Close icon
Close icon

Educational Psychology, Inclusive & Special Education

About

The Department of Educational Psychology, Inclusive & Special Education (EPISE) in Mary Immaculate College of Education comprises of 11 full-time members of faculty qualified in educational psychology or inclusive/special education.

The faculty serve students in programmes extending from Doctoral level through Level 4 on the QQI system. EPISE staff also supervise student research for doctoral and masters' degrees, and final year projects/undergraduate dissertations. 

They also conduct research and publish in national and international journals. There are multiple well-established community educational links supported by faculty members in the department.

Contact
Head of Department
Dr Johanna Fitzgerald
+353 61 61 204517

Subject Overview

Undergraduate

The modules below can be undertaken by those studying on both the Bachelor of Education and the B Ed in Education and Psychology programmes.

This module develops preservice teachers’ understanding of children and their development, with an emphasis on the child as learner. It enables students to challenge their experiences of learning and their conceptions of teaching and to provide children with developmentally appropriate learning experiences. It helps students to understand children’s developmental progression by focusing on the theoretical rationale, frameworks and theories that underpin classroom practices.

This integrated module contextualises learning within behavioural, cognitive and social learning theory. Learning is analysed from a psychological perspective, drawing particularly from the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience. The module inducts student teachers into the practice of teaching and reflection through educational psychology, microteaching and educational methodology, paying particular attention to the need for detailed lesson planning and the development of appropriate classroom management understandings and strategies.

This module presents the child with special educational needs (SEN) as being first and foremost a child and explores how the classroom teacher can use developmentally appropriate evidence‐based practices to support children with SEN in the inclusive classroom. This is the first of two discrete modules in Inclusive Education for Children with SEN in the B.Ed. Programme

This integrated module takes a proactive approach to classroom management by encouraging students to consider the factors that create an environment in which positive relationships can flourish and optimal relationships can occur. Student teachers are encouraged to develop an understanding of educational context, environmental competence, an awareness of norms and expectations for behaviour and how to establish a climate for positive relationships.

This module integrates the theory and practice of educational assessment. Students critique a broad range of assessment procedures and tools and have ‘hands‐on’ experience of application, interpretation and reporting of assessment data. Students explore different methods for communicating assessment information to parents and have an opportunity to practice these skills. Students critically explore the ways in which assessment is used in educational decision making, Irish legislative and policy context and consider the centrality of assessment to effective teaching.

This is the second of two discrete modules in Inclusive Education for Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in the B Ed Programme. The focus of this module, which is situated within a holistic B Ed programme comprising discreet and permeated modules, is on matching educationally relevant characteristics, strengths and needs to evidence‐based key educational interventions for children with SEN. There is also an emphasis on individualised planning with the identification and evaluation of learning targets for children with SEN.

In addition to the selection above, the modules below can be undertaken by those studying on the B Ed in Education and Psychology programme only.

This module aims to develop students’ understanding of children and their development, with an emphasis on the child as learner. This module explores the cognitive, social and emotional development of children from early childhood to early adolescence.

The module aims to provide an introduction to the area of special educational needs (SEN)/disability from an educational and a psychological perspective. The module presents the child with additional learning needs and/or SEN as being first and foremost a child whose educational needs are explored within the Irish Legislative and Policy context through the use of psychological frameworks. Inclusion, models of disability and students’ personal attitudes, values and beliefs about diversity and equality in education are examined. An examination of psychological and educational research address the implications for inclusion.

This integrated module takes a proactive approach to behaviour management by encouraging students to consider the factors that create an environment in which positive behaviour can flourish and optimal relationships can occur. Students examine a number of psychological perspectives and are encouraged to develop an understanding of context, environmental competence, an awareness of norms and expectations for behaviour and how to establish a climate for positive behaviour and positive relationships.

