Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences


Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is committed to excellence in teaching and learning in all of its disciplines. The following are a selection of research studies intended to have direct application to teaching, together with teaching innovations already being implemented in the classroom.

The risks of ‘university speak’: Relationship management and identity negotiation by mature students off campus   

Research finds that participation in higher education is generally empowering for mature students but that it can also create tensions in their off-campus relationships. This article reports on findings from an ongoing study of the experiences of mature students at university in Ireland and draws from interviews with 15 such students in the final year of their studies. Following similar research by Baxter and Britton in the UK, the article considers how mature students experience and represent changes in their identities and social relationships brought about by entry to higher education. Specifically, the article focuses on the risks associated with using newly acquired academic language (or ‘university speak’) off campus. The findings reported here complement existing research and offer support for Baxter and Britton’s suggestion that mature students often experience compartmentalisation and fragmentation in their self-identities.


Contact: Neil O’Boyle []

Related Publication:


O’Boyle N. (2015) 'The risks of ‘university speak’: relationship management and identity negotiation by mature students off campus'. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 25 (2):93-111


 Making Sense in Religious Studies: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing

The Making Sense series offers clear, concise guides to research and writing for students at all levels of undergraduate study. Designed especially for students in religious studies, this volume outlines general principles of style, grammar, and punctuation while also covering issues such as how to conduct academic research in religious studies, how to read religious texts, how to write essays and short assignments, how to document sources, and how to give an oral presentation.


Contact: Brad Anderson []


Related publication:

Bradford A. Anderson, Margot Northey, and Joel Lohr (2015) Making Sense in Religious Studies: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing, 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 


  Fostering Cosmopolitan Dispositions

This chapter contributes to debates on justice and equality in higher education by centring on the fostering of cosmopolitan dispositions in a university setting in Ireland, but with wider relevance for countries facing similar pedagogic challenges of interculturality. The cosmopolitan construct is understood here to mean an engagement with the world through critical intercultural dialogue and is grounded in a philosophical narrative that hearkens back to the age of the Stoics but which is being renewed by contemporary scholars in the field of education. The chapter foregrounds ‘capability’ over ‘competence’, seeing learning and development as a set of freedoms and opportunities based on beings and doings that the individual student has reason to value. This is illustrated with empirical examples of pedagogical praxis drawn from insider-practitioner, multicultural classroom settings, which have informed the development of a matrix of capabilities, including cosmopolitan citizenship, voice and agency, and affiliation, presented and elaborated here.


Contact: Veronica Crosbie []


Related publication:

Crosbie, V. (2016) Fostering Cosmopolitan Dispositions, In: Socially Just Pedagogies, Capabilities and Quality in Higher Education, Palgrave Studies in Global Citizenship Education and Democracy, pp 129-152


 Using reciprocal peer teaching to develop learner autonomy: An action research project with a beginners' Chinese class

Peer teaching has been used as a mechanism for promoting learner autonomy in a range of language learning contexts. This article explores how absolute beginners in a Chinese class can engage in reciprocal peer teaching (RPT) from the start of their language learning experience and how this contributes to the development of their autonomy as learners in addition to improving their linguistic competence in Chinese. RPT, as it is implemented in this study, entails students working in teaching teams, with each team taking responsibility in turn to teach the whole class during a short beginners' course in Chinese. The study was conducted as an action research project in three cycles, with modifications to the form and content of students' engagement in each cycle based on analysis of data from students' reflective language learning journals and group reports. The findings suggest that the cooperative and challenging activity of RPT fostered students' individual responsibility and motivation for learning while at the same time developing group solidarity in the classes. Individual and group development together served to promote the learner autonomy. The findings also suggest that the reciprocal element, whereby each student identifies with both teacher and learner roles at some point during the course, is critical in this intervention, functioning as a catalyst for students' activities.

