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DEEPEN Consultative Forum for Stakeholders in the Irish Education System

Held in Marino Institute of Education, April 2nd 2019

Opening addresses
Dr Teresa O’ Doherty –  President MIEWelcome address
Mr Tomás Ó Ruairc – Director, Teaching CouncilTeaching Council perspective as commissioners of the research
Dr Julie Uí Choistealbha, MIEOverview of the research design, rationale + intended outputs
Dr Melanie Ní Dhuinn, TCDSpecific elements of the research – SLR, Questionnaire, focus groups, visual data
Roundtable consultations
Initial response to the research project
Advice and guidance
Q&A with the researchers
Closing Address



SCoTENS Conference 2019

Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, County Cavan

October 2019




Title of Paper: Insight and impact: Leading a research-focused professional learning network
Name of Author(s):

Dr Julie Uí Choistealbha

Dr Melanie Ní Dhuinn
Institutional Affiliation of each author:

Marino Institute of Education (Julie)

Trinity College Dublin (Melanie)

Biographical details:

Julie is the Dean of Education: Policy, Practice, and Society in Marino Institute of Education. Melanie is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. Julie and Melanie are the lead researchers on the Teaching Council-funded DEEPEN research project.




There is a need to reconsider the relationship between educational research and education policy (Lingard, 2013). The challenge to researchers is how to connect the research they undertake to those on whom the research has an impact. This paper charts the narrative of one innovative research project design and how it responds to that key challenge facing researchers today.

This paper is grounded in the DEEPEN (Droichead: Exploring and Eliciting Perspectives, Experiences and Narratives) research project.  The project is funded by the Teaching Council of Ireland and is led by a research consortium across two HEIs. The research/project design created by the authors of the paper was successful in the Teaching Council tender process for research into teachers’ experience of the Droichead professional induction process. The research project is multifaceted, teacher-focused and supported by a wide professional learning network. The design includes a systematic literature review, an online questionnaire to all Droichead schools, focus groups and visual data collection. The research concludes with an international conference and the publication of digital support material for schools. An international advisory panel and a field research team support and guide the research throughout.

This paper will focus on three key areas:

  • Insights from the process undertaken in formulating/designing a research project that crosses boundaries: The authors will address how they responded to the challenge of creating a national research project that is both inward and outward looking. They will explore the inclusion of national and international representation, working across two HEIs, working with the Teaching Council and working across school types in both the primary and post-primary sector. 
  • The opportunities and challenges of leading a professional learning community focused on the research project: The authors will address how they responded to the challenge of ensuring that the purpose, function and capability (Owen 2014) of the PLN was identified in the research design, how it is maintained in the research process and how it will add impact to the overall research project.
  • The benefit of previous experience: The authors will show how they have drawn on previous national and international research project experiences to design this innovative research project. 

This paper will make a significant contribution to the discourse of the SCoTENS 2019 conference and will challenge participants to reflect on their own research and how it can connect across boundaries.



ESAI 2020