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The Design and Content of an Online Continuous Professional Development Course in Special Education for Teachers in Irish Immersion Primary and Post-Primary Schools


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This article discusses the design and content of an online continuous professional development (CPD) course in special education provision for students in Irish immersion (IM) primary and post-primary schools. The course was developed using the data from a mixed methods study on the needs of teachers in this area. This article describes the ABC course design method used. It presents the five modules of the course: (1) bilingualism and second language acquisition, (2) assessment, (3) inclusive pedagogies, (4) universal design for learning, and (5) ICT for the inclusion of all students. It also includes data from a course evaluation form completed by participating teachers (N = 25) in relation of the areas of the course that were effective, areas that they would like to learn more about, and recommendations on how the course could be improved. It is anticipated that this article will be of interest to immersion teacher educators internationally.
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Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281.
The Design and Content of an Online Continuous Professional
Development Course in Special Education for Teachers in Irish
Immersion Primary and Post-Primary Schools
Sinéad Nic Aindriú
*, Lorraine Connaughton-Crean
, Pádraig Ó Duibhir
and Joe Travers
School of Inclusive and Special Education, Dublin City University, D09Y0A Dublin, Ireland
School of Language Literacy and Early Childhood Education, Institute of Education, Dublin City Univer-
sity, D09Y0A3 Dublin, Ireland
* Correspondence:
Abstract: This article discusses the design and content of an online continuous professional devel-
opment (CPD) course in special education provision for students in Irish immersion (IM) primary
and post-primary schools. The course was developed using the data from a mixed methods study
on the needs of teachers in this area. This article describes the ABC course design method used. It
presents the five modules of the course: (1) bilingualism and second language acquisition, (2) as-
sessment, (3) inclusive pedagogies, (4) universal design for learning, and (5) ICT for the inclusion of
all students. It also includes data from a course evaluation form completed by participating teachers
(N = 25) in relation of the areas of the course that were effective, areas that they would like to learn
more about, and recommendations on how the course could be improved. It is anticipated that this
article will be of interest to immersion teacher educators internationally.
Keywords: continuous professional development; special education; immersion education; teacher
1. Introduction
A dearth of research exists internationally on the continuous professional develop-
ment (CPD) needs of immersion teachers in special educational needs (SEN). The research
available has found that many bilingual/immersion education teachers find it difficult to
meet the SEN of their students due to challenges such as a lack of assessments, interven-
tions, and resources in the language of instruction [1–5]. Hence, further research in the
area of professional development for teachers in bilingual/immersion education is needed
to appropriately mediate the challenges that these teachers may encounter when meeting
the needs of all their students. Through further research in this area, courses can be de-
signed that are specific to the needs of immersion education and that are accessible for
these teachers. Limited research has been conducted in bilingual teacher education in gen-
eral [1–5]. The limited data available suggest that teachers in these contexts would benefit
from further CPD in relation to: (i) theoretical knowledge around bilingualism and second
language acquisition, (ii) appropriate assessment for students learning through a second
language, and (iii) teaching strategies and interventions to help them deliver content ap-
propriately in a bilingual/immersion context [6–9]. It is also recommended that they
should have access to information within the course that is based on research and evi-
dence-based practices.
The course discussed in this article was developed to meet the needs of teachers
teaching students with SEN in two sociolinguistic contexts, Irish immersion (IM)
Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools as described below. The course was developed
based on the findings of a mixed methods study which investigated the needs of IM
Citation: Nic Aindriú, S.;
Connaughton-Crean, L.; Ó Duibhir,
P.; Travers, J. The Design and
Content of an Online Continuous
Professional Development Course in
Special Education for Teachers in
Irish Immersion Primary and Post-
Primary Schools. Educ. Sci. 2023, 13,
Academic Editor: Leonidas
Received: 29 December 2022
Revised: 25 February 2023
Accepted: 1 March 2023
Published: 6 March 2023
Copyright: © 2023 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 2 of 18
primary and post-primary teachers in this area [10]. The ABC course design process was
used to design this course. This process was originally implemented as a face-to-face 90-
min workshop in which “academic teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’
showing the type and sequence of learning activities required to meet the module’s learn-
ing outcomes, and how these will be assessed” [11]. However, due to the COVID-19 pan-
demic, this workshop was adapted for online implementation [11]. The development of
this course sought to answer the following research questions:
(a) How can the use of the ABC course design process benefit the development of an
online CPD course on meeting the SEN of students in IM schools?
(b) What were the benefits of undertaking this course for IM teachers?
(c) What are the CPD needs of immersion education teachers in special education? and
(d) What are the challenges that IM teachers face when accessing online CPD?
Research in this area is important as there are little data available on the content that
should be included in a CPD course for teachers of students with SEN learning through a
second/minority language [1–5]. The contents of this study will add to the limited data
available in this area, and it will provide as a point of reference for those considering de-
veloping a CPD course in this area. It will also provide further information for immersion
education teachers/practitioners that want to learn more about strategies and approaches
that will improve their practice.
1.1. The Research Underpinning the Course
The research on which this course development is based identified that teachers in
IM schools would like more CPD in special education that is specific to meeting the needs
of all students learning through Irish [10,12]. The most frequently reported areas in which
teachers would like CPD were (1) Irish literacy, (2) assessment of students learning
through Irish, (3) identifying students with SEN learning through Irish, (4) differentiation,
(5) second language acquisition, and (6) inclusive pedagogies [10]. In relation to the course
design, teachers wanted to learn more appropriate teaching strategies to implement in
their classroom and access resources that will help them meet to the needs of all their
students. The opportunity to learn from other teachers was cited as the third most im-
portant element. Being given time to consolidate their learning was also important for
teachers (4th) and many teachers wanted access to research on SEN provision in IM
schools (5th). The course designed and discussed in this article is based on the findings of
this research. It was designed with the needs of the teachers involved in the research at
the core of the course development. The 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language outlines
an integrated approach to the Irish language, in which nine areas of action are specified,
including education [13]. One of the objectives of the strategy is that a high standard of
all-Irish education will be provided to all students and that IM schools will continue to be
supported in this area. It is anticipated that the development of this course can help
achieve this objective as well as strengthening participating Gaeltacht teachers’ capacity
to meet the needs of all the learners in their classes [14]. The aims of the course were to
enable participating teachers to:
a. Devise and implement a range of informal and formal assessment approaches to pro-
file any student in the areas of language and communication, literacy, numeracy, and
personal and social development [1–5].
b. Devise a differentiated plan of teaching that builds on student’s strengths and ad-
dresses their areas for development [1–9].
c. Use a range of pedagogical resources, including digital resources, to meet the learn-
ing targets that derive from the plan [15,16].
d. Reflect on current practice and engage in peer reflection to support the development
of their own teaching and leadership capacity [17].