Contacts: Weiming Liu [] and Ann Devitt


Related publication:

Using reciprocal peer teaching to develop learner autonomy: An action research project with a beginners' Chinese class, Language Learning in Higher Education (2014), 4 (2)



Internationalization and Geography Fieldwork: Opportunities for Skills Enhancement  

This article outlines the approaches to internationalization undertaken by the Geography Department at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra in Dublin. It begins with an overview of the potential of the discipline of geography for internationalization, before explaining some existing practices within the Department which are intended to foster both mobility and internationalization at home. The core of the paper is a discussion of an approach to internationalization through fieldwork which has been developed and refined in the Department over the past eight years. The module is described in detail, together with an examination of learning outcomes and an evaluation of the various IT, linguistic, disciplinary and interpersonal skills fostered by this approach.


Contacts: Ruth McManus [] and Gerry O’Reilly []


Related publication:

'Internationalization and Geography Fieldwork: Opportunities for Skills Enhancement' Journal of the Comenius Association, 2011, (Vol 20), pp. 20-25  


Practice and Theory in Geography: Experiences from international collaboration for teacher education    

This paper explores how collaboration between university Geography departments in different countries can enhance practical competencies and skills, while bringing innovative approaches to the teaching and learning of Geography at all levels. A major objective is to empower students in geographical thinking and doing by building on their latent skills and knowledge. The spatial perspective must be flexible so as to encourage innovative teaching strategies and technologies. Two experiences of international collaboration between undergraduate geography students are examined. The first case study focuses on joint course experiences of Dutch and Irish students collaborating on the organization and delivery of geographical fieldwork; the second centres on interculturalism, globalization, and good citizenship as worked on by Irish and American students. While both cases involved online interaction, in the first case the students met following a preparatory period of online collaboration, whereas in the second case the only interaction was online and the students never met face-to-face. Both experiences were generally positively received, and serve to highlight the potential for new generations of teachers to use ICT in order to share their geographical empathy and stories across national boundaries, constructs and curricula.


Contacts: Ruth McManus [] and Gerry O’Reilly []

Related publication:

McManus, Ruth and O'Reilly, Gerry (2015) 'Practice and Theory in Geography: experiences from international collaboration for teacher education'.


 Teaching and Learning: Using the Irish Historic Towns Atlas at third level

Since its inception in 1981 as part of a wider European scheme of historic town atlases, the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA) has published 26 fascicles in hard copy. Following conversations with the IHTA team based at the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) regarding the possibility of digitising the atlases, the Carlingford atlas (O’Sullivan & Gillespie 2011), was chosen as an exemplar for digitisation, principally due to the scale of the town. Subsequently, areas within Dublin were digitised, using fascicles I, II and III of the Dublin IHTA.  The project was undertaken by undergraduate BA geography students during a GIS module. This paper illustrates the potential opportunities and challenges of creating a digital version of the IHTA to be used as a visualisation and research tool, and the potential for student learning about both the development of towns and the skills involved in creating digital maps.

Contacts: Jonathan Cherry [] and Susan Hegarty []


Related output:

Jonathan Cherry with Susan Hegarty (2015) GIS in practice and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas. [Invited Lecture], Teaching and Learning: using the Irish Historic Towns Atlas at third level, sponsored by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Royal Irish Academy.


Motivational diversity among adult minority language learners

The sociolinguistic context of Irish, a minority language which is also the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, presents a multitude of issues for consideration in relation to Irish language teaching and learning. This article reports a small-scale (n= 12) exploratory qualitative study of the range of motivations to be observed among adult learners of Irish in Ireland. It examines the extent to which current theoretical formulations are adequate to explain these motivations. It is argued that certain types of adult learners of Irish are likely to be motivated by affective factors such as identity, linguistic heritage and cultural connections which are distinct from the integrative/instrumental formulations of the Gardner et al. model. The motivation of other learners, however, may more closely approximate these traditional constructs. The study involved a ground-up categorisation of the self-expressed motivations of 12 adult learners of Irish from diverse backgrounds. It reveals five potential categories of learner motivations with most learners having multiple motivations. Results are discussed in terms of the relevance of current formulations of motivation in the research literature to the context of adult minority language learning. Pedagogical implications for the improvement of adult Irish language learning are also outlined.


