Education - Masters by Research Theses

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    A desire to succeed: exploring aspiration towards higher education participation amongst members of a socio-economically marginalised community
    (University College Cork, 2023-04-25) Ó hUiginn, Stiofán; Cahill, Kevin; Dowling, Siobhan
    This thesis is a qualitative interview study that examines the barriers that exist in preventing students from a background of marginalisation from progressing to and through higher education, and how these barriers can be overcome. The study explores aspiration towards higher education participation amongst members of a socio-economically marginalised community, highlighting how having a desire to succeed can strongly contribute to the ability of marginalised students to overcome a multitude of barriers that have traditionally existed in limiting or preventing their participation and success in higher education. Many recurring themes emerged from this study and are discussed throughout the thesis. Whilst research on the experience of socio-economically marginalised students in higher education has traditionally focused on negative outcomes such as – amongst others – drop-out, feelings of inferiority amongst more affluent classmates, failure to complete their degree programme, this study aims to highlight how coming from a socio-economically marginalised background can act as a motivating factor for educational success. Each of the findings sections draws on the aspiration of members of a socio-economically marginalised community to succeed educationally, in spite of challenges and barriers that exist in potentially undermining or preventing said success. This study intends to serve the greater good of equality in education by highlighting the potential of all students, irrespective of their class background, to succeed educationally with the right mindset and supports.
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    The refinement and development of the Project FLAME intervention
    (University College Cork, 2020-10-01) Donovan, Brian; O'Brien, Wesley; Belton, Sarahjane; Sport Ireland Institute
    Introduction: Recent research in Ireland has shown that adolescents display poor motor competence levels across both fundamental movement skills and functional movement patterns. Physical Education (PE)-based interventions delivered by specialist PE teachers can have a positive impact on youths’ motor competence (MC). Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to complete a formative evaluation towards refining and developing the original Project FLAME intervention to progress to its next stage of development via the expansion of its quantitative evidence base, and the refinement of the intervention and its resources based on qualitative feedback from pre-service PE specialist teachers. Methods: Study 1 entailed the collection of cross-sectional MC data amongst Irish adolescent youths across years 1 – 3 of post-primary school (N = 373; 178 girls; mean age = 14.38 ± 0.86 years). Actual MC data was collected across ten Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) and seven Functional Movement Screen™ (FMS™) movements. FMS were collected across the locomotor, object control and stability constructs using established testing batteries, namely the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD), the TGMD- 2, and the Get Skilled: Get Active manual. Functional movement was assessed using the FMS™. Actual MC data were analysed using sex as a comparative variable across FMS and FMS™. Correlational analysis and chi-square tests were utilised to determine association between the movement constructs and dysfunctional movement prevalence, respectively. Study 2 adopted qualitative methods via a focus group (FG) discussion conducted with six pre-service teachers following their participation in a Project FLAME Continuing Professional Development (CPD) style workshop. The FG discussions focussed on two topics: 1) adolescent MC, and 2) perceptions of Project FLAME and its resources. Thematic analysis of the data was then conducted. Results: Study 1 suggested that Irish adolescents display 1) low levels of MC proficiency across FMS and FMS™; 2) sex-based differences across both MC constructs; 3) high levels of dysfunctional movement; 4) a moderate association between their overall performance of FMS and FMS™. Study 2 found that the practising pre-service PE specialist teachers believed that sport participation and physical activity (PA) had a significant impact on their students’ MC, that MC was generally low and declined with age, and that a substantial MC proficiency gap was evident between high and low skilled adolescents. The participants showed support for Project FLAME and its resources as a facilitator of their pedagogical practice and suggested practical amendments (for example, putting QR code video links next to their relevant activity in the Project FLAME handbook) which would enhance the resource’s practicality and accessibility. Discussion: Overall, this thesis suggested that quantitative evidence of actual MC deficiency is apparent in Irish adolescents which is corroborated by qualitative data from practising pre-service PE specialist teachers, highlighting xii the need for effective MC interventions such as Project FLAME to ameliorate this deficiency. The increased scale and diversity of actual MC testing further developed Project FLAME’s evidence base. The association of FMS and FMS™ in Irish adolescents reinforces the foundations of the Project FLAME intervention in its inclusion of both MC constructs together. These results have been used to make refinements and developments to the original Project FLAME, and its resources, informing the development of a new iteration. This new iteration will be used in Project FLAME’s next phase as it undergoes a randomised controlled trial (RCT).