Siobhán O’Sullivan

Siobhán O’Sullivan


"My pedagogical approach focuses on student-centred learning and the participation of students in the learning experience. Technology is essential to supporting students with resources, links and visual aids so that they can meaningfully participate in their learning and become familiar with how to navigate and draw on the wide range of academic research and resources that are available digitally. "

Teaching interests


I teach across a number of programmes in the School of Applied Social Studies with particular focus on the Bachelor of Social Science Degree (BSocSc) in UCC. This includes leading a 10 credit third year module SS3006/SS5020 'Education and Welfare' and contributing lectures and workshops to SS3031 'Social Research Report' and SS3050 'Politics and Social Policy V'. I have also developed an online module SS5107 (online) 'Education and Welfare' for the Higher Diploma in Social Policy (online) and contribute to SS1006 'Social Analysis and Child Care Policy 1' in the Bachelor of Early Years and Childhood Studies (EYCS). In the 2019/2020 academic year, I will lead the 10 credit module SS2108 'Introduction to Research Methods' in the Bachelor of Youth and Community Work (BYCW). I coordinate the BSocSc (Year 1) and the two core social policy modules in 1st year: SS1017 Politics and Social Policy (Part 1) and SS1018 Politics and Social Policy (Part 2). I co-ordinate the PhD Social Sciences where I co-supervise a PhD Social Sciences student, Conor Cashman, since 2017 (with Dr Tracey Skillington, Department of Sociology). I also supervise BSocSc students' final year projects as well as Higher Diploma Social Policy and Masters theses.

Describe your teaching philosophy


My pedagogical approach focuses on student-centred learning and the participation of students in the learning experience. Technology is essential to supporting students with resources, links and visual aids so that they can meaningfully participate in their learning and become familiar with how to navigate and draw on the wide range of academic research and resources that are available digitally.

What technology do you use?


I use Blackboard, email, PowerPoint, YouTube, Google Drive and forms, Panopto, and discussion boards in Blackboard in my teaching.

How do you use this technology?


I integrate a range of teaching technologies in my work as stated above. This includes the following: - I use Panopto to record lectures for the online module. - I use video from YouTube and visual aids on PowerPoint slides. - For each course, I provide students with a comprehensive list of readings and resources such as handouts related to the course material on Blackboard. - I use email for communication with students on a periodic basis. - I use Blackboard for course announcements and for discussion groups. - I use Turnitin for course assessment and feedback on assignments. - I use Google forms to seek feedback from students. I find all of these technologies help to structure learning, engage students’ interest and coordinate my work and inputs more systematically.

What are the advantages to using this technology?


My particular interest is to develop and encourage student-centred learning and the participation of students in the learning experience by extending teaching beyond more traditional didactic methods of presenting information. Thus, I embed structured group work into all learning experiences including think-pair-share activities, student presentations, discussion and debate. Technology is essential to this and I find it very effective in the following ways: At introductory level, I incorporate everyday materials and examples into my lectures to help illustrate social scientific concepts and I find videos and pictures using YouTube and PowerPoint very helpful. At more advanced levels, I aim to feature new research, including my own, into my lectures, particularly research or social issues that feature in the media at the time. Distributing handouts, readings and excerpts from academic research, publicly available databases, policies or media articles through a repository on Blackboard in advance and posting materials and links after lectures helps keep students abreast of this material. Students tend to use PowerPoint for their student presentations, which assists them in structuring their thoughts. Developing a solely online module has helped me assess what are the key learning outcomes I wish to focus on and to hone the material I present in that light. It has focused my mind on the most essential readings and resources that connect best to the presentations I have developed. I have found Panopto very useful in presenting the material for online distribution. In terms of student assessment, I consider Turnitin to be a helpful development both to students and lecturers in terms of the appropriate citation of academic work. I find marking and providing feedback online to be quite user friendly though it can be time consuming. In terms of communication with students, making class announcements outside of lecture times is easily facilitated through technology such as Blackboard. I also find communication technology very useful in liaising with colleagues and I have found Google Drive a most helpful and straightforward platform in terms of coordination as our BSocSc course team has a shared folder for administrative materials. Recently, I have used Google forms for structuring course feedback, which has been helpful for reaching students who weren't in class when the evaluations are distributed and also provides analysis immediately of the feedback in a visual way.

What are the disadvantages to using this technology?


The challenges I found in using technology in teaching and learning centre on engagement of students in online discussion boards. This has been quite limited in the courses I teach to date. Part of the reason I think is the demands on students' time, especially for those who are also working but I plan to draw on the experiences of other colleagues to ascertain how best to facilitate and encourage greater engagement. I am also concerned about encouraging greater critical analysis of sources as some students incorporate digital material that is not academic in nature. The BSocSc team are developing digital literacy workshops to facilitate greater interrogation of online material by our students.

Which training resources helped you in this work?


I found the SPEEDS seminars very informative and useful in developing my digital skills, both for teaching and also for use in other avenues such as conference presentations.

Funded by


Speeds HEA
Speeds HEA
Speeds HEA