Contact: Colin Flynn []


Related publication:

Colin Flynn & John Harris (2016) 'Motivational diversity among adult minority language learners: Are current theoretical constructs adequate?'. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 37 (4):371-384


Can Intercultural Experiences foster Creativity? The relevance, theory and evidence         


This article focuses on the relationship between intercultural experience and creativity, with a specific focus on the thesis that engagement with cultural diversity can foster creativity. Having highlighted both the need for creativity and various challenges associated with defining and measuring it, a comprehensive theoretical rationale for the potential of intercultural experiences to enhance creativity is presented. This is accompanied by a thorough review of fourteen relevant empirical studies. Overall, the article highlights a growing body of empirical data supporting the argument that intercultural experiences can enhance creativity, but also draws attention to the complexity of this process, including multiple factors which influence this relationship. 

Contact: Ciarán Dunne


Related Publication:

'Can Intercultural Experiences foster Creativity? The relevance, theory and evidence'. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 2017 3 (38)

Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students       

Intercultural competency is a skill increasingly required of all higher education staff. The ICOS 'Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students' DVD and training guide is an unparalleled resource for use across the sector, a thoroughly accessible tool for the efforts of higher education institutions to build receptive and empathetic environments for international students. Developed over a three year period and launched in 2015, it brings together the experiences and perspectives of a range of international students on living and studying in Ireland. Interview segments on a wide range of themes are further explored in the 130 page training guide that accompanies the DVD, including participative exercises for use by facilitators. The pack, which was authored by former ICOS trainer Louise Staunton and edited by Dr. Ciarán Dunne, draws on ICOS' experience of offering intercultural awareness training to higher education academic and support staff over many years, and the video resources are able to bring the experiences and perspectives of a range of international students into a training context in the most direct way possible. The 'Diverse Voices' training pack also features many experienced higher education sector professionals discussing issues of best practice. Whilst the focus of Diverse Voices is on the Irish cultural context, the themes explored will resonate with anyone interested in intercultural competence development.

Contact: Ciarán Dunne


Related Output:

Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students. 
ICOS (2015) Diverse Voices: Listening to International Students. Ireland. 
Blended Learning in Communication Studies

From September 2015, CM137 ("History and Structure of the Media") which is offered to students in Communication Studies and the Joint Honours Degree has been delivered using blended learning methods. The previous 2-3 hour "live" lectures have been replaced with online lecture delivery. This is augmented by new weekly seminars moderated by the course coordinator and which are built around questions relating to the previous weeks online lecture. Each lecture is broken down into a series of 20-minute-long video presentations which are "released" to students every Wednesday. Students can download the videos from the Loop page or watch them via a private Youtube page. This allows students to access the course content at a location, time and pace of their own choosing. The online videos are produced using Camtasia, a piece of desktop video recording software which permits blending of straight to camera video and audio, powerpoint presentations, web content etc into a video presentation. The move to blended learning is a response to the increasing scale of the class, with negative consequences for the quality of delivery and which has raised timetabling difficulties. By limiting the face to face element of the course to smaller-scale seminar groups, the course coordinator can directly interact with students who are in position to raise questions that they may not feel able to in class. The ultimate goal is to improve student engagement while retaining larger class sizes. The intention is to publish a reflection on whether learning outcomes have improved at the conclusion of the module, in conjunction with the Teaching Enhancement Unit.