This module integrates the theory and practice of psychological and educational assessment. Students critique a broad range of assessment procedures and tools and have ‘hands‐ on’ experience of application, interpretation and reporting of assessment data. Students explore different methods for communicating assessment information to parents and have an opportunity to practice these skills. Students critically explore the ways in which assessment is used in educational decision making, Irish legislative and policy context and consider the centrality of assessment to effective educational practice.

This module aims to enable students to prepare to undertake ethically appropriate empirical research in an area of Psychology. The module aims to develop, enhance and complement the students’ existing Research Design and Methodology skill-set. The focus is on encouraging students to apply their knowledge of quantitative and qualitative design to research questions in an ethical context. Students design viable research projects, exploring the development and evaluation of data collection instruments and research designs with a particular focus on their own individual research questions. Students will explore ethical considerations when conducting research in the field, examining pertinent questions for their proposed research designs.

This module provides an opportunity for students to conceptualise, design and carry out a final year dissertation project bridging theory and practice across classrooms, schools, communities and broader society or through critical engagement with historical, sociological, philosophical and psychological epistemologies. Students have an opportunity to carry out a systematic, relevant, and robust literature review and inquiry and write up findings following standard scholarly conventions.

This module aims to offer insight into the unique contribution of educational psychology and the ways in which psychology can be applied in educational contexts. Topics are presented to students in ways that encourage students to build upon existing levels of knowledge, seeking to integrate information from core subject areas during the previous three years of their degree: a biopsychosocial approach to inclusive education for children with SEN, biological, cognitive, developmental & educational psychology, personality and individual differences and social psychology.

This module considers major issues and theoretical approaches that apply to development across the lifespan. It seeks to review and build on prior understanding of child development and extend into the periods of adolescence and adulthood. At each stage, physical, cognitive, emotional and social development are considered. A study of the research methods used within developmental psychology are integrated into the course. The course considers development as a continuous process, which has universal patterns and individual differences.

This module provides students with an opportunity to study the literature on universal motivation, inspired by a wide range of psychological perspectives. Students consider what universally motivates human cognition and behaviour and are introduced to methods and measures applied in the field of research on human motivation. Finally, the module interogrates applications of theory and findings on human motivation to applied settings, specifically educational settings.

The modules below currently comprise the specialism in Special Education that can be undertaken by those studying on the Bachelor of Education programme only. The specialism requires a Final Year Project (double-weighted).

The focus of this module is on teacher planning for working with children with special educational needs and learning difficulties. General strategies for building new skill repertoires are examined including task analysis, the use of targeted visual supports, ICT and errorless learning. Strategies for developing maintenance and generalisation of skills are also considered. The module presents strategies for teaching and evaluating social and emotional skills to children with learning difficulties and special educational needs

This module will provide instruction in Mathematics, Language and Literacy specific to populations of the primary school who have learning difficulties and special educational needs. It will outline the impact of various types of learning difficulties and special educational needs on the development of mathematics, language and literacy in the primary school. Assessment strategies and instructional evidence-based practices for each of the three areas will be presented.

The module will present a framework for understanding and managing behaviour of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in the primary school using a continuum of support.

This six credit module provides an opportunity for students to critically examine evidence-based research on parent-professional partnership in order to support the learning and wellbeing of children with SEN. Opportunities are provided to explore, reflect and critically evaluate students own values, beliefs and, in particular, assumptions as they impact on partnerships with parents of children with SEN and other professionals. Students engage with parents and other professionals with a view to benefiting from their first-hand experiences of children with special educational needs. Becoming a reflective teacher is a central theme throughout this module, as is teacher as researcher.

Postgraduate

The modules below can be taken by those studying on the Professional Master of Education (PME) programme. 

This three credit module presents the child with special educational needs (SEN) as being first and foremost a child and explores how the classroom teacher can use developmentally appropriate evidence-based practices to support children with SEN in the inclusive classroom. This is the first of two discreet modules in Inclusive Education for Children with SEN in the B Ed programme. These discreet modules form part of a dual approach (discreet modules and permeated modules) to enable children with SEN receive an appropriate inclusive needs-based education.

