IADT Perspectives I - An Anthology of IADT Research and Practices 2013

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anthology of iadt Research and Practice 2013


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anthology of iadt Research and Practice 2013


Contents Welcome




Persuasion and Attitudes: Advertising and Captology Influence on Attitudes and Behavioural Intent Towards Lesbians, Gay Men and Same-Sex Marriage Liam Challenor, Dr. Irene Connolly and Hannah Barton


A Fantasy of Ireland: Notes on Disney, Famous Studios, and Celtic Mythology Michael Connerty


Exploring Motivation and Self-Efficacy of First Year College Students Dr. Irene Connolly, Dr. Christine Horn and Dr. Catherine Rossiter


Shared Social Video In Higher Education ‘Blended’ Business Programmes Denis Cullinane


Capital at Work: Methodology in The Market (a project in progress) Dr. Mark Curran


Dyslexia, Digital Technology and College: Improving the Accessibility of Course Material for Students with Dyslexia Colm Dunne, Dr. Hilary Kenna, John Montayne and Dr. Irene Connolly


Cultural Homophily in Online Dating Texts: The Effect of Culturally Typical Personality Traits Encoded in Language Nicola Fox Hamilton and Dr. Grainne Kirwan


The Open Government Partnership: Implications for Ireland, Educators and Researchers Robert Griffin


Transition to Higher Education: Back and Forward Linking The First Year Learning Experience in Art & Design Ron Hamilton and Laurence Riddell


Use of Mental Preparation in Rugby: What do the Players Say? Dr. Olivia Hurley


The Evolution of Irish Design Practices: Mapping Connections Between Practice, Culture and Politics Dr. Linda King


Situating the Natural History Museum: (Re)placing a Dublin Institution into Context Sherra Murphy


Social Realism Re-imagined: Alternative Representations in Irish Television Drama Dr. Díóg O’Connell


Putting Research into Practice: The Development of Teaching and Learning at IADT 2009-2013 Dr. Marion Palmer


The Landscape of Learning and Formative Feedback: Choosing the ‘Right’ e-Learning Tool for Teaching Practice in Irish Higher Education Rebecca Roper


Dr. Annie Doona, President Dr. Mark Riordan, Head of Strategic and Postgraduate Development


iadt Staff Journal 2013 Perspectives

Welcome Dr. Annie Doona, President of IADT Welcome to Perspectives, an anthology of IADT Research and Practice. IADT is a vibrant Institute of Technology that thrives on new ideas and creativity. We are the only Institute of Technology in Ireland with a specific mission to drive and inform the creative, media technologies and cultural industries through teaching, learning, research and innovation. We specialise in creativity and innovation as expressed in the arts, media technologies and entrepreneurship. IADT is unique among Irish institutions of higher education in creating an interdisciplinary environment drawing on our strengths in visual arts, media arts, enterprise, technology and psychology. Working towards this goal are a wide variety of researchers and practitioners with differing topics, methodologies and cultures. Together this diversity gives a great richness to what we do and it allows for exciting and innovative collaborations and partnerships. I am encouraged that several of the articles in this inaugural issue of Perspectives involve academics collaborating from multiple disciplines. Many of the articles also have strong linkages to our commitment to the improvement of teaching and learning practice at IADT. This inaugural issue of Perspectives has strong coverage on the more academic aspects of our work. Another key underpinning of what we do at IADT is the more commercially focussed work of Innovation Vouchers, Commercialisation Funds and industry partnerships and collaborations. There is also the work of our many practitioners across a range of Art and Design disciplines. These areas will hopefully be a source of articles for future editions. I believe that one always needs to stop and take time from our busy work-lives to take stock of the possibilities that surround us and to see what might be interesting new directions to take. As well as its many other benefits, Perspectives will offer the opportunity for the wider IADT community to learn a little more of the diverse world of IADT research and practice. This in turn may surface truly inspirational ideas that will bring together colleagues and drive our work to new heights. I would just like to encourage you all to read the papers and engage in a conversation with the authors about their research and work. You never know where it may lead!

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Foreword Dr. Mark Riordan, Head of Strategic and Postgraduate Development Perspectives came out of the results of a survey of IADT Researchers conducted in spring 2012. It had a number of findings but among them were a need to provide greater recognition for research and researchers who are conducting such important work in addition to their already busy teaching and administrative loads. Perspectives also hopes to facilitate IADT researchers in developing skills in publishing and publicising their work where required. The R&D Committee noted that it could also help with some ancillary objectives, such as informing the IADT Research community and the wider constituencies of IADT of the work which is going on locally and to thereby facilitate new project ideas. The project once conceptualised was enthusiastically taken on by a team of editorial staff, including Gerard Fox, Dr. Hilary Kenna, Dr. Grainne Kirwan, Kerry McCall, Paraic Mc Quaid, Dr. Marion Palmer, Dr. Andrew Power, Dr. Brendan Rooney and Dr. Elaine Sisson. They took on the task of writing a Call for Contributions which would capture the diversity of research in IADT, designing and implementing a solid peer review process, liaising with printers and all the little things that make a project like this a success. The editorial team would particularly like to thank Linda Carroll for her enthusiastic help with the administrative aspects of the process. In addition to Perspectives, IADT has implemented a number of other research initiatives during this academic year, including: ff Research Seminar Series: This consisted of seminars focussed on the needs of postgraduate and staff researchers in areas such as practice-based research, ethics, and research methods. ffTeaching and Research Showcase: The Teaching and Learning Committee in IADT have been running a highly successful Showcase of staff work for several years. This year, with the help of Dr. Marion Palmer, the Showcase has been expanded to include staff research and development work. ffResearch Funding Seminars: These have run twice this year and involve overviews of the various main sources of Research funding including EU, Irish Research Council, Enterprise Ireland, and NDRC. ffMasters by Research Recruitment: Since September 2012 we have recruited two tranches of Masters by Research students across a wide range of disciplines. A further call is underway at present. I think you can see the level of ambition we are setting for ourselves and in time I feel confident that this will result in new research projects, funding and researchers as we move forward our plans. We are preparing our 2013/14 R&D plan at present, so if anyone has any ideas on how research and development across IADT can be encouraged and promoted, please send them to me. Finally, please take time to read the papers in the Anthology and if you find ideas popping into your mind for future collaborations, consider contacting the relevant author(s).


Persuasion and Attitudes: Advertising and Captology influence

Persuasion and Attitudes: Advertising and Captology Influence on Attitudes and Behavioural Intent Towards Lesbians, Gay Men and Same-Sex Marriage Liam Challenor, Dr. Irene Connolly and Hannah Barton Attitudes are present in everyday life. They may be simple or more complex attitudes subject to an individual’s judgement of a person, group, object, action or concept (Smith & Mackie, 2007). These may be altered by external factors such as law, religion, culture and politics or by other forms of intervention such as the media. Individual attitudes may be altered through the use of persuasive methods (Hogg & Vaughan, 2007). Interactivity, a common persuasion technique in a humanlike cue such as an avatar (a physical representation of a person’s identity online) can be used to aid or develop a specific behaviour or attitude (Sundar & Kim, 2005, Vasalou & Joinson, 2009). keywords: attitudes, persuasion, behaviour, advertising, computer-mediated communication, avatars

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In this research review the emerging methods of persuasion using new technologies such as avatars and more creative and interactive advertisements will be discussed in relation to the classic theories upon which they are based to form an explanation of the potential implications and applications for use in everyday life.

Attitudes and Behaviour Attitudes are a key component of human interaction; an attitude is an individual’s cognitive evaluation of a particular person, group, object, action or concept (Smith & Mackie, 2007). Gordon Allport (1935) described an attitude as “a mental and neural state of readiness, organised through experience, exerting a distinctive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related” (pg. 810). Attitudes are often described in different ways and are categorised depending on the object. Prejudice is an example of this. Prejudice is one of the most commonly examined attitudes towards other objects, individuals or groups. Attitudes may be comprised of several thoughts, feelings and behaviours towards a subject or object; there may be an interesting link toward an individual’s future behaviour (Langdridge & Taylor, 2007). Fishbein and Ajzen developed the Theory of Reasoned Action (TORA) in 1975. The Theory of Reasoned Action conjectures the cause of any behaviour is the intention. A behavioural intention may be defined as an individual’s conscious decision to engage in a certain action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). The Theory of Reasoned Action accounts for two intentional factors; these are a subjective norm and the attitude toward the behaviour. According to Bohner (2002), the revised Theory of Reasoned Action (TORA) (Ajzen & Madden, 1986) associates the importance of subjective norms with the attitude toward the behaviour, the intention and the behavioural outcome. Bohner defines a subjective norm as a sum of products, each product involving the belief that a person’s peer may think that other people should perform a specific behaviour and the motivation to comply with peer opinions. However Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) only uses one method to predict behaviour; this behaviour is known as Perceived Behavioural Control (PBC). Perceived Behavioural Control is the evaluation of the task difficulty that may be made by an individual before any action is taken. The Theory of Planned Behaviour is more suitably implemented in behavioural scenarios in which the factors being examined for prediction are not multifaceted. For example, according to Ajzen (1991), if a person is


engaging in a weight loss regime they are more likely to achieve and maintain their goals when they believe the task is manageable and realistic. Cooke and French (2008) conducted a meta-analysis to examine how well the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen, 2001) and the Theory of Reasoned Action (TORA) (Ajzen & Madden, 1986) could predict intention to attend and actual attendance at a medical screening. The authors conducted a review of 33 research studies and examined the application and reliability of both the TPB and the TORA. One of these research studies conducted by Godin and Kok (1996) examined the existing TPB research literature when applied to screening behaviours in eight separate investigations. The authors publicised that the participant attitudes highly correlated towards their participants’ intentions to attend screening (r=0.51). Bohner’s (2002) subjective norms correlate with the TORA, indicating a moderate correlation between screening behaviours and attitudes (r=+0.33). Participants’ perceived behavioural control associated with the TPB, which used the evaluation of the task difficulty involved in the evaluation of medical screening procedure, also indicated a moderate correlation (r=+0.46) in all eight pieces of research. The corresponding research review conducted upon TPB and other behaviours by Armitage and Conner (2001) supports Godin and Kok’s (1996) research for the use of both the TORA and the TPB in predicting the public’s behaviours and intentions based upon their attitudes and evaluation of a scenario, event or task. Peslak, Ceccucci and Sendall (2010) conducted research that used the TORA to examine the use of Instant Messaging (IM) behaviours and their subjective norms. The authors developed a survey that was administered to a student sample to identify Instant Messaging (IM) behaviours. It was identified that participants’ attitudes towards the action, in this case IM, was positively associated with their intentions to use the service. Finally the subjective norms associated with IM use significantly correlated with the intention to use IM. Peslak et al. (2010) provide further support for the implementation and use of the TORA as a predictor of human behaviour and action as they found a strong positive relationship between IM behaviour and intention. These results further replicate the findings of Gupta and Kim (2007) but also Cooke and French (2008). The research discussed above highlights the importance of attitudes, in particular their involvement in TORA and TPB. Both of these behavioural theories hypothesise different methods and variables that may predict and affect


Persuasion and Attitudes: Advertising and Captology influence

attitude change. Using these theories may therefore allow researchers to implement different attitude interventions to produce attitude change.

Attitudes Towards LGBT Individuals Before any investigation into LGBT attitudes may be conducted it is important to first understand the historic basis of LGBT studies in both psychology and psychiatry. According to the 6th revision in the DSM-II manual (APA, 1973), homosexuality was no longer classified as a mental disorder because of the increase in LGBT research in psychology. This research focused upon psychological and psychiatric adjustment of homosexual and heterosexual men in regard to participant attitudes, emotions and thoughts (Hooker, 1957). Hooker found that two thirds of both the groups were classified in the highest categories of the healthy adjusted individuals, showing no significant difference in the mental functioning or capability of either the heterosexual or homosexual participants. The results of Hooker (1957) were the basis of several other investigations that triggered the above revision to the DSM-II (APA, 1973). The Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men (ATLG) (Herek, 1987) scale originally consisted of 20 items but was later revised to a short ten item measure. The ATLG scale (Herek, 1987) has been the basis of several attitude studies. In one such study conducted by Pearl and Galupo (2007), a new attitudes measure towards same-sex marriage was designed to better evaluate the specific attitudes towards this political issue. Pearl and Galupo (2007) developed the Attitudes Towards Same Sex Marriage scale (ATSM) using a diverse sample of 615 students and adults. Pearl and Galupo (2007) identified that participants that completed the ATSM also had correlating negative or positive attitudes in the ATLG (Herek, 1987). These scales have therefore been used together to investigate attitudes towards lesbians, gay men and samesex marriage. An investigation of the influences that advertising may have upon the attitude formation towards lesbians, gay men and same-sex marriage was conducted by Challenor and McNichols (2011). Participants sourced from third level education completed the Attitudes Towards Same-Sex Marriage Scale (ATSM) (Pearl & Galupo, 2007), Attitudes Towards Lesbians and Gay men (ATLG) (Herek, 1987) and the Television Advertisement Evaluation Online Survey Form (Survey Share, 2010) after each advertisement viewing. After the intervention took place the researcher conducted a ballot vote for or against SSM measuring the participant corresponding attitudes. The findings of Challenor and McNichols (2011) demonstrated a significant attitude

change in the pro- and anti-same-sex marriage advertising variable groups on the ATSM and ATLG when the pre- and post-intervention scores were analysed. The results inferred that participant scores on both the pro- and anti-policy advertising regarding same-sex marriage, lesbians and gay men do produce changes on both the attitude scales by persuasive advertising intervention. The ballot vote results illustrated that 98.6% of participants voted in favor of SSM in Ireland.

Persuasion Individual attitudes may be altered or changed through the use of various persuasive methods (Hogg & Vaughan, 2007). Persuasion itself may be described as inducing a person to adopt particular values, beliefs or attitudes through a process or a number of processes (Reber & Reber, 2001). The central theory of persuasion is known as the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). ELM theory elaborates upon the two routes of persuasion used by the viewer for attitude change. The central route requires the individual to evaluate the argument posed based upon its strengths, weaknesses and themes, whereas the peripheral route uses peripheral cues and not the argument quality. More recently, Angst and Agarwal (2009) investigated if individuals may be persuaded to allow their information to be stored in a new electronic health record system (EHRs) regardless of the privacy risks involved in participation. The investigators combined the ELM theory and EHR related user issues such as privacy, to create a questionnaire, which firstly explained EHR system concepts and then asked questions about privacy on such a system. The researchers then provided participants with a positive or negative argument for the use of EHR systems. Angst and Agarwal (2009) randomly assigned participants to either a positive or neutral argument frame (AF) when completing an online survey. This survey evaluated participants’ familiarity with EHRs before explaining them. Privacy concerns and attitudes towards participant privacy were also gathered at this stage. The positive AF received six strong arguments endorsing EHRs and the neutral AF group received four weak messages. After this intervention, participants answered more evaluation questions about EHRs. The results of Angst and Agarwal’s (2009) investigation supported the hypothesis that a positively framed argument yielded a higher post-manipulation of their participant attitudes leading to an attitude change. Research relevant to attitude change supports positively framed arguments affecting individual attitudes more

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than negatively framed ones; in other words, argument framing. The authors also indicated that the relevance to the audience of the message is also important as the relation to the audience determines their issue involvement and attention.

Persuasions in Advertising Persuasion techniques such as reframing (O’Shaughnessy & O’Shaughnessy, 2004) and the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) are used to design persuasive advertising everyday. Advertising is seen in print, electronic or visual and audio media sources. This mass availability of publication is used to promote products and alter consumer attitudes and perceptions towards a product or issue. Advertising, whether for a product or political campaign, wishes to promote an issue or persuade the audience to take a particular action using a persuasive message which is the core of the advertisement (O’Shaughnessy & O’Shaughnessy, 2004). Brinol, Petty, Valle, Rucker and Becerra (2007) investigated the effects a message has on the recipient’s self-validation before and after the message of persuasion has been administered. The power to which Petty, Valle, Rucker and Becerra (2007) refer is the individual’s capacity to adjust their own attitudes and social judgements towards a message based on some form of a rewards system. This self-validation procedure is known as the self-validation hypothesis (Petty, Brinol & Tormala, 2002). The self-validation hypothesis is similar to the subjective norms and individual attitudes of the person in TORA in that it is used to predict an individual’s actions based upon an individual’s judgements of a particular topic and their attitudes towards them.

Persuasive Technology and Captology Advertisers have been forced to change from traditional strategies due to advancing technology. They do this by incorporating the different aspects technology can provide to persuade an audience. Persuasive technology is any interactive computing system designed to change people’s attitudes or behaviours. One of these areas is captology, in which computing technologies such as the Internet and other technological hardware is used in cooperation with persuasion methods (Fogg, 2003). The advantage of computer-mediated methods of persuasion is the factor of interactivity, which is defined as a humanlike cue in the context of human-computer interaction (HCI). Interactivity, when used correctly, may increase the persuasive appeal of an advertisement (Sundar & Kim, 2005) or increase the user’s attitudes towards a political party issue (Sundar, Kalyanaraman & Brown, 2003).


Sundar and Kim (2005) investigated interactivity and persuasion, particularly determining if whether or not participants’ interaction with an advertisement had an effect on its persuasive appeal. To conduct this research, Sundar and Kim (2005) exposed 48 participants to low, medium or high levels of interactivity (by manipulation of the animation level and shape of the banner). They inferred on the basis of their findings that interactivity was positively associated with the advertisements and attitudes towards the product. In addition to this finding, an interesting result was that the levels of interactivity with animation and the shape of the advertisement had an influence upon the persuasion process. A traditional method of persuasion, unlike interactive methods of captology, cannot employ a tailored examination of their audience and alter their method or content of delivery to the viewer. This is where interactive methods such as online persuasion advertising have an informed advantage. These two pieces of research reinforce the argument that methods of captology may affect the population’s attitudes towards a particular issue depending on the method of interactive captology intervention.

Self-Representation using Avatars One of the most common CMCs is through the use of an avatar. Avatars are creative platforms for the representation of a person’s physical identity or depictions of their identity online (Vasalou & Joinson, 2009). Avatars are used in different online environments; Vasalou and Joinson (2009) examined the representations made by users in three online environments; dating websites, online gaming and blogging. The findings displayed that the dating condition participants highlighted one of their physical attributes more than others, blogging participants were the truest representations of users’ actual appearance and the gaming participant avatars accentuated an aspect of their avatar to suit the context of the game. Vasalou and Joinson (2009) note their own research findings regarding online dating avatars replicate the findings of Hancock, Toma and Ellison (2007). These investigations note that male participants designed their own avatars to be taller than their actual selves, whereas female participants made themselves thinner in comparison to their actual appearance. The authors of both investigations theorise that participants alter their physical appearances or accentuate one aspect of their existing physical appearance to their view of their ideal self. Furthermore the findings of Vasalou and Joinson’s (2009) dating conditions study indicates that participants did not


Persuasion and Attitudes: Advertising and Captology influence

greatly alter their own physical appearance as the possibility of meeting another person face-to-face was too high to drastically alter their appearance and risk misleading the other party. Yee and Bailenson (2007) investigated the effects of the physical appearance of an individual’s avatar upon another person’s behaviour. This investigation involved the use of two pre-existing avatars that were allocated to the participants; the first phase involved participants receiving an attractive or less attractive avatar. The research findings indicate that participants in the attractive avatar group increased their flirtatious behaviours and also demonstrated an increased willingness to initially contact another online dating profile. Dunn and Guadagno (2012) found that their participants paid particular attention and care to an avatar’s race, gender and physical attributes during their own design of an avatar. Therefore future research should incorporate this finding to create an avatar which has no identifiable gender or race, to prevent these variables from affecting the communication between the avatar and the participants of this research. It may be inferred that the use of an avatar as a persuasive tool may be argued theoretically on the basis of the individual’s connection and input into an avatar to promote their own appearance and intelligence (Vasalou & Joinson, 2009), alter it to meet physically attractive social norms, represent their personality (Dunn & Guadagno, 2012) and their interests but also their aspirations for their future (Vasalou & Joinson, 2009). Therefore it may be said that because people who use avatars visually display themselves using all the functional aspects possible to design their own personal avatar, that avatar may have an effect upon the creator or exposed individuals in return, as was seen in the investigation into avatar attractiveness effects on behaviours, attitudes and future action (Yee & Bailenson, 2007). The implications of the use of persuasive methods and modern technology in advertising to alter attitudes has become an interesting field of study because of some of the possible implications described above. The example taken for this review in relation to attitudes towards lesbians, gay men and same-sex marriage indicates just some of the potential applications for technology to alter attitudes and behaviours to a specific topical attitude. It could therefore be argued that increased research in persuasive technologies and their implications on classic attitude research to produce new research and modern theory is required.