Contact: Dr Roddy Flynn [Email:]  

Blended Learning in the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence

Dr. James Fitzgerald (DCU) and colleague Prof. Anthony Lemieux (Georgia State University [GNU]) have created and delivered a unique collaborative module on terrorism, which facilitates cross-cultural engagement on related topics between students based in the US and in Ireland. Originally developed in 2009, this blended-learning module offers an opportunity for (final-year BA) students at DCU and GNU to interact through discussion forums, chat spaces and collaborative Wiki group projects in order to consistently challenge popular pre-conceptions on terrorism and political violence, as well highlighting important cultural dynamics that inform such views. Feedback has shown that the module's significant emphasis on group discussion (mainly facilitated by discussion forums housed on a shared Moodle/Loop page) has helped to crystalise students' understandings of psychological and political components of 'terrorism', with the US students enrolled in Psychology degrees and DCU students in International Relations and Politics degrees. For the coming semester,Fitzgerald and Lemieux plan to expand the module to incorporate the voices of students from diverse locations--such as the West Bank and/or Beirut, Lebanon--in order to further enrich the parameters for debate and continuously challenge the basis of what students might understand as terrorism and political violence.


Fitzgerald, J., Lemieux, A. F. 2011. ‘Embracing Subjectivities in the Collaborative Teaching of Terrorism: Pedagogy in a “Critical” Learning Environment’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 441-450. Available at:

Fitzgerald, J., Lemieux, A. F. 2011. ‘Pedagogy in a Blended-Learning Environment: The Utility of Discussion Forums and Wiki Group Projects’, Why Social Science Matters, Issue 5

Fitzgerald, J., Lemieux, A. F. 2010. ‘Across the divide: reflections of a collaborative class on terrorism’, Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 1. Available at:

Contact: Dr James Fitzgerald [Email: 

Smartphone Cinema Project

Evidence has shown that students have greatly increased their consumption of digital video, principally through video sharing sites. In parallel, students’ participation in video sharing and creation has also risen. As educators, we need to question how this can be effectively translated into a positive learning experience for students, whilst examining how willing students actually are to critically engage with digital video and analysing how best to hone their digital literacy skills. I have embedded a smartphone cinema project into a first year French module where students are thought the skills to make a short film in French on their phones whilst interacting with French native speakers, either on or off campus. The culmination of this project is a Pocket Cinema festival in DCU that allows students to showcase their creativity to their peers and to the wider community. This project was also implemented in a French module in JNU, in Delhi, resulting in an interesting cross-cultural examination of Irish and Indian students’ previous exposure to video creation, the students’ perceived challenges and concerns relating to creating video content for academic assessment and its anticipated benefits.

First prize winners at recent Pocket Cinema Festival

First prize winners at recent Pocket Cinema Festival

Publication: Loftus, M., Tiernan, P. and Cherian, S. (2014) Students’ readiness to move from consumers to producers of digital video content: A cross-cultural analysis of Irish and Indian Students, Education and Information Technologies 19(3): 569-582

Contact: Dr Maria Loftus []  

Harnessing ‘Super-Diversity’ in Language Teaching

The student body is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of language, nationality and cultural background. For example, as well as speaking fourteen additional languages other than their mother tongues (Spanish, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, French, English, Irish, German, Arabic, Mandarin and Thai) the participants in this study have English, French, German, Hungarian, Russian and Japanese as mother tongues. The study itself explores ways in which linguistic diversity can be harnessed in the language classroom. A series of pedagogic interventions, designed for this purpose and implemented in four higher education language classrooms, were carried out. The interventions include awareness-raising of the language profile of students and their class groups, as well as facilitated comparison of the workings of key grammar concepts in the target language and in other languages in the learners’ linguistic repertoires. Analysis of participant feedback indicates that 36% of the participants were unaware of the other languages spoken by their fellow students prior to participating in the study, with 80% describing such knowledge as valuable to them. More than two thirds (70%) of participants described the interventions as aiding their study of their target language. It is proposed on the basis of this study that similar interventions will be mainstreamed in selected language modules.

Language Teaching

Publication (under review): Bruen, J. and Kelly, N. Language Teaching in a Globalised World: Harnessing linguistic super-diversity in the classroom. International Journal of Multilingualism.