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 3 of 18
1.2. Irish-Immersion Schools in the Republic of Ireland
A Gaeltacht school is one that is located in one of the 26 Gaeltacht Language Planning
or Irish-speaking heartland areas that has registered to participate in the Gaeltacht School
Recognition Scheme [14]. Irish is the day-to-day language of the school and the language
of instruction, except when English or other languages are being taught. Students in infant
classes (age 4–7) have a total immersion experience in Irish [14]. Research suggests that
most students enrolled in Gaeltacht schools come from homes where Irish is not the dom-
inant language. There were 109 primary Gaeltacht schools and 22 post-primary Gaeltacht
schools at the time of this study in 2020–2021 [18]. Gaelscoileanna (IM schools) are located
mainly in cities and small towns outside of the Gaeltacht heartland areas. The data show
that most students enrolled in these schools come from households where English is the
dominant language [19]. Similar to Gaeltacht primary schools, total immersion pro-
grammes of up to two years are provided to students before they commence English lan-
guage and literacy studies. There were 185 Irish immersion primary schools and 49 post-
primary schools throughout the island of Ireland outside the Gaeltacht at the time this
course was developed [19]. Most of these schools were situated in the Republic of Ireland
(RoI) with 36 primary and 5 post-primary schools located in Northern Ireland (NI) [19].
This study did not include teachers from IM schools in NI. The research available on the
most frequently reported categories of SEN in IM primary and post-primary schools in
the RoI is presented below in Table 1 [12,20,21]. Unfortunately, for post-primary IM
schools outside of Gaeltacht areas, there are no data available on the prevalence and types
of SEN experienced by students in these schools. In 2004, it was estimated that 4% (n =
358) of students in primary Gaeltacht schools were receiving additional teaching support
[21]. In post-primary Gaeltacht schools at the time, it was estimated that 7% of students (n
= 324) had a diagnosis of SEN [21]. Recent research reported that 9.4% of students in pri-
mary Irish immersion schools outside of Gaeltacht areas in the RoI present with a diagno-
sis of SEN [12]. It was estimated that for the school year 2017–2018, 16.57% of students
enrolled in IM primary schools outside of the Gaeltacht received additional teaching sup-
port from the special education teacher [12].
Table 1. The most frequently reported categories of SEN reported in primary and post-primary
Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools in the Republic of Ireland.
Dyslexia Dyslexia
Specific Learning
Disability (this
term includes
Specific Learning
Dyspraxia Dyspraxia
Mild General
Borderline Mild
General Learning
Autism Spectrum
Specific Language
Borderline Mild
Mild General
Emotional and/or
Autism Spectrum
General Learning
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 4 of 18
Specific Language
Emotional and/or
1.3. CPD in the Republic of Ireland
Overtime, CPD has evolved from a ‘one-shot’ professional development approach,
where the emphasis was ‘that teacher learning is something that is done to teachers’ [22]
(pp. 4–5), [23] to a model where teachers have begun to learn in a collaborative environ-
ment with the aim of promoting individual professional growth that will positively im-
pact the practices in place in their classrooms [24–26]. Professional development can be
defined as any set of activities that improves teachers’ knowledge practices and has a pos-
itive impact on student learning outcomes [25–31]. It is recommended that teachers should
undertake CPD courses that are practical and will enable participants to easily transfer
their learning to their classroom [32]. The benefits of accessing CPD include teachers
providing a higher quality of teaching which enhances students’ educational attainment
and their educational experiences [25,30]. While there are many benefits for teachers who
access CPD, the research also states that teachers face challenges when accessing CPD
[25,33]. The most frequently reported challenges include a lack of time/work pressure, the
cost of accessing CPD, and accessibility to courses, lack of managerial support when ac-
cessing CPD, work pressure, family commitments, and having to undertake CPD outside
of work hours [25,27–31,33].
In the Republic of Ireland, the Teaching Council of Ireland [34] has developed
‘Cosán’, the national framework for teachers’ learning. The framework recognises that
there are many ways in which teachers can learn and undertake CPD, for example, for-
mally, informally, personally, and professionally. Personal development involves teach-
ers developing the skills that they require in life to help them not only in their role in
school but also in the life in general (e.g., time management and communication) [34].
Professional development is based on the concept that teachers learn and develop contin-
uously throughout their career to develop the skills that are necessary for them to work
effectively in their roles (e.g., using ICT as a teaching method) [34]. The recommended
ways in which teachers can engage in CPD include engaging in professional conversa-
tions, reading literature and/or research, engaging in team teaching or collaborative re-
flection with a colleague, attending a professional learning event (e.g., conference), or
school-based learning [34,35]. The importance of reflective practice for teachers in terms
of their teaching/assessment methods and their students’ learning as a means of being
responsive to emerging needs of schools and school improvement is recognised in Cosán
[34]. This course was developed as a summer course programme, which was developed
to contribute to the continuum of teacher’s professional learning [36] and to support the
goals outlined in the Department of Education’s Statement of Strategy, 2021–2023 [37].
Teachers who successfully complete a summer course are entitled to extra personal vaca-
tion (EPV) days. These courses can be delivered by providers through a variety of meth-
ods, face to face, online, or through a blended learning method. The course discussed in
this article was delivered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic and because participants
lived all over the RoI. In the RoI, teachers in IM schools access CPD in a similar manner
as to that outlined above. There are no special requirements that teachers in IM schools
should have additional teacher education in the area of bilingualism, immersion educa-
tion, or special education. Research on the CPD needs of teachers in IM schools has found
that it has been challenging for teachers to access courses based on meeting the SEN of
students learning through Irish [10]. It has been found that the majority of courses availa-
ble to this cohort are delivered through the medium of English with a focus on students
learning through English and that many of the course providers do not have an
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 5 of 18
understanding of the needs of students learning through Irish and of the challenges that
teachers in IM schools face [10].