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Fogg, B. (2003) Persuasive technology: using computers to change what we think and do. Amsterdam Boston: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

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Langdridge, D., & Taylor, S. (2007) Critical Readings in Social Psychology. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

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A Fantasy of Ireland: Notes on Disney, Famous Studios, and Celtic Mythology

A Fantasy of Ireland: Notes on Disney, Famous Studios, and Celtic Mythology Michael Connerty This paper examines a selection of Irish-subject animated cartoons, The Wee Men, Leprechaun’s Gold and The Emerald Isle, produced by Famous Studios between 1947 and 1949. The cartoons are situated within the critical contexts established for live-action films set in Ireland by, for example, Luke Gibbons and Ruth Barton. Thus, these cartoons contain many familiar representational tropes such as the emphasis on landscape, primitivism and the romanticization of the Irish West. They differ from many other Irish-subject films of the time in their construction of Ireland according to the conventions of the fantasy genre. Elements of folklore and Celtic mythology combined with traditions in caricature and the graphic arts to produce a specifically American variation of the leprechaun figure, central to this imaginary Ireland. The influence of Walt Disney is key to these cartoons, in both their execution and their adaptation of European folkloric sources. Disney, ultimately made a more direct contribution, the 1959 fantasy film, Darby O’ Gill and the Little People. These and other animated films have helped shape the notion of a ‘magical’ Ireland that has persisted in American popular culture. keywords: animation, walt disney, famous studios, irish mythology, leprechauns

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The focus of this paper is on a selection of Irish-subject animated cartoons, The Wee Men (1947), Leprechaun’s Gold (1949) and The Emerald Isle (1949), all produced by Famous Studios in Hollywood. These cartoons are among the very few animated films of Ireland produced during this period and they present a specifically American vision of Ireland, indebted to pre-cinematic graphic, literary and touristic conventions established in the 19th century. Cinematic representations of Ireland during the first half of the 20th century were primarily produced by American filmmakers, and this has been central to all the major accounts of the development of Irish film culture. It has been noted by numerous commentators that these American films, directed at large diasporic audiences, tended to emphasize a romanticized conception of Ireland as a pre-industrial retreat from the modern world, a primitive wonderland of unspoilt natural beauty1. Canonical films such as Man of Aran (Flaherty, 1935) and The Quiet Man (Ford, 1952), both of which draw on realist traditions, have been critiqued as ‘fantasy’ versions of Ireland, in the sense that they rely on distortion or exaggeration. In what follows, I will emphasize the generic sense of ‘fantasy’, with its associations of superstition and magic, supernatural creatures and gothic settings. Katherine Fowkes has argued that the fantasy film can function as an “alternative response to our anxiety in the face of technology, rationalism and alienation”2 , and this chimes with cinematic characterizations of Ireland as the antithesis of modern industrialized society. Celtic mythological elements, and particularly the figure of the leprechaun, are central to a number of Irish-subject animated cartoons produced by Famous Studios in the late 1940s, and to Walt Disney’s special effects-driven fantasy, Darby O’ Gill and the Little People (Disney, 1959). Famous Studios took over from the Fleischer Studio as the animation division of Paramount Pictures in 1942, and this marked a decline in the level of quality and innovation that had characterized much of the Fleischer output, and which had made them Disney’s only real competitor in the 1930s. Vladimir “Bill” Tytla, who directed The Wee Men and Leprechaun’s Gold had left Disney following the strike of 1941, but had been a key member of the animation team that worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney, 1937), assigned specifically to work on the dwarfs. Snow White was one of the highest grossing Hollywood films of the 1930s, and its influence on the American animation industry proved to be profound and lasting. The influence on these cartoons of Snow White, and the 1 See Rocket, Gibbons and Hill (1988), Martin McLoone (2000), and Ruth Barton (2004)

2 Katherine Fowkes, p.12


Disney style in general, is immediately evident (albeit with less sophisticated execution), recalling Norman Klein’s description of Snow White as “a Victorian pop-up book, animated like a thirties movie, with dramatic lighting from nineteenth century painting and from wood engraving”3 The Wee Men opens, as does Leprechaun’s Gold, on a night scene: we are very much in touristic territory as the voice over begins, “This is Ireland- the Emerald Isle, set like a gem in the deep blue sea...where the curling peat smoke around the thatched cottages blends with the mists of the hills and the damp wind from the sea”. This is certainly of a piece with the emphasis on the rural, and specifically the rural West, already familiar to audiences from the Kalem and Film Company of Ireland films of three decades earlier. A later cartoon, Droopy Leprechaun (Michael Lah, 1959), does give us a glimpse of a more modern, indeed urban, Ireland in its opening sequences, featuring Dublin Airport and O’Connell Street, although the majority of the action is set in the interior of a rural castle4. In The Wee Men the mist shrouded woods and moonlit sky evoke the supernatural rather than any sense of a specific geographical place, as the voiceover continues, “...where since time immemorial, elves and fairies have haunted the hills and wild places, and long deep valleys where leprechauns have made their home”. By the time these cartoons were produced, attitudes towards the Irish in America had softened considerably since the 19th century, reflecting improvements in the relative social standing of the American Irish over this period5. Nonetheless, the leprechauns in this cartoon still show vestiges of the simian, prognathous features associated with the Irish caricatures that appeared in 19th century newspapers and humour magazines, such as Punch in the UK and Puck in America. Here these features are softened and the mythic and magical elements form part of a warm and entirely positive characterization, very much indebted, in design terms, to Disney’s Seven Dwarfs. The central tale is based on an Irish folk story that appears in numerous 19th century collections - in it a miser leaves his hat and coat to mark the spot where a crock of gold is buried, then returns with a shovel to find that the crafty leprechaun has magically peppered the locale with countless identical markers6. In presenting the central protagonist, Paddy, as part of an extended ‘family’, Tytla departs from Irish tradition, which 3 Norman Klein, p.143 4 The Wearing of the Grin (Chuck Jones, 1952) is also primarily set in a castle,

and features one of the more bizarre sequences in an Irish subject cartoon, in which Porky Pig, here presented as a tourist, is magically transported by a sinister leprechaun and a pair of dancing shoes to a Dali-esque desert landscape replete with giant harps, clay pipes and other signifiers of Irishness. 5 Kerry Soper, p.270 6 For example, see The Field of the Boliauns in Joseph Jacobs, Celtic Fairy Tales, 1892


A Fantasy of Ireland: Notes on Disney, Famous Studios, and Celtic Mythology

specifically characterizes the leprechaun as a solitary creature. Like the dwarfs, these leprechauns are busy and industrious, again an advance on earlier graphic images of the work-shy Irish such as Frederick Opper’s popular newspaper strip, Happy Hooligan. In Leprechaun’s Gold, the harsher version of the old stereotype is projected onto the figure of Mr. Gombeen, the landlord threatening eviction for Mrs O’Shea and her daughter. It’s more likely that he would have been presented as a villainous member of the Ascendancy in a 19th century stage version of this plot formula, but in this case he is a crooked Irishman with the missing teeth and pronounced jaw of Victorian caricature. In The Emerald Isle, director Seymour Kneitel, a veteran of the Fleischer studio, situates the narrative much more explicitly within the touristic discourses of earlier fictional cinema dealing with Ireland, as well as the promotional films produced by the Irish Tourist Authority, and subsequently Bord Fáilte. The cartoon, which plays like a musical travelogue, was part of a series of 38 Screen Songs, released between 1947 and 1951. They were effectively a revival of a successful series that had been produced by the Fleischer studio during the 1930s, although by 1949 cartoons packaged around songs in this way were somewhat anachronistic. Audience participation in the sing-along is encouraged by the presentation of the lyrics, which are picked out by a ‘bouncing ball’. This device was made popular in the earlier Fleischer cartoons, although in this case it’s a bouncing shamrock. The voice-over informs us at one point that “the Irish are great lovers of music, and ‘tis said that even the hidden creatures of the woodlands hurry out to listen when an Irish band strikes up a native tune”, the tune in this case being McNamara’s Band, originally written in London and subsequently popularized by Bing Crosby, who had a hit with it in 1945. Music, or more specifically song, is central to all of these cartoons, as it had been for Disney with the Silly Symphonies series of the 1930s (The Band Concert (1935), featuring Mickey Mouse, is another influence), and of course with Snow White itself. The use of music to help establish ‘national character’ is a commonplace in touristic representations of many countries, but it’s also important to recognise the key role that both music and film played in the self-identification of Irish-Americans during this period.

Figure 1: Opening sequence. The Wee Men (Tytla, 1947)

Figure 2: Paddy the leprechaun and the miser. The Wee Men (Tytla, 1947)

anthology of iadt Research and Practice 2013

Disney’s indebtedness to the Victorian illustrative tradition is made explicit in a 1959 episode of his ABC television show, Disneyland, entitled “I Met the King of the Leprechauns”. In this episode, essentially an extended trailer for Darby O’ Gill and the Little People, released later that year, Walt meets various experts, ostensibly as part of the pre-production process for the film. The series of books by Herminie Templeton Kavanagh, on which the film is based, are not alluded to, and instead the TV show presents Disney himself as the source of the narrative, appearing as a seriousminded researcher, notebook in hand. While Irish-American actor Pat O’Brien reads to Disney from a book about banshees, we are presented with a series of illustrations from the book- wood engravings in the 19th century style characteristic of European illustration, a style specifically evident in numerous contemporary collections of Irish fairy tales7. A recurring theme of Disney’s ‘research’ is his desire to capture the actual appearance of the leprechauns, thus presenting this version of the leprechauns as the product of careful historical investigation, rather than as the creative ‘Disneyfication’ of folkloric sources. Later in the episode Disney travels to Ireland, and, as an exterior shot of College Green implies, into the Trinity College library to meet another ‘expert’. This custodian of the library slaps a large and dusty illustrated book down on the table, flipping through the images therein while relating an unusual version of the leprechauns’ origin story, “a kind of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained rolled into one”. The engraved pictures are in the style of the famous illustrations for Paradise Lost by Gustave Doré, a noted influence, with other French Romantic illustrators of the mid-19th century, on the style of Disney’s background artists. The ‘authenticity’ of these images is further enhanced by the incorporation of texts and page layouts based on the Book of Kells. The contrast in graphic style between the flat and cartoony leprechauns (or ‘white angels’ at this point) and the voluminous objects and depth of field associated with Doré’s style is analogous to the similar disjunction between the rendering of the seven dwarfs and the realist style of the backgrounds in Snow White. Walt Disney had in fact been planning the film, which he originally envisaged as an animated feature, since at least 1946, when he sent a number of artists to Ireland on a research trip8. The film itself was shot entirely on the Albertson and Rowland Lee ranches and on two sound stages at the Disney studio in California, meaning that many of the landscapes presented in the film are in fact matte shots created by special effects designer Peter 7 See W.H. Browne’s illustrations in Thomas Keightley’s Fairy

Mythology(1850) and H.R. Heaton’s in Irish Wonders by D.R. McAnally (1888)

8 Leonard Maltin, The Disney Films, p.416


Ellenshaw, and thus share the hand-rendered artificiality of the landscapes in the animated cartoons. The film itself begins with a credit thanking King Brian of Knocknasheega and his Leprechauns, “whose gracious cooperation made this picture possible”, continuing to frame the fantasy within a context of authenticity. Live-action fantasy films of more recent times such as High Spirits (Neil Jordan, 1988), Into the West (Mike Newell, 1992), and The Secret of Roan Inish (John Sayles, 1994) continue to posit this notion of Ireland as a magical kingdom where the natural and the supernatural coexist, and the beliefs and superstitions of the pre-modern world still hold sway. The leprechaun has persisted in American popular culture where most of the graphic cartoon stereotypes associated with other ethnic groups have been long set aside, continuing to feature, for example, as the logo for the Notre Dame University football team9, and in the promotional material for the Lucky Charms breakfast cereal. The first of these television commercials to feature the character Lucky the Leprechaun was produced by another ex-Disney animator, Bill Melendez. For fifty years, the character has featured in dozens of animated advertisements that range in style from traditional cel animation through to digital 3D, making him surely one of American television’s most enduring cartoon characters. The action in the advertisements is abstracted from any recognisably Irish context, often taking place in the kind of generic European fairy tale woodlands familiar from Disney. Lucky’s chirpy, mischievous persona remains undeveloped over the decades, unsurprising given the brief running time and consumerist imperatives of television commercials, but through associations with good fortune and childhood play, he personifies the increasingly positive attitude towards the Irish in 20th century American culture. Indeed the leprechaun and the mystical conception of Ireland generally, are celebrated within Irish-American culture in a way that is not true of Ireland itself. Within Ireland there has been ambivalence towards the enduring presence of the leprechaun as a staple of tourist culture, and this may well be rooted in a sense of the leprechaun as an alien figure, rather than an intrinsically Irish one. During a Dáil debate in 1968, Labour’s Michael O’Leary questioned Erskine Childers, the Minister for Transport and Power, about arrangements for welcoming 9 Notre Dame’s ‘Fightin’ Irish’ logo was designed by Theodore Drake in

1964, appeared on the cover of Time magazine in the same year, and remains a familiar image within American sports culture. A pugilistic figure in green, with fists raised for action, the image owes more to the 19th century trope of the Irish as wantonly aggressive threat than to the more benign versions I’ve discussed here. The leprechaun figure does indeed possess a certain flexibility and occasionally appears in forms more reminiscent of Victorian caricature, as in the Leprechaun horror film franchise of the 1990s.


A Fantasy of Ireland: Notes on Disney, Famous Studios, and Celtic Mythology

American tourists at Shannon and Dublin airports, specifically the handing out of felt leprechauns to the new arrivals. Childers replied that “the role of the leprechaun in tourist propaganda is relatively restricted”10, and O’Leary went on to express the wish that Ireland get away from being “Ruritanian in its tourist appeal”11. Despite this plea from almost half a century ago, the figure of the leprechaun has remained central to the construction of Ireland as a land of make-believe in American popular culture. As a national icon (albeit one that evolved outside the nation itself), the leprechaun implies an association with the supernatural and the fantastical, and, by implication, the primitive and superstitious. This has been, and remains, a key component of the representation of Ireland in American visual culture - indeed leprechauns continue to feature in popular American cartoons, for example in episodes of South Park, Family Guy and the Simpsons. It would be difficult to point to a comparable contemporary example of such strong identification with the supernatural, even among countries often represented in terms of magical associations in the past. The endurance of this set of myths, and of the leprechaun figure in particular, is due in large part to their expression in the direct and simplified form inherent to the Hollywood cartoon, and to ‘cartoon’ graphics in general. The representation of Ireland as an imaginary, fantastical place may have had its roots in the Gaelic Revival and the late 19th century publication of numerous collections of Celtic fairy tales, but it was their appropriation and graphic development by Walt Disney, Famous Studios and others, that helped forge the peculiarly American flavour of this durable fantasy.

Bibliography: Barton, Ruth (2004) Irish National Cinema Routledge

Canemaker, John (1994) Vladimir Tytla, Master Animator Katonah Museum of Art

Curtis, L. Perry (1971) Apes and Angels; The Irishman in Victorian Caricature Smithsonian Institute Press

Fowkes, Katherine (2010) The Fantasy Film Wiley-Blackwell

Goldmark, Daniel (2007) Tunes for ’Toons : Music and the Hollywood Cartoon University of California Press

Klein, Norman (1996) Seven Minutes: the Rise and Fall of the American Animated Cartoon Verso

Maltin, Leonard (1987) Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons Plume (Penguin)

Maltin, Leonard (1995) The Disney Films Hyperion

McIlroy, Brian (2005) Irish Horror: Neil Jordan and the Anglo-Irish Gothic

Horror International, eds. Steven Jay Schnieder and Tony Williams, Detroit: Wayne State University Press

McLoone, Martin (2000) Irish Film: The Emergence of a Contemporary Cinema BFI

Rains, Stephanie (2003) Home from Home: Diasporic Images of Ireland in Film and Tourism, in Cronin, Michael G., and O’Connor, Barbara, eds. Irish Tourism: Image, Culture and Identity, Channel View

Rocket, Kevin, Gibbons, Luke, and Hill, John (1988) Cinema and Ireland Routledge

Soper, Kerry (2005) From Swarthy Ape to Sympathetic Everyman and Subversive Trickster: The Development of Irish Caricature in American Comic Strips between 1890 and 1920 The Journal of American Studies, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2005

10 Dáil Éireann debate March 1968 11 ibid

Online: Dáil Éireann debate Vol. 233 No. 37, 21 March 1968

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/ debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail1968032100013 retrieved January 14, 2013

anthology of iadt Research and Practice 2013


Exploring Motivation and Self-Efficacy of First Year College Students Dr. Irene Connolly, Dr. Christine Horn and Dr. Catherine Rossiter Motivation and self–efficacy can play a role in a student’s success or failure in education. Motivation is an internal course of action that stimulates, directs, guides and sustains behaviour over a period of time (Pintrich, 2003), whereas self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to cause an intended event to happen (Bandura, 1997). This research examined first year students’ motivation and self-efficacy to establish the importance of these variables in a student’s success at third level. An online survey was used to gather primary data on business and non-business students. Demographic information was gathered in addition to the administration of two questionnaires: The General Self-Efficacy Scale (Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, PrenticeDunn, Jacobs, & Rogers, 1982) and the Academic Motivation Scale (Vallerand, Pelletier, Blais, Brière, Senécal, & Vallières, 1992). For non-business students (psychology and computing) the extrinsic motivation for males and females was very similar. Intrinsic motivation was higher for female business students than male business students, but female non-business students showed a lower intrinsic motivation than male non-business students. First generation of students attending college showed higher self-efficacy than students where at least one of their parents had graduated from college. Finally, students living at home with their parents showed lower intrinsic motivation. This information can be used to revise and devise teaching methods to assist with increasing motivation and self-efficacy in first year college students.

key words: motivation, self-efficacy, third level


Exploring Motivation and Self-Efficacy of First Year College Students

Review of Literature The role of Motivation and Self–Efficacy is of utmost importance in education. Motivation is an internal process that activates, guides and maintains behaviour over time (Murphy & Alexander, 2000). Motivation drives the individual to act in a certain way, implying that behaviour is goal-oriented. It is system-oriented and as such is a process of feedback which can either encourage or discourage individuals’ behaviour. It can cause them to discontinue their behaviour and find a new outlet for their energy (Peltonen and Ruohotie, 1992; Sprinthall et al., 1994). Motivation can be divided into two categories depending on the focus of the source of the motivation. These are referred to as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation focuses on the notion that an individual’s motivation comes from within the person (Hytti, Stenholm, Heinonen, & Seik-Kula Leino, 2010). This source of motivation is linked to the value that the individual attaches to their achievements. Extrinsic motivation on the other hand focuses on the influence of the external environment as a source of motivation, with the central idea being that the individual must be rewarded for their efforts. By implication, for an individual to be motivated extrinsically, the extrinsic incentives must continue in order to allow the motivation to continue. Rewards have a major impact on human behaviour. Extrinsic rewards are often of rather short duration, and must therefore be provided frequently. Whereas intrinsic rewards have a more lasting effect, and can act as permanent motivational factors (Hytti, Stenholm, Heinonen, & Seik-Kula Leino, 2010). The foundations of self-efficacy are a person’s belief or trust in themselves to complete an activity (Bandura, 1977). The person’s actual abilities only matter if the person has confidence in those abilities (Bandura, 1982, 1997). Selfefficacy is not a stable trait (Mau, 2003) and can vary as a result of experience and education. It can be viewed as a confident belief regardless of actual skill or it can be considered that self-efficacy involves cognitive and behavioural skill sets regardless of confidence (Drnovšek, Wincent, & Cardon, 2010). Therefore someone with high self-efficacy is more likely to persist with and complete a task (Bandura, 1997). A Portuguese study found that self– efficacy and environmental support were predictive of goal progress and academic adjustment at third level. Those who reported success in their academia possessed stronger self-efficacy as well as environmental support (Lent et al, 2009). Self-efficacy and entrepreneurship appear linked due to the task-specific construct aspect of entrepreneurship (Drnovsek, Wincent & Cardon, 2010). This involves an assessment of confident beliefs an individual has about internal and external constraints that is personality and

environment respectively, as well as the assessment of potential and intentionality (Boyd and Vozikis, 1994). Within this context, self-efficacy can be a good predictor of startup intentions and career path decisions. Career decision self-efficacy has been shown to have a moderate to strong inverse relationship with career indecision (Betz et al., 2005; Betz & Luzzo, 1996; Betz & Taylor, 2001; Betz & Voyten, 1997; Taylor & Popma, 1990). The impact of gender and self-efficacy was examined by Wilson et al (2007, cited in Drnovsek, Wincent & Cardon, 2010) where it found males typically scoring higher on perceived self-efficacy than females. However, a significant effect of entrepreneurship education on development of self-efficacy beliefs was found, which was especially strong for women (Kickul et al., 2007 as cited in Drnovšek, Wincent, & Cardon, 2010). In a related study examining gender role orientation as a determinant of entrepreneurial self-efficacy, Mueller and Conway Datoon (2008, as cited in Drnovšek, Wincent, & Cardon, 2010) found contradictory results to those of Kickul et al (2007) as they reported that there were no significant differences in perceived self-efficacy beliefs between male and female students in their study. Prat-Sala and Redford (2010) examined the interrelationships between motivation orientation, selfefficacy, and approaches to studying (deep, strategic, and surface). The research found that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation orientations were correlated with approaches to studying. The results also showed that students with high levels of self-efficacy demonstrated a deep or strategic approach to studying, while students who displayed lower levels were more likely to assume a surface approach. Furthermore, changes in students’ approaches to studying over time appear directly related to their self-efficacy beliefs, where students with low levels of self-efficacy decreased in their deep approach and increased their surface approach across time. No change in the approach to studying was evidenced in those with high levels of self-efficacy. The present research will examine whether there is a correlation between the motivation and self-efficacy of first year students. Further the study will examine the effect of gender and major subject across these variables.

Method An online survey was used to gather the research data. Ethical approval has been granted by the Institute Ethics committee to undertake this research. Consent was obtained from participating students; no student under the age of 18 years was permitted to take part in the research.

anthology of iadt Research and Practice 2013

Demographic information was gathered and then two further questionnaires were administered to measure the levels of motivation and self-efficacy. Participants were in first year of a third level institution. There were 83 participants in total with 52 males (63%) and 31 females (37%). The age range was 18-22 years (n=75, 90%) and 23 years and over (n=8, 10%). Participant groups were categorised as the business group (n=44) and nonbusiness group (psychology and computing students; n=39). Demographic details revealed that 62 (67.4%) participants were from Dublin and 30 participants (32.6%) from outside of Dublin. Furthermore, 51.6% of the respondents reported having a parent who had graduated from college. The reasons for choosing the college course they were presently undertaking were: 30% had the course recommended to them by a guidance counsellor; just over 25% had the course recommended by a friend and 19% had it recommended by a family member. A further 27% stated the website, 18% reported that the college open day and 15% stated that location of the college played a role in their choice of course. In relation to course preference on the CAO form, 24% stated that the course which they were undertaking was their first choice, 16% ranked the course as 2nd preference, with 20% stating that this course was below their 3rd preference. The first questionnaire administered was The Academic Motivation Scale (AMS), (Vallerand, Pelletier, Blais, Briere, Senecal and Valliereres, 1992) which assesses both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The degree of difference in these conditions appear to fall along a motivational continuum that mirror the level of self-determined behaviour, varying from a motivation of extrinsic to intrinsic (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Based on self-determination theory, this 28-item instrument is divided into seven subscales, reflecting one subscale of amotivation, three ordered subscales of extrinsic motivation (external, interjected, and identified regulation), and three distinct, unordered subscales of intrinsic motivation (intrinsic motivation to know, to accomplish things, and to experience stimulation). Specifically, Vallerand et al. reported that Cronbach’s coefficient alphas for the subscales ranged from .83 to .86, with the exception of the identified subscale of extrinsic motivation, which had an internal consistency of .62. This was confirmed in this study, Cronbach’s alpha for all subscales including extrinsic motivation identified ranged from .82 to .85. In addition, test-retest reliability over a one-month period ranged from .71 to .83 for the subscales. In addition, results of a confirmatory factor analysis (LISREL) confirmed the sevenfactor structure of the AMS. The second questionnaire administered was the General Self-Efficacy Scale (Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-


Dunn, Jacobs, & Rogers, 1982). The GSE is a Likert format 17-item scale (examples of items include: “When I make plans, I am certain I can make them work”, “I give up easily”, “I am a self-reliant person”, “I avoid facing difficulties”). The response format is a 5-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). Sum of item scores reflects general self-efficacy. The higher the total score is, the more self-efficacious the respondent. Self-efficacy plays a significant role in learning, as many people who strive to be successful will only learn the materials and behaviours which will contribute to that success (Gist & Mitchell, 1992). Chen, Gully, Whiteman, and Kilcullen (2000) have found that General Self–Efficacy Scale (GSE) is positively related to learning goal orientation. In addition, research has demonstrated that GSE is positively related to other motivational factors, including conscientiousness and the need for achievement (Chen, Gully, & Eden, 2000 as cited in Chen et al., 2001). According to Smith (2002), “strong efficacy beliefs, along with fundamental learning tools supplied by formal education, result in students who possess skills necessary for social and economic stability” (p. 1). However, a negative aspect to self-efficacy is the level of stress and anxiety people are susceptible to as they carry out an activity (Pajares & Miller, 1994; Bandura, 1997). The GSE negatively correlates with negative affect, anxiety, depression, anger, and physical symptoms (e.g. Leganger, Kraft, & Røysamb, 2000; Luszczynska, Gutiérrez-Donã, & Schwarzer, 2005). Reviewing various organizational studies, Chen et al. (2001) found internal consistency reliabilities of GSE to be moderate to high (α = .76 to .89). Research of university students and managers by Chen et al. reported high internal consistency reliability for GSE (α = .88 to .91 respectively). With regard to temporal stability of GSE, Chen & Gully (as cited in Chen et al.) obtained a low test-retest estimate (r = .23) across only three weeks. However, Chen et al found high test-retest reliability (r = .74 and .90). Research suggests good reliability and validity of both the AMS and GSE. The results of the data from these questionnaires will now be presented.


Exploring Motivation and Self-Efficacy of First Year College Students

Table 1 - Participant Profile Details by Major Subject Profile of Participants

All Survey Participants N


Participants by Major Subject Business












Total participants





Age Group 18-22 years





23 years and over





1st preference





2nd preference





3rd or lower preference





Yes - at home with parents





No - not at home with parents





Course Ranking in CAO Application

Living at home with parents

Table 2 - Participant Profile Details by Major Subject All Participants












Total Motivation






Extrinsic Motivation






Intrinsic Motivation






Table 3 - Participant Profile Details by Major Subject Major Subject Gender



Male Female



Extrinsic Motivation M















Intrinsic Motivation M



















































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The participants of this first year of the study majored in either business (n=44) or psychology and computing (non-business, n=49). Further results of profiling of the participants are shown in Table 1, Figure 1 and Figure 2.

The relationship between self-efficacy and motivation (total, intrinsic and extrinsic) was investigated using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient. Looking separately at business and non-business students there was no significant correlation between self-efficacy and motivation.

