My core teaching interests lie in the broad area of disability social policy and qualitative research methods. I have contributed to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching on programmes in Applied Social Studies, Geography, Nursing and Midwifery, Law, Audiology and Adult and Continuing Education. I am passionate about engaging in research-led teaching as a means to demonstrate the value of applied research. I am involved in the supervision of student research at undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels. Having contributed to modules on the BSW and MSW programmes, and in my role as the student support officer within the School, I work closely with students on our social work and youth and community work programmes, and have an awareness of the professional standards underpinning graduate roles. I am committed to pedagogy which supports students towards developing their capacity as critical thinkers. I seek to use enquiry-based learning as the foundation of my teaching strategy, in order to encourage independent thinking amongst students.
I have used the following technologies in my teaching: Blackboard (Turnitin; discussion boards) Email Powerpoint YouTube
I use PowerPoint to structure my lectures. Motivated by the Universal Design for Learning principles of multiple means of expression and representation, I have sought to incorporate additional audio-visual content into my teaching resources. This mainly relates to online video content hosted on YouTube/Vimeo. On the Masters in Social Policy programme, I have facilitated online discussion boards with students who elect to take specialist module on Mental Health and Disability.
I have found that Powerpoint is very helpful when working with adult and mature learners in particular. For groups who have been out of academic settings for a long time, providing the slides in advance affords students the opportunity to review them ahead of the lecture and to flag any potential stumbling blocks. This arguably enhances their engagement with the lecture, not least because they are not anxious about note-taking. I have found use of video to be very beneficial in line with the Universal Design for Learning principles of multiple means of engagement and representation. The video content engages a diverse range of entry points to learning and is especially helpful for providing applied representations of theoretical and conceptual content. I have found the online discussion space to be very helpful for enabling a rnage of student voices in groups. In lecture settings, students who can be reticent about contributing will often feel more comfortable about articulating their ideas in the online forum, so again it allowsfor multiple means of expression.
When I use PowerPoint, I find that in some instances students only engage with the slides when preparing from assessments, despite encouraging them to engage in independent reading. Students will sometimes excessively rely on quotations provided in the slides and will not explore further suggested resources. In this way, the slides can have the power to frame interpretations of a topic area. Recognising this, I have sought to reduce the number of direct quotations I use on slides and instead use the tool as more of a discursive guide. In relation to using online video content, a very practical challenge I have experienced over the years is the removal of content and/or changes to URL links. I have not yet managed to find a solution to the removal of content, but I take care to check that links are working before using them in my teaching or sharing with students.One significant challenge is the limited accessibility of video content for students with visual impairments, as most online content does not have audio description, with the exception of content drawn from specific websites such as www.nda.ie. In respect of the online discussion boards, a key challenge is the varying levels of motivation across and between students. In order to address this, I have found it helpful to set a minimum word count as well as setting criteria e.g. all students must respond to at least two other students' contributions. I have noticed that some students will invest a lot of time and energy into the discussion, while others will make a bare minimum contribution towards achieving the marks for participation.
I have benefited greatly from my attendance at a number of SPEEDS events over the last couple of years. I was present at the SPEEDS Digital Day in November 2017 and at the Digijam event in June 2018. I found these events to be hugely inspiring as I listened to colleages from within our own School and outside institutions speaking about the range of digital innovations being undertaken in teaching practice. As part of the teaching team on the online Higher Diploma in Social Policy, I attended a training session on ‘Design for Online Teaching’ which was run by the SPEEDS initiative on 18th September 2018. I participated in the 'Workshop on Public Scholarship and Digital Media' hosted by SPEEDS on 15th October 2018 I also attended a session on 'Presentation Pointers' on 29th January 2019. The workshop on Critical Thinking in social research methods education on 10th April was immensely helpful, encouraging us to think about applied ways of integrating critical thinking approaches in our teaching practice. With regard to the accessibility of my teaching materials, I have found the following online guides to be immensely helpful resources: http://nda.ie/Good-practice/Guidelines/Procurement-and-Accessibility/Appendix-1-Making-information-accessible/ https://support.office.com/en-us/article/make-your-powerpoint-presentations-accessible-to-people-with-disabilities-6f7772b2-2f33-4bd2-8ca7-dae3b2b3ef25