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. ABC Course Design
The development of this course is in line with the Cascade Model of CPD develop-
ment [38]. It was anticipated that teachers who were willing to attend the online course
would return to their schools and disseminate their new learning and skills to their col-
leagues. This method was chosen as the resources available to the researchers were lim-
ited, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the course a lot of teacher
self-reflection activities were added to overcome the challenge of developing teachers’ in-
clusive mindsets [22,39]. Furthermore, the content of the course was differentiated as
much as possible based on the context in which teachers worked, e.g., primary Gaeltacht
or post-primary Gaeltacht school [19–21,39].
It was decided that this course would be delivered completely asynchronously due
to the time challenges that teachers face when accessing CPD and the fact that teachers
were going to undertake this course during their summer holidays from various locations
[25,31–33]. As part of the ABC course design process, the authors of this paper met with
colleagues from the Teaching Enhancement Unit in the Institute of Education, Dublin City
University online to undertake the workshop. Within the workshop, the authors created
a ‘storyboard’ for the course content and activities were selected to ensure that the six
ABC learning types were included [40,41]. In Table 2, an overview is provided of the ac-
tivities incorporated in the course and how they relate to the ABC course design. Within
the table, there are elements from different modules, the content presented does not relate
to any one module alone and it is not presented in an order of processes or sequence.
When planning for an online course, there were several factors to be considered, such as
ensuring that the course was consistent and easy to navigate, planning both online and
asynchronous activities, building an online community, developing resources, and en-
couraging teacher engagement and participation through active learning [40,41]. The con-
tent of this course is specifically designed in line with best practice principles for instruc-
tional design and effective online pedagogy to maximise motivation, engagement, and
learning through a high level of discussion on and interaction with the online course con-
tent [42–46]. All modules offered accessible and rich online content. Content was pre-
sented in a multimedia format, e.g., podcasts, videos, screenshots, and video demonstra-
tions [42–46]. Interactive learning assignments were provided throughout the modules.
Activities were designed to allow for peer learning, sharing, and mentoring, along with
the development of a community of practice [34]. The use of this variety of online peda-
gogical teaching and learning techniques ensured that (1) participants engaged actively
with the course content, (2) reflected on their own practice, and (3) applied what they had
learned throughout the course to their own professional practice [25,42–46].
Table 2. Examples from the course in terms of how each ABC learning type was incorporated into
the course design [40,41].
Learning Type Definition Examples from the Course
Where learners gain an
understanding of new
concepts, models, vocabulary,
and methodologies [40,41].
- Reading multimedia
- Websites
- Digital documents and
- Listening to
- Videos
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 6 of 18
The learner takes an active and
exploratory approach to their
learning where they search for
and evaluate a range of new
information and ideas [40,41].
- Observations (media/blog) of
teaching pedagogies and
- Identify the areas of
development for a student and
create a plan to meet the student’s
- Reflect on a lesson and
identify how ICT can be used
more in their classroom.
Where the learner applies the
knowledge they have acquired
in their context [40,41].
- Reflective tasks
- Case studies
- Simulations—role
- Analysing a speech and
language sample
- Re-create a lesson previously
taught to incorporate either UDL
or differentiation.
- Completing a language
environment questionnaire and
rating/scoring it
The learner articulates their
ideas/learnings/questions, and
they respond to their
tutor/peers [40,41].
- Discussion forums
- Professional reflections
- Group discussions on a topic
- Sharing of resources online
Collaboration Participants work together to
build knowledge [40,41].
- Development of a shared
resource library
- Development of a
community of practice using
discussion forums.
The learner consolidates and
demonstrates what they have
learned [40,41].
- Designing assessments and
lesson plans
- Creating a dynamic
assessment of vocabulary or
writing or numeracy.
- Prepare a set of readers’
theatre lessons for their class.
2.2. Course Evaluation
All the teachers who participated in this course had previously undertaken a survey
of their CPD needs in this area as part of the research that informed the development of
this course [10]. Teachers who undertook the questionnaires and interviews in the initial
research were invited to undertake the CPD course developed [10]. Those who expressed
an interest in undertaking the course in the initial research were invited to complete an
expression of interest form. This allowed for participant anonymity to be maintained in
terms of the initial data collected. Those who expressed an interest were emailed by the
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 7 of 18
researchers and invited to partake in the course. They were provided with login details to
the course Moodle page. They were all provided with a plain language statement and
informed consent forms before participating in the study. They all provided informed
consent prior to completing the course and undertaking the course evaluation form. Upon
completion of the course, participants were asked to anonymously complete an evaluation
form. Participants were not asked any identifying questions in the form due to the small
sample size. This evaluation form received ethical approval from the Research Ethics
Committee in Dublin City University prior to being released to participants (N = 25). This
methodology was chosen as it allowed students to provide feedback on the course design
and delivery, this in turn will enable the course developers to improve the teaching and
learning associated with the course [45]. This form had six quantitative items that evalu-
ated participants perceptions of the course [46]. It is thought that using between six and
nine items in a course evaluation form increases the validity of the results [46]. Unfortu-
nately, there are no set standards available in terms of how course evaluation forms are
set [45]. The questions asked were based on the six standards of scholarly teaching: setting
clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, course results, effective presen-
tation, and reflective critique [47]. Participants were asked to evaluate their learning in the
form and hence, the form needed to be customised based on the content of the course
provided [48]. Furthermore, the development of the evaluation form was based on the
available literature in this area. There were items on the form which allowed participants
the opportunity to provide summary ratings for example using the Likert scale of very
effective, effective, etc. There were also open-ended questions to help provide more in-
depth information [49]. The form provided important data around participants’ (N = 25)
experiences of engaging with the course, their opinions around the usefulness of the
course content, and their recommendations for course improvement. It took participants
10–15 min to complete. Participants were asked to provide feedback about their own
learning relative to the course’s learning outcomes. The topics covered in the course eval-
uation form were: (1) teaching methods, strategies, course delivery, and clarity, (2) course
materials, (3) student engagement and involvement, (4) course structure, (5) student learn-
ing and course learning outcomes, and (6) overall comments. The data gathered were an-
alysed using descriptive analysis (e.g., mean, median, and mode) due to the small sample
size. This method was used to identify patterns in the responses of the participants and to
measure the frequency in which participants selected items/choices within the evaluation
form. This type of analysis was chosen as it enabled the authors to gather data that de-
scribe the engagement that participants had with the course.