How had you ranked your current course on your CAO Application?

Impact of major subject and gender on motivation and self-efficacy

Descriptive statistics

50 40 30 20

3rd 2nd 1st

10 0

Business Student

Non-Business Student

Figure 1: Participant profile: Ranking of current course in CAO applications.

First and Second + Generation Students - Did your parents graduate from college? 50 40 30 20 10 0

Yes No Business Student

Non-Business Student

Figure 2: Participant profile: 1st generation students versus 2nd + generation students.

A two-way between groups analysis of variance was also conducted to explore the impact of gender and major subject (business versus non-business) on extrinsic motivation. There was a significant interaction effect of gender and major subject on extrinsic motivation (f(1, 65)=6.203, p=.015). The effect size was moderate (partial eta squared=.085). The main effect for gender also reached statistical significance ( f (1,65)=8.396, p=.005) but this could not be confirmed by additional analysis. The main effect for major subject did not reach statistical significance. For business students females showed a significantly higher extrinsic motivation than male students. For non-business students the extrinsic motivation for males and females was very similar (see Table 3 and Figure 3). A two-way between groups analysis of variance was also conducted to explore the impact of gender and major subject on intrinsic motivation. Students were divided into business students and non-business students. There was a significant interaction effect of gender and major subject ( f (1, 66)=5.390, p=.024). The effect size was moderate (partial eta squared=.079). The main effect for gender and major subject did not reach statistical significance. Female business students showed a higher intrinsic motivation than male business students, but female non-business students showed a lower intrinsic motivation than male non-business students (see Table 3 on the previous page and Figure 4).

Estimated Marginal Means

Estimated Marginal Means of Extrinsic Motivation 65.00

Business Student


Non-Business Student



45.00 Male


Figure 3: Significant interaction of gender and major subject of students on extrinsic motivation.

Estimated Marginal Means of Intrinsic Motivation

Estimated Marginal Means


Exploring Motivation and Self-Efficacy of First Year College Students


Business Student


Non-Business Student

48.00 46.00 44.00 42.00 40.00 Male


Figure 4: Significant interaction of gender and major subject of students on intrinsic motivation

A two-way between groups analysis of variance conducted to explore the impact of gender and major subject on selfefficacy showed no significant interaction and no major effects of gender and major subject (business students, non-business students).

Differences between 1st and 2nd+ generation students Independent samples t-tests were conducted to compare

the motivation and self-efficacy of 1st generation students and students where at least one parent graduated from

college. There was no significant difference in motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic motivation). But there was a

significant difference in self-efficacy. First generation

students (m=58.30, sd=7.70) showed higher self-efficacy

than students where at least one of the parents graduated from college (m=62.60, sd=8.72, t(85)=2.445, p=.017. The

magnitude of the difference in the means was moderate (eta squared=.066). An independent one way between

groups ANOVA was also conducted to investigate whether

CAO points had an effect on motivation or self-efficacy, but there was no statistically significant difference.

Differences between students living at home with their parents and other students Independent samples t-tests were conducted to compare the motivation and self-efficacy of students who live at home with their parents and students not living at home. There was no significant difference in self-efficacy or extrinsic motivation. But there was a significant difference in intrinsic motivations. Students living at home with their parents showed lower intrinsic motivation (m=43.48, sd=11.45) than students who were not living at home (m=54.74, sd=13.40, t(73)=3.544, p=.001). The magnitude of the difference in the means was large (eta squared=.1466).

Conclusion In this research business students and non-business students were compared across motivation and selfefficacy. With regard to extrinsic motivation, female business students showed higher extrinsic motivation than male students. For non-business students (psychology and computing) the extrinsic motivation for males and females was very similar. Intrinsic motivation was higher for female business students than male business students, but female non-business students showed a lower intrinsic motivation than male non-business students. First generation of first year students attending college showed higher self-efficacy than students where at least one of the parents graduated from college. Finally, students living at home with their parents showed lower intrinsic motivation. This research indicates the importance of recognising the role that motivation and self-efficacy play in a third level student’s life. The importance of these factors must be highlighted to lecturers. Interaction with students during lectures, creative and innovative approaches to both lecturing and assessment will promote each student’s desire to learn and therefore increase their potential for success in the world of academia.

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References: Aremu, O. A. (2005) Career Development, Police Job Commitment Nigeria

Hytti, U., Stenholm, P., Heinonen, J., & Seik-Kula Leino, J. (2010) The Impact of Student Motivation and Team Behaviours

Bandura, A. (1997) Self-efficacy: The exercise of control

Leganger, A., Kraft, P., & Røysamb, E. (2000) Perceived self-efficacy in health behaviour research: Conceptualization, measurement and correlates

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 28(4), 609-618.

New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Bandura, A. (1982) Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency American Psychologist, 37, 122-147.

Bandura, A. (1977) Social learning theory

New York: General Learning Press.

Betz, N. E., & Luzzo, D. A. (1996) Career assessment and the Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy Scale Journal of Career Assessment, 4, 413-428.

Betz, N. E., & Taylor, K. M. (2001) Manual for the Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale and CDMSE-Short Form

Unpublished manuscript, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Betz, N. E., & Voyten, K. K. (1997) Efficacy and outcome expectations influence career exploration and decidedness The Career Development Quarterly, 40, 179-189.

Chen, G., Gully, S. M., & Eden, D. (2001) Validation of a New General Self-Efficacy Scale Organizational Research Methods, 4 (1), 62-68.

Chen, G., Gully, S. M., Whiteman, J. A. & Kilcullen, B. N. (2000) Examination of relationships among trait-like individual differences, state-like individual differences, and learning performance Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(6), 834-847.

Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000) The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: human needs and the selfdetermination of behaviour Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.

Drnovšek, M., Wincent, J., & Cardon, M. S. (2010) Entrepreneurial self-efficacy and business start-up: developing a multi-dimensional definition International Journal of Entrerpreneurial Behaviour and Research 16(4), 329-348.

Gist, M. E., & Mitchell, T.R. (1992) Self-efficacy: A theoretical analysis of its determinants and malleability Academy of Management Review, 17, 183-211.

Grier-Reed, T. L., Skaar, N. R., & Conkel-Ziebell, J. L. (2009) Constructive career development as a paradigm in of empowerment for at-risk culturally diverse college students Journal of Career Development, 35, 290-305

Journal of Education and Training, 52(8/9), 587-606.

Psychology and Health, 15, 51-69.

Lent, R.W., M.C. Taveira, H.B. Sheu and D. Singley (2009) Social cognitive predictors of academic adjustment and life satisfaction in Portuguese college students: A longitudinal analysis Journal of Vocat. Behaviour 74: 190-198.

Luszczynska, A., Gutiérrez-Donã, B., & Schwarzer, R. (2005) General self-efficacy in various domains of human functioning: Evidence from five countries International Journal of Psychology, 40(2), 80-89.

Pajares, F., & Miller, M.D. (1994) The role of self-efficacy and self-concept beliefs in mathematical problem solving: A path analysis Journal of Educational Psychology, 86 (2), 193-203.

Prat-Sala, M. and Redford, P. (2010) The interplay between motivation, self-efficacy, and approaches to studying British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 2, 283–305. DOI: 10.1348/000709909X480563

Sherer, M., Maddux, J. E., Mercandante, B., Prentice-Dunn, S., Jacobs, B., & Rogers, R.W. (1982) The Self-Efficacy Scale: Construction and validation Psychological Reports, 51, 663-671.

Smith, S. M. (2002) The role of social cognitive career theory in information technology based academic performance Information Technology, learning, and Performance Journal, 20 (2), 1-10.

Taylor, K. M., & Popma, J. (1990) An examination of the relationships among career decisionmaking self-efficacy, career salience, locus of control, and vocational indecision Journal of Vocational Behavior, 37, 17-31.

Vallerand, R.J., Pelletier, L.G., Blais, M.R, Brière, N.M., Senécal, C., & Vallières, E.F. (1992) The academic motivation scale: a measure of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 1003-1017.

Vallerand, R.J., Pelletier, L.G., Blais, M.R, Brière, N.M., Senécal, C., & Vallières, E.F. (1993) On the assessment of intrinsic, extrinsic and amotivation in education: Evidence on the concurrent and construct validity of the academic motivation scale Educational and Psychological Measurement, 53, 159-172.


Shared Social Video in Higher Education ‘ Blended’ Business Programmes

Shared Social Video in Higher Education ‘Blended’ Business Programmes Denis Cullinane This paper describes a research study on the student experience of using shared social video content in blended business programmes in higher education. A wide range of both professional and amateur video content was used to introduce emerging Internet and new media applications and technologies to business, enterprise and arts management students. All videos were from social media video sharing sites such as YouTube. The videos were used extensively in the classroom and online in a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The qualitative research was conducted by informal ‘in-situ’ observations, face-to-face interviews and student reflective review reports. The results of the study indicate student questioning of the educational value of using such online shared video in a blended environment and point to the need for curriculum design considerations and instructional strategies to provide ‘scaffolding’ to support the achievement of student learning outcomes. keywords: blended business education, social shared video, youtube

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Introduction The term ‘Web 2.0’ was first used by O’Reilly Media (O’Reilly, 2005) as a means of capturing the evolution of the web to what has also been called the ‘read/write web’ or ‘the social web’. ‘Web 2.0’ is used to describe web applications and services such as blogs, wikis, social bookmarking/ tagging, content management and collaboration, social networking sites, virtual worlds and digital media sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube. ‘Web 2.0’ or ‘Social Web’ is being increasingly used internationally in nearly all areas of higher education, including academic, administrative and support areas (Franklin & Armstrong, 2008). A major category of Web 2.0 applications is the social media sharing applications which allow the posting and sharing of multimedia objects such as photos, videos and audio files. There are a variety of sites such as Flickr for photos, YouTube for video, iTunes for podcasts, Slideshare for presentations, Scribd for documents. These applications have become almost ubiquitous; each has functionality such as allowing users to share their contributions, to tag them with keywords, post comments, reviews and ratings. YouTube has been one of the most successful media sharing ‘Web 2.0’ sites since its inception in April 2005, and is estimated to have more than 1bn ‘views’ of its video content per day. Many media outlets and educational institutions now have dedicated channels on YouTube for their video content. A survey by Pew Research Center USA reports that “Seven in ten adult internet users (69%)—or roughly half (52%) of all U.S. adults—have used the internet to watch or download video. Young adult internet users, 18-29 year-olds, continue to be the heaviest consumers of online video” (Purcell, 2010, p.2). The survey also shows that since 2007, there have been dramatic increases in the numbers of Americans who watch the following types of video online: ffComedy or humorous videos, which have risen in viewership from 31% to 50% of adult internet users ffEducational videos, which have risen in viewership from 22% to 38% of adult internet users ffMovies or TV show videos, which have risen in viewership from 16% to 32% of adult internet users ffPolitical videos, which have risen in viewership from 15% to 30% of adult internet users” (Purcell, 2010, p. 2) Although YouTube is primarily perceived as an entertainment video site, it has a growing volume of educational video content posted by educators, students and professionals from all sectors of business and education. It was this ever growing number of ‘educational


videos’ on YouTube and other video sharing sites like Vimeo, TED, and Blip TV that contributed to the impetus for this study. This research was conducted to explore the student experience of using ‘Web 2.0’ or social media shared video in blended business education. Approximately 155-160 videos from digital media sharing sites were used to introduce emerging Internet and new media applications and technologies to business, enterprise and arts management students. The majority of the videos were from social media sharing sites such as YouTube, TED, and Blip TV. The videos were used extensively in the classroom and online in the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment. There were two objectives for this study: ffTo explore the use of shared social media videos as part of an eLearning resource in a blended business classroom scenario. ffTo monitor and obtain student opinions on the eLearning resource used in class and online on the Blackboard VLE as part of the teaching and learning of ‘Web 2.0’ or ‘Social Media’ applications as tools for the worlds of business, enterprise and arts management. The research methods that were used in the study were ffOngoing observation of student use of the video content in computer laboratory sessions over the period October 2008-April 2009. ffSemi-structured ‘in situ’ interviews with individuals and small groups of students at the end of the term. The interviews were conducted over a 4 day period and the participants were randomly selected from whoever attended class on those days and was willing to contribute. All these interviews were digitally recorded. ffAnalysis of written reflective review reports at end of year from students on their usage of the VLE and other applications incorporating a section on the video content used to introduce the concept of ‘Web 2.0’, ‘Apps’ and other learning related material.

Results and Discussion The data obtained in this study was undertaken using a qualitative research methodology. Cohen, Mannion, & Morrison (2007) state that the qualitative researcher is able to use a variety of techniques for gathering information and can use various methods such as field notes, participant observation, journal notes, interviews, diaries, artefacts, documentary analysis, and audiovideo recordings. Convenience sampling, as indicated by LeCompte and Preissle (1993), is opportunistic sampling as it is selecting from whoever happens to be available. This


Shared Social Video in Higher Education ‘ Blended’ Business Programmes

flexible approach was found to be necessary in this study due to type of student cohort and the intensive nature of their continuous assessment workload. The study resulted in qualitative data from observations, interviews, and written reports from 108 of a potential 140 students across three cohorts. Coding of the statements was conducted to provide a method for identifying trends in the student attitudes about the online resource and its video content in particular. The methodology outlined in a study by George-Palilonis and Filak (2009) in which they analysed over 13,500 statements from weekly journals of 174 students to obtain their reaction to blended learning in a Communications classroom was explored. However, realistically such an analysis proved to be beyond both the skill set of this researcher and the scope of this study. Thus the qualitative analysis was limited to identification of recurring themes in the students’ responses across all data sets; data gathered by observations of students use inclass, data gathered from semi-structured interviews, and data gathered from Year End Report comments on video content in the course. Analysis of the gathered data was by transcription of all observations and interviews and then repeated processing of the statements to identify themes. This was achieved by extracting statements that were all commenting on the same key issues - technical, navigational, and educational. These extracts were combined with extracts of comments made in written review reports submitted by students at year end. The range of themes that emerged from the data analysis is summarized and discussed under the following headings: ffTechnical Implications of VLE Embedded Video Content ffScreen Design Considerations ffEducational Value of Shared Social Video ffCurriculum Design Implications of Shared Social Video

Technical Implications of VLE Embedded Video Content Observation of student usage of the video content embedded in the VLE revealed that initially there were a number of issues interfering with the effectiveness of the online video content in the lecture and laboratory sessions. ffAccess to the VLE was problematic for many students in the first 3 months of the year due to password, account, server or Java applet issues. ffDelays in the loading of video content, if accessed through the VLE, while direct access to the source site was often quicker. This encouraged students to ‘double click’ on the embedded video in the VLE and then

access the source site directly thus ‘by passing’ any associated text or links in the VLE interface. Students reported that such delays only occurred while accessing the VLE video on campus. ffAudio element of video was not accessible on campus as students may not have personal earphones and library PCs may not have sound cards installed. Thus students were often reliant on the in-built sound systems in the classrooms and computer labs to hear the content of video chosen by lecturer. It took some time for students to become familiar with the practicalities of using multimedia in their learning routine as they did not use such features to any great extent in other business modules. ffIssues around browser compatibility with VLE also had some effect on the user experience as various browser applications such as Opera and Firefox often rendered the VLE screen layout differently. Observing the student engagement with the VLE was an opportunity to assist and guide their exploration and to gather informal feedback and make ‘field notes’. Some continued to report ‘technical issues’ throughout the study. Similar issues have been reported by Williams (2002) as being one of the major barriers to students using technology and have been highlighted in the JISC Info Kit website entitled Effective Use of Virtual Learning Environments (2009).

Screen Design Considerations Navigation limitations of the VLE module interface were strongly evident. As the homepage interface was being developed on an ongoing basis there were often times when the interface was challenging for students to navigate through. Thus screen design in the VLE can be a barrier to student learning with online video, which has to be overcome. While some students disliked the user interface of the VLE and decided to bypass the VLE and access videos directly on the source sites, other students liked the pre-selection of videos from the multitude that are on the source sites such as YouTube. They appreciated the work conducted in selecting the videos and the structure or scaffolding that the VLE gave to the use of video in their learning. This may be due to the VLE interface acting as a kind of blinker to filter out the surrounding distracting content on source sites. These findings are consistent with findings of Kay and Knaack (2007) that ‘organization of the layout, learner control, clear instructions and theme were critical hotspots where the use of learning objects enhanced or inhibited learning’ (p.24). Poor navigational design is often included under the general heading of poor usability, but navigational

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complexity was singled out as a particular problem in VLEs by several respondents in a study by Dunn (2003). The empirical study by Parizotto-Ribeiro, Hammond, Mansano and Cziulik, (2004) found a positive relationship between aesthetics and perceived usability when using a VLE. The implementation of instructional design principles and procedures is thus ever more important in an increasingly complex blended learning environment incorporating online shared social media such as video.

Educational Value of Shared Social Video Of the 107 students who submitted reports, 76% commented positively on the video content in the VLE with 24% not commenting on the use of video in the online resource supporting the programmes. There was a range of opinions and attitudes expressed in the interviews and the reports towards the video content and the medium through which it was delivered. Videos are not for everyone and about 24% of students appeared to be indifferent to them and did not use them to any great extent as they may have considered video a waste of time in an educational context. This seems to concur with Carvin (2007) and Snelson and Perkin’s (2009) reports on educational value and suggests that, for some students, the use of social video is not serious enough in an educational setting and they may consider it as detrimental in terms of time. Conversely about 76% of students believed that videos are a good way to learn, a different way to learn, a break from reading lots of text and a good way to get ‘the big picture’ on the use of Internet applications in business. This is consistent with the findings of Conole et al (2008) that ‘students are using a different range of e-learning strategies and appropriating the tools to meet their own needs’ (p.522). Of the 81(76%) students, who commented critically on the online video content, all were generally favourable for mostly the same reasons that online video is easy and interesting to use in a learning situation. This is in alignment with research showing that nearly four-fifths of college students (79%) agree that the Internet has a positive impact on their college experience (Jones, 2002).


Curriculum Design Implications of Shared Social Video The reasons for 26 (24%) of students not making any comment on the video content in their reports can only be deduced from observations made in-class and by some of the negative comments received in both the interviews and in the reports. Videos need to be relevant and related to learning activities and assessment; they need to be short and direct. They may not engage many of the learners unless they have specific relevant information. The need for such video to be ‘coupled with hands on learning’, as indicated by Duffy (2008, p.125) and also argued by Karpinnen (2005) and the seminal work of Laurillard (1993) in which she argues that ‘knowledge must be used in authentic activity in order to form a full understanding of the knowledge and how it operated’ (p.17) Most students also seemed to prefer good quality and short duration videos as first indicated by research into educational film in the 1920s as described by Saettler (2004). Snelson & Perkins (2009) indicate how ‘the idea of short single concept film relates well to the current video clip phenomenon’ (p.11).

Conclusions and Recommendations The range of shared online video content suitable for use in Higher Education is becoming extensive and is likely to become more so over the coming years. Incorporating such video into the learning environment is also becoming easier. However as outlined by Karppinen (2005), Snelson (2008) and Bonk (2008) videos are just one component in the complexity of a blended classroom activity. In this study a range of approximately 160 social media shared videos were used in a blended business classroom to introduce students to emerging new media Internet applications and technologies. In the face-to-face classroom or computer laboratory it was observed that these videos were an important asset in attracting and maintaining student attention and creating a context for learning tasks and discussions in business related topics. In the blended business classroom, online video is only part of the learning mix and there are advantages and disadvantages in the use of such video online in the Blackboard VLE. The design of the VLE user interface needs to be monitored to ensure that it is user friendly and supportive of the learning process. In today’s world of engaging social media sites like Facebook and Twitter the danger of information overload and subsequent


Shared Social Video in Higher Education ‘ Blended’ Business Programmes

learner switch-off is very apparent. However there is also a possible advantage of the VLE, which can act as filter to remove related distracting information and replace it with information to guide the learning tasks and activities associated with an embedded video. The purpose and content of the video has to be apparent to students. Some students may have low expectations of what can be learned from video and may not be visual learners. Thus the content needs to be both relevant and be seen to be relevant. This implies that students need to be motivated to watch and engage with content which may initially be perceived as ‘abstract’ or ‘irrelevant’ or just ‘boring’. Linking activity with the video appears to be important to most learners as highlighted by Karppinen (2005). Passive viewing of 5-10 minute video is not liked by many students and being online it is very easy to get distracted and ‘click away’ to another task. In this study it would appear that many higher education business students like the concept of learning with shared social video but it needs to be short in duration, relevant, focused and linked with assessment and learning outcomes. Students appear to like the addition of video to the mix of learning materials in a blended classroom but also need guidance and support in using it to maximum effect. The design of the user interfaces and the learning activities and assessment procedures are key to its success. From the lecturer angle it is a time consuming process to pre-select videos for use in teaching and online virtual learning and it might be better to allow the students to become involved in this process and thus become active in constructing their own perspective on the knowledge of a particular subject or topic. In the year following this study, a video production project was built into the assessment for one cohort of students and it proved very successful. The students had to work in groups to research and develop a prototype educational video and then manage the recording with a group of students from another degree programme. Thus the task was moving in the direction advised by Karppinen (2005) of being active, constructive, collaborative, conservational, contextual, guided, emotionally involving and engaging. More research, like that of Burden and Atkinson (2007, 2008) on developing a video learning designs framework to engage learners in higher level cognitive activities using ten different ‘learning designs’ in a variety of ‘learning spaces’, is required. Their initial learning designs included stimulationengagement, narrative or storytelling, collaborative, conceptual, problem solving, student authoring, empathy or role play and figurative or allegorical uses of video.

This increasing use of social web-based video in education indicates the need for evaluation studies designed to investigate the potential value or pitfalls in this rapidly evolving phenomenon (Snelson, 2008). The kinds of ‘digital pedagogies’ that work in these digital social spaces and how they are perceived and experienced by students was one of the questions remaining to be answered (Hemmi, Bayne, & Land, 2009). Further research is also required on the forms of ‘technoliteracy’ required by students to manage and produce academic knowledge within such spaces (Kahn & Kelner, 2005). In the coming years, as Bonk (2008) points out, shared online video may make up one-third of the content of courses in higher education. Understanding how best to use it will be crucial. In this ‘the Learning Century’ each day could be a learning experience that can be enhanced by shared online video (Bonk, 2009).

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References: Bonk, C. J. (2008, March 23rd) YouTube Anchors and Enders: The Use of Shared Online Video Content as a Macrocontext for Learning Retrieved from www.publicationshare.com/SFX7EED.pdf

Bonk, C. J. (2009) The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Burden, K., & Atkinson, S. (2008) Beyond Content: Developing Transferable Learning Designs with Digital Video Archives

In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2008 (pp. 4041-4030). Chesapeake, VA: ACCE.

Burden, K., & Atkinson, S. (2007) Jumping on the YouTube bandwagon? Using digital video clips to develop personalised learning strategies

In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ASCILITE Singpore 2007 (pp. 96-98).

Carvin, A. (2007, September 18) Learning now: At the crossroads of Internet culture and education Retrieved from YouTube 101: Yes it’s a real class.

Cohen, L., Mannion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007) Research Methods in Education New York: Routledge.

Conole, G., de Laat, M., Dillion, T., & Darby, J. (2008) ‘Disruptive technologies’, ‘pedagogical innovation’: What’s new? Findings from an in-depth study of students’ use and perception of technology Computers and Education , 50 (2), 511-524.

Duffy, P. (2008) Engaging the YouTube Google-Eyed Generation: Strategies for Using Web 2.0 in Teaching and Learning Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 119-130.

Dunn, S. (2003) Return to SENDA? Implementing accessibility for disabled students in virtual learning environments in UK further and higher education Retrieved from www.saradunn.net/VLEreport/documents/VLEreport.pdf

Effective Use of Virtual Learning Environments. (2009)

Retrieved from www.bisinfonet.ac.uk/InfoKits/effective-use-of-VLEs/ intro-to-VLEs/introtovle-moving-forward/introtovle-issues

Franklin, T., & Armstrong, J. (2008) A review of current and developing international practice in the use of social networking (Web 2.0) in higher education Manchester: Frankling Consulting & CLEX.

