The second National Forum-funded seminar hosted by MIC took place on Thursday 30th April in Mary Immaculate College with Understanding and Supporting Access Transitions in Higher Education: evidence from best practice as its theme.
According to Professor Michael A Hayes, President of MIC; “Since its launch in November 2012, the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning has already made a significant impact in Irish Higher Education with a work plan structured around the thematic area of Teaching for Transitions. We are proud to be a key partner in several nationally-focused research projects commissioned by the Nation Forum. One of these projects called Transition from Second Level and Further Education to Third Level is particularly relevant to the topic today.”
The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Ted Fleming, Emeritus, Maynooth University and one of the leaders in the field of adult education in Ireland, who spoke on Educating Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education. His paper presented some recent research findings from across the EU; identifying key narratives and voices of students as they attempt to reach their goals and dreams of university education and interpreted these narratives as supporting a critical theory of access. According to Dr Fleming; “The lifelong struggle for recognition is often frustrated by educational and other opportunities. But many students look to higher education to respond to this desire to be recognised. This is both a profoundly developmental experience as well as a social and political issue. It should impact on how we teach.”
Other speakers included Dr. Rhona McCormack, UL who spoke about The role of a mature student access certificate in supporting transition to and retention in undergraduate studies. Dr McCormack said; “Access programmes are first and foremost about building the learner’s confidence – confidence in their own abilities but also confidence in their sense of rightful ‘belonging’ to a third-level institution. This is particularly important for adult learners who have not engaged with formal education for some time or who have no previous family experience of third-level education. This increase in self-confidence is reported time and time again as a key outcome for students on the UL Mature Student Access Certificate and is cited as a major factor in their decision to progress to undergraduate studies.”
Orla Slattery (MIC) and Anne O’Byrne’s (MIC) talk was entitled Including Students with Intellectual Disability in Mary Immaculate College – Opportunity and Challenge; Dr. Geraldine Brosnan, Director of Student Life, MIC, spoke about the Perspectives on the Teaching and Learning Environment of Irish Higher Education Adult Access Courses and Margaret O’Keeffe, MIC, delivered a talk about Adult Learners in Transition.
Speaking about event Director of Student Life, MIC, Dr. Geraldine Brosnan said, “We are delighted to host this event at Mary Immaculate College as MIC has a long tradition of inclusive education and in enhancing access pathways. This event will provide an opportunity to further develop the discussion around access transitions in higher education in addition to providing a unique opportunity to share best practices”.
The event was organised by the Centre for Teaching and Learning and its Director, Dr Anne O’Keeffe noted the importance of scholarship and dialogue about adult learners and their transition to higher education, “Adult learners face a lot of challenges in returning to learning; higher education institutions need to recognise this and make provision for it. Returning to learning is a highly rewarding experience and mature students enrich our classrooms with their wealth of life experience and knowledge”.
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