Contacts: Dr Jennifer Bruen [] and Dr Niamh Kelly [

Teaching Controversial Issues in the Humanities and Social Sciences

This study focusses on a didactic approach known as Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) which originated in the US political science classroom. SAC is intended to aid the learner in developing their own view on controversial issues and in understanding alternative views with the ultimate aim of locating a compromise position. An intervention was designed and used to introduce six university academics from such diverse specialisms as Contemporary Cultural Studies, European History and Politics, French Culture and Society, Children’s Literature, Business Ethics, Global Cultures, Asian Studies, and French, German and Japanese as Foreign Languages, all of whom deal with controversial issues in the classroom on a regular basis, see example from a Children’s Literature module below:

Cover image of controversial children’s book ‘ and tango makes three’ which tells the true story of two homosexual penguins raising a chick in New York’s Central Park Zoo.


AND TANGO MAKES THREE copyright (c) 2005 by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrations copyright (c) 2005 by Henry Cole. Used by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

 The academics were introduced to SAC by way of reflective engagement with it in the role of learners. The controversial issue used for illustrative purposes in this case concerned the compulsory status of the Irish language within the Irish education system. Participants’ views on the teaching of controversial issues more generally were explored, the workings of SAC highlighted and attempts made to identify benefits and barriers to its inclusion in a variety of classroom settings.

Publication (under review): Bruen, J., Crosbie, V., Kelly, N., Loftus, M., Maillot, A. McGillicuddy, A. and Péchenart, J. Teaching Controversial Topics in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Ireland: Using Structured Academic Controversy to develop multi-perspectivity in the learner, Journal of Social Science Education, 16 (2)

Contacts: Dr Jennifer Bruen [], Dr Veronica Crosbie [], Dr Niamh Kelly [], Dr Maria Loftus [], Dr Agnès Maillot [], Dr Áine McGillicuddy [], Ms Juliette Péchenart [

E-Tandem Learning for International Business 

Tandem learning can function as a powerful complement to formal language learning classes in the development of both language proficiency and cultural intelligence. This teaching innovation involves cohorts of students from higher education institutions in Ireland and Austria completing letters of application and curriculum vitae and engaging in a process of peer review with one another via Google Sites and a shared Dropbox folder. One of the principal, initial reasons for incorporating e-tandem learning into this module was to increase levels of motivation and interest on the part of the students with the task at hand, previous experience having indicated that lower levels of interest were displayed by students in preparing applications for jobs than in other areas of the course. A key positive outcome has been a deeper level of engagement with the process of preparing job applications observed by the module coordinators in both institutions involved. Previous reflections and studies on e-tandem learning have reached similar conclusions emphasising that learners enjoy the novelty aspect of tandem learning and the fact that it is “significantly different from anything offered by previous language learning experience. Now in its third year, additional changes and enhancements proposed include more frequent and direct interaction between the language pairs and the inclusion of an interview element to the module via Skype or an alternative platform.]


University of Applied Sciences, Kufstein, Austria DCU

University of Applied Sciences, Kufstein, Austria []
Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland []

Publication: Bruen, J. and Sudhershan, A. (2015) So they’re actually real?’ Integrating e-tandem learning into the study of Language for International Business, Journal of Teaching in International Business, 26 (2): 81-93.

Contacts: Dr Jennifer Bruen [], Professor Aleksandra Sudhershan [], Dr Annette Simon [

Innovation in language teaching and learning: ‘Twisted Dictation’

This piece of research describes a ‘twisted dictation’ teaching technique which draws on theories relating to translanguaging and codeswitching in second language learning and teaching. The study involved a small in-class quasi-experiment which sought to explore the effectiveness (or not) of using the emerging bilingual skills of the students as a teaching and learning tool in a geography through English Content-Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classroom in Northern Italy. In particular, the study sought to examine whether and to what extent the use of codeswitching/translanguaging between the native language and the language of instruction during content-related tasks might prove a useful technique for highlighting particular grammatical points in the CLIL vehicular language. Findings support the view that there is a place for the focused, planned and targeted use of the L1 during meaning-focused lessons in the language immersion classroom and that bilingual instructional techniques, such as the ‘twisted dictation’ used in the study, can be an effective means of both drawing students' attention to particular linguistic forms and of developing an enriched bilingual vocabulary. The authors suggest that the use of the L1 as a language teaching and learning tool is not limited to the CLIL or immersion classroom, but could be adapted for use in other language learning contexts.