2.3. Participant Profiles
In total, 25 participants completed the course from a variety of IM school contexts
(primary/post-primary/Gaelscoileanna/Gaeltacht schools) [10]. Most of those who under-
took the course came from IM primary schools outside of the Gaeltacht (n = 16) and only
a small number of teachers came from primary Gaeltacht schools (n = 5), or post-primary
IM schools outside of the Gaeltacht (n = 4). Unfortunately, no post-primary Gaeltacht
teachers undertook this course. Seven of the teachers were aged between 20–30 years old,
seven were aged between 31–40 years old, nine were aged between 41–50 years old, and
two teachers were aged between 51–60 years old. Of those who completed the course, 12
teachers worked in the role of special education teacher, 9 were mainstream class teachers,
1 teacher was a subject teacher at post-primary level, and the remaining participants were
either administrative teachers (n = 1) or teaching principals (n = 3). The participants had
been in their current role for a varied length of time, nine of the teachers had only been in
their role for 0–5 years, seven had been in their role for 6–10 years, seven had been in their
role for 11–15 years, and two teachers had been in their role for more than 20 years. The
level of education that the participants held varied with some holding: (a) primary de-
grees (n = 8), (b) primary degrees and a post-graduate degree (n = 7), (c) a primary degree
and a masters (n = 9), or a (d) doctorate (n = 1).
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 8 of 18
3. Results
3.1. Course Modules Developed
The course was divided into five modules which are outlined in further detail below.
The course structure reflects the important and interconnected nature of teaching, learn-
ing, and assessment. This interconnectivity is demonstrated through a balance of units on
assessment and the identification of students with SEN, the creation of student profiles,
interventions, inclusive pedagogies, resources, and ICT. Throughout each unit, partici-
pants were encouraged to be reflective and reflexive, thus enabling them to function as
effective teachers in the classroom [22,29].
3.1.1. Module 1: Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition
The contents of the first module of the course focused on bilingualism and second
language acquisition [6–8]. The aims of this module were:
to gain an understanding of the stages of second language acquisition,
to recognise the differences between a student presenting with a learning difficulty
and a student who needs more exposure to a second language and teacher support
to help them access the curriculum effectively,
to gain an understanding of the markers of a learning difficulty based on interna-
tional research in bilingualism and second language acquisition,
to reflect on bilingualism and second language acquisition and the identification
of students with SEN in the context of a participants’ individual school.
3.1.2. Module 2: Appropriate Assessment for Students Learning through Irish
The need for more information and skills within this area was identified as a priority
by teachers in the study that underpins this course development [10]. The aims of this
module were:
to create a holistic profile of development for students using a range of internation-
ally recommended practices,
to understand how to identify the student’s individual learning profile, building on
strengths and areas of needs,
to analyse and understand the process of creating a holistic development plan to meet
the needs of students with SEN in IM schools,
to understand how to effectively monitor and evaluate a student’s progress towards
selected objectives,
to individually and collectively reflect on and evaluate current practice and identify
areas for improvement in creating a holistic profile of development for students.
The methods of assessment that participants were introduced to included informal
assessment [50,51], language sampling [52], parental report [53], and dynamic assessment
[54]. This course provided participants with the opportunity to reflect on and discuss how
these modes of assessment can positively influence their teaching as well as the learning
experiences of children with SEN in IM schools.
3.1.3. Module 3: Inclusive Pedagogies
In Module 3, the course participants were encouraged to investigate a wide range of
pedagogical approaches to help them meet the needs of all their students learning through
Irish [10,12]. The aims of this module were:
to identify the required elements in an immersion education classroom to ensure that
students are provided with the optimal conditions to promote their learning,
to reflect on the important elements of immersion education in the context of partic-
ipants’ individual school settings,
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 9 of 18
to become familiar with a range of interventions that can be used in the areas of lan-
guage and communication, literacy, numeracy, and personal and social develop-
One important resource that participants were introduced to here is the Immersion
Education Checklist [55]. This is an excellent resource for teachers to use in order to ensure
that their classroom structure and teaching are appropriate for an immersion education
context. Other strategies introduced which are beneficial for students learning through a
second language include the readers theatre [56], reciprocal teaching [57], language expe-
rience approach [58], cognates for vocabulary development [59], and the use of audio-
books [60]. Another aspect which was delivered by speech and language therapists was
how to meet the needs of students with language and communication difficulties learning
through a minority language [9].
3.1.4. Module 4: Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Module 4 covered the use of inclusive pedagogies within the UDL framework [61–
63]. The aims of this module were:
to understand the principles and techniques of effective instruction for the inclusion
of all students with SEN learning through Irish,
to become familiar with a wide range of instructional strategies for the development
of language and communication, numeracy, literacy, and personal and social devel-
opment skills in students,
to become familiar with how modifications can be made to the curriculum, teaching
strategies, and assessment to meet the SEN of students learning through Irish,
to reflect on the use of appropriate planning, preparation, and assessment practices
that progress students’ learning,
to select and discuss teaching approaches appropriate to meeting learning objectives
and the students’ learning needs through the lens of Universal Design for Learning
(UDL) framework.
The UDL framework was selected as it enables teachers to reduce the obstacles within
the classroom that may impact on students’ learning, e.g., the modes of instruction and
assessment, instructional materials, or the types of learning tasks being undertaken by
learners [60] It has also been recognised as an appropriate framework for supporting cul-
turally diverse learners [60–65].
3.1.5. Module 5: ICT for the Inclusion of Students Learning through Irish
Unit 5 of this course focused on the use of ICT resources to support the inclusion of
all students with SEN learning through Irish [62,63]. The aims of this module were:
to understand the value of using ICT for the inclusion of all students in the classroom,
to become familiar with the various ICT options available to implement in the class-
room when meeting the SEN of students learning through Irish,
to plan for the use of ICT in the classroom,
to share the challenges that teachers face in this area and their resources.
to reflect on the content of the course and identify actions for their individual class-
room practice.