This is the second of two discrete modules in Inclusive Education for Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in the B Ed Programme. The focus of this module, which is situated within a holistic B Ed programme comprising discreet and permeated modules, is on matching educationally relevant characteristics, strengths and needs to evidence‐based key educational interventions for children with SEN. There is also an emphasis on individualised planning with the identification and evaluation of learning targets for children with SEN.

This module provides information and skill development in inclusive theory and practice and special education for students in the Professional Masters in Education programme. The module provides instruction in the development, use and evaluation of various strategies for teaching curricular content to children in primary schools who have learning difficulties or special educational needs. The focus of this module will be on teacher planning for working with children with special educational needs, including those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Social, Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, Specific Learning Disability, Mild General Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders in general education classrooms.

The department offers a Doctorate in Educational & Child Psychology.

The DECPsy programme is a professional doctorate with a nominal value of 270 ECTs. The programme provides a connected curriculum that integrates academic knowledge, research and professional practice. Taught modules (outlined below) are delivered over the first two years of the programme. One day per week is typically assigned to study/research. There are research and placement elements to the programme also (outlined below).

Trainees are introduced to the field of educational psychology, the historical context and changing face of educational psychology, and the variety of roles undertaken by EPs in diverse contexts.

Trainees develop a comprehensive knowledge of a broad range of special educational needs

Trainees are introduced to the logic, design, and methods of psychological research. Topics include fundamental ontological and epistemological issues in the generation of reliable knowledge, the structure of scientific theories, the advantages and disadvantages of different research designs for making causal inferences, and methods for the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data.

Trainees examine theories of emotional, personal and social development in infancy, childhood and adolescence and consider their application to practice.

Span the two semesters in Year 1. Part 1 provides students with a critical understanding of key topics and issues in psychological research on advanced cognition and learning. Part 2 explores how psychological research on cognition and learning is applied to practice.

Trainees are introduced to the use of assessment tools in a non-biased, reliable and valid manner. Students are taught the key principles of conducting psycho-educational assessments and are presented with an advanced understanding of the technical and methodological principles of testing.

Trainees engage with the ethical and professional responsibilities of engaging in the work of an educational psychologist.

Trainees develop the necessary competencies to enable them to integrate empirical evidence with professional expertise in meeting the mental health needs of children and adolescents in ‘Child Psychology’ settings

Trainees become familiar with key approaches to counselling and therapeutic intervention when working with children, their families and other professionals. Trainees also develop presentation skills in order to engage effectively in training and development work as an EP.

Trainees develop skills in a range of consultation models that enable them to facilitate change at individual and group levels.

Trainees review current research and practice in the application of organisational psychology to a range of organisations and settings. A number of perspectives relevant to the development of the role of educational psychologists in assisting with the processes of school improvement and organisational change are offered.

For the award of Doctorate, the research thesis must make an original contribution to knowledge and contain material of a standard and form appropriate for peer-reviewed publication. Trainees develop their knowledge and understanding of the nature of educational research, showing in depth understanding of the range of research orientations and methods used educational psychology research. Trainees are supported in this process through regular supervision and the provision of advanced research methods workshops over the three years. Trainees conduct a thorough literature review in their area of interest in Year 1. In Year 2, trainees focus on obtaining ethical approval and data collection. In Year 3 the emphasis is on data analysis and thesis write up.

Professional placements, totalling 300 days, are organised in a variety of settings. The professional placements provide extensive opportunities for the development of a wide range of professional roles and competencies. Detailed placement handbooks are provided to trainees in advance of each placement. Trainees typically attend placements for 3-4 days per week. Where possible, trainees are placed close to their home base. In addition to professional placements, trainees undertake a 20 day School Placement in Semester 1. This placement provides opportunities for trainees to carry out shadowing and observation in a variety of educational contexts.

The department offers a Graduate Diploma/Master's in Special Education.

There are 10 modules in this programme (outlined below):

This module provides an introduction to special education, philosophy, practice and provision internationally and within the Irish context. The focus will be on the Irish legislative framework supporting special education provision, models of provision both historic and current, and the interrogation of inclusive education in schools.