Publication: Gallagher, F. & Colohan, G. (2014): T(w)o and fro: using the L1 as a language teaching tool in the CLIL classroom, The Language Learning Journal, DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2014.947382 Link:

Contact: Fiona Gallaher [Email:

Process and text: Teaching students to review the literature 

Examiners of theses regularly have to endure “literature reviews” that consist of extended lists of mini-summaries of books. Indeed, quite often “theses” amount to little more than a list of book-summaries masquerading as an argument. While there are excellent courses on qualitative and quantitative methods, most students have learnt how to conduct literature reviews exclusively through the method of learning by doing. Ultimately, there is no alternative to this age-old method. However, this essay is premised on the belief that a brief attempt to understand the general function of a literature review in social science should make learning by doing easier and more productive.

Publication: McMenamin, Iain (2006) Process and text: teaching students to review the literature. PS: Political Science & Politics, 39 (1). pp. 133-135.

Contact: Professor Iain McMenamin [Email:

Understanding and enhancing the study abroad experience 

The notion often associated with study abroad that it will deepen students’ understanding of citizenship and expand it beyond national borders remains contested. While the Erasmus website claims that study abroad develops a sense of European citizenship, there is little research that documents how students themselves actually conceive of the term citizenship in practice or how a period of study abroad might transform such conceptualizations. In order to contribute to this debate, this paper analyses reflective pieces by undergraduate students on the nature of citizenship written before (n=16) and after (n=8) a year of study abroad as part of an Erasmus exchange programme. It presents an initial attempt to derive a typology of understandings for the term citizen from this data and to assess the impact of study abroad on these understandings. The findings of this pilot study (Figure 1) suggest that before students engage with study abroad, they have a tendency to articulate a relatively straightforward understanding of the concept of citizenship with a strong focus on the notion of ‘belonging’ to a country.

Figure 1: Understanding of citizenship pre- year abroad


In contrast, those in the post year abroad group recognise that the concept of citizenship is “difficult to define”, complex and composed of a number of elements. In addition, both obligations and responsibilities increase in importance and become more significant than rights for the post-year abroad group.

Figure 2: Understanding of citizenship post-year abroad

Citizenship post-year abroad

This study considers implications for further research and for the design of modules intended to prepare students for study abroad, with several of its recommendations having been implemented in second year language modules.

Publication: Bruen, J. (2013) The Impact Of Study Abroad On Language Learners’ Perceptions Of The Concept Of Citizenship: Some Preliminary Considerations. AISHE-J, 5 (3)

Contact: Dr Jennifer Bruen [Email:

Student Perceptions and Academic Impact of the Use of Social Media in the Foreign Language Classroom 

This case study documents the practices and perceptions of first year language learners using social media (Facebook) as part of their core language module in Dublin City University, and examines whether there is evidence of any academic benefit where students use social media. This evidence, along with the analysis of student perceptions, is used to highlight the merits and weaknesses of using social media in the foreign language classroom. The study looks at how social media can be used to support a socio-constructivist pedagogy in a language learning classroom, and explores whether or not it can enhance the language learning process. Student attitudes are analysed to see if there is evidence from a student perspective of the major tenets of a socio-constructivist pedagogy, such as peer-learning, collaborative activity and student-led classrooms.

Online Quiz Screen shot from an online quiz used as part of the study

Results from this study would indicate that students acknowledge that it can facilitate the acquisition of language, particularly grammar concepts and vocabulary, but students do not like it as a learning tool. Examining the academic impact it has, it can be said that weaker students have more to gain than stronger students where Facebook is used as a language learning tool. 

Contact: Dr Niamh Kelly [

3PLY: Exploring the potential for transformative workplace learning for and by teachers.