Participants sourced, shared, accessed, and subsequently embed suitable forms of
ICT in their teaching. In a society where students are continually bombarded with visual
and audio material, this course explores the effective use of digital technologies and how
it can enable independent learning for students and how it can enhance classroom instruc-
tion to ensure that all students learning through the medium of Irish can access meaning-
ful learning experiences and experience success [62,63].
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 10 of 18
3.1.6. Assessment and Reflective Practice within the Course
The participants were required to complete learning activities throughout the course
that encouraged them to reflect on and discuss what they have learned in each module
(see example in Table 3). They were also required to complete reflections at the end of
each module using the discussion forum before they could move on to the next module.
This interactive discussion space provided a forum for collective reflection and learning
which was supported through feedback from the tutor. At the end of the course, students
completed a reflective assignment of approximately 500–600 words in which they re-
flected on what they learned throughout the course, and they linked it back to specific
experiences that they had while in the classroom. Within the learning activities and the
mega-reflection, participants reflected on their learning within the course content in a
four-stage format: (1) information (main points of the course material), (2) development
(what questions were prompted by the course content?), (3) elaboration (how might these
issues be addressed?), and (4) application (how to apply learning to everyday practice?)
Table 3. An example of the assessment participants had to complete at the end of the course.
In this learning activity
you must reflect on the positive impact your interaction with
the course material will have on your future teaching practices. You must write a 500–
600-word reflection (a Word/PDF document) on one of the following topics, assessment,
interventions, universal design for learning, and ICT. Choose one of the following from
the course content:
- One assessment method that you will apply in your future teaching. Discuss why
you chose this strategy (advantages), the challenges you might face in implement-
ing this strategy, and how you might overcome these challenges.
- One intervention (you can choose a universal design for learning here). Discuss
why you chose this strategy (advantages), the challenges you might face in imple-
menting this strategy, and how you might overcome these challenges.
- One piece of ICT software. Discuss why you chose this software (advantages), the
challenges you might face while implementing this software, and how you might
overcome these challenges.
Participants completed a learning log in the form of an online learning portfolio,
within this portfolio they posted all their responses to the activities. The benefits of having
this portfolio were (1) that course participants had all their work in the one place for them
to review at any stage and to enable them to implement the practices that they reflected
on in their classrooms, and (2) that course tutors could easily assess course participants’
work in one area to ensure that they have completed all the required tasks and meet all
the course requirements. The learning log (portfolio) and reflective activity were moni-
tored by the course tutors to ensure they met a minimum quality standard, and guidance
was provided to students if these standards were not met. Feedback was designed to en-
courage teachers to take a self-evaluative approach to their individual and school practice.
3.2. Course Evaluation Results
3.2.1. The Effectiveness of Each Module
Firstly, participants were given the opportunity to rate how effective they felt each
module of the course was, using the Likert scale of “very effective, effective, ineffective,
very ineffective.” Figure 1 below outlines the number of participants choosing each cate-
gory of response for each module. It is clear from the findings that participants found
every module either very effective or effective which is positive feedback. This in turn
suggests that the objectives of each module were met through the teaching and learning
activities provided within it.
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 11 of 18
Figure 1. Participant (N = 25) opinions around the usefulness of the course content.
3.2.2. The Most Beneficial Aspects of the Course
Participants were asked to choose the aspects of the course which they found most
beneficial. Six options were provided, and participants could choose all categories that
were relevant to them. As can be seen in Figure 2, the elements of the course that partici-
pants found most beneficial were realistic ideas for implementing teaching strategies and
materials/resources to support teaching and learning. Internationally, this practice is rec-
ommended as a positive method of CPD for teachers [35]. This also relates to the fact that
accessing teaching and assessment resources through the medium of Irish can be chal-
lenging for teachers in IM schools [10]. The area that was cited as being least beneficial
was the opportunity to see examples of good practice. This is interesting considering that
it is recommended internationally as a form of CPD [30–35]. The examples provided in
this course related to teachers teaching students learning through a second language and
did not relate specifically to teachers in IM schools. This may be a factor that caused a
decrease in the ranking of this category as perhaps the teachers felt that these examples
were less applicable to their own contexts [7]. The high number of teachers that chose that
they would like more realistic ideas for implementing teaching strategies may suggest
that there may not have been enough realistic teaching ideas provided in the course or
that simply they may like to progress their learning further in this area.
16 15 16 15
910 910
Bilingualism and
second language
Universal Design for
ICT for Inclusion
Number of Participants
Course Modules
Very Effective Effective Ineffective Very Ineffective
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 12 of 18
Figure 2. Participant (N = 25) opinions around beneficial aspects of the course.
3.2.3. Areas of Further Learning
Participants (N = 25) were asked to choose from a list of areas which they would like
to learn more about after completing the course (see Figure 3). They could choose as many
as they felt were relevant to them. The figure below outlines their choices. The answers
provided to this question suggest that teachers in IM schools still want more specific CPD
which is specialised and relates to their immersion contexts, e.g., Irish literacy strategies
[3,4,7,10]. This may be due to the fact that this course was only a 20 hour course, and it
did not have scope to provide in-depth details on the various elements discussed below.
This may suggest that more time needs to be allocated to each module or, it might be a
good idea to run a single course on each module (e.g., bilingualism etc.).
Figure 3. The areas of further learning identified by participants (N = 25).
0 5 10 15 20 25
Relevant research carried out in recent years
Realistic ideas for implementing teaching strategies
Materials and resources to support teaching and
Opportunities to see examples of good practice
Time for discussion and reflection
Learning from others doing the course
Number of Participants
Beneficial Aspects of the Course
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Bilingualism/second language acquisition
Literacy strategies in Irish
Identify students with special educational needs…
Strategies for teaching mathematics
Assessment for students learning through Irish
Use of ICT for Inclusion
Inclusive teaching practice
Behavioural management
Team teaching
Collaborative learning for students
Literacy strategies in English
Curriculum integration
Number of Participants
Areas of Further Learning
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 13 of 18
3.2.4. The Challenges of Accessing this Course
Overall, the course received positive feedback as is evident from above. Some of the
participants expanded on this fact in their responses to an open-ended question at the end
of the form. One of the participants spoke about how they were more motivated in their
teaching following the completion of the course [27,28].