This module explores children’s cognitive, social, physical, play, emotional and behavioural development and the influences affecting this development. Academic and non- academic influences on child development will be examined.

This module will outline the impact of various types of learning difficulties and special educational needs on the development of communication, language and literacy for pupils in the primary, special, and postprimary school.

This module will provide an introduction to using ICT to support teaching and learning for pupils with special educational needs. Using a skills-based approach, participant teachers will learn how to use content rich and open framework software to meet the individual learning needs of pupils with SEN.

This module will emphasise a collaborative, pupil-centred, inclusive and holistic approach to assessment, planning and reviewing pupils’ progress. Formal and informal assessment approaches will be examined to facilitate the identification of pupils’ strengths, needs and priority needs.

This module will address the theory, research and practice regarding curricular inclusion for learners with special educational needs. It will focus on the individual strengths and needs of these learners and the corresponding need for teachers to attend to learning styles using multi-sensory approaches and the provision of appropriate visual supports including ICT.

This module will facilitate students to develop an understanding of a range of special educational needs. Students will develop further insight into one particular disability through applied research i.e. case study. Appropriate teaching methodologies, strategies and resources will be explored.

This module will provide teachers with in-depth knowledge of the theory, research, policy and practice in the development of communication, language and literacy for pupils in the primary, special, and post-primary school. The module will familiarise teachers with a wide range of teaching strategies.

This module will further enhance knowledge and skills for differentiating content, process and product to support the inclusion of pupils with learning difficulties or special educational needs. The focus here will be on collaborative practices within schools, which enhance the likelihood that access to the general curriculum will be successful for learners with SEN.

This module will emphasise a collaborative, pupil-centred, inclusive and holistic approach to assessment, planning and reviewing pupils’ progress. Formal and informal assessment approaches will be examined to facilitate the identification of pupils’ strengths, needs and priority needs.

The department offers a Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies.

There are five modules in this certificate.

The aim of this module is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of autism.

The aim of this module is to provide students with the theory and practical application of the use of structure and visual teaching strategies for children and young people with autism across learning environments.

The aim of this module is to provide participants with an overview of the relationship between autism and anxiety.

This module will looks at challenging behaviour, not as a core feature of autism, but as an impediment to activities and a source of increased stress levels among parents, carers and teachers.

The aim of this module is to provide students with understanding of how the core impairments of autism including sensory processing difficulties interface with learning environments for individuals with autism.

Lifelong Learning

The department offers a Certificate in General Learning and Personal Development (CGLPD)

This programme is designed to enhance the holistic development of adults with an intellectual disability, in an inclusive third level setting. The certificate is composed of the following Level 4 QQI minor awards:

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to develop their awareness of how visual works of art are developed and created.

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to enhance their cultural awareness and socio-cultural competence by studying the culture and customs of another country or community.

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the relevant knowledge, skill and competence to use problem solving skills in everyday life and or in the workplace while under supervision.

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to use a range of personal and interpersonal skills in a variety of personal, civic and vocational contexts, operating with some autonomy while under direction.

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the relevant knowledge, skill and competence to act as an effective member of a team, completing team-related tasks under instruction, while taking responsibility own activities and actions

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the relevant knowledge, skill and competence to communicate verbally and non-verbally in routine everyday tasks, and in work related tasks while under supervision.

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to use applications in information technology. It is designed to develop skills in data entry, word processing, and using the internet.

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the relevant knowledge, skill and competence to participate in the workplace for a limited time and to carry out work-related tasks while under supervision.

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to recognise situations where mathematics can be used meaningfully in daily life, apply and transfer mathematical processes and concepts appropriate to the situation, interpret and draw conclusions from activity, and communicate conclusions appropriately to others.