This project was funded by the Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South. It was conducted by Dr Annelies Kamp (Dublin City University) and Dorothy Black (University of Ulster). In the context of a new educational settlement (Vickers 2008) and an increasing overlap of education and work, the research explored the limits and possibilities associated with learning on the part of teachers, employees, and students ‘around’ workplace learning initiatives in second level schools on the island of Ireland.

The field research was undertaken in two schools in the Republic of Ireland and four schools in Northern Ireland during the period between September and November 2013. Further data was generated by way of desktop research of policy documents and extant research, and through the circulation of online surveys with the support of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors in the Republic and the Northern Ireland Schools’ Careers Association.

The central research questions asked:

  • How do teachers conceptualize the work experience and/or part-time work activities of students as part of the senior school curriculum in each jurisdiction?
  • How embedded is workplace learning into any careers programme and across school subjects?
  • To what extent does the learning generated in and through the organization, delivery and experience of workplace learning of young people diffuse throughout the broader school setting? How does this happen?
  • Does it make a difference who arranges the workplace learning experience (that is, school organized or organized by the student, or occuring within a part-time job)?

In summary, the research underscored the nuances of a new educational settlement. While it may a large-scale global trend for increasing numbers of young people to be working while completing second level schooling this was not supported in this small research project, particularly in the Republic where in a recessionary context part-time opportunities for young people had largely evaporated. As noted by some respondents, this elevated the call for meaningful workplace learning to be an integral part of the senior school curriculum as this may be the only workplace learning opportunity some students would have. This research suggests that severe limitations on time have compromised workplace learning in both jurisdictions, even where schools have a strong appreciation of and commitment to workplace learning for their students. Recommendations for further research were made, along with policy recommendations concerning resourcing, timetabling and management; professional development; collaboration and capacity-building; and communication and assessment.

Publication: The full findings are available in the report, available from SCoTENS, or can be dowloaded from:,_Annelies.html.

Annelies Kamp

Contact: Dr Annelies Kamp [Email:

‘Teaching Media’: Decoding Brand Ambassadors and Their Cultural Universes

If the history of branding teaches us anything, it is that branding activities in the main have become much less focused on product attributes and much more focused on cultivating links between products and people. The most powerful brands nowadays are those that successfully create shared experiences and emotions, and that generate feelings of commonality and community (Arvidsson 2005). Brands can therefore no longer be considered mere guarantees of quality (as they were in the eighteenth century) but should be viewed as key components of how we build and define our relationships and fashion our very selves (Banet-Weiser 2012). It is this growing connection between brands and persons that students are required to think critically about here.

For this assignment, groups of students are required to choose a brand that employs a well-known “brand ambassador”. Students are asked to think about the rationale for this strategy and about what precisely is transferred to a brand when it employs a brand ambassador. Central to the assignment is that students analyze the union of brand and brand ambassador as representative of a particular “cultural universe”; their task is to critically analyze (or “decode”) this cultural universe and build a detailed impression of it for their classmates. For example, students are asked to consider if the cultural universe is inclusive or exclusive and in what ways; in doing so, they are asked to think about issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and ability. The assignment also requires that students apply some of the semiotic concepts they have been introduced to in class. For example, what does the brand ambassador’s image ‘connote’ in terms of wider associations (innocence, exuberance, sexiness, etc.)? Are there particular ‘codes’ of masculinity or femininity, of national identity, of historical periods etc. at work in the brand’s advertising? ‘Paradigmatically’, why is the choice of brand ambassador significant i.e. who else might have been considered a possible substitute and why? In short, this assignment asks students to think critically (and semiotically) about the cultural universes that brands compel us to be part of.

Contact: Dr Neil O’Boyle []

Publication: Decoding Brand Ambassadors and Their Cultural Universes, Teaching Media Quarterly Volume 3, Edition 4 (2015): Teaching Brands: Critical Approaches

Cosmopolitan capabilities in the Higher Education classroom

This study, concerning the development of cosmopolitan citizenship, draws on theories of human development and capabilities from a social justice perspective, where individual wellbeing is articulated as having the freedom to live a life of one’s choosing. In the context of an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classroom this involves paying attention to pedagogical strategies, power dynamics and curriculum content as a means of developing valued beings and doings (or capabilities and functionings as they are described in the literature). Sample activities are presented and evaluated to see to what extent they achieve the desired end. These include critical pedagogical interventions, students’ artefacts and extracts from focus group interviews, class reports and reflective journals. Results from the textual data offer research evidence of successful curriculum change, demonstrating that the learning that takes place there can make a difference: in terms of the learners’ identity development, capability enhancement and cosmopolitan citizenship.

Contact: Dr Veronica Crosbie [] Publication: Cosmopolitan capabilities in the Higher Education classroom, Journal of Social Science Education, 2014 (2): 

Entrepreneurship Education

This paper discusses some of the key theories that are employed to assess the outcomes of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education from the perspective of an individual or an individual student. From this, a selection of instruments are chosen and used in parallel on a student sample to examine and compare their reliability and validity in context, the aim of which is to make inferences about their applicability for future research in entrepreneurship education.

Contacts: Róisín Lyons (DCU), Ciarán mac an Bhaird [], Theodore Lynn (DCU Business School)

Related Publication: Lyons, MacanBhaird and Lynn (2015) Individual level assessment in entrepreneurship education: an investigation of theories and techniques, Journal of Enterpreneurship Education 18(1): or 

 Designing an online oral language learning environment

Trying to learn a language independent of the mode of delivery, i.e. in a traditional classroom or online is a challenge for many language students. Developing oral language competencies in a language are acknowledged as being particularly demanding. This challenge is further exacerbated when opportunities for the learner to engage in informal language acquisitions situations are limited, for example in the case of lesser-used or minority languages.

This paper provides an account of the process engaged in by the SpeakApps project to engage with both technological and pedagogical issues in the development of the multilingual online oral language environment.’

Contact: Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl []

Related Publication: Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl , Christine Appel , Colm Ó Ciardubháin , Sake Jager , Adriana Prizel-Kania , (2015) "Designing the online oral language learning environment SpeakApps", The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, Vol. 32 Iss: 3, pp.165 - 173 DOI: 

 Social Loafing in Student Enterpreneurship Teams

This study examines team-work in the context of entrepreneurship education. It had a particular focus on a phenomenon known as ‘social loafing’, where members of a group do not participate fully (Burdett, 2003; Hansen, 2006).

References: Burdett, J., 2003. Making Groups Work: University Students’ Perceptions. International Education Journal, 4(3), pp.177–191. Hansen, R.S., 2006. Benefits and Problems With Student Teams: Suggestions for Improving Team Projects. Journal of Education for Business, 82(1), pp.11–19.

Contacts: Róisín Lyons Dr Theo Lynn Dr Ciarán Mac An Bhaird []

Forthcoming Publication: Lyons, R, Lynn, T. and MacAnBhaird, C. (forthcoming) Social Loafing in Student Enterpreneurship Teams. In Elgar, Edward (Ed.) Collection of papers delivered to the Entrepreneurship Summer University in 2013 and 2014 (Lisboa and Lund). Title to be confirmed. 

 Across the Divide: Reflections of a Collaborative Class on Terrorism

This paper attempts to provide some initial reflections of a collaborative cross-cultural class on the study of terrorism as a means of contributing towards a general pedagogy of the subject. While the experiences highlighted in this paper are held to directly correspond to this specific class, it is hoped that some general lessons can be taken and applied to other areas of pedagogy. In particular, this paper bears significance to the teaching of terrorism as a sensitive topic in the context of cross-cultural interaction as experienced through a blended learning environment.

Contacts: James Fitzgerald, School of Law and Government, DCU E-mail: []

Anthony F. Lemieux, School of Natural and Social Sciences, Purchase College, SUNY,735 Anderson Hill Road,Purchase, New York 10577 U.S.A. E-mail: []

Link to paper: Across the Divide: Reflections of a Collaborative Class on Terrorism