It was a great course, and I am very motivated now.
Two other participants spoke about how the course should be expanded and made
available to more teachers in the area. This finding may mean that the cascade approach
will be beneficial in terms of spreading information from the course and about the course
[15]. In addition, the comments suggest that the course was beneficial in terms of improv-
ing teachers’ competencies and confidence [27,28].
Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to undertake the course. I look for-
ward to the expansion of this course so other teachers can see the content. (Com-
ment 1)
This was very good. There is a very large gap in SEN and Irish-medium educa-
tion. I am now much more confident in recommending Irish-medium education
to children with SEN. (Comment 2)
However, as with all forms of CPD undertaken, the participants did experience chal-
lenges. Participants were asked to choose from a list of challenges encountered while com-
pleting the course (see Figure 4). They also had the opportunity to add any other com-
ments that they had in an open-ended question. The most challenging aspect for teachers
related to them not having enough time to undertake the course. This is a factor commonly
identified by teachers in all education settings [31–33]. However, in this instance, it would
be beneficial to further identify whether the course content was too heavy and placed a
burden on participants timewise, or whether they found it challenging accessing the
course due to other constraints/commitments. The second most challenging aspect was
their ability to access technology or resources. This factor may be due to their lack of ex-
perience using Moodle and navigating/accessing content using the platform. Upon reflec-
tion, it would be good to consider the online accessibility of the course and perhaps have
an online help desk or a manual available to participants in terms of how to access various
elements of Moodle.
Not enough time Access to technology and
Any other challenges No difficulties
Number of Participants
Challenges Encountered
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 14 of 18
Figure 4. Participant (N = 25) opinions around the challenges encountered while completing the
The specific challenges mentioned by participants were very helpful for the course
developers in terms of understanding the challenges experienced by participants. One of
the participants found that the quantity of reading material was too much and that this
caused them pressure [66]. This is an aspect which needs to be further investigated before
the course is made available to the next cohort of teachers.
There was lots of content and reading involved. I felt under pressure to get it all
This factor was also evident in another response where the participant identified that they
found it easier to access content through video.
Sometimes the course was too academic. The videos were easier to understand.
Another teacher discussed how they did not have sufficient classroom experience when
accessing the content and reflecting on their practice. In this instance, differentiation of
content may need to be considered further in relation to the teaching experience of partic-
One module was very difficult for me because I had a lack of related classroom
Another participant felt that the word count for the written activities at the end of each
module was too high in comparison to other online summer courses. It may be worth-
while for course developers to consider further use of the UDL framework within the as-
sessment practices of the course [61].
The number of words required for the written activities was too high, I think.
Whilst this feedback is limited in number, it is very important as it provides an overview
of how the course could be altered in terms of delivery/assessment in the future to make
it more accessible for the participants.
4. Discussion
The process of course development as presented in this paper is but one approach
towards developing an online CPD course in special education for immersion education
teachers. The course was developed as a direct response to the growing demands for CPD
in IM schools in relation to SEN and contributes to teachers engaging in CPD that is rele-
vant for their students [10]. Development of this course was informed by international
and national research and literature [1–5]. This course was developed based on the cas-
cade training model of CPD development in which it is hoped that participants of the
course would go back to their schools and spread the positive practices and knowledge
they acquired from the course [38]. Prior to the development of the course, participants
highlighted areas that they would like to learn more about in the area of SEN in IM schools
[10]. Such an approach ensured that the content was relevant and directly related to the
current CPD needs of these participating teachers [34]. This is an approach which could
successfully be replicated in other areas of CPD development or in other immersion edu-
cation contexts. With minor adjustments and adaptations, the research [10], content, and
design of this course could be adapted and implemented in immersion education contexts
internationally [1–5].
The online delivery of this course had a number of specific benefits as it enabled
teachers across various locations in the RoI to access the content at a time and location that
was suitable for them [28,36,37]. Through using the ABC course design format and incor-
porating a specific range of learning types such as acquisition, practice, and production
into the course design, participants had opportunities to participate within a community
of practice [40,41]. This in turn fostered possibilities for participation, collaboration, re-
flection, and application of learning [42]. Through the evaluation forms completed by
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 15 of 18
teachers, it was found that teachers valued most being given realistic teaching ideas and
materials/resources for their classroom. This is an important factor to consider when de-
livering the course content in the future. It is important that the content is delivered in a
practical way which can be implemented within the classroom [23]. Through online dis-
cussion fora, opportunities were provided for participants to reflect on their own practice
and prepare for implementing course content in their own classrooms [24–26]. Another
benefit of the course was the scope for participants to view other participants’ responses
to forum questions a nd as signments. In this way, participants coul d learn from each other,
share ideas, and ask questions of each other [43,44]. Opportunities to learn from others
and collaboration through discussion forums were identified as the least effective meth-
ods of learning in this study, this is interesting since it is an internationally recommended
CPD practice [22,29,35]. This may suggest that more face-to-face interaction in the online
format is required to encourage a higher level of discussion/collaboration [43,44]. Further-
more, in relation to course assessment it may be beneficial to implement the UDL frame-
work more and provide participants with a variety of ways to demonstrate their learning
(e.g., videos and audios) rather than solely relying on written assessments [61].
Overall, the feedback for this course was positive, with some teachers stating that
they felt more motivated and confident after undertaking this course [27,28]. However,
with all forms of CPD the participants of this course did experience some challenges. The
most frequently reported challenge was that of a lack of time [33]. This challenge is fre-
quently reported in resear ch on CPD in ot her contexts and therefore, it may be worthwhile
to evaluate how courses, such as this one, can be implemented within school time
[22,29,35]. Alternatively, it may suggest that the course content was too demanding of
participants’ time and would benefit from being reduced in terms of content [66]. Another
challenge encountered was accessing ICT or resources. This may be because participants
lacked familiarity with the Moodle learning platform. It may be beneficial for course pro-
viders to assess the accessibility of the learning platform that they are using in terms of
ensuring that it is accessible to novice online learners [32,43,44]. The method of content
delivery should also be considered as well as the amount of content delivered. From the
open-ended comments, it was clear that some participants would prefer less reading and
more videos [61]. This is something that the researchers will consider further when up-
dating the course.