Staff

Dr Johanna Fitzgerald

BA; HDE (UCC); MA Inclusion & Disability Studies (IOE, London) & Ed D (IOE UCL)
Head of Department & Lecturer
  • Phone: +353 61 204517
  • Email: Johanna.Fitzgerald@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: JHN210

Eucharia McCarthy

B Ed (NUI) & M Ed (UL)
Senior Lecturer & Director of Curriculum Development Unit (CDU)
  • Phone: +353 61 204508
  • Email: Eucharia.McCarthy@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: JHN125

Dr Laura Ambrose

BA, MA, PhD & NCSP
Lecturer
  • Phone: +353 61 204745
  • Email: Laura.Ambrose@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: N102

Dr Therese Brophy

PhD
Programme Coordinator, Doctorate in Educational Psychology
  • Phone: +353 61 774767
  • Email: Therese.Brophy@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: N39

Dr Maeve Dooley

D.Clin.Psych (NUIG); MAEP (UCD); MIT (NUIG); BA (Psych) (NUIG)
Lecturer (DECPsy)
  • Phone: +353 61 774626
  • Email: Maeve.Dooley@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: N38 Gerard House

Dr Michele Dunleavy

BA (UK); PGCE (UK); PGD (Trinity); PGD (UK); M St (SEN) (Trinity) & Ed D (SEN) (Trinity)
Lecturer
  • Phone: +353 61 204587
  • Email: Michele.Dunleavy@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: JHN216

Projects

Dr Margaret Egan

Work in progress: Collaborative project to develop a resource handbook for Early Years’ educators, teachers, student teachers, Speech and Language Therapists (SLTS) and trainee SLTs. Working title: Identifying and Supporting Children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. Limerick: Curriculum Development Unit, MIC.

Dr. Johanna Fitzgerald

Chairperson/ coordinator Limerick SENCO Forum, a professional learning network for post-primary SENCOs in the Munster region. Three network meetings held annually.

Ongoing (2017) collaborative JMB/ AsIAM initiative to develop school resources to promote inclusion of learners with ASD in mainstream post-primary schools.

Ongoing (2017) collaboration with Limerick and Clare ETB schools: implementation of ‘Provision Mapping as a Response to Strategic Leadership and Coordination of Special Education provision’.

Work in progress: developing a resource handbook for principals and SENCOs in post-primary schools in Ireland entitled ‘Leading Learning for Students with Special Educational Needs at the Post-Primary Level: A Handbook for Principals and SENCOs’ (working title). Curriculum Development Unit, MIC.

Collaborative research project with Faculty members from the Department of Allied Health, UL entitled ‘Incorporating Inter-Professional Education in Individual Education Planning for Students with Special Educational Needs: student speech and language therapy students and teachers learning together.’

Dr. Suzanne Parkinson

Mise Mar Fhoghlaimeoir’ is funded by An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíocht. 

2016: ‘My Learner Identity' is a unique new resource designed to nurture the ‘Who’ and ‘How’ of learning from preschool through to sixth class. The series supports children in becoming learners, in articulating perspectives of themselves as learners and their worldview, their experiences of school and on the educative process. The series addresses the ‘how’ of learning and encourages learners to reflect and develop key learner dispositions associated with effective learning.

My Learner Identity
This unique new resource is designed to nurture the ‘Who’ and ‘How’ of learning

Research

Recent Publications
Recent Publications
Faculty staff and students in the Department of EPISE regularly contribute to publications

Working Together to Support Children & Young People with a Disability and their Families contains key contributions from the following faculty in EPISE:

  • Dr Therese Brophy
  • Siobhan O’Sullivan
  • Carol Slattery (Trainee Educational Psychologist)
  • Dr Margaret Farrelly
  • Anne O’Byrne

Autism from the Inside Out includes chapter contributions from following staff and students in the EPISE Department:

  • Dr Margaret Egan
  • Sarah Feeney (Doctoral Student, EPISE)
  • Dr Claire Griffin-O’Brien
  • Dr Michele Dunleavy
  • Anne O’Byrne
  • Dr Patricia Daly
  • About
  • Subject Overview
  • Staff
  • Projects
  • Research