and engagement with the WALK PEER model between August 2015 and February 2018. This research project was funded by the Irish Research Council.

WALK PEER website »
PASTE report »

You can connect with Dr Scanlon on Twitter @gerscanlon or by email Geraldine.Scanlon@dcu.ie


In this episode, I speak with Dr Susan Pike about a recent SCoTENS project, titled 'ENABLE'. This project looks at enquiry in teacher education. 

The ENABLE project involved lecturers in Geography, History and Science Education across Ireland. Collaborators Dr Susan Pike (DCU), Dr Sandra Austin (MIE), Dr Karin Bacon (MIE) and Dr Richard Greenwood (Stranmillis University College) were all fascinated by enquiry and wanted to know more about how our students experience enquiry at different levels in their education programmes. All the students who took part were studying to be primary teachers, so were inquiring about aspects of their new profession as well as learning how to implement enquiry with children in schools. The project helped all involved to think about the multiplicities of enquiry we ask our students to engage with. 

Further information can be found in the collaborators' recent publication: Greenwood, R., Austin, S., Bacon, K. and Pike, S. (2021) 'Enquiry-Based Learning in the Primary Classroom: student teachers’ perceptions'. Education 3-13, 49 (1) and on the SCoTENS website.

You can connect with Dr Pike on Twitter @SusanJPike