When reviewing the findings of this article it is important to be mindful of the limi-
tations of the data presented. One of the primary limitations of the study was that the
course developed was only completed by 25 practicing teachers in IM schools. This sam-
ple is small; however, due to the smaller number of IM schools than English-medium
schools in the Republic of Ireland, there are fewer teachers working in IM schools. More-
over, there are fewer students with SEN enrolled in IM schools and this in turn may im-
pact on the number of teachers that have an interest in undertaking CPD in this area. An-
other challenge that the researchers experienced was the COVID-19 pandemic and the
additional pressures that this put on the teachers (e.g., restrictions, social distancing, pods
for teaching purposes) [66]. This meant that many teachers may have been experiencing
burnout and they were less likely to participate in research or undertake CPD [66]. Nev-
ertheless, the contents of this article are significant as they may offer some further insight
into how to meet the CPD needs of immersion education teachers in the area of SEN pro-
vision. Particularly, as there is a dearth of research and courses in this area. It is anticipated
that the contents of this article may be transferable to other immersion education contexts
and of interest to immersion teacher educators internationally when considering their
practices. For example, it may guide teachers/practitioners in terms of appropriate ap-
proaches and strategies that they can implement in their classroom to meet the needs of
all their students. It may also guide teacher educators in terms possible content that they
can include in their instruction for those preparing to work/or working in immersion ed-
ucation contexts throughout the world. Going forward, it may be beneficial to develop a
working group of teacher educators from immersion education to work together on an
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 281 16 of 18
internationally recognised course in this area. Moreover, it might be good to develop a
professional learning community where immersion teachers from all over the world can
work together to overcome the challenges that they face when meeting the needs of their
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, S.N.A.; methodology, S.N.A., P.Ó.D, L.C.-C., and JT .;
software, S.N.A., L.C.-C., P.Ó.D., and J.T.; validation, S.N.A. and L.C.-C.; formal analysis, L.C.C. and
S.N.A.; investigation, S.N.A and L.C.-C.; resources, S.N.A and L.C.-C.; data curation, S.N.A. and
L.C.-C.; writing—original draft preparation, S.N.A.; writing—review and editing, S.N.A.; visualiza-
tion, S.N.A.; supervision, P.Ó.D. and J.T.; project administration, S.N.A.; funding acquisition, S.N.A.
ad P.Ó.D. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research was funded by An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus
Gaelscolaíochta, grant number (P61035).
Institutional Review Board Statement: The study was approved by the Dublin City University,
Research Ethics Committee (DCUREC/2020/195, Date of Approval 7 October 2020).
Informed Consent Statement: Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the
Data Availability Statement: The data presented in this study are available on request from the
corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to the small sample size and the
preservation of participant anonymity.
Acknowledgments: We would like to thank all the teachers who participated in the initial study
and those who gave their time to undertake the course developed. We are very grateful for this. We
would also like to thank An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta for their
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Full-text available
There are few professional development courses available to teachers with a focus on meeting the special educational needs (SEN) of students in immersion education contexts worldwide. The continuous professional development (CPD) needs of immersion education teachers in SEN are under researched internationally. This study investigated the CPD needs of primary and post-primary Irish immersion education teachers (N = 133) in SEN using an anonymous online survey. In this article, we provide an overview of the types of CPD that teachers have engaged with in the past and their preferences for future CPD in this area. The challenges they face in relation to CPD are evaluated and provide a context for the future development of CPD courses for this cohort. It was found that teachers want to learn more about inclusive pedagogies and assessments through a variety of interactive pedagogies. The findings of this study will be of interest to immersion educators in other contexts.
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Background Sporadic school closures and a shift to online teaching have resulted in significant work changes for teachers in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such rapid changes are likely to compound other personal or family stressors resultant from the pandemic. Method This study examines occupational stress levels during COVID-19 among a national sample of 245 teachers in Ireland using the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory as the main outcome measure. Results Moderate or high levels of personal burnout was reported by 82% (n=202) of the sample and 79% (n=193) reported work burnout. COVID-19 related adverse effects were reported by teachers on physical (43%) and mental health (67%), with deterioration in eating (34%), sleeping (70%) and alcohol use (33%). 100 (42%) participants felt unable to keep safe at work. Low levels of job satisfaction were present (66%), negatively correlating with burnout scores (rs= -0.405, p<0.01). 142 (58%) teachers had seriously considered changing jobs in the previous 6-12 months. Conclusion Plans for continued educational access for students must urgently include interventions optimising the occupational environment and resources for teachers. This is necessary to prevent the deleterious impact of personal burnout on teacher wellbeing and to minimise the likelihood of increased staff turnover, early retirement and adverse impacts on teaching quality relating to work burnout.
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ABC Learning Design (ABC LD) is a high-energy, hands-on curriculum development workshop from University College London (UCL). In just 90 minutes teaching teams work together to create a visual “storyboard”. The storyboard is made up of pre-printed cards representing the type and sequence of learning activities (both online and offline) required to meet the module or programme learning outcomes. All the resources have been released under Creative Commons licenses and are free to download, adapt and use.ABC LD is now popular across European tertiary education and beyond. Participants have found the workshop-based “sprint” approach to be quick, engaging and productive. The original UCL or “base” ABC LD is built around a collaborative and intensive 90’ workshop in which module teams work together to produce a paper-based storyboard describing the student journey.Over the last two years UCL has led an Erasmus+ project to develop and evaluate the ABC LD method with 12 partners ( We have focused on localisation to institutional contexts and have explored the important link between storyboard designs and the Virtual Learning Environment. The main output is a freely downloadable Toolkit of resources and guides, enabling any college or university to adapt and adopt the method.Although developed to promote blended learning, during the COVID emergency, some institutions have now modified ABC LD to be facilitated remotely to support their need for a rapid transition to online learning. ABC LD is proving an effective method in this new format, too.
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The language experience approach (LEA) to reading instruction uses learner-dictated passages to foster reading development. In this study, researchers explored LEA instruction for English learners with exceptional needs that were supported by voice typing, word prediction, and screen reading tools. A multiple baseline design was used to investigate the effects of technology-supported LEA on the oral reading of three emerging bilingual (Arabic/English) students with developmental delay, speech-language impairment, or at-risk status. All participants demonstrated slight increases in the number of words read correctly per min on reading curriculum-based measures during technology-supported LEA instruction. Similarly, increases occurred in the number of words read correctly from learner-dictated passages while decreases occurred in the percentage of meaning-change miscues made during oral reading. Social validation data indicated high participant satisfaction with technology-supported LEA. Implications relate to the feasibility of implementation and the need for future research.
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Objective. To review and recommend strategies for utilizing student ratings of instruction (course and instructor) including considerations regarding design, administration, and use and interpretation of results. Findings. Improving course delivery and pedagogy using student ratings of instruction requires programs to design evaluation instruments that are aligned with the following good, scholarly teaching criteria: offer 10-20 rating scale questions and at least one written response question, ensure that students understand what the questions are asking, use a standardized form for evaluating all faculty members, allow for additional tailored questions to be added to the form, and employ a four- or five-point rating scale with a "not applicable" option. When administering evaluations, programs should limit the number of faculty members evaluated to those teaching greater than or equal to five clock hours of lecture or schedule evaluations based on academic rank; use an online course evaluation tool; randomly select students to participate; offer the evaluation at the end of the term (and/or midpoint for team taught classes); offer the evaluation during scheduled class time; and allow for voluntary, anonymous student participation. Finally, programs should create an assessment plan that outlines the results' release timeline, a list of who will receive result summaries, and how the results will be used. Programs should also encourage faculty reflection, offer mentoring in results interpretation, coach faculty members to summarize and quantify comments and longitudinally track results using tables, and create an accountability action plan to address deficiencies. Summary. In order to better ensure that student ratings of instruction are used to improve teaching, colleges and schools should adopt intentional design, structured administration processes, and transparent reporting of results.
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, even greater efforts are needed to address students’ academic and social emotional needs, all the while making up for learning loss and preparing for the unpredictable combinations of distance learning, blended learning, and in-classroom learning. These expectations, along with the need for greater emphasis on equity-focused teaching and learning have raised the bar for educators and for educator preparation. This paper explores what policymakers and educators can do to support educators in meeting the social emotional and academic needs of students. These strategies include investing in high-quality educator preparation, transforming educator professional learning opportunities to match current needs, supporting mentoring and the development of new teacher roles, and creating time for educators to collaborate with each other and key partners. These actions are vital for navigating teaching and learning during the pandemic and beyond.
Little research exists in relation to the prevalence of special educational needs (SEN) in immersion education throughout the world. Parents are often dissuaded by educational professionals against this form of education and bilingualism for their child if they present with SEN. Nevertheless, some parents still choose to educate their child with SEN through a second language. This study investigated the prevalence and types of special educational needs in Irish immersion primary schools in the Republic of Ireland (RoI). The aim was to establish, (a) the prevalence rate of SEN in these schools for the academic school year 2017/2018, (b) the types of SEN in these schools and their frequency, and (c) how these SEN were distributed by class groupings. A stratified random sample (20%, N = 29) was selected from all Irish immersion primary schools in the RoI (N = 145). These schools completed an anonymous online questionnaire and the data gathered was analysed descriptively and statistically using SPSS. The key findings of the research were that the SEN of pupils in these schools has changed over the last decade.
There is a need to strengthen the theory-practice connection, particularly for early-career mathematics teachers, through effective professional development (PD) programs that integrate theory and research with the implementation of classroom practices. The current study investigates the effect of the online coaching component a hybrid practice-based-PD program that is focused on supporting teachers’ facilitation of classroom discourse through observing and reflecting on their instructional practices during video-recorded classroom lessons. Participants were 18 early-career mathematics teachers who participated in a two-year Fellowship Program. Teachers‘ discourse instructional practice was analysed quantitatively using the PLATO observation tool. The relationship between these instructional practices and the online component of the PD was examined qualitatively through the analysis of teachers’ reflections and coach’s feedback during recorded coaching conversations. Findings revealed an improvement in teachers’ discourse practices during video-recorded mathematics lessons. This improvement was associated with more explicit, specific references to classroom discourse in the teachers’ reflections and more positive feedback from the coach during online coaching conversations. The study makes theoretical, methodological and practical contributions regarding effectiveness of practice-based PD programs focusing on classroom videos and coaching.
While the Irish language (Gaeilge) is the traditional language of Ireland, it is spoken on a daily basis by a decreasing minority of people. There is an increasing trend for parents to send children, whose first language is English, to Irish-medium schools, where the language of instruction is Irish. Little research has been undertaken regarding special educational needs (SEN) provision in Irish-medium schools. This paper reports on a study that involved a national survey of two types of Irish-medium schools in Ireland. It examined SEN provision and teaching practices in these schools. It investigated the prevalence of various types of SEN amongst Irish bilingual learners, and the benefits of, and the challenges arising from, bilingual education for these learners. It explored the experiences of teachers in meeting the needs of bilingual learners with SEN and the training needs of these teachers. The study reports on standards of good practice in relation to SEN provision that are in keeping with national guidelines. It also identified advantages and challenges for particular learners with SEN in Irish-medium schools that are likely to be equally applicable to bilingual learners within Ireland and in other jurisdictions.
A sense of belonging (SoB) is a valued concept in campus-based learning, being firmly linked with improved student attainment, increased learners’ satisfaction and reduced attrition rates. Some researchers even assert that learners are unable to fulfil the goals of higher education without acquiring a SoB. This article recognises that SoB can help promote and consolidate learning and seeks to specify how tutors may nurture online learners’ SoB. An adapted version of the Community Inquiry Framework (CoIF) is used to frame specific suggestions for action. This revision of the well-known Framework focuses upon the overlapping intersections of the three Presences, entitled Influences: ‘Trusting’, ‘Meaning-making’ and ‘Deepening understanding’. For each Influence, guidance illustrated by examples is offered, leading to particular suggestions that concentrate upon the promotion of a sense of belonging as an important aspect of the online tutor’s facilitative activities.