Ireland’s First Teaching and Learning Research Fellowships Get Underway

Posted: 1 July, 2020

Evidence base created by Fellows will reach across and beyond higher education to industry partners, professional and regulatory bodies, policy partners and thought leaders

Employability, interdisciplinarity, gender equity, digital transformation, graduate outcomes for workplaces and societies of the future are among a raft of timely issues set to be explored through Ireland’s first teaching and learning research fellowships when they get underway today (Wednesday 1 July 2020) as five Fellows from Ireland’s higher education sector begin their 18-month Fellowships with the National Forum, in partnership with the Irish Research Council.

Selected by an international panel through a rigorous three-stage process from a total of 54 applications from across 16 Irish higher education institutions, the Fellows are:

Dr Brett Becker, University College Dublin

Dr Michelle Flood, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Prof Chris Lynch, University College Cork

Dr Geraldine O’Neill, University College Dublin

Dr Barry Ryan, Technological University Dublin

The Fellowships will inform the implementation of key national education and skills policies and large-scale funding initiatives, such as the Higher Education Authority’s €300m Human Capital Initiative, which seeks to future proof graduates with industry-relevant skills for emerging technologies and promote and embed the transversal skills so important to their future success. With the advent of a new Government Department focused on higher education and research, the timing of these fellowships is notable, reflecting as it does the important link between evidence, policy and practice in education and in society more broadly.

Welcoming the Fellows, Dr Terry Maguire, Director of the National Forum, said: The National Forum warmly congratulates its first Teaching and Learning Research Fellows. The introduction of the Fellowships and the calibre of candidate they attracted on their inaugural outing highlight the critical influence teaching and learning increasingly has in Irish higher education. Fellows will work together and with the National Forum on projects of sectoral importance, bringing a new dimension to the research-led teaching and learning culture in Irish higher education and contributing to a robust evidence base for future teaching and learning enhancement decision-making across the sector. As individual awards, they complement the National Forum team award, the Disciplinary Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Assessment (DELTA) Award.”

Reflecting on the partnership between the National Forum and the Irish Research Council, which underpins these national Fellowships, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, remarked: The Council is delighted to work in partnership with the National Forum and warmly welcomes the five Fellows. At the core of our mandate is supporting excellence across all disciplines, and working with the Forum we promote this mandate in the field of teaching and learning. A vibrant research ecosystem is enabled through supporting world-class individual researchers to progress their research ideas, and we are delighted to see the ‘pipeline’ of excellence being boosted today by the announcement of the new Fellows. Teaching and learning is a truly cross-cutting field, and the new knowledge and evidence that will be co-created by the Fellows have the potential to have wide-ranging impact on practice and policy across the higher education sector. Through this initiative, Ireland’s capacity for research in teaching and learning will take a step forward, and the benefits for disciplines from Archaeology to Zoology will be reaped in the years to come.”

Individual details for the Fellows and their Fellowship Research are available from

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