News & Events

Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

Following a call for proposals in late 2019, ESAI is delighted to announce the formation of five new Special Interest Groups (SIGs). These SIGs have been established with a view to supporting current and future practitioners and researchers of education in Ireland. These SIGs will have a two-year lifetime (January 2020 to January 2022) and have received funding from ESAI to support their activities during this time. The SIGs are listed below in alphabetical order and accompanied by a brief description.

Curriculum Studies

SIG Convenor: Majella Dempsey

Curriculum Studies special interest group led by Majella Dempsey (Maynooth University) with partners Anne Looney and Audrey Doyle (Dublin City University) Damian Murchan, (Trinity College, Dublin) and John O’Reilly (University of Limerick).

With this SIG we want to build understanding and to influence curriculum development though engaged dialogue. The focus is to look at curriculum origins, policy and practice. Inquiry into origins encourages us to consider where curricula come from. What are their intellectual, conceptual and empirical foundations? What are the past socio-political influences that shape their present conception and development? Inquiry into policy explores the development of competing and complementary ways of thinking about curriculum, their realisation through policy development, and the enactment of curricular practices in school, other educational institutions and non-formal educational settings. Inquiry into practices allows us to focus on a range of issues, including policy development processes, learning and teaching, assessment and organisational issues such as provision and access.

We look forward to working with a diverse group of people from across the curriculum landscape and to building networks across the globe. We will host a seminar in June 2020 to begin the conversation and to build our community of researchers in curriculum studies.

Contact details: Email curriculumsig@mu.ie | Twitter @EsaiSig


Inclusive Education

SIG Convenor: Margaret Egan

The founding members, representing all HEIs in Ireland, would like call upon those interested, to join the newly formed ESAI Inclusive Education SIG.  Our SIG aims to clearly highlight an educational research focus and provide a communal space for collaboration and communication. In the spirit of this year’s conference, our SIG seeks to engage in discourse on ‘access, social justice, creativity, knowledge sharing, innovation, and capacity building” (Hug, 2015, p. 72). The creation of an Inclusive Education SIG is both timely and necessary in the current climate as it reflects and considers the global movement towards full inclusive education and the corresponding policy changes. The varying definitions of inclusion have expanded and the Inclusive Education SIG will aim to reflect such diversity in education.  We propose that our Inclusive Education SIG will hold at least two events/meetings or workshops each year (outside of ESAI annual conference), which will convene all those interested in the SIG. The Inclusive Education SIG will present on its work at ESAI’s Annual Conference(s). At this year’s event, Dr. Johanna Fitzgerald, HoD Dept. Educational Psychology, Inclusive and Special Education, in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Egan will introduce an overview of our SIG and its early aims and objectives, which will evolve from this first meeting.

Contact details: | Email Margaret.egan@mic.ul.ie / Johanna.fitzgerald@mic.ul.ie | Twitter @MgtEganMIC @JohFitzMIC


Professional Development in Higher Education Teaching (PD-HET)

SIG Convenor: Eilis Flanagan

The purpose of this SIG is to provide a forum for discussion about the professional development of those who teach in Higher Education (HE). The SIG particularly welcomes HE staff who have a teaching role as well as educational researchers. The group focuses on supporting the professional development of those who teach by promoting mentoring initiatives, sharing resources and engaging in collaborative activities. The SIG will draw on the expertise and experiences of key stakeholders in all educational sectors as well as industry partners to create an evidence-base for supporting professional development planning for teaching in HE.

This SIG will provide opportunities to engage in professional dialogue, teaching practices and educational research about supporting HE staff to achieve excellence in teaching and learning while maintaining their research profile. Further, the group is committed to exploring the design of evidence-based frameworks to support professional development planning for those who teach in HE. The primary objectives of the SIG are aligned with the strategic priorities of the ESAI and the frameworks of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

A key challenge to encouraging, supporting and maintaining enthusiasm for engaging in professional development among those who teach in HE is knowing how to build sustainable and equitable professional networks within and across institutions. The SIG will be committed to this priority.

Contact details: Email eilis.flanagan@lyit.ie | Twitter @EilisFlanagan


Teacher Education: Critical Pedagogy and Praxis for Social Justice

SIG Convenor: Maeve O’Brien

The purpose of coming together in the SIG is to create a forum to explore and share theoretically and practically the challenges, possibilities and failures around critical pedagogies for social justice in teacher education; the matter of praxis at the local and global levels. We will reflect deeply together through dialogical processes, and write and present critically on what emerges for ITEs when we open up this new and perhaps less conventional research space (Sykes and Gachago 2018).

Through a dialogical praxis (including e.g. deep talk), members will research and theorise methodologies that have transformative potential and enable critique of policy and practice that is restricting and unjust in ITE.

The forum will animate and activate educators, particularly teacher educators, to either establish or revisit their ways of working, and offer resistance to encroaching demands for performativity that curtail critical praxis for social justice.

We propose a stimulus/catalyst event to launch the SIG and create dialogue and networks of interest around shared and diverse praxis. A critical social justice theorist/educator will speak to the theme of critical praxis and social justice in education/teacher education (Zembylas/Andreotti for example). A further two face-to- face meetings per year are envisaged to develop the network.

Contact details: Twitter @Criticalpedago1


Values-based Practitioner Action Research

SIG Convenor: Caitriona McDonagh

This SIG draws on the work of Network of Educational Action Research Ireland (NEARI), a non-funded, cross-sectoral network, serving the needs of current and emerging educational action researchers.

Why join VPAR?
Practitioner researchers often have difficulty in finding a forum that recognises, supports or promotes research that is grounded in the researcher’s values. In VPAR we encourage people to engage in dialogue and help each other to demonstrate the rigour, validity and authenticity of their practitioner research.

Who will be in VPAR?
Educational action researchers, whether beginners or lifelong researchers, who would like to discuss their research and receive constructive feedback within a community of practice (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner 2015; Glenn et al. 2017), where they will experience opportunities to reflect critically on their professional practice in a nurturing, yet challenging, environment.

How will it work?
This SIG will have face to face meetings in April, September/October and January where we will share research stories and resources and continue conversations in an online discussion forum. Meetings will be alternately in Dublin and outside the capital and will include an input from at least one international guest speaker. Delegates from the SIG will attend research conferences and report back to the SIG members and ESAI.

Contact details: NEARI click here | Email info@eari.ie | Twitter @InfoNeari | Application form click here