George-Palilonis, J., & Filak, V. (2009) Blended Learning in Virtual Communications Classroom: Student Reflections on a Multimedia Course Electronic Journal of eLearning, 247-256.

Hemmi, A., Bayne, S., & Land, R. (2009) The appropriation and repurposing of social technologies in higher education Journal of Computer Assisted Learning , 19-30.

Jones, S. (2002, September 15) Pew Internet & American Life Project

Retrieved from The Internet Goes to College: www.pewinternet.org/~/ media//Files/Reports/2002/PIP_College_Report.pdf

Kahn, K., & Kelner, D. (2005) Reconstructing Technoliteracy: a multiple literacies approach E-Learning , 2 (3), 238-251.

Karppinen, P. (2005) Meaningful Learning with Digital and Online Videos: Theoretical Perspectives

Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) Journal, 233-250.

Kay, R. H., & Knaack, L. (2007) Evaluating the learning in learning objects Open Learning, 22, 5-28.

Keelan, J. (2007, December 5) YouTube as a Source of Information on Immunization

Retrieved from Journal of American Medical Asociation: http://jama.amaassn.org/cgi/content/full/298/21/2482

Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking university teaching. A framework for the effective use of educational technology London: Routledge.

LeCompte, M. & Preissle, J. (1993) Ethnography and Qualitative Design in Educational Research London: Academic Press

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0?

Retrieved from: oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

Parizotto-Ribeiro, R., Hammond, N., Mansano, C., & Cziulik, C. (2004) Aesthetics and perceived usability of VLEs: preliminary results HCI 2004 Proceedings (pp. 217-221).

Purcell, K. (2010, June 3rd) State-of-Online-Video

Retrieved from Pew Internet and American Life Project: pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/State-of-Online-Video.aspx

Saettler, P. (2004) The evolution of American educational technology Greenwich: CT: Information Age Publishing.

Snelson, C. (2008) Web-based Video in Education: Possibilities and Pitfalls

TCC 2008 Proceedings (pp. 214-221). Hawaii: Technology, Colleges, Community(TCC) Worldwide Online Conference.

Snelson, C., & Perkins, R. (2009) From Silent Film to YouTube: Tracing the Historical Roots of Motion Picture Technologies in Education Journal of Visual Literacy, 28, 1-27.

Williams, C. (2002) Learning online: a review of recent literature in a rapidly expanding field Journal of Further and Higher Education, 26 (3).


Capital at Work: Methodology in The Market

Capital at Work: Methodology in The Market (a project in progress)

Dr. Mark Curran In the evolutionary aftermath of the global economic collapse and in the absence of sustained audio-visual research engagement with the central locus of this event, this paper outlines the theoretical and ethnographicallyinformed methodological framework of a multisited, transnational, practice-led visual art research project addressing the functioning of the global stock and commodity markets. While framing the central research thematic and rationale for the methodology undertaken with reference to a specific research fieldsite, in its summation, the project seeks to instantiate the construction of an ethnography of power and finance. keywords: global capital, market, ethnography, visual art

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A photograph of a frantic trading pit on an epic scale is installed on a gallery wall, its origins in the largest and oldest commodity exchange in the world. Titled, Chicago Board of Trade II (1999) (Figure 1), the photograph is by German-born photographer, Andreas Gursky, who traverses the globe, making images that reflect upon the human condition, as he sees it, manifest in urban, rural, cultural and economic spaces. Although a former student of Bernd Becher1 (who worked professionally as an artist with his wife, Hilla Becher) at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf Art Academy), Gursky has not subscribed to the Becher’s dogma of strict objectivity, having always cropped and manipulated negatives when necessary and later, incorporating digital manipulation into his practice. Installed in a central passageway of London’s Tate Modern, the cultural anthropologist, Caitlin Zaloom, first encountered the image while in the city as part of her long-term ethnographic research on financial traders. She observes: The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) is an exemplary site of modernity…in this location, everyday relationships to the potential of money and the necessity of trade become extreme. Financial professionals bring together flow, speed and technology in the pursuit of profits, and when thousands of them gather everyday, they help create something larger – the market. (2012: 2) At first, it would appear the Gursky image embodies the representation of such a description of the market, however, Zaloom reflects further upon the circumstance of her encounter with Gursky’s photograph and the aesthetic it proffers, in particular, the abstraction of capital. For Zaloom, the image invokes: a clear message about the velocity of money and its disordering effects in the global economy. The market takes in vast waves of capital and spews them out again in a logic all of its own. Yet for the crowd of spectators around the photogaph, the commotion and dissarray are entrancing. It is unsettling to examine the picture closely, especially because a literal understanding of the physical space, or of the traders’ labor, is impossible. Instead it is easier to step back from the photograph and absorb the overall impression of the global financial beehive. (2010: 2) Her response to Gursky’s photograph forms the introduction to her book, Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London (2010) and pivotally informs her methodological approach. While understanding the functioning of such an aesthetic, Zaloom advocates as a priority to move beyond the abstraction of capital,


as visually embodied in the Gursky photograph. This is a function capital embraces as a strategy which impinges transparency (Ho, 2009; Harvey, 2010), further emphasised in the contemporary context of technological evolutions regarding the labour of the traders and the administrative structures surrounding these spheres and their possible future abstraction2. Therefore, Zaloom re-asserts a necessity to look closer and in greater detail at the apparatus of the global market: Markets are objects of inquiry into the culture and economy of contemporary capitalism… today, the world’s powerful financial centers are the ones that need explanation. The mysteries of markets touch our lives, but few outside the financial profession understand them. (2010: 11) In the aftermath of the global economic collapse and the continuing evolutionary context of neoliberal capitalism, this paper will outline the theoretical and methodological rationale for my ongoing research project, THE MARKET (a working title), which addresses the functioning of the global stock and commodity markets and is to be presented as part of events marking the forthcoming centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout, a pivotal moment in Irish labour history3. The critical assertion of Zaloom has been a central reference point for this project in its construction of an ethnography of power and finance. Therefore, the paper will frame my research practice, one informed by ethnographic understandings, and within such a critical research framework, outline the central thematics of the project and their relationship to research methods undertaken with reference to a specific research location.

Methodology for The Market Primarily informed through the application of photography and as a response to late-modern critique of photography’s ideological role in the construction of representation4, my research practice has evolved to one informed by ethnography and the principles of a critically reflexive practice. Ethnography as an anthropological process of research acknowledges the researcher’s role and subjectivity in the construction of cultural representation – reflexivity. As Michael Taussig states, ‘because the anthropologist is inevitably part of the reality analysed’ (2006)5. Critically, therefore, in the context of photography’s functioning in the construction of representation, such understandings have a role in the self-conscious application of the photograph. Further, ethnography can also be viewed as an epistemological position or ‘a commitment’, as Zsuzsa Gille states, ‘to study an issue at hand by understanding it from the perspectives of people whose lives are tied up with or affected by it’ (2001: 321)6.


Capital at Work: Methodology in The Market

Figure 1: Chicago Board of Trade II (1999) © Andreas Gursky, IVARO, VG Bild-Kunst, 2013

Figure 2: West of the City, M50, County Dublin, Ireland, June 2001 (1m x1m, c-print, aluminium frame) from SOUTHERN CROSS by Dr. Mark Curran (Gallery of Photography/Cornerhouse Publications 2002)

Figure 3: Untitled, Gowning Room, Building 7, 11.02 a.m., Monday, November 11th 2003’ (Leixlip, Ireland) (1m x 1m ultrachrome archival print, nails, bullclips) from the project The Breathing Factory by Dr. Mark Curran (Edition Braus/Belfast Exposed/Gallery of Photography 2006)

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To date, the thematic concerns within my research practice have centrally addressed the predatory context resulting from the flows and migrations of global capital. As Allan Sekula observes, ‘we are encouraged to believe we live in a post-industrial age, when in fact the industrial function has just been globalised’ (2001: 27). Over the course of the last 15 years, I have undertaken long-term projects sited in Ireland, the former East Germany and where, in addition to this transnational multi-sited research project, as a cycle, they are intended to demonstrate a sustained critical engagement surveying the impact of global capital7.

a ‘polymorphous engagement’ (1997: 116):

Methodologically, the sociologist, Saskia Sassen, asserts the significance of the ‘local’ in the global framework as a means for describing globalising processes and thereby, invoking a ‘counter-globality’ (Waugh, 2008: 24). And in a similar register, Arjun Appadurai advocates an ‘imaginative’ research strategy in relation to the local to ‘compare, describe and theorise “globalisation from below”’ (2000: 19) perhaps affording the ‘subversive micronarrative’ (1996: 10). Such local sited-ness in the context of a study of power and finance regarding a globalised hegemony, instantiate the notion, as proffered by the anthropologist, Laura Nader, for ‘studying up’.

Drawing on Gusterson, the cultural anthropologist, Karen Ho, incorporated such a methodological approach in her ethnographic study of Wall Street, published in 2009. Elaborating on her previous career in investment banking, Ho drew on her personal professional network and included encounters at business events, conferences, college reunions, interviews to simple ‘rich, informal anecdotes gained from chatting’ (2009: 21)8. Such a methodological engagement regarding an ‘ethnography of the powerful’, I would argue, could further critically benefit from representational strategies assembled according to the principle of ‘montage’ or ‘multivocality’ as asserted by the visual ethnographer, Sarah Pink – ‘representations that incorporate the multilinearity of research and everyday lives’ (2001: 117)9. Pink continues regarding such fragmented experience, ‘reality is, in fact, continuous and subjectively experienced, at best, one can only reconstruct fragments of a subjective experience of reality, representations of knowledge are never complete (ibid.: 167)10. Therefore, to formulate representations of research which are openended and to paraphrase Taussig, which is not necessarily about reality but whose effects may be real11. Mindful of such methodological considerations and research outputs, I now wish to briefly outline the project thematic, research methods with specific reference to one research site.

Published in 1972, Nader appealed for a critical repatriated anthropology, through ‘studying up’, thereby, ‘principally studying the most powerful strata of urban society...and instead of asking why some people are poor, we would ask why other people are so affluent’ (1972: 289). Nader’s rationale is framed by the assertion that by not doing so would limit the ability to form ‘adequate theory and description’ (ibid.: 290). While she further frames her argument in terms of ‘citizen’ and ‘democracy’, beyond the remit of this article, Nader’s appeal has methodological implications, namely, concerning access: ‘the powerful are out of reach on a number of different planes: they don’t want to be studied; it is dangerous to study the powerful; they are busy people; they are not all in one place, and so on’ (ibid.: 302). In such a potentially limiting context, the possibility for long-term engagement in the form of, for example, participant observation can be severely hampered. However, Nader argues that such limitations should not define the subject of research and advocates a more multivariant approach, including the use of personal documents, memoirs, chance encounters, discussion, interviews and public relations documents amongst others. In the context of power, I would assert such limitations regarding access embody significant critical meaning regarding the focus of study. Over 20 years later, the anthropologist, Hugh Gusterson, revisited Nader’s appeal, elaborating for what he defined as

The ethnography of the powerful needs to consist of interacting with informants across a number of dispersed sites, not just local communities, and sometimes in virtual form; and it means collecting data eclectically from a disparate array of sources in many different ways such as... formal interviews...extensive reading of newspapers and official documents...careful attention to popular culture, as well as informal social events outside of the actual corporate office or laboratory. (ibid.: 116)


Capital at Work: Methodology in The Market

Figure 4: Sightseeing, hotel room, Frankfurt, Germany, March 2012 (research photograph by author)

Outline of The Market (in progress) In the context of the forthcoming centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout12, and the global economic collapse, the implicit critical resonance of exclusion, omission and invisibility regarding labour and its defining relationship to capital remains ever pertinent. ‘One way of thinking about globalisation today’, asserts Sassen, ‘is as unsettlement – of economies, policies, cultures and imaginations’ (Waugh 2008: 24). Such structural destabilisation, an overarching context for the cycle of projects, invokes a multi-layered, multi-dimensional theoretical image of globalisation – of interdependence, fixedness and fluidity, permanence matched with fragility, liquidity, underlining profound precarity and vulnerability13 and where within such an ephemeral environment, the everyday of the individual. The condition of precarity and vulnerability as an outcome of the functioning of neoliberal capitalism continues to hold central research significance as Arjun Appadurai states: Global capital in its contemporary form is characterised by strategies of predatory mobility (across both time and space) that have vastly compromised the capacities of actors in single locations even to understand, much less anticipate or resist, these strategies. Though states…vary in how and whether they are mere instruments of global capital, they have certainly been eroded as sites of political, economic and cultural sovereignty. (2000: 18) Critically, therefore, the research project has sought to access the sites of the global stock and commodity market, which hold a defining role regarding that relationship and by which all of the other research to date has been decisively framed. In this working space, where, for example, literally and metaphorically, futures are speculated upon, the project has sought to explore, survey and excavate these sites focusing upon the operating functioning of such

spaces, both materially and increasingly cyber-based, and how this is reflected centrally, upon the individuals who inhabit, dwell and labour within these globalised spheres. Conceptually pivotal, therefore, has also been a desire to make visible an understanding of such sites and to explore the theme of market interconnectedness. Therefore, multisited access has been sought to survey global locations, including Dublin, London, Frankfurt in addition to New York, Addis Ababa and Mumbai. Each location has been selected on critical grounds, for example, Addis Ababa is the location of the youngest commodity exchange in the world, the Mumbai being site of the oldest stock exchange in Asia, Frankfurt as a central European location with one of the largest online exchanges in the world, while London embodies history, global scale and increasingly the future technology of non-human-based trading14 and Dublin, as local site of the Lockout, with a stock exchange possessing a decommissioned trading floor having embraced an online framework to ensure a global future. Access has played a defining role and concern in the project, with the process towards securement embodying meaning and insight, including when it has been denied as, for example, in the case of Frankfurt15. Beginning in early 2011, the average process of negotiation and engagement with each location has been over a year and a half, whether through direct contact, as result of, for example, my personal network and indirectly, through official representation by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Ireland, and their ambassadors and staff at Irish Embassies in the selected locations. It should be noted that even with this level of official representation, and significantly, has not always resulted in successfully securing access. Where access has been secured, extended stays have occurred, to facilitate further research regarding the site, establishing contacts and developing relationships with individuals as key collaborators and informants of the project. As demonstrated in previous projects and framed in the described methodological approach, the research interventions have included, but not exclusively, an ethnographic understanding in the maintenance of research fieldnotes, the collaborative application of lens-based media in the form of photography, audio and digital video, the collation of artefactual material and the gathering of verbal testimony16. As the project has evolved through this ‘polymorphous engagement’, it has become apparent that each site brings a particular critical and culturally descriptive understanding in relation to the economic functioning of the global market. With this in mind, I wish to now briefly focus on one such location.

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Site of The Market: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia …you are making me sound like a liberal…I am a capitalist… but yes we did write the word ‘fairness’ into our mission statement…it is different here to Wall Street and what is motivating us…as a model, yes it can be successful, however, would my former colleagues on Wall Street accept it…no (from interview, Bemnet, Chief Strategy Officer, Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, September 2012) Sitting behind a coffee warehouse storage facility in the middle of the Ethiopian Rift Valley, these words belong to Bemnet, a member of the country’s diaspora, who returned to assist in the establishment of a commodity exchange. Years spent monitoring trading screens in the United States, he sought to return to his home country and employ what he had learnt. In August, 2012, I travelled to Ethiopia, site of the youngest exchange in the world, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) in Addis Ababa. With the support of the Embassy of Ireland, following over one year of negotiation, I had secured only two days of access. Established in 2008, the same year as the ‘official’ global economic collapse began, the ECX is unique on the continent of Africa as a ‘not for profit’ trading framework and one of only a very small number of such markets, globally17. The exchange, trading primarily in coffee, sesame and peabeans, was founded by Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, also a member of the Ethiopian diaspora. Dr. Eleni18 studied in the United States, completing her doctorate in applied economics at Stanford University, and has stated her desire to use the traditional role of the market in Ethiopian society as the ‘fair’ means and method to end hunger. State owned, prices and membership are, to a greater degree, tightly regulated and those profits accumulated by the ECX, for services as a trading platform, are re-invested into the organisation. To encourage transparency, emanating from a stated responsibility to the individual small farmer, farming collective or investor, the complete process from production, selection, storage to the point of sale and subsequent delivery is closely supervised in a framework of ‘open dialogue’. The exchange has grown from a permanent staff of 34 at the beginning to over 600 at present and is now quoted daily on commodity exchanges in New York, Mumbai and Dubai amongst others19. Following my first meeting with my official contact from the ECX, I proposed to visit the exchange for one week without audio-visual equipment and merely to observe. This proposal was accepted and over the course of this first week, I gained insight regarding the functioning of the trading floor extending from the use of the space to the rhythms, structures and rituals surrounding the trading sessions. In addition, as the only non-Ethiopian present, individuals


seemed to gravitate towards me, initially enquiring to why I was there. The resulting conversations helped to establish both an understanding of my presence and critically, to build relationships with both ECX staff and the traders. Subsequently, I was given wider access and for one month, I spent the majority of my time in the Ethiopian capital on one floor of one building, the trading floor of the ECX.

By the end of this period, the sense was that I had undertaken as much as I could accomplish in what is a relatively confined architectural and social space and indeed, I was wearing out my welcome, which in ethnographic terms is understandable, regarding scale and meaning. However, while immersed in the working atmosphere of the traders and administrative staff, fortunately, I encountered a large number of people willing to collaborate on the project in terms of the contributing their testimony, the making of portraits and by the end of this period, facilitating and allowing my presence in the trading pit itself, to digitally film the trading sessions. Trading in coffee, Bethlehem (Figure 6) holds an MA in Economics and is the youngest trader at the ECX. Following the making of her portrait, a few days later, she spoke passionately and at length, about the potential, through the activities at the exchange, to profoundly transform the economic context of her country: …if ECX were working for a profit, the whole situation would be different…the risk ECX take would be different… ECX wouldn’t be taking the risks it takes now…it is good that this ethos continues …ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be part of some revolutionary moment or movement… so working here is unique in our country…becoming the new face of Ethiopia… (from interview, Bethlehem, Trader, Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), September 2012) Bethlehem’s inclusion of the word, ‘revolutionary’ was striking in context of an apparatus of capital, and when I pressed her on the application of this term, she simply replied, ‘but it is’. Such an encounter in relation to the functioning and ethos of this market framework, appear to allude to the complexities embodied in the term, ‘The Market’. Central to the functioning of capitalism, the term inspires media descriptions, due to the present global economic circumstance, ‘of fear’ and/or ‘to be at the mercy of’, significantly, the framework presently installed at the ECX, appears to offer other possible descriptions. However, the revolutionary optimism offered in Addis Ababa seems rare, as the narrative of exclusion and abstraction surrounding the functioning of capital, pervades. Recalling Caitlin Zaloom’s encounter with the


Capital at Work: Methodology in The Market

Gursky photograph, she describes the viewers of the photograph as ‘entranced’ spectators to the aesthetic spectacle of that visual representation of the trading pits, where to look closely is ‘unsettling’ and further, through its abstraction, ‘impossible’ to find meaning regarding the functioning of the market. Therefore, a central theoretical and methodological tenet of this project has been to critically address up close and in as much detail as is afforded, the all-encompassing influence and at times, devastating impact, resulting from the economic activities of this site. While the final research installation and the re-representational strategies remain to be defined, such influence was forthrightly evidenced as part of efforts to secure access to locations in London’s financial districts of The City and Canary Wharf. During the course of a telephone conversation with a trader in a dealing room and while continuing to work his screens, he observed: What people don’t understand...is that what happens in the market is pivotal to their lives...not on the periphery...but, slap, bang in the middle...20

Figure 5: Trading Pit, Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, September 2012 (research photograph by author) Figure 6 (below): Bethlehem, Trader, Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, September 2012

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Footnotes: 1 Bernd and Hilla Becher began making photographs in the Ruhrgebiet area of Western Germany in the early 1960s – a location of great industrialisation dating from the mid-nineteenth century. Many sites had been abandoned and in the context of post-war Europe and perhaps careful of the aesthetic applications of photography on the part of National Socialism, they returned to the philosophy of Neue Sachlichkeit/New Objectivity and sought to map this terrain through an empirical cartographic practice creating typologies where the strictest objectivity could be a powerful statement on social realities. The technique of the camera sought to reflect this empirical objectivity. Bernd Becher, a trained painter, later taught at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie (Art Academy), evolving a dogma that would become known as ‘the Becher School of Photography’ or ‘The Düsseldorf School’ and thereby, defining a generation of contemporary photographers. 2 ‘Algorithmic Trading’ or ‘High Frequency Trading’ or ‘Black Box Trading’ according to a new report by the British Government’s Office for Science, Foresight, is set to replace ‘Human Trading’ in the global stock markets. This form of trading is undertaken through decisions made by computers, primarily based upon large volumes of information/data related to previous market behaviour. In 2007, 50% of all equity trading in the United States was undertaken via algorithms and by 2012, this was 75%, while in Europe, it was 40%. The report titled, The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets (published at the end of 2012), outlines the benefits and costs of such processes. The authors describe how in a decade, algorithms will be able to essentially self-evolve through their ability to ‘experience’ i.e. building upon their previous market experiences and therefore requiring no human intervention. However, they do warn, that within such a framework, there exists the potential for what they describe as ‘instability’ through the ‘Normalisation of Deviance’ which they identify as when ‘unexpected and risky events come to be seen as ever more normal (e.g. extremely rapid crashes), until a disaster occurs’. See Foresight (2012) 3 This transnational multi-sited research project with the working title, THE MARKET, has been supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Ireland, Dublin City Council and partnered by Belfast Exposed Photography, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, CCA DerryLondonderry and curated by Helen Carey, Director of the Limerick City Gallery of Art, as part of a series of projects to mark the forthcoming centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout. The Lockout was a defining and pivotal industrial dispute between workers and employers, which began on the 26th of August, 1913 and lasted until January 18th, 1914. Central events took place in Dublin and is viewed now as one of the most significant moments in Irish labour history as workers fought for their right to organise and unionise. The intention for THE MARKET is to afford process-led undertakings over the course of its construction, extending to site-specific interventions, web presence and forums incorporating interested parties thereby facilitating discursive spaces around the thematic and presentations of work in progress. The final format for presentation for 2013 is to be defined but should include but not exclusively – off-site and site-specific installations, website and in 2014, publication. 4 In the context of capital and the representation of labour, the observations of Suren Lalvani holds specific reference in a research project engaging photography as a research method: The insertion of photography into the discursive field of management and the capitalist process of production, as a mechanism of objectification and as an instrument of subjection, is within the broader parameters of the desire of power of capital to know, realise, and control labour in its own image. (1996: 139) Central questions of representation through photography and the inclusion of photography as research methods, I have addressed in greater detail an article published by the Journal of Media Practice. See Curran (2008).

5 Ethnography, as an anthropological process of qualitative research, has addressed Anthropology’s documented and problematic history in the construction of cultural representation through acknowledging and foregrounding the role of the subject position of the researcher in the construction of research – ‘reflexivity’. A central method of ethnographic documentation and manifestation of reflexivity is centred upon the rigorous and structured maintenance of fieldnotes in diaries. Darren Newbury, of the University of Central England, has provided a critical review of the application of the ‘field-diary’ in the context of research in the field of art and design practice. He advocates the inclusion of the diary as a central component of the visual research process ‘[Providing the researcher] with an ongoing, developmental dialogue’ (Quoted in Newbury 2001: 5) and can be ‘the vehicle for ordered creativity’ (ibid.: 3). I would argue ‘reflexivity’ has a significant role to play in the application of photography as a research method – making explicit that which is implicit. Therefore, the diaries incorporated began from the outset of the research process, following formulated headings and included all contact and communication related to the project and, ideally, are summarised every two to three weeks. This allowed for easier access to this information as such cases arose and it formalised a qualitative process. They extended through the production phases to the postproduction phases where, for example, the process of image editing was documented in and of itself. I addressed this in greater detail in my doctoral research. 6 Beyond the remit of this paper but such an understanding as proffered by Gille, instantiates a critical position, and what could be further framed by Chantal Mouffes’ ‘artistic activism/critical art’ whereby, ‘critical artistic practices can contribute to questioning the dominant hegemony...addressing what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate’ (2007: 4). 7 The cycle began with SOUTHERN CROSS (Gallery of Photography/ Cornerhouse 2002) which surveyed the spaces of development and finance of the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy of the Irish Republic between 1999 and 2001 and subsequently, The Breathing Factory (Edition Braus/Belfast Exposed/Gallery of Photography 2006), the outcome of my doctoral research, sited in a multinational complex in Leixlip in the East of Ireland which addressed the role and representation of labour, global labour practices and the fragile nature of globalised industrial space and the relationship to curatorial practice. Continuing with the project, Ausschnitte aus EDEN/ Extracts from EDEN (2011) located in a declining industrial and coalmining region in the former East Germany, an area which prophetically evidences the massive impact regarding the unevenness of development inherent through the functioning of neoliberal globalisation. These have been extensively presented as exhibition, installation and publication. 8 Ho’s central argument is that Wall Street investment bankers reshape corporate America in their own image, and through the construction of the market, result in the manufacture of crises while simultaneously, ‘assuring its rescue’ (2009: 323). In this, as she defines, ‘economy of appearances’, Ho outlines operating structures, the significance regarding ‘pedigree’, citizen complicity and the critical role of fear in this ‘culture of liquidity’ (ibid.). 9 Pink also warns of the possible challenges of such a methodological proposal foregrounding the problematized role of media, and thus textual and visual practices designed to give subjects a voice may, in the end, ‘only constitute a new textual construction in which the narrative of the ethnographer (and I would include researcher and photographer here) is just as dominant and those of the subjects subordinate’ (2001: 118). Consequently, Pink, advocates a rigorous reflexive approach, acknowledging that the researcher’s subjectivity as a central component to the conceptualisation and production of the research process (ibid). 10 Such an approach is further underscored by the ethnographer Allen Feldman, who asserts, ‘a full record is a myth, what one achieves is a fractured narrative’, Feldman, A. (2004) from workshop on the thematic of Space, DIT, Dublin, March 18th, 2004. 11 Taussig’s description that ‘ethnography may not represent reality but its effects may be real’ was included in a presentation by Dr. Allen Feldman, New York University, on ‘Media and Global Ethnography’, American University Paris (16 June – 5 July 2008).


Capital at Work: Methodology in The Market

12 See No.3. 13 My understanding is informed by the sociologist, Peadar Kirby’s invocation of vulnerability as defined by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which holds resonance: In essence, vulnerability can be seen as a state of high exposure to certain risks and uncertainties, in combination with a reduced ability to protect or defend oneself against those risks and uncertainties and cope with their negative consequences. It exists at all levels and dimensions of society and forms an integral part of the human condition, affecting both individuals and society as a whole. (UN 2003 quoted in Kirby 2006: 5) 14 See No.2. 15 The anthropologist, Peter Redfield describes access as ‘as not a thing but a state of relation’ (2013). Further, I would argue that the process of access, whether successful or not, embodies critical meaning in relation to themes of transparency, abstraction, visibility and invisibility. Thus, within such a context, the intention is to include the process of negotiation as part of the final research versioning. 16 Further informed by ethnography, the research methods as outlined here incorporate collaboration in the reflexive sense, in response to questions regarding the politics of representation. These are addressed in greater detail both in a forthcoming article to be published in the journal, Photographies (Routledge, UK), edited by Liz Wells and Deborah Bright, framing the project, Ausschnitte aus EDEN/Extracts from EDEN and in relation to my doctoral research, published in the Journal of Media Practice. See Curran (2008). 17 According to Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, founder of the ECX, the only other exchange that she is aware with a ‘not for profit’ framework is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina (notes from conversation, Addis Ababa, Friday, September 8, 2012). 18 In Ethiopian society, when being addressed, the first name of a person is always used, along with a title, as the surname generally comprises the first name of the person’s father. Therefore, during my time at the ECX, I was always addressed as ‘Mr. Mark’. 19 These figures where provided by my main contact at the ECX. (noted from conversation, Addis Ababa, Monday, September 3, 2012). 20 Notes from telephone conversation, Thursday, February 7, 2013.

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Bibliography: Appadurai, A. (1996) Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalisation Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Grassroots Globalisation and the Research Imagination (2000)

in Appadurai, A. (ed.) Globalisation, Duke University, Winter 2000, 1–21.

Curran, M. (2002) Southern Cross

Redfield, P. (2013) Contact/Access: Provocation

Fieldsights – Field Notes, Cultural Anthropology Online, January 7, 2013, <http//production.culanth.org/fieldsights/43-contact-accessprovocation> [Accessed 22 January 2013]

Sassen, S. (2001) The City: Between Topographic Representation and Spatialised Power Projects

Dublin: Gallery of Photography & Cornerhouse Publications.

Art Journal, 60(2) 12–20.

The Breathing Factory (2006)

Sekula, A. (2001) ‘excerpts from an interview’ in Mois de la Photographie

Heidelberg & Belfast: Edition Braus & Belfast Exposed Photography.

The Breathing Factory: Locating the Global Labouring Body (2008) Journal of Media Practice, Volume 9, Number 2, 2008, 139–152.

‘Framing Utopia: Re-representing the ‘wounded’ landscape of the Lausitz’ (2013) Photographies, Liz Wells & Deborah Bright (eds.) Routledge: London (Forthcoming)

Foresight (2012) The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets Government Office for Science, London.

Gille, Z. (2001) Critical Ethnography in the Time of Globalization: Toward a New Concept of Site

Cultural Studies - Critical Methodologies, Volume 1, Number 3, 2001, 319-334.

Gusterson, H. (1997) Studying Up Revisited

PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Volume 20, Number 1, 1997, 114–119.

Ho, K. (2009) Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street New York: New York University.

Kirby, P. (2006) Vulnerability and Violence: The Impact of Globalisation London: Pluto Press.

Mouffe, C. (2007) Artistic Activism and Agnostic Spaces

Art & Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods, Vol. 1 No.2, Summer 2007, 1 – 5.

Nader, L. (1972) ‘Up the Anthropologist – Perspectives Gained from Studying Up’ in Hynes, D. (ed.) Reinventing Anthropology, Pantheon, New York, 284–311.

Newbury, D. (2001) Diaries and Fieldnotes in the Research Process Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), Birmingham: University of Central England.

Pink, S. (2001) Doing Ethnography: Images Media and Representation in Research London: Sage.

8 novembre – 16 décembre 2001 Centre Régional de Cherbourg-Octeville (catalogue), 26–27.

Waugh, K (2008) ‘Counter Globalities (interview with Saskia Sassen)’

Visual Artists News Sheet, Dublin, January/February, p. 24.

Lalvani, S. (1996) Photography, Vision and the Production of Modern Bodies Albany: State University of New York Press

Zaloom, C (2010) Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London Chicago: University of Chicago


Dyslexia, Digital Technology and College

Dyslexia, Digital Technology and College: Improving the Accessibility of Course Material for Students with Dyslexia Colm Dunne, Dr. Hilary Kenna, John Montayne and Dr. Irene Connolly The aim of the project is to investigate the potential use of emergent and established digital technologies to improve the accessibility of course material for students with dyslexia. The investigation is focused on identifying suitable technologies that can be employed in the design and development of a digital application. Development of the application will be informed by a comprehensive understanding of dyslexia and the challenges the condition presents for third-level students. The application will attempt to address issues associated with reading, studying, and the extraction and understanding of key information from course material. This research will critically evaluate the provision of supports for dyslexic students in third level education. It will examine the usability and quality of graphic and interaction design in meeting the specific learning needs of these students. The research will build on existing research into the experiences students have while interacting with course material, and specifically address interaction with digital content. Research into current and developing trends in application design, assistive technologies, data analysis and presentation will feed into the design process. Identifying appropriate technologies that can be employed in the development of the application and best serve the needs of the dyslexic student will be a key factor in the success of the project.

keywords: dyslexia, digital technology, current and emerging technology

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And while dyslexic people may struggle operating in our literacy, linear world, it’s worth remembering that this too is changing. The continued growth of new media may usher in a more sympathetic environment for visual thinkers. (Carson 2005, p.38)


Dyslexia Increasingly as learning becomes mediated through digital technologies it is imperative that dyslexia support materials enable all students to have access to effective learning. This review formulates a critical approach for utilising design methodologies and current and emergent digital technologies in developing means to improve the accessibility of course material for students with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a condition that primarily affects the development of literacy skills (Ball et al 2006). Fully developed literacy skills enable a person to read and write with independence, understanding, and fluency. People with dyslexia often do not acquire a level of literacy that is expected in relation to their intellectual development (Hughes et al 2009). Issues with poor coordination, sequencing, shortterm memory, and organisation may also be present. Dyslexia is considered a highly individualised spectrum disorder, that is, it can range from mild to severe and individuals can exhibit difficulties in different areas (Reid 2009). The negative impact can go beyond reading, writing and spelling and can affect how an individual engages with the world. Self-esteem issues can develop and an aversion to any task that requires engagement with written words can form. Consequently personal and professional development may suffer (Ball et al 2006). International research estimates the condition affects between 6 and 8 percent of a given population (Birsh, 2005). Although no exact figure exists for Ireland, the Task Force on Dyslexia appointed by the Minister of Education in 2001 state that a national study carried out in 1998 estimated that 10 percent of children in fifth class had “serious literacy difficulties” (Report of the Task Force on Dyslexia, 2001, p. xi). Although literacy difficulties could be attributed to a range of possible factors, not just dyslexia, the Task Force acknowledge dyslexia as a major contributor to the figure. In an attempt to explain and understand dyslexia, the condition is often categorised into sub-types. That is, individuals who exhibit certain deficits are often described as having a specific type of dyslexia. One broad categorisation divides dyslexia into acquired and developmental. Acquired dyslexia is described as present when a previously unaffected individual manifests dyslexia symptoms; this is commonly a result of neural trauma (Beaton, 2004). Developmental dyslexia is defined as an inability to develop literacy abilities concurrent with normal intellectual development. Learning difficulties become apparent as engagement in reading and writing begins (Scheepers, 2009).


Dyslexia, Digital Technology and College

Further categorisations see individuals with dyslexia described as being predominantly phonological or surface types. Those who exhibit difficulties reading words that require a ‘sounding out’ such as pseudo-words or unfamiliar words are often described as phonological deficit dyslexics (Heim et al, 2008). Many researchers believe that most cases of dyslexia can be explained, at least in part, to a subtle disorder of language often described as a phonological deficit (Ramus, in press), the symptoms of which are most prominent in reading development. Common indicators of phonological based difficulties are an inability to detect the different sound segments of words (phonological awareness), poor non-word reading, rapid naming and verbal short-term memory. Poor phonological awareness in particular has a profound effect on reading development (Mahofoudhi and Haynes, 2009). Surface dyslexia relates to difficulties with reading in general where the individual shows no sign of phonological difficulties (Heim et al, 2008). Difficulty in adequately pronouncing words that do not follow the alphabetic principle such as ‘yacht’ or ‘sew’ are often indicative of this type of dyslexia. Confusingly this categorisation of dyslexia is sometimes also called phonological dyslexia because individuals attempt to ‘sound out’ all words based on the alphabetic principle. The exact cause of dyslexia is not known, although plenty of theories and opinions exist. Within the academic and research arenas the field of dyslexia can be complex and confusing (Reid, 2009). Research has been conducted in a number of disciplines in an attempt to understand the condition including cognitive psychology, genetics, biology, neurology, behavioural science, and educational theory. Often there are conflicting and competing viewpoints between and within these disciplines. Regardless of this, there does appear to be a consensus that a number of specific symptoms relating to literacy development constitute some form of learning disability (Fawcett and Reid, 2009). In light of the different strands of dyslexia research and the problems all hypotheses have in offering a fully satisfactory explanation for dyslexia it may therefore be appropriate not to view each as competing perspectives but seek value in each (Reid, 2009). It is possible that some broader underlying process or impairment may give rise to both phonological and non-phonological aspects of dyslexia and explain the research findings that underpin the various hypotheses. As suggested by The Open University (2012) the complex interactions between biological, neurological and cognitive processes result in varying symptoms from one individual to the next.

Without diminishing the importance of understanding the internal processes underpinning the condition, what is central to this project is to identify and understand the effect of dyslexia on the experience of third level students, and how that experience can be improved through the use of digital technologies.

Dyslexia and Third level education Students with dyslexia often find it difficult “to skim through a book abstracting the essentials as quickly as nondyslexic students” (Gilroy and Miles 1996, p.74). It is also well documented that the process of reading for many dyslexic students requires greater effort and concentration. Reading can be so mentally demanding that the essential point of the task — obtaining and understanding information presented in the text — becomes secondary to the process of reading itself. With most third level courses there is some literary component. Indeed, even with courses that focus on visual thinking or practical application of skills there will be some requirement for reading. The literary content of a curriculum can be enough to dissuade a potential student from doing the course or cause excessive stress that may also affect engagement in the non-literary components (Gilroy and Miles, 1996). That the high literary content of some third level courses is seen as a barrier for dyslexic students is reflected in statistics from the Higher Education Statistical Agency in Britain. Their 2002 study showed on average the number of dyslexic students in Creative Arts and Design courses to be 5.59 percent while attendance at Law and Medicine to be 0.98 and 0.87 percent respectively (James, 2003).

The Benefits of Dyslexia An area of particular interest to the research is that of the suggested benefits of dyslexia and the noted aptitude some individuals with dyslexia have for spatial reasoning, non-linear and visual thinking, and the understanding of information and ideas holistically (Yoshimoto, 2005). The exploration of this may suggest ways to present course material that is more suitable than current formats. Similarly students’ own reading and studying techniques and strategies will inform the research. Specific areas of focus include mind-mapping, multisensory information processing, and visual representations of concepts.

Digital Technology The development of digital and assistive technologies and the proliferation of digital devices present an opportunity

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to improve the reading and studying experience of third level students with dyslexia. Students are often faced with an array of reading material: textbooks, journals, magazines, digital documents, online articles, project briefs, and lecture handouts. Students with dyslexia can find the long dense passages of text and the inconsistency of format across course material a real challenge (Reid, 2009). The goal of the project is to create an application that can present course material in a more accessible format. Although accessible formats and assistive software currently exist, none appear to have fully exploited the various developments in application and device design by combining and specifically tailoring them to the needs of the student with dyslexia. There is a wealth of technologies that have the potential to be of benefit including, voice search and activation, latent semantic indexing, personalised formatting, touch technology, screen readers and visual aids. The interconnectivity of computers and mobile devices also offers the possibility of dyslexic students sharing optimised texts and resources. A key aim of the application is to encourage engagement with course texts and help students obtain the relevant information from the material. Due to the effort involved in reading for many students with dyslexia, it is important that they do not waste time in reading aspects of a book that are not totally relevant (Reid, 2009). Indeed, focused studying is also important for non-dyslexic students and it is hoped the digital application may also be of practical benefit to students without dyslexia.


Current and emerging technologies Two digital technologies and processes of interest include that of natural language processing (NLP) and latent semantic indexing (LSI). Automatic summarisation is a NLP technique used to present bodies of text in an abridged and concise format (Nenkova and McKeown, 2011), the purpose of which is to summarise the information in a text while reducing the number of words. Key information is communicated while lessening the amount of reading required. Current studies by Luz Rello at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona have used this technique to present content from various news websites in an abridged format (Rello, 2012). Rello’s study aims to explore the potential use of automatic summarisation for dyslexic web users. Latent semantic indexing is a process that identifies relationships between words and phrases in a body of text (Nenkova and McKeown, 2011). LSI attempts to extract the conceptual content of a body of text by recognising associations between those terms that occur in similar contexts. LSI, similarly to NLP could have the potential to be used as a means to condense bodies of text as a study or reading aid.


Dyslexia, Digital Technology and College

Bibliography: Ball, M., Hughes, A., and McCormack, W. (2006) Dyslexia: An Irish Perspective Blackrock: Blackhall Publishing.

Beaton, A.A. (2004) Dyslexia, Reading and the Brain

Open University, The. (2012) Understanding dyslexia [online]

Available: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view php?id=398452 (Accessed May 10 2012)

East Sussex: Psychology Press.

Ramus, F. (In press) Phonological processing in Dyslexia

Birsh, J.R. (2005) ‘Research and reading disability’ in Birsh, J.R. Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills

Reid, G. (2009) Dyslexia: A Practitioner’s Handbook, 4th ed

Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Carson, P. (2005) The Creative Dyslexic, In P. Burgoyne (Ed)

Rello, L. (2012) DysWebxia: A Model to Improve Accessibility of the Textual Web for Dyslexic Users

Creative Review, Centaur Publications, London, January, 36–38

Department of Education (2001) Report of the Task Force on Dyslexia [online]

available: www.sess.ie/sites/default/files/Dyslexia_Task_Force_Report_0. pdf (accessed 29 Dec 2012)

Fawcett, A. and Reid, G. (2009) ‘Alternative and innovative interventions for dyslexia: a critical commentary’ in Reid, G. ed. The Routledge Companion to Dyslexia, London: Routledge 157-174.

Gilroy, D.E., and T.R. Miles (1996) Dyslexia at College, 2nd ed London: Routledge.

Heim, S., Tschierse, J., Amnuts, K., Wilms, M., Vossel, S., Willmes, K., Grabowska, A., and Huber, W. (2008) Cognitive subtypes of dyslexia Acta Neurobiol Experimentals, 68(1) available: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/18389017 (accessed 10 Aug 2012)

Hughes, A., Ball, M., Bissett, R., and McCormack, W. (2009) Living with Dyslexia Dublin: Dyslexia Association of Ireland and Tower Press.

James, A. (2003) What Subjects Do Dyslexic Students Study at University? [online] available: www.dyslexic.com/articlecontent.asp?CAT=Dyslexia%20 Information&slug=200 (accessed 10 Jan 2013)

Mahfoudhi, A. and Haynes, C.W. (2009) Phonological awareness in reading disabilities remediation: some general issues (in Reid, G. ed.) The Routledge Companion to Dyslexia, London: Routledge 139-156.

Nenkova, A. and McKeown, K. (2011) Automatic Summarization

Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval 5(2–3) 103–233 available: https://docs.google.com/file/d/1NBBXQY_bV240oXY_ EQa6KJdMpsdCcJC1W5PCoHPQLl6MdlU5dooOITQYaa1V/edit?usp=sharing (accessed 12 Feb 2012)

In Pashler. H. ed., Encyclopedia of the Mind, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sigaccess Newsletter, 102, 41–44. available: www.taln.upf.edu/system/.../ luz%20rello_2011_assets_newsletter.pdf (accessed 22 Feb 2013)

Scheepers, M. (2009) Working Memory: A Comparison Between Dyslexic and NonDyslexic Children, unpublished thesis (M.A.) University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Yoshimoto, R. (2005) Gifted Dyslexic Children: Characteristics and curriculum implications Presentation at the 56th Annual Conference, IDA, Denver, Colorado, Nov 9-12

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Cultural Homophily in Online Dating Texts: The Effect of Culturally Typical Personality Traits Encoded in Language Nicola Fox Hamilton and Dr. Grainne Kirwan Homophily is the tendency for individuals to bond with others similar to themselves. Online daters show strong preferences in mate selection towards those with similar characteristics to themselves. Personality traits are expressed through language, and analysis can reveal an author’s personality in their writing. This research investigated whether online dating “About Me� profile texts, containing language manipulated to reflect average cultural personality traits, would be more attractive to members of that culture than to those outside of it. Five experimental profile texts were manipulated to contain culturally typical language for Irish and American profiles. The profiles were presented to Irish and American female participants who rated the profile texts for attractiveness. Americans rated the positive American profile as most attractive, and the Irish participants rated the positive Irish profile most attractive. This suggests that participants picked up on cues in the language in order to determine attractiveness.


Cultural Homophily in Online Dating Texts

It has become increasingly prevalent for individuals to find love online (Rosen, Cheever, Cummings, & Felt, 2008). Recent statistics suggest that online dating is now the third most popular way for heterosexual couples to meet in America (Rosenfeld, 2010). As more people utilise these services, important questions pertaining to successful communication strategies can be raised. Past research shows that the free text component of a dating profile is the second most important element, after the photograph, in determining attractiveness (Fiore, Taylor, Mendelsohn, & Hearst, 2008). Online daters are therefore likely to make judgements about compatibility on the basis of what others write, as well as how they look. As self-presentation is a key element to a dater’s success in finding a partner, the manner in which they choose to write about themselves is likely to be a careful consideration (Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs, 2006; Whitty, 2008). Homophily is the tendency of individuals to bond and associate with others similar to themselves. Online daters show strong preferences in partners towards those similar to themselves across a variety of life categories (Fiore & Donath, 2005; Fiore, Shaw Taylor, Zhong, Mendelsohn, & Cheshire, 2010; Hitsch, Hortaçsu, & Ariely, 2010). Personality traits have different mean levels across countries, and differences have been found in the levels of extraversion, psychoticism and the lie-scale between Ireland and America (Lester, 2000; van Hemert, van de Vijver, Poortinga, & Georgas, 2002). As culture and personality interplay to create differences between nationalities, language as the expression of how people think and feel could be expected to have differences across cultures (Kirby, Dowman, & Griffiths, 2007). Moreover, these differences may be manifested in the ways in which people communicate online, and of specific interest in this research, how people appraise the communications of others on online dating sites. This research seeks to further the study of the analysis of dating profiles and cross cultural language comparisons through the use of language analysis. This research will look at whether the self-presentation style or personality indicators in the language of a culture are more successful at promoting attraction within the culture than outside of it. A central area of discussion in computer mediated communication (CMC) is the lack of non-verbal cues when communicating online by text only. Social Information Processing (SIP) theory (Walther & Parks, 2002) contends that people adapt to the medium, and imbue textual communication with information about characteristics, attitudes, and emotions. Information is also extrapolated from interpreting contextual and stylistic cues. This allows

for a normal or enhanced relational communication to occur. Ellison, Heino and Gibbs (2006) found support for the SIP theory in a naturalistic setting in studying online dating profiles. In initial interactions on a dating site, stylistic elements of the communication such as message length, timing and grammar appear to be as important as the message content itself, indicating that when non-verbal cues are reduced, the remaining cues become more salient. In the Ellison et al. (2006) and Whitty (2008) studies it was found that most of the online dating participants’ self-presentation strategy revolved around their profile, and participants strove to present a positive but accurate representation of themselves. Ellison et al. (2006) found that many participants carefully managed subtle cues in their own profiles, some of which became salient as a result of looking through potential mates’ profiles. Where they found an unattractive or suspicious element in someone else’s profile, they were careful to edit it out of their own. Cues in others’ profiles were interpreted to hold considerable meaning, supporting SIP theory. For example incorrect spelling in a profile text was interpreted as lack of interest or lack of education. Homophily, the proclivity for others similar to oneself, has been found in online dating. Users of an online dating site showed strong preferences in mate selection towards those similar to themselves across areas of attractiveness, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, marital status, smoking, occupation and education, and consistently chose mates with similar views or characteristics, more often in their actions in contact and response to others than in their stated preferences. (Fiore & Donath, 2005; Fiore et al, 2010; Hitsch, Hortaçsu, & Ariely, 2010). Research in online dating has been conducted into homophily in demographic categories, but there is limited research into factors such as personality. Fiore et al. (2010) found that there was significant mate preference across attachment style and Norton, Frost and Ariely (2007) found that shared traits was related to liking, with more shared traits increasing liking. However, there was evidence of cascading dissimilarity leading to less liking, where a dissimilar trait was encountered early in the list of traits, it led to less liking of the overall list of traits than if it was encountered later in the list. There is considerable room for more research into homophily and personality factors, and the effects of the order in which information is encountered must be taken into account, as order is vital to impressions of similarity or dissimilarity. Personality traits and culture interact in a manner that shapes both the behaviour of individuals and social groups. Average personality scores of cultures correlated strongly

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and significantly with dimensions of culture and a number of correlations between cultural context and traits, including strong correlations between individualism and extraversion, uncertainty avoidance and neuroticism, and power distance with conscientiousness have been found (Hofstede & McCrae, 2004). A study by Lester (2000) analysed the rates of cultural variables such as murder, crime, divorce, smoking, and suicide that have been clearly and consistently identified from past research as being correlated with either extraversion or neuroticism. This study found differences in the levels of extraversion between Ireland and America, and found similar levels of neuroticism, showing that Ireland had an overall score as “stable introvert” and America as “stable extravert”. These results point to an interplay between culture and personality. Personality traits across different countries were measured using the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) and Ireland was found to have a higher score on psychoticism (n = 2804, m = 4.65) than America (n = 4153, m = 3.67), Ireland had a lower level of extraversion (m = 18.85) than America (m = 20.83), and Ireland had a lower level on the lie scale (m = 9.72) than America (m = 11.54) (Van Hemert, van de Vijver, Poortinga, & Georgas, 2002). The mean across all 26 countries for psychoticism was 4.96 meaning that both countries were below average, with America lower than Ireland. The mean for extraversion over all countries was 18.63 placing Ireland close to average and America above average. The mean for the Lie Scale across all countries was 13.23 with Ireland falling quite an amount below the average, and America below but closer to the average. The mean age across all populations was 27.46 (sd = 9.30; van Hemert et al., 2002). It has been suggested that language differences partly arise from cultural transmission, alongside biological evolution and individual learning (Kirby, Dowman & Griffiths, 2007). Christiansen, Chater and Reali (2009) also argue the point that the processes of cultural evolution are the principal factors affecting the evolution of linguistic structure. Research has found significant differences between East Asian culture and Western culture in their use of language and in how their language reflects different thinking. These differences show the effect of language on culturally bound social cognition (Maass, Karasawa, Politi, & Suga, 2006) and can be traced to considerably different social systems (Nisbett, Peng, Choi & Norenzayan, 2001). Although the differences in language may not be as pronounced between Irish and Americans as Western and Eastern cultures there may be evidence of cultural and personality trait differences in their use of English. Research into the spread of English as a global language


has shown that there is significant cultural and linguistic nativisation of the language as it moves into new countries (Kachru, 1992). American English rose from the status of “colonial substandard” to that of “prestige language” and was modified as the language came into contact with different dialects and with waves of immigrants. This social context has left its mark on the culture and on the language (Kachru, 1992). There is a long history of a lexical approach to examining personality traits in individuals, with the idea that patterns of words used might reveal dimensions of the self. Text analysis has been used to distinguish somatisation disorders, schizophrenia, suicidal tendencies and depression (Pennebaker & King, 1999). Correlations have been found between language and personality traits from both the NEO-PI-R (Costa & McCrae, 2008) and EPQ (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975) scales, in research where participants provided both text and personality inventories (Gill, 2003; Gill & Oberlander, 2002; Mairesse, Walker, Mehl, & Moore, 2007; Newman, Pennebaker, Berry, & Richards, 2003; Pennebaker & King, 1999). Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker, Francis, & Booth, 2001) is a language analysis programme designed specifically to look at how language provides insight into the emotional and cognitive worlds of individuals. LIWC has been used to find modest but reliable correlations between language markers and both the Big Five Factors of personality and Eysenck’s EPQ (Gill, 2003; Mairesse et al, 2007; Pennebaker and King, 1999). Recent research has found relationships between textual selfdescriptions in online dating profiles and personality traits such as neuroticism (Fiore et al., 2010). The use of a word count approach to language analysis has problems, namely difficulty with context, sarcasm, irony or multiple meanings of words. However where it is particularly useful is in analysing the stylistic element, or the functional language of text rather than the content words. This is more difficult for a human rater to accomplish, as it is difficult for a person to ignore what is being said and look at how it is being said (Pennebaker & King, 1999). The discussed studies have found that personality can be detected through analysis of text, and that LIWC as a programme for doing so is successful. There is limited research into the attractiveness of the free text element of online dating profiles. Rosen et al. (2008) found that the amount of emotionality and self-disclosure in initial emails in online dating affected perception of a potential partner. Emails with strongly emotive words such as ‘excited’ and ‘wonderful’, led to more positive impression


Cultural Homophily in Online Dating Texts

formation. In general higher self-disclosing emails were seen to reflect positive and open people, however the results were mixed across other personality attributes. There was a slight tendency for online daters to prefer low self-disclosing emails, supporting SIP theory.

thus it would be expected that Irish daters would prefer Irish profiles with typical language connected to Irish personality traits, and American daters would prefer American profiles with typical language connected to American personality traits.

Fiore and colleagues (2008) conducted a study designed to determine the attractiveness of the different elements of online dating profiles. Each element, the photograph, free text self-description and the fixed choice questions were presented separately, or as a whole profile to participants who rated them for levels of attractiveness. In analysis of the free text element it was found that the rating of attractiveness was not linked to the use of positive or negative emotion words, the length of the text in words or to the number of self-references.

Research Question: Assuming an embedded cultural and personality difference in the language used by Irish and American daters, is that language more attractive to people within that culture than outside of it?

Fiore et al. (2010) conducted a large scale study with a total cohort of 11,160 complete dating profiles from one mainstream dating site, with a smaller sample (n = 1,100) of those participants also completing a number of questionnaires including the Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI; Gosling, Rentfrow, & Swann, 2003), the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revisited instrument (ECR-R; Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000) and Yamagishi’s general trust and caution scale (Yamagishi, 2001). The LIWC word categories of home, work, money, sex, emotions and tentative language were used to analyse the text in the profiles. It was found that women who used more negative emotion words were lower in trust, higher in caution and higher in attachment anxiety. Men who used more positive emotion words had higher levels of general caution and attachment anxiety and men who used more tentative language had lower levels of general trust and higher attachment anxiety. Men who were higher in general caution were contacted less frequently – though it was unclear whether the greater use of positive emotion words was picked up as a cue – this could indicate that individuals can unconsciously pick up personality cues from written self-descriptions.


Research Question and Hypothesis In CMC reduced cues lead to remaining cues attaining higher salience (Ellison et al., 2006; Walther & Parks, 2002), thus it could be possible that subtle cues regarding personality communicated through language may be used by daters in determining the attractiveness of a profile. This possibility emerged from the research of Fiore and colleagues (2010) where it was found that men higher in general caution were contacted less often, and it was unclear what cues daters were noticing. Online daters conform to the theory of homophily (Fiore & Donath, 2005; Fiore et al., 2010; Hitsch et al., 2010) and

Hypothesis: Participants will find profile texts with language typical of their own culture to be more attractive than profiles with language typical of another culture.

Methodology This study was a between-participants, independentsamples design in which 121 Irish and American female participants were recruited using convenience and snowball sampling. A quantitative experiment was chosen to test whether culturally specific language use, indicating self-presentation of personality traits within Ireland or the USA, is successful within that cultural context. The independent variable was a set of five manipulated experimental profile texts, and the dependent variable was the response to the profiles from the Irish and American participants.

Participants 61 Irish and 60 American females over the age of 18, of heterosexual orientation participated. Irish participants were aged between 19 and 57 with a mean age of 35.36 (SD = 7.243). American participants were aged between 18 and 63 with a mean age of 31.08 (SD = 12.057). There was no significant difference in age between the groups.

Materials Three hundred Irish and American online dating profile texts were gathered from open access online dating sites and the free text “About Me” section of the dating profiles was analysed, using LIWC, for language variables identified in the previous research as indicating personality traits. From the results of the LIWC analysis and additional emergent coding content analysis on the 300 profiles, five profiles were created and manipulated to contain culturally typical language for the Irish and American profiles. Typical language was created from analysing the mean results of Irish and American texts in the LIWC categories and matching the profiles to these results. Additionally, commonly used words or themes derived from the content

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analysis were used in the relevant profiles. Two profile texts were created with an Irish style of language, with one using positive language and one with some negative language as noticed to be typical in the content analysis. Two American profiles were created; one with positive and one with some negative language. One additional profile was designed to be halfway between a positive American and Irish profile text. A full set of profiles was created specifically for the American and for the Irish participants, with specific English spelling relevant to their country to avoid confounding variables. In the profile texts it was found that Americans wrote, on average, three times more than Irish daters. Bearing in mind the findings of Norton et al. (2007) that less information equals more liking, the Irish and American experimental profiles in the present study were all created to be of similar length, the average of the mean Irish and American lengths, so as to avoid the confounding variable of more information leading to less liking. Also, in order not to distract from the content of the profiles, spelling and grammar mistakes were corrected. An online survey was created for the experiment, with participants confirming they were over 18 and consenting to participate. They were asked to input their age, and three questions to determine eligibility for the study; first that they were female, second that they were from either Ireland or the United States, and third that they were of heterosexual orientation.

Procedure Participants were informed of the purpose of the study, and gave full consent to take part indicating also that they were over the age of eighteen. The experimental profiles were labelled alphabetically A to E rather than numerically to avoid any participants reading the numbers as a rank, and the experimental profile texts were presented alone with no photograph or other information from the dating profiles. Each experimental profile was presented on a page with a scale for ranking the level of attractiveness below it. The participants were instructed to read each profile and rate the author of the profile on a five-point scale of attractiveness. Additionally they were asked to answer yes or no to the question, “Would you respond to a communication from the author of this profile on a dating site?” Participants submitted their data, were informed in more detail of the purpose of the study and were thanked for their participation.


Results Each experimental profile text required two separate answers from the participants of the experiment. The first question asked the participant to rate the attractiveness of the profile text on a five-point scale from unattractive to attractive. The results of these questions were compared using independent samples t-tests. The second question asked the participants to answer yes or no to the question ‘Would you respond to a communication from the author of this profile?’ These answers were compared using chi-square tests.


Cultural Homophily in Online Dating Texts

Profile Ranking Across Irish and American Participants The results of how the participants ranked the profiles are displayed in Table 1.

Table 1: Ranking of Profiles A to E by Irish and American Participants. Irish Ranking of Profiles Rank


Profile type




Std. Error Mean



Irish - positive







Mix Irish/USA







USA - positive







Irish - negative







USA - negative





American Ranking of Profiles Rank


Profile type




Std. Error Mean



USA - positive







Mix Irish/USA







Irish - positive







Irish - negative







USA - negative





An independent samples t-test showed a significant difference (t = -2.781, df = 116.988, p = .006, two tailed, equal variances not assumed) between the nationalities rating of profile B, with American participants (m = 4.2542, sd = 0.9754) rating profile B (USA +) higher than Irish participants (m = 3.75, SD = 1.0021). The mean difference between conditions was -0.5042 and the 95% confidence interval for the estimated population mean difference is between -.08632 and 0.1452 with a medium effect size (d = 0.5099). All other profiles had no significant differences between Irish and American participant mean ratings. These results are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Table of Probabilities in Scoring of Profiles. t-test for Equality of Means Profile

Participant Nationality









117.454 a


































Note: a Equal variances not assumed.

Sig. two-tailed

M Diff

95% CI LL




116.988 a






114.690 a












114.643 a







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Two profiles, B and D, had a significantly different response between cultures to the second question, which asked if the participant would respond to a communication from the author of the profile text on each profile. In responding to profile B, 49 Americans (84.5% of American participants) answered yes to the question, compared with 36 of the Irish (61% of Irish participants). A chi-square test revealed that in there was a positive significance between being American and answering yes: x2(1, n = 117) = 8.105, p < .002, one tailed. The association was of low strength: Φ = -0.263 and thus being American accounted for 6.9169% of the variance in answering. In response to profile D, 36 of the Irish (60% of Irish participants) answered yes to the question, compared with 26 of the Americans (44.8% of American participants). A chi square showed that there was a positive significance between being Irish and answering yes: x2(1, n = 118) = 2.723, p < .0495, one tailed. The association was of low strength: Φ = -0.152 and thus being Irish accounted for 2.3104% of the variance in answering. Profile A showed no significance between nationality and answering yes or no: x2(1, n = 115) = 0.003, p = .955, two tailed. Profile C showed no relationship between nationality and answering yes or no: x2(1, n = 117) = 0.312, p < .577, two tailed. Profile E showed no relationship between nationality and answering yes or no: x2(1, n = 117) = 1.352, p = .245, two tailed.

Discussion This study looked at whether homophily would affect the ratings of attractiveness for the experimental profiles across Irish and American participants. The hypotheses expected to find that participants from each culture would find their own cultures’ experimental profile texts to be more attractive. While little research was found in online dating for homophily across personality, evidence had previously been found for increased preference for partners with similar demographic and life choices. This research attempted to test the idea of homophily affecting choices in personality traits indicated by language. The hypotheses were supported by the results of this study. American participants rated the more positive American profile as most attractive, and the Irish participants rated the positive Irish profile most attractive. Interestingly both cultures rated the negative American profile as least attractive. This may indicate that homophily is slightly more important to Irish female daters and they prefer even the negative profile from their own culture to the American one, or it may only indicate that the negative American profile is overall more unattractive than any


others. In general the American participants rated all positive profiles higher, and all negative profiles lower than Irish participants. As the experimental profiles were designed not to differ completely in content which was kept generic, but instead in functional language, this suggests that participants possibly picked up on cues given off in the language used in the profiles in order to determine attractiveness ratings rather than in specific activities or interests of the experimental author. This is an area worthy of further research.

Limitations of the Study This study was conducted with only five experimental profiles and would benefit from showing multiple exemplars of experimental profiles within the same category of the typical cultural expressions, to control for individual differences associated with a single profile. The participants were not asked to identify if they were single or in a relationship, and it would be interesting to determine if this would have an effect on ratings of attractiveness as their motivation in choosing levels of attractiveness could be different based on their individual situation. For example, research has shown that women are more likely to have high expectations of attractiveness in a mate when they are seeking short term, sexual relationships rather than long term ones (Fisher & Cox, 2009). As this study created the experimental profiles to be of equal length despite Americans typically writing more, it would be interesting to repeat the study with the original length profiles and with the spelling and grammar errors in place in some of the profiles in order to assess their effect. Low disclosing emails between daters are preferred (Rosen et al, 2008), which may be because typically, additional information actually confirms dissimilarity and so reduces liking. In longer profile texts dissimilarity is more likely to occur. Ellison et al. (2006) found that many participants carefully managed subtle cues in their own profiles, some of which were salient as a result of looking through potential mates’ profiles. For example incorrect spelling in a profile text was interpreted as lack of interest or lack of education.

Future Research and Implications This study was conducted using only Caucasian, heterosexual, male profile texts, and heterosexual, female participants. It would be of benefit to extend this research to a larger cohort, and across genders and sexual persuasion. For example, the gender-linked language effect (GLLE) occurs when male communications are rated higher for Dynamism and female communications are rated higher


Cultural Homophily in Online Dating Texts

for Socio-Intellectual Status and Aesthetic Quality (Mulac, Giles, Bradac, & Palomares, 2013), therefore the gender of the profile text author and reader may have an effect on the results of this study. This study shows the potential of using culturally matched language where perceived attractiveness of the author is a required or preferred outcome, such as online dating sites where language matching could be used to improve and create more accurate matching algorithms. As more people turn to online dating as an avenue for meeting a partner, it could be important for these sites to improve their matching criteria beyond simple categorical information into more complex and evidence based areas such as personality, culture and language. Matching using language in employment could be utilised to hire people who would fit with the culture of the organisation. Personality trait matching through language would be a useful tool for artificial intelligence, where analysis of communication from human sources could be used to improve avatar or computer responses. There has been research to show that interactive interfaces that match the user’s personality are more user-friendly and more liked (Mairesse & Walker, 2010). If the language of an interface was constructed to match the user’s language for culture or personality traits, it could improve the acceptability and liking of the interface.

Conclusion The concept of homophily, that people tend to be attracted to and bond with people like themselves, was investigated using culturally typical experimental profile texts. Typical Irish and American, and positive and negative texts were created along with one text that contained a positive mixture of both Irish and American language markers. This research determined that profiles were more successful within their own culture than outside of it, with American women preferring positive American profile texts, and Irish women preferring positive Irish profile texts. This provides evidence that language from a person’s own culture is more attractive to them that language from a different culture. Participants reading the profile texts were picking up on language cues, consciously or unconsciously, indicating the personality or culture of the author of the text and it appears that this was contributing to the ratings of attractiveness they awarded the texts.

References: Christiansen, M. H., Chater, N., & Reali, F. (2009) The biological and cultural foundations of language. Communicative and Integrative Biology, 23, 221–222.

Costa, P., & McCrae, R. (2008) The revised NEO personality inventory (NEO-PI-R)

In G. Boyle, G.Matthews & D. Saklofske (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of personality theory and assessment: Volume 2 — Personality measurement and testing. (pp. 179-199). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Ellison, N., Heino, R., & Gibbs, J. (2006) Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11, 415–441.

Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, S. B. G. (1975) Manual of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Fiore, A. T., & Donath, J. S. (2005) Homophily in online dating: when do you like someone like yourself? Computer-Human Interaction 2005, 1371–1374.

Fiore, A.T., Shaw Taylor, L., Mendelsohn, G.A., & Hearst, M.A. (2008) Assessing attractiveness in online dating profiles Computer-Human Interaction 2008, 797. New York, USA: ACM Press.

Fiore, A.T., Shaw Taylor, L., Zhong, X., Mendelsohn, G.A., & Cheshire, C. (2010) Who’s right and who writes: People, profiles, contacts, and replies in online dating.

In proceedings of Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 43, Persistent Conversation minitrack.

Fisher. M. & Cox. A. (2009) The influence of male facial attractiveness on women’s receptivity. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 3(1): 49-61.

Fraley, R. C., Waller, N. G., & Brennan, K. A. (2000) An item-response theory analysis of self-report measures of adult attachment Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 350-365.

Gill, A. (2003) Personality and language: The projection and perception of personality in computer-mediated communication

(Unpublished doctoral dissertation) University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Gill, A., & Oberlander, J. (2002) Taking care of the linguistic features of extraversion.

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Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, Jr. W.B. (2003) A very brief measure of the Big Five Personality Domains Journal of Research in Personality 37. pp. 504–528.

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Hitsch, G. J., Hortaçsu, A., & Ariely, D. (2010) What makes you click? Mate preferences in online dating Quantitative Marketing and Economics 8(4), 393-427. doi: 10.1007/s11129-010-9088-6

Hofstede, G., & McCrae, R. R. (2004) Personality and culture revisited: Linking traits and dimensions of culture Cross-Cultural Research 38(1), 52–88.

Kachru, B. B. (Ed.) (1992) The other tongue: English across cultures University of Illinois Press, Urbana.

Kirby, S., Dowman, M., & Griffiths, T. L. (2007) Innateness and culture in the evolution of language

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104(12), 5241–5245.

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Maass, A., Karasawa, M., Politi, F., & Suga, S. (2006) Do verbs and adjectives play different roles in different cultures? A crosslinguistic analysis of person representation Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 734–750.

Mairesse, F., & Walker, M. A. (2010) Towards personality-based user adaptation: Psychologicallyinformed stylistic language generation User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, 20(3), 227–278.

Mairesse, F., Walker, M. A., Mehl, M. R., & Moore, R. K. (2007) Using linguistic cues for the automatic recognition of personality in conversation and text Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (JAIR), 30, 457–500.

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The Open Government Partnership

The Open Government Partnership: Implications for Ireland, Educators and Researchers Robert Griffin Data is the raw material of the knowledge economy. Governments worldwide are increasingly publishing public sector data in open formats. Information about demographics, the economy, legislation, transportation, meteorology, the environment and much more is being published freely on the internet with no restrictions on its use. Commitments made by the Irish government in the “eGovernment 20122015 reform plan” and proposed participations in the “Open Government Partnership” (OGP) mean that more public sector data will be available in Ireland. This paper examines the implications of membership of the Open Government Partnership for Ireland, and its educators and researchers. The background of the Open Government Partnership and what membership entails is reviewed. Key terms related to the concept of open data are explained. The current standing of open data in Ireland regarding legislation, current and future, is examined. Organisations and resources for open data in Ireland are reviewed. A case study where open data was used to create a popular resource and the importance of open formats is included. The experience of membership for the UK is summarised in order to explore the possibilities. The implications for economic and social growth are explored and what this could mean for educators and researchers is summarised. keywords: open government partnership, open data, datasets, education, research

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Introduction According to research by IBM an estimated two point five quintillion bytes of new data is created every single day. There are forty eight hours of video uploaded to YouTube, forty seven thousand applications downloaded from the Apple store, five hundred and seventy one new websites created and two million Google searches made every minute (Zikopoulos, 2012). The public are big producers of data and this is growing exponentially all the time. Capturing, curating, storing, searching, sharing, analysing, and visualising this data is big business. Public bodies also produce data - demographic, economic, legislation, transport, meteorological, environmental and much more information is recorded. Like any raw material it needs to be located, extracted and refined in order to create value. Adding value to this data is achieved by combining information from different sources, making mash-ups and new applications. This has great economic potential as public sector information is an increasingly valuable commodity. The Vickery study by the European Commission in 2011 estimated the overall direct and indirect economic gains from public data to be worth €140bn throughout the EU (Vickery, 2011). Much of this raw data is currently restricted, must be requested or requires a freedom of information act to access. All this useful data locked inside databases is a waste of resources, why not set it free and allow anyone to use it and add value to it? For example instead of commissioning a company to create a real time bus schedule application just make the data available via a website and let anyone make their own. This is happening around the world today and the indications are that it will also be happening in Ireland in the near future. Last December the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin announced that he intends to propose to Government that Ireland participate in the global Open Government Partnership (OGP). This was during an address to Dáil Éireann on expenditure and estimates as part of a commitment to more effective and open Government (Howlin, 2012). This paper intends to examine what the Open Government Partnership is and what membership of it could mean for Ireland, and its educators and researchers.

The Open Government Partnership US President Barack Obama signed an open government directive on his first day in office and launched the OPG in September 2011. The OPG is a voluntary multilateral


initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. Beginning with eight, the OGP now has fifty - eight countries taking part (OGP, 2013). Each country which participates must demonstrate a commitment to open government in four key areas: fiscal transparency, access to information, disclosures related to elected or senior public officials and citizen engagement. These key areas are then measured by objective indicators and validated by independent experts. The mechanism consists of an eight member International Expert Panel which includes ex Irish President and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Mary Robinson. Reports from the panel will allow stakeholders to track progress and impact among OGP participating governments. Open Government Data does not pertain to sensitive or individual information, but core public data on transport, infrastructure, education, health, crime, environment, etc.

Open Data Open Data is a fundamental tenet of OGP. The Open Knowledge Foundation defines a work as ‘open’ if it can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone. Data comes in many formats, some of which are more open than others. Consider receiving a table as an Excel file which can be edited/manipulated compared to the same table in PDF format which can only be read or printed. To be open, data has to follow three criteria which are: to be accessible, preferably published on the internet, in a digital machine readable format and free of restriction on use or redistribution. The data is published on the internet in nonproprietary open formats - that is they are not restricted to a particular software package to view or manipulate. Once one has the raw data in the form of a dataset it can be analysed using the software application of one’s choice or even a bespoke application.

Datasets A dataset is data presented in tabular form with rows and columns similar to a spread sheet. Once published these datasets have an open access licence so they can be legally downloaded by anyone to do whatever they want with them. The data can be manipulated to perform statistical analysis, create visualisations or mashed with other datasets.


The Open Government Partnership

Mashup Datasets can also be mashed - that is two or more can be combined to create a new dataset. For example a table of amenities in an area could be combined with travel information and a map to make an application for residents and tourists.

Open Data in Ireland Ireland has been slow to join the Open Government Partnership compared to other European countries but a commitment to do so has been made. Besides this there have been several initiatives to promote access to data and transparency. The Lisbon Treaty, ratified after the second try in 2009, includes the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which contains a provision to ensure citizens’ right to access of documents. Freedom of Information legislation and the latest programme for government contain commitments to encourage transparency and open government. If the public can be encouraged to download the information that they require from an open data website, this will reduce the cost of responding to Freedom of Information requests. The closest legislation to the OGP is found in the eGovernment 2012-2015 Reform plan, which lays out commitments to “Ensure That Public Service Data Is Available For Re-Use”. (“Department of Public Expenditure and Reform An Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe”, 2012)

Action 21 All public bodies will publish appropriate data in machinereadable formats to facilitate re-use. Initially this will include data newly released (in reports, on websites etc.). Over time, public bodies should identify additional data that could be released as open data. This action will enable individuals and businesses to use data in ways most helpful to them including developing applications relevant to their own needs and interests. The European Commission has several directives regarding the use of open data and has created a portal which has 5,851 datasets. Most are from Eurostat but the intention is to make it a “pan-European umbrella site linking information held by EU institutions, bodies and agencies and by Member States.” Public sector open data in Ireland is being championed by Fingal County Council which launched the first Irish open

data website in February 2010 with 64 datasets and now has over 90. Several applications and services have been created using the data including “find your polling station” and an interactive map of traffic cameras. Dublin’s four local authorities have collaborated to create “Dublinked”, another portal with 252 datasets published so far. The Dublinked mission statement is to “to encourage the next generation of jobs and companies in the area of urban solutions, by enabling data-driven innovation and promoting Dublin as a world-leader in developing and trialling new urban solutions”. (“Welcome to Dublinked | Dublinked2”,2012) The Irish Residential Property Price Register was published in an open data format in September 2012. Within 24 hours a student from Trinity College had downloaded the data, exported it into a free tool called Google Fusion and mashed it with a map. This created a searchable map of property prices around the country. Add in statistics about population, employment, transport etc. and it is possible that some of the ghost estates would never have been built. Another example of the potential for open data and why open formats are important is the website KildareStreet.com. This site enabled visitors to view everything that was said in the Dáil and Seanad including written parliamentary questions since January 2004. This was possible because the Oireachtas was publishing records of Dáil and Seanad debates in Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. This is an open format which defines rules for encoding documents making them human and machine readable. Features of the XML format mean that the archive could be categorised, made searchable and accessible to the visually impaired. Rich Site Summary (RSS) is a web format for frequently updated works. RSS enabled registered users of the site to receive an email notification when TDs or Senators they nominated to follow spoke in the Dáil. It also allowed users to select topics or issues they were interested in and alert them when these were discussed (7,871 people were using this feature). The site was very popular serving 2,633,823 pages to 570,486 unique visitors, between September 2011 to 2012. It became a very useful resource for politicians, journalists, researchers and citizens. (McGee, 2012) In September 2012 the policy for publishing the official records was changed from the open format XML to a proprietary one called Lotus notes which does not have the same functionality. This means that the KildareStreet resource is no longer available and the official Oireachtas website, which does not have the same functionality, has

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to be used. Kildarestreet.com was popular with TDs and several have called for the open format to be reinstated. They are currently looking at new ways to acquire the data needed. Future plans for the site include digitising and publishing older documents. A resource with every debate, question and committee meeting in an easily searchable format since the beginning of the state could be created. KildareStreet.com offers an example of the potential for open data to create useful resources and also how important the format that this data is published in is. The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in Galway is an internationally recognised institute in semantic web research, education and technology transfer. It has a research centre which contributes to Ireland’s knowledge economy. Some of the researchers in DERI have come together with an Open Data Google group to create OpenData.ie. The primary goal of OpenData.ie is to improve access to the Irish Government data and to establish an innovative platform that can demonstrate to government how and why they should share data. The Open Data group meets on a monthly basis to bring together people who are passionate about sharing, learning, using and progressing Open Data in Ireland together. The meetings consist of guest speakers and networking opportunities. It seems Ireland is on track to become much more open with its data in the near future. To consider the implications of this it is useful to look at the experience in the UK.

The experience in the UK The United Kingdom was one of the original countries to join the OGP and has published over 9,026 datasets in open formats on their portal http://data.gov.uk/ to date with more being added all the time. These datasets are from all government departments, a number of other public sector bodies and local authorities. It also includes a feature inviting users to suggest datasets they would like to view. The demand for these datasets has been steadily increasing and at last count there were 2.7 million downloads (Read, 2013) Individuals, private companies, academia and public institutions have all found creative ways to use this data. Innovative products, services and networks have been created. For example the National Archives have published all legislation since 1267 to present in open data formats. Public and private databases can be updated automatically when new legislation is enacted or current laws are changed. Researchers have to access all the data and


lecturers can publish extracts for their courses. The data is also a resource for students studying law, history and other related subjects. Third party applications have been made by private businesses for individuals, students and legal professionals. This is just a small example of some of the possibilities of open data. Apply the same idea to data about roads, schools, water supply, public services, maps, weather, statistics etc. and the possibilities are endless.

Education and Research More open data will have exciting implications for educators, students and researchers. Access to high value machine readable datasets will provide many opportunities for teachers and learners.

Resources Remember seeing Google Earth for the first time and wishing that it was available when you were learning geography in school? A huge number of teaching and research materials are now available thanks to open data. For example the World Bank, a private organisation, collects data on over 800 indicators including agriculture, rural development, aid effectiveness, climate change, economic policy, debt, education and many more. This data is published on their website in open formats (Data | The World Bank, 2013). An application called WorldTouch is an interactive data visualisation tool which uses this data. It is ideal for teaching economics, geography or any subject involving environmental or social data. Hundreds of statistics can be browsed, search queries run and countries compared by setting their own parameters. A lecturer teaching database technology will have access to many real world datasets. Students studying any subject will have access to large amounts of information which is accurate and up to date. Student projects and research will benefit greatly from having this access.

Education In addition to complementing current subjects, new courses and modules will be required. Developers will be needed to create applications that use this data. Online query and visualisation tools will be needed to make it easier to analyse and visualise. The skills requires to manipulate, interpret and use this data will be need to be taught. CoderDojo, a free not-for-profit coding club, holds regular programming sessions for young people. CoderDojo uses a free tool created by the Massachusetts Institute of


The Open Government Partnership

Technology called App Inventor to teach secondary school children right now. These young people are on their way to third level which will need to be ready for them! This flood of data does create its own problems, and data literacy, “the ability to identify, retrieve, evaluate and use information to both ask and answer meaningful questions”, will be an important skill. Eleven universities and colleges across America have courses which use government open data to teach about how to use it, and create applications for it (“Data.gov in the Classroom | Data.gov”,2013). The University of California Berkley has a School of Information with a “Working with Open Data” course (Yee, 2013). In the UK Tim Berners Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt founded the Open Data institute in December 2012. The Institute aims to “catalyse the evolution of an open data culture to create economic, environmental, and social value. It will unlock supply, generate demand, create and disseminate knowledge to address local and global issues.” (“About the ODI | Open Data Institute”, 2013). Ireland will need similar champions of open data, modules and courses.

Research In addition to being a resource, open data is a subject of much academic research in and of itself. The economic impact of open government data has been studied (Vickery, 2011; Pollock, 2009; Arzberger, et al., 2004; Uhlir, 2009), with a common agreement emerging that data should be open to the maximum extent and that the economic impacts are very beneficial. The democratic potential of open data was researched by Mayo and Steinberg (2007). Their “Power of Information Taskforce Report” recommended new methods of consultation around government policy and measures to take advantage of this potential. Several reports have concluded that Open Data can be used for making better government decisions (Puron-Cid, Gil-Garcia, & Luna-Reyes, 2012). Transparency and open data can increase trust in government (O’Hara, 2012). Open data can be used to improve the effectiveness of aid (Linders. 2012). Additional areas for research include who uses open data, their motivation, how it is being used in practice, technical processes, models used, future potential and reform in governance.

Academic Publishing The publication of academic research is another area being influenced by open data. The traditional journals peerreview research and charge for access. Open data offers new ways of disseminating academic knowledge called “open access”, where the peer review process is still completed but the research is published free of charge on the Internet. The UK is currently in the process of the most radical changes in

academic publishing since the invention of the internet. All research papers that describe work paid for by the British taxpayer will be free online by 2014 (Willetts, 2012). The United States has also announced that federally funded research will be available to the public for free within a year (Felsenthal, 2013) New open access publishers are launching all the time offering free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. Why make this information difficult or expensive to find? Why not publish it for free on the web?

Conclusions The open data movement is gathering momentum worldwide and Ireland is well placed to capitalise upon the opportunity that it presents, with a strong technology sector and being home to many of the companies involved in big data, cloud computing and application development. Membership of the OPG will bring many benefits such as more transparency, public participation, collaboration opportunities and economic benefits. Open Data is undoubtedly a driver for economic growth which is sorely needed in Ireland at the moment. The eGovernment 2012-2015 Reform Plan needs to be followed and the proposed actions implemented. A central portal for publishing data needs to be created. A standardised format for data needs to be agreed upon which is open and non-proprietary. Ireland needs an open data licence which will make the data available free to use for any purpose. Awareness of what is available and what can be done with the data is needed. Educators need to be trained in the required skills to use this data and programmes and modules need to include them in their curriculums. As shown above there is a lot of public sector data which is valuable but being underutilised. Ireland is behind other countries in the amount, quality and availability of this data. Publishing it should become automatic and the norm. If the experience of the other OGP countries can be replicated here it could be of great benefit for the economy and civic society.

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References: About the ODI | Open Data Institute (2013, December 3) Open Data Institute | Knowledge for everyone

Read, D. (2013, February 15) Site Usage | data.gov.uk. home | data.gov.uk

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union:

Taylor, M. (2012, July 17) Open access means a bright future for scientific research

Retrieved from www.theodi.org/about


Data | The World Bank. (n.d.)

Retrieved from data.worldbank.org

Data.gov in the Classroom | Data.gov. (n.d.)Home | Data.gov

Retrieved from http://www.data.gov/education/page/datagov-classroom

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform An Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe. (2012, April 1)

Retrieved from per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/eGovernment-2012-2015. pdf

Felsenthal, M. (2013, February 23) White House directs open access for government research Reuters, Washington.

Howlin, B. (2012, December 5) Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, T.D. Address to Dáil Éireann on Expenditure Estimates 2013 Wednesday, 5th December, 2012

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform An Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe Retrieved from per.gov.ie/2012/12/05/minister-for-public-expenditureand-reform-brendan-howlin-t-d-address-to-dail-eireann-on-expenditureestimates-2013-wednesday-5th-december-2012

Linders, D. (2012) How can open development improve the effectiveness of aid? Leveraging open data, open standards, and web 2.0 interactivity for better development outcomes Proceedings of the 13th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research.

McGee, H. (2012, September 26) Oireachtas cuts website costs The Irish Times, Dublin.

O’Hara, Kieron (2012) Transparency, open data and trust in government: shaping the infosphere In, ACM Web Science 2012, Evanston, US, 22 - 24 June.

Open Government Partnership (n.d.) www.opengovpartnership.org

Retrieved from www.opengovpartnership.org

Pollock, R. (2009) The Economics of Public Sector Information

Retrieved from econpapers.repec.org/paper/camcamdae/0920.htm

Puron-Cid, G., Gil-Garcia, J. R., & Luna-Reyes, L. R. (2012) IT-Enabled Policy Analysis: New Technologies, Sophisticated Analysis and Open Data for Better Government Decisions

The Proceedings of the 13th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research.

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Vickery, G. (2011) Review of recent studies on PSI re-use and related market developments. Welcome to Dublinked | Dublinked2 (n.d.) Retrieved from dublinked.ie

Willetts, D. (2012, May 1) Open, free access to academic research? This will be a seismic shift. The Guardian.

Mayo, E. Steinberg, T. (2007) Power of Information Taskforce Report

Available at: www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/reports/power_of_information. aspx

Yee, R. (2013, January 30) nfo 290T. Working with Open Data | School of Information School of Information. Retrieved from www.ischool.berkeley.edu/courses/i290t-wod

Zikopoulos, P. (2012) In Understanding big data: Analytics for enterprise class Hadoop and streaming data New York: McGraw-Hill.


Transition to Higher Education

Transition to Higher Education, the First 3 Weeks: Back and Forward Linking the First Year Learning Experience in Art and Design Ron Hamilton and Laurence Riddell ‘In the beginning there is the material only’ (Josef Albers) An important shift occurs for the individual when making the transition to study in Higher Education; their role changes from one of passive to active participation in a process of learning. To facilitate this transition a group of Art and Design lecturers collaborated and mapped out a project module to introduce new students to the research processes that underpin studio practice and at the same time provide them with an opportunity to review and test existing skills and abilities within this new and emerging condition of learning. Prior to engaging in the first project block the new students are invited to bring in their portfolios during induction week. For the first time they have a chance to view the work of their peers. The folios are laid out in the studio space and the students are encouraged to engage with each other in conversation about the work on display; this adds a visual dimension to the introductory process of socialization and learning; and establishes prior learning experience as part of that conversation between individual and group. This interaction and exchange is formative in the context of the first project block.

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The First Project: The Visual Research Methods project block is an innovative initiative run in collaboration between two different programmes in the Department of Design and Visual Arts. The programmes are Visual Communication Design (VCD) and Visual Art Practice (VAP). The project is a five credit project module and is delivered during the first three weeks of term one in first year. The concept for the project emerged through a series of conversations amongst the respective project teams as part of a programmatic review process (2008). A number of points were considered and discussed. The main one being, how do we facilitate students with diverse backgrounds and life experiences within a collaborative project across the disciplines of art and design? The student group would comprise of approximately eighty students (thirty within VCD, and fifty from within VAP). Within that combined cohort the intent was to accommodate students from a variety of backgrounds, including those straight from secondary school, from portfolio preparation courses, mature students, foreign students and students from exchange programmes. The goal was to design a project that supported the transition for those students into a Level 8 programme of study. A decision was made not to go for a discipline specific project outcome, rather the aim was to focus on process outcomes. It was agreed to choose a model of practice that facilitated the knowledge, skills and abilities that both sets of students shared in common — in this instance, the creative process. The Visual Research Methods project module sets a creative challenge that is structured to accommodate a wide range of knowledge and skills, while at the same time back and forward linking previous to current learning experience in the context of clarifying the standards required to complete project work for assessment in a Level Eight programme, basically, the research processes that underpin studio practice (see Appendix A: project module outline).

Collaboration between Disciplines: The idea of putting both sets of students together presented opportunities to explore the potential for group collaboration. During the initial discussions about the project block the form that the collaboration would take was not decided. One question for the project team was ‘how to manage collaboration with a new group of first year students from different disciplines’? The team started out with the ambition of getting the students to work in collaborative groups. There was an expectation that group work could be effected so early in first year. It was tried


but with little success. It did not work for a combination of reasons, including: the spread of students and lecturers over different studio locations and the newness of the situation for the students in the context of a group structured across two disciplines. As the size of the group increases, its characteristics change. Small groups are more fluid and interchangeable; in large groups the students can be less tied to the norms of the group. As the numbers increase, face-to-face interaction decreases, the group breaks down into smaller cliques (Jacques, 2001). It takes time and maturity for students to work effectively in teams. The range of experience, backgrounds, knowledge and skills across the group in both disciplines was too diverse to align so soon. The project has run for four years and over the last two the lecturing team has moved away from notions of group work and in its place has focused on strategies that involve Situated Learning through proximity
and peer learning in the co-construction of knowledge (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999); and through Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP). This approach has proved more effective. LPP provides a process that facilitates the transition over time of the newcomer (novice) to become a more experienced practitioner (expert) within a Community of Practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Through a series of iterative tasks that increase in challenge, the novice travels from the periphery and begins the journey to the centre of the community. The community of practice model provides a structure that is made up of members who “share a common concern, set of problems… and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis” (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002, p. 4). This process (Legitimate Peripheral Participation) and structure (Community of Practice) underpins and facilitates the more informal activities embedded in a process of socialization and learning that take place during the first three weeks. Typically, in the absence of group work, students are encouraged to work in pairs to support each other in the mutual documentation and critique of project work. They engage in simple peer and self-assessment strategies; and take part in informal and formal group critiques (an introduction to critical practices at Level 8).

Creative Challenge: the Project Brief. In each of the last four years the students have consistently found what appears to be a simple brief (see Appendix B for an outline of the project brief) to be quite challenging to progress, develop and complete. The research theme in the brief centres on the subject of Flight. All aspects of flight are investigated, and visual evidence is built up and gathered to support concepts and experiments; various


Transition to Higher Education

ideas are explored, tested, applied and constructed. Student autonomy is supported, and curiosity, discovery and invention are encouraged throughout the project. During the three-week project block the students are encouraged to make original work, to try something they may never have attempted before, and to construct new meanings. Primacy of original response is encouraged. The project block is delivered through a series of workshops and studio tasks, including critiques and one-to-one tutorials to facilitate the variety of approaches amongst the new students. Further, the importance of drawing and photography as mediums and a means to visually communicate, explore and analyse ideas is emphasized. Students are encouraged to coordinate research documentation in their notebooks. The notebook process is designed to be a concurrent activity in line with studio activities. Students are asked not to reverse engineer processes. The notebook should act as a visual witness of the day-to-day practices, experiments and testing of ideas (see Appendix E: project image gallery).

Approaches to Teaching: As part of the project briefing, the students attend a twohour presentation. Different aspects of mans’ obsessions with flight throughout history are explored through the work of Leonardo da Vinci and other artists, inventors and the early heroes of flight in the history of aviation. Various aspects are covered, from the practical to the absurd. Students are introduced to different methods of visual documentation, from the speculative sketch, to descriptive drawings and plans, to making prototypes and models; and examples of the construction of full sized fabricated and working pieces. During the different presentations the distinction between secondary sources and primary response are clarified. This distinction focuses on the student’s role in relation to the source that is key, primary refers to original research, in this context original work made by the students themselves. Secondary refers to the practice of reviewing sources generated by another party (Visocky O’Grady, & Visocky O’Grady, 2006). The project delivery is structured in three stages (one per week): the first stage involves initial research and the generation of concepts. The second stage includes the development of ideas through the construction of prototypes and the testing of materials. The final stage involves the application of ideas through fabrication and display. All teaching and learning strategies are structured around this framework and provide context and orientation for the student when progressing different types of work required for each of the different stages.

The students complete three workshops during the project, each session reinforces the use and application of creative constraint when working with material. As part of the exploration the students test all possibilities and qualities associated with the assigned material. In the first workshop they are given a single sheet of paper. They are required to exhaust all the possibilities they can extract from a sheet of paper in response to the subject of flight.

Approaches to Assessment: The portfolio the student employs to gain entry to the programme can, in most cases, concentrate almost exclusively on outcome. With support work and notebooks taking a secondary or at times a tertiary role. The Visual Research Methods project reasserts the primacy of the notebook and support materials as critical to a process that tells the story of the journey to outcome. Process can be as important as product, it can describe the story, and provide visual evidence of the product’s inception and its development through a narrative of iteration and design process. It is not possible for the student to progress the project unless they attend rigorously to the process stages of development. These are captured in the projects assessment criteria (see Appendix C: assessment criteria). Unless they engage in a process of research and generate a body of work exploring different ideas they cannot progress to the next stage. They must have a body of work represented by different quality sources representing visual exploration, experimentation and development. From this they can identify concepts to progress through prototyping and fabrication. This work then goes through a process of selection and editing for display and project presentation.

Assessment strategies: The methods of visual research include: visual notation (analysis and description); speculative sketching; drawings, photography and prototyping; materials and fabrication; storyboards and photo-documentation of process, for example, photographing artefacts that include drawings, prototypes, models and experiments that test ideas; and in the process make a visual ethnographic document of the project block. As students and environment become subjects captured in the work that is made, a visual documented reflection of practice is constructed (see Appendix D for outline of assessment strategies and Appendix E for project image gallery). A social constructionist approach is employed, as students and lecturers interact in a process of learning meanings are constructed as they engage with the world they are interpreting (Crotty, 2003).

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Reflection and Reflexivity

Flight Exhibition:

Reflexivity is viewed as an aspect of reflection. While reflecting it is important that the student is aware of the bigger picture, to take a reflexive view of the wider context in which all the studio activity is taking place.

During the final stages of the project a selection is made from the work generated by the students for exhibition in the IADT Drawing Project located in the town centre in Dun Laoghaire. The Drawing Project opened during the 2010/11 academic year, and in the third year of the Visual Research Methods project an exhibition of the student work was put on display. This public exhibition by first years during the first three weeks of their study is a snapshot of the emerging learning experience at that point in time. In the work exhibited there is evidence of new and original work made by the art and design students, unlike any work they have previously produced.

Reflexivity is a skill we develop… an ability to notice the world around us, other people and events, and to use that knowledge to inform our actions, communications and understandings. To be reflexive we need to be aware of our… responses and be able to make choices about how to use them… to be aware of the personal, social and cultural contexts in which we live and work, and to understand how these impact on the ways we interpret our world. (Etherington, 2006, p. 19)

Reflection in Action: Students work concurrent with process through their notebooks and their notations include reflections on experiments and project tasks; what worked, what did not work, and aspects that are interesting.

Reflection on Action: Through a process of selection, editing and decision making, students choose pieces from the body of work generated over the three weeks that are representative of the various methods of visual research they have employed to support their visual investigation with the subject of flight.

Reflexivity: The use of reflexivity is aimed at promoting self-awareness between student, subject and the environment under observation, while getting them to step back, to establish role distance, in order for a different level of critical engagement to take place (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 2005). Students and their peers are captured through photodocumentation carrying out research tasks, experimenting with, and testing, ideas. The walls of the studio become a repository as work evolves and the visual evidence emerges to support ideas (see Appendix E). This method of documenting can only be carried out in pairs. It is not possible to conduct experiments and photograph yourself carrying them out at the same time. Students need to engage with their peers and brief them clearly on what they are trying to achieve so that their peer can successfully photo-document the process. This form of engagement enables the student to clarify their thoughts in relation to the work they have made.

Project Module Evolution: a Cycle Process Over the four years since its inception, the Visual Research Methods project block has taken interesting directions in terms of project developments. It is a testimony to the quality of engagement by the lecturing team involved in an ongoing critique of the project. The evolving shape of this project block has benefitted from the critical engagement and reflection amongst the lecturing team, informing the different steps taken in refining, developing and adapting the project to it’s current structure and methods of delivery. The project team includes: Ron Hamilton, Laurence Riddell, Des Ward and Lynda Devenney.


Transition to Higher Education

Bibliography: Alvesson, M., & Skoldberg, K. (2005) Reflexive methodology: New vistas for qualitative research London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. J. D. (2005) An invitation to reflexive sociology Cambridge: Polity Press.

Burr, V. (2003) Social constructionism (2nd ed.) London: Routledge.

Collins, H. (2010) Creative research: The theory and practice of research for creative industries Lausanne: AVA Publishing.

Crotty, M. (2003) The foundations of social research: Meaning and perspective in the research process London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Etherington, K. (2006) Becoming a reflexive researcher: Using ourselves in research London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Jacques, D. (2001) Learning in groups: A handbook for improving group work (3rd ed.) London: Kogan Page.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

Leonard, N., & Ambrose, G. (2012) Design research: Investigation for successful creative solutions Lausanne: AVA Publishing.

Merriam S. B., and Caffarella, R. S. (1999) Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint.

Visocky O’Grady, J., & Visocky O’Grady, K. (2006) A designer’s research manual: Succeed in design by knowing your clients and what they really need Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W., M. (2002) Cultivating communities of practice Boston: Harvard Business School.

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Appendices: A. Project module outline

Fabrication, display and presentation:

The aim of the project is to introduce the student to the basic visual research methodologies common to art and design.

ffApplication of ideas in the fabrication and display of 3D object in response 
to research processes, methods and strategies.

How to: ffConduct a visual research process. ffSelect appropriate visual research methods. ffDocument and map a process of research. ffMake reflections on various project activities. ffEngage in individual and group critiques. On successful completion of the project the student will be able to identify and apply appropriate visual research methods, processes, and strategies to support and evidence project outcomes. Engage critically with their peers, and make reflections on various aspects of their practice.

B. Outline of the project brief The brief requires the student to explore the subject of ‘Flight’ from a variety of viewpoints: from the practical to the absurd, concrete to the abstract. To get the project rolling the students are provided with a list of flight related words and themes.

C. Assessment criteria and indicative / minimum deliverables. The assessment criteria are captured under the following headings:

ffNotebook / research presentation and completion of all tasks.

D. Assessment strategies. Assessment strategies are designed and represented through different materials and formats, including: Notebook: Includes conceptual notation; and the mapping / documentation of process. Drawing: ffSpeculative drawings. ffMeasured and finished drawings. ffDescriptive drawings. ffConstruction / spatial drawings. Materials: Three different workshops designed to facilitate the student in experiment and explore the potential of different materials. 2D and 3D possibilities are developed through problem solving and working creatively with the constraints imposed during each session.

Research and development:

Photography The photo-documentation of project work and processes explored through different stages: still image, image sequence, time-based sequence, and process reflection.

ffIdentify and apply basic research processes, methods and strategies 
in support of practical project work.

Prototyping and Fabrication:

Critical Process: ffSelect and edit visual research sources that inform content generation 
and project development. ffCommunicate different possibilities through exploration, experimentation, and development of multiple visual research sources. ffEngage constructively in critiques and presentations (oral and visual) with peers.

ffSpeculating and testing materials and construction in 3D ffTesting different scales of prototypes. ffModeling and dynamics. ffDisplay and finish.


Transition to Higher Education

E. Flight project image gallery

Images 1.1 and 1.2 (far left): Time-based photo documentation to present a series of experiments Clodagh Power (2011) Images 2.1 (left): Sheets from notebook presenting. an overview of the visual research. methods and process. Merial Clarke (2011) Image 3.1 (above): Propeller protype. Kim Gleeson (2012).

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Image 4.1 (top left): Overview of visual research process and methods presented on studio wall. Jack Collins (2011) Images 5.1 – 5.2 (top right): Concept testing and development. Rose Mary McLoughlin (2012) Images 6.1 – 6.3 (above): Fabrication and display based on bats in flight. Jacque Kelly (2011)


Transition to Higher Education

Images 7.1 – 7.8: Reflexive documentation of the design development process. Mary Battlebury, and Rachel Broaders (2012)

Images 8.1 to 8.2: Spreads from research notebooks Jade Hennessey (2012) Images 8.3 to 8.4 (below): Spreads from research notebooks Nicola Tracey (2011)

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Images 8.5 to 8.6: Spreads from research notebooks Kristina Petersone (2011) Images 8.7 to 8.8 (below): Spreads from research notebooks Rachel Broaders (2012)

Images 9.1 – 9 .3: Exhibition of work completed by the first year students in the first three weeks of their programme of study, presented at the IADT Drawing Project, Dun Laoghaire. Flight Exhibition (2011)


Use of mental preperation in rugby

Use of Mental Preparation in Rugby: What do the Players say? Dr. Olivia Hurley Rugby, as a sport in Ireland, has grown in status in recent years, possibly due to the recent successes of the provincial, and until recently, the national men’s team. The status of women playing the sport has risen also. For example, the Irish Women’s Rugby Team made history in 2013 by winning their first Grand Slam 6 Nations Championship (Cummiskey, 2013). However, the mental skills training employed by such groups of athletes to aid their sports performances has remained largely unexplored, despite players often referring to their use of mental skills in their sport in interviews and in their autobiographies (i.e., Hayes, 2012; O’Driscoll, 2005; O’Gara, 2009). The aim of the present study was to determine (i) what mental preparation elite Irish senior male rugby players engage in for their sport, and (ii) what importance players place on the social support they received from significant others (i.e., parents and friends). Data gathered from interviews given by male players in the months immediately before and during the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2011 were analysed using thematic procedures and some preliminary themes have emerged to date. A number of the themes identified are consistent with those reported by other researchers such as Woodcock, Holland, Duda and Cumming (2011). For example, the ‘self-policing’ theme identified in the present study is similar to the ‘taking responsibility’ theme Woodcock et al. reported in their study of young elite rugby players. Some limitations of the present study are highlighted also, including the lack of inter-rater reliability checks completed to date on the identified themes. Such limitations will be addressed in the next phase of thematic verification to be completed soon for the present study.

keywords: mental preparation, rugby, themes, sport, social support

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Introduction Interest in mental preparation for sports performances has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to the frequent comments of elite athletes advocating its importance in their own sporting successes (Jackman, 2010). As a result of such interest, research on the use of mental strategies to aid performance has been examined extensively in recent times (Edwards, Tod & McGuigan, 2008; Jackson & Baker, 2001). For example, in the most recent publication of The Sport Psychologist, one of the most influential sport psychology journals available, the impact of injury related pain and how an athlete manages it both mentally and physically using various coping strategies was examined using a case-study approach (Heil, 2012). Many sports performers suffer serious injuries in the course of their training and competition lives (Hurley, 2003; Hurley, Moran & Guerin, 2007). In Ireland one such sport where injuries are common is rugby. Indeed, in the lead-in to this year’s 2013 Six Nations Championship, Ireland’s squad of male players was seriously affected by injuries. This could be considered a significant reason for their poor display in the Championship, where the team recorded only one win, and that win was in their first game where the injury count was at its lowest level. The media focused on such injury news extensively in their coverage of the team’s preparations (Diallo, 2013). Such coverage is not surprising given the sport of rugby is currently one of the most popular sports in Ireland. As a result, competitions such as the Heineken European Cup, as well as both the Six Nations Championship and Pro 12 League enjoy extensive media coverage on television, radio and via online media. Psychological research in rugby has also grown in recent years. In 2001, Jackson and Baker sought to determine the routines and rituals completed by elite athletes in closed skill settings. They completed a case study of a world class rugby goal kicker, and discovered that the player’s physical and mental preparation for kicking increased in time when the kick being attempted was more difficult. They also reported that the player stated he used imagery, cues and thought stopping as part of his routine. However, he did not appear to do so in a consistent fashion (See Table 1, on page 72, for definitions of key mental preparation strategy terms). Following on from this study by Jackson and Baker (2001), in 2008, Edwards et al. assessed the influence of the mental strategy, self-talk, on the vertical jump performances, and kinematics (which refers to movement made by the body, or objects), of male rugby union players. They reported that the type of self-talk used by players (i.e., motivational or instructional), did result in some performance differences


for the players on their jump attempts. Such self-talk strategies are also frequently used by players to cope with the stress of their sporting environment. Nichols, Jones, Polman and Borkoles (2009) explored acute sport related stressors, coping and emotion among professional rugby union players during training and in matches. They reported that players stated using ‘blocking’, or thought stopping, to cope with stressors in matches, while ‘increasing concentration’ was used more in training, with greater effectiveness it seemed. More recently, Holland, Woodcock, Cumming and Duda (2010) investigated the general mental qualities of young elite rugby players. They also sought to determine the mental techniques employed by such athletes to cope with the demands of their sport. Eleven psychological qualities were reported as important in helping the players to cope with the demands of their sport including ‘taking responsibility’, ‘determination’ and ‘mental toughness’. The players also stated that they used techniques such as ‘reflecting on their actions’ as a way to enhance their personal performances in rugby. Woodcock et al. (2011) extended the work of Holland et al. (2010), cited above, by completing a qualitative research study on young elite rugby players’ support personnel (i.e., parents and coaches) to see if they also identified the same psychological qualities as desirable in order for them to cope with the demands of their sport, namely rugby. Woodcock et al. carried out focus groups with the players’ parents and coaches in an attempt to uncover their opinions of the most important psychological qualities for players to possess. Woodcock et al.’s findings supported those of Holland et al. (2010), as the support personnel confirmed the same psychological qualities (for example, ‘mental toughness’ and ‘taking responsibility’) stated by the players to be important in helping them cope with the demands of their sport.

The present problem In 2011, Moran, McIntyre, Campbell and Foster, in a paper presented at the International Conference on Thinking in Belfast, referred to the importance of more qualitative research, such as that by Woodcock et al. (2001) as outlined above, in uncovering detailed descriptions of athletes’ views on their mental preparation for their sport. This was the rationale for selecting a qualitative approach to answer the research questions posed in the present study, which were, what mental preparation do elite Irish senior rugby players claim to engage in for their sport, specifically in the lead-in to a major competition? (i.e., Do they use the same mental strategies as identified by the research studies cite


Use of mental preperation in rugby

above, such as goal setting, mental imagery and self-talk management, to name but a few), and what importance do players appear to place on the social support they receive from significant others (i.e., family, friends and coaches)? The 2011 Rugby World Cup provided an elite backdrop considered appropriate to investigate such research questions as cited above. However, access to such elite individuals immediately before and during such an important competition (RWC 2011) is very difficult, with coaches wishing to keep their players focused on the task at hand and away from any unnecessary distractions. Therefore, an analysis of the content of interviews given to the media by these elite rugby players in the lead-in to, and during, the 2011 Rugby World Cup was deemed an appropriate research approach to take in order to gain some insight into the players’ mental preparation, and mind-set, for such a competition.

Aim and Research Questions: The aim of the present study was to answer two key, yet previously unexplored questions in the literature, namely, (i) What mental preparation do elite Irish senior male rugby players claim to engage in for their sport (i.e., mental strategies such as goal setting, mental imagery, self-talk management & relaxation techniques)?, and (ii) What importance do players appear to place on the social support they receive from significant others (i.e., family, friends and coaches)?

Methodology Participants

24 of the 30-man Irish RWC squad were represented in 48 interviews, with some players giving 2 or 3 interviews to the media during the 4 month period of relevance (July to October 2011). The 24 players comprised of 11 members of the squad who were ‘Backs’, while the remaining 13 were ‘Forwards’ players in the squad.

Materials 48 short media interviews with members of the Irish RWC squad were selected from the websites ‘Irishrugby.ie’, and ‘RTE Player’ for analysis. This represented over 90% of the interviews posted on these websites between July and October 2011. As only the players’ opinions were of interest in this study, any coaches’ interviews posted during this time were omitted from the analysis. It was felt that such sources of data were justified and defensible as Chenail (2008) stated such media (i.e., You Tube and other websites), are valuable qualitative research assets and learning tools.

Ethical Considerations There were no serious ethical considerations regarding confidentiality and anonymity as the interview data analysed was available in the public domain. However, as some sample quotations to illustrate reported themes could be attributed back to individual players, verbal consent was obtained from these specific players to cite their quotations in this paper, solely for the purpose of illustrating specifically identified themes to-date.


Data Analysis All 48 interviews were transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis was then completed using the guidelines advocated by Richardson, Goodwin and Vine (2011). Two key areas were explored in an attempt to answer the research questions posed at the outset of the study, namely what specific mental preparation strategies were employed by the players to prepare them for the Rugby World Cup 2011 Competition, and what sources of social support they relied on, or considered important, to help them in their efforts in the competition. Between two and seven key themes were identified from the interview data for each of the two key areas of interest (namely, the mental strategies employed by the players in their preparations, and the social support sources they considered important before and during the RWC competition).

Research Question 1:

What mental preparation do elite Irish senior rugby players claim to engage in for their sport? Themes for ‘Mental Preparation’ General Five ‘general’ mental preparation themes were identified from the interview data analysed. These themes were (i) Coping with Pressure, (ii) Facing Disappointments, (iii) Confidence Building, (iv) Competition and (v) Battle hardiness (See Table 2, on page 72, for a definition of each theme and a sample quote for each theme in this context). Pre- and In-Match Themes Seven ‘pre- and In-match’ mental preparation themes were identified from the interview data analysed. These themes were: (i) Match Focus (i.e., focusing on the ‘Controllables’), (ii) Opportunities, (iii) Respect for Opponents, (iv) Using Previous Experience, (v) Video Analysis, (vi) Self-Policing of the Team and (vii) Consistent Preparation (see Table 3, on page 73, for a definition of each theme and a sample quote for each theme in this context).

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Post-Match Themes Two ‘post match’ themes were identified from the interview data analysed, namely, (i) ‘The Positives’ and (ii) ‘Moving On’ (both physically and mentally; See Table 4, on page 74, for a definition of each theme and a sample quote for the two themes).

Research Question 2:

What importance do players appear to place on the social support they receive from significant others? Themes for Social Support Sources of social support were categorised into four key sources, namely, (i) coaches, (ii) family and friends, (iii) supporters (Both travelling and home support) and (iv) team members. In the ‘Coaches’ category, two ‘social support’ themes were identified namely (i) ‘Variety’ (i.e., in Training and Location) and (ii) ‘Trust’ (see Table 5, on page 74, for a definition of each of these themes and a sample quote for each theme). In the ‘family and friends’ category, two themes were identified, namely (i) ‘Parental Support’ and (ii) ‘Emotional Support’ (See Table 6, on page 74, for a definition of each theme and a sample quote for each theme). In the ‘Travelling and Home Support’ category, two themes were identified, namely (i) ‘Home Game Feel’, and (ii) ‘16th Man Lift’ (see Table 7, on page 75, for a definition of each theme and a sample quote for each theme). For the final social support source, namely the ‘Team’ category, seven themes were identified to date. They were, (i) Friendship, (ii) Socialising, (iii) Roles, (iv) Empathy for fellow players, (v) Self-Policing, (vi) Team Culture and (vii) Team Belief (see Table 8, on page 75, for a definition of each of these themes and a sample quote for each theme).


Discussion As can be seen in the themes identified from the data analysis completed to date and presented above, a number of key mental strategies appear to have been employed by the players in their preparations for the RWC 2011. These preliminary findings for the current study underline the importance such elite players appear to place on their mental preparation, and they have implications for the training of mental skills to talented young athletes in the future. Some of the initial themes to emerge from the data to date support those of Woodcock et al. (2011) also, for example, the ‘self-policing’ theme identified in the present study is similar to the ‘taking responsibility’ theme Woodcock et al. reported in their study with young elite rugby players. The selection of 48 interviews, representing such a wide variety of players in the squad, is considered a strength of the study, as it ensured as many opinions of the various players were represented as possible in the analysis. The timely nature of the research is also important as it represents the preparations of a group of elite athletes of interest to the wider sporting community, both competing in, and supporting, rugby in Ireland. However, as with any research study, the present study is not without flaws. The most apparent limitation is the reliance on secondary data, as access to the participant group of interest would have been very difficult during such an important competition as the RWC 2011. A second limitation of the study was the gender bias. If a female team was also examined, perhaps different themes for their mental preparation for such a competition would have been uncovered. A third limitation of the study to date is the lack of inter-rater checks for the emerging themes. By carrying out inter-rater checks in the coming months, on the preliminary thematic results, it is hoped the themes uncovered can be considered of value to the wider academic community interested in such findings. In conclusion, this research study to date has uncovered interesting and potentially valuable findings that could influence the mental preparation and training of young athletes in the future.


Use of mental preperation in rugby

Table 1: Definitions of key mental preparation strategy terms Mental Strategy

Definition of the Strategy

Goal setting

This term refers to establishing targets to aim at when preparing for and completing tasks or skills.

Mental imagery

This term refers to a ‘picture’, ‘sound’, or ‘touch’ a person can create in the mind, without any physical stimulus being present.

Mental toughness

This term describes a state where a person, in times of great challenge, is able to overcome obstacles and stay focused, while remaining positive in mental outlook, and persevering in trying to complete a task.

Relaxation strategies

This term refers to the various techniques athletes often use to help them remain calm in preparation for and during periods of high pressure, typically in competition; examples are: deep breathing and progressive muscular relaxation (which is the tensing and relaxing of muscle groups to create an overall feeling of calmness).


This term refers to the internal ‘conversation’ athletes have with themselves, the ‘voice-in-their-heads’.

Thought stopping

This term refers to techniques used to ‘stop’ unhelpful self-talk, typically negative, that can distract the athlete from the task being attempted at that moment in time. Athletes monitor their thinking and when it becomes negative, they replace it with more positive or instructional phrases to assist performance improvements.

[See Moran (2012) for information on the above mental preparation strategies]

Table 2: Definitions and examples of the 5 ‘general’ mental preparation themes identified in the players’ interview comments. Theme

Definition of theme

Sample quotation coded as displaying that specific theme

Coping with pressure

A reference to the pressures players faced and how they coped with such pressures.

Facing disappointments

A reference to the disappointments players “I obviously missed out on the last World Cup, which was faced and how they coped with them. a big disappointment for me. I think I have moved on from there now.”

Confidence building

A reference to building belief in individual and team members’ ability.

“We know we’ve a good side, we know we’ve excellent players.”


A reference to an environment where individuals are ‘pitted against’ each other in order to raise the standards of performance of all present.

“You see it in training, lads niggling at each other, the competition is there … that is what you want, you want to keep yourself motivated and keep pushing yourself.”

Battle hardiness

A reference to challenges to be faced and conquered despite the difficulty.

“We didn’t play well, we really had to fight for our win.”

“I think that’s the little bit of fear that drives you as well, you know? We could be going out of the competition if we don’t front up… but there’s great excitement around the camp this week.”

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Table 3: Definitions and examples of themes related to pre and in-match preparations. Theme

Definition of theme

Sample quotation coded as displaying that specific theme

Match focus

A reference to concentrating on match related issues in preparing for games.


A reference to players aiming to take the playing opportunities presented to them when they come along.

“Another game at the weekend and one we are all looking forward to; lots of players are chomping at the bit to get out there and play a game. I’m no different, so I just can’t wait now to get out and play another game of rugby.”

Respect for opponents

A reference to treating other teams with respect because they all have strengths and abilities.

“We have to show them respect and do our homework on them. They are big physical boys and we are going to have to play well to get a good result against them.”

Using previous experience

A reference to players using their previous experience in playing to improve on future performances.

“I think (warm-up games) are very important. I think it was well-documented we felt as though we weren’t match-hardened four years ago and as a result we stumbled in the first few games. We want to make sure we’re raring to go when we do take on America in the first game.”

Video analysis

A reference to the use of video analytic technology to help players prepare to the best of their ability for upcoming games.

“Guys are hitting the videos hard. We are trying to learn as much about them as we can.”

Self-policing of the team

A reference to players taking responsibility/ownership of their team, and making decisions that impact on the performances of their team.

“We’ve been really trying to push it internally from within the squad rather than relying on the coaches to be, you know, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts...policing it all sort of within the players...it’s definitely the tightest I’ve ever seen the boys.”

Consistent preparation

A reference to players being consistent in their preparation for games.

“We’ll stick to what we’ve been doing, stick with the same plan, and hopefully get another win.”

“We can’t control the ref, we can’t control what they are going to do, we can’t control the weather, but we can control what we are going to do, so that’s what we have to focus on.”


Use of mental preperation in rugby

Table 4: Definitions and examples of post-match themes identified from the players’ comments. Theme

Definition of theme

Sample quotation coded as displaying that specific theme

‘The Positives’

A reference to the positive elements of performances that players focus on, even when the result was not positive for their team.

‘Moving on’

A reference to the team not dwelling on “We decided to treat this whole competition like a tour the past, and moving on both mentally and and move around, keep freshness about the mind, and physically to the next game/next venue, not get stale in one place.” leaving the past behind.

“It’s always better to be positive than negative ....we look at what we need to fix, but in a positive manner, address it and move on.”

Table 5: Definitions and examples of Social Support themes related to players’ comments on their views of their coaches’ support. Theme

Definition of theme

Sample quotation coded as displaying that specific theme


A reference to players and coaches introducing changes in training strategies and base settings (location) to prevent boredom from setting in.


A reference to players trusting the “You’ve got the confidence of the coaches and they’ve decisions made by their coaches in relation put their trust in you so now you have to use it to your to training and match preparation. advantage.”

“We've got some really good work done. It’s been really enjoyable as well. Most of our fitness work has been done with a ball, not just boring running.”

Table 6: Definitions and examples of Social Support themes related to players’ comments on their views of their family and friends’ support. Theme

Definition of theme

Parental Support

A reference to the importance of parents’ support in helping the players to perform at their best.

Emotional Support

A reference by players to all the emotional support they received from family and friends and how important it is to helping them to perform well.

Sample quotations coded as displaying that specific theme

“It’s very special having my folks out here. They’ve obviously been fantastic supporters of mine over my career.” “The amount of texts and stuff that we were getting and all throughout the squad is great.” “A lot of the parents and family arrived and ….the amount of people that turned up, we really wanted to put a performance in for them.”

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Table 7: Definitions and examples of Social Support themes related to players’ comments on their views of the travelling and home fans’ support. Theme

Definition of theme

Home Game Feel

A reference to the impact of supporters in helping to make ‘away’ venues seem like ‘home’ matches.

16th Man ‘Lift’

A reference to the impact of the crowd in giving the players a ‘boost’ at crucial times in matches, making it seem like their team had an extra player.

Sample quotations coded as displaying that specific theme

“The crowd out there, it felt like a home game. The amount of people that turned up here, they had to travel so far to get here and we wanted to put in a performance for them.” “The noise at times, it felt like we were in the Aviva and it just made the day even more special for us.” “The fans…they can be worth a score or two to you when they’re vocal and when they’re getting behind the team.”

Table 8: Definitions and examples of Social Support themes related to players’ comments on their views of their fellow team members’ support. Theme

Definition of theme

Sample quotations coded as displaying that specific theme


A reference to the bonds of friendship that team members have.


A reference to team members socialising and ‘hanging out’ together off the pitch.

“Yesterday, the boys had a fair bit of craic out around, you know, the sights and some of the attractions.”


A reference to the roles players have within the team.

“It was our job to give them something to shout about, and thankfully we managed to do that.”

“Everyone says we are becoming quite tight, I get a haircut, he gets a haircut, I shave my chest, he got his waxed, so yeah… no, me and Sean are good pals so hopefully we can work well together on Sunday…. me and him get on very, very well.”

“We’re lucky in Ireland that we’ve got such quality scrumhalves and hopefully the scrum-halves say that about the out-halves as well! They probably hate us for giving out to them all the time, but sure that’s part of it, I suppose”. Empathy for fellow players

A reference to other players who miss out on opportunities to play.

“There’s always going to be players gutted. If you didn’t leave good players behind, then you don’t have enough strength in depth.”


A reference to team members taking ownership of their team and playing a role in the leadership, and decisions made on and off the pitch.

“We’ve really been working hard at it, policing it all within the players. It’s definitely the tightest I’ve ever seen the guys.”

Team culture

A reference to type of team climate the team has developed.

“That’s the whole plan, to get that consistency and improve on last week and even get more intense in this game so, yeah, that’s what we want to do....that is the type of team we want to be.... A more consistent type of team that brings that intensity each week.”

Team belief

A reference by players to their team’s ability to be successful in their games.

“We know what we are capable of. We’re very close, we certainly believe in our own ability and we believe in each other.”


Use of mental preperation in rugby

References: Chenail, R.J. (2008). You tube as a qualitative research asset: Reviewing user generated videos as a learning resource. The Weekly Qualitative Report, 1, 18-24. Retrieved from: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/WQR/youtube.pdf. Cummiskey, G. (2013). Narrow win secures Grand Slam for Irish women. Retrieved from: www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/international/narrow-win-secures-grand-slam-for-irishwomen-1.1329020 Diallo, R. (2013). Ireland’s injury list mounting after France draw. Retrieved from: www.newstalk.ie/reader/47.302.349/6757/-/ Edwards, C., Tod, D. & McGuigan, M. (2008). Self-talk influences vertical jump performance and kinematics in male rugby union players. Journal of Sports Science, 26, 1459-1465. Hayes, J. (2012). The Bull - My Story. London: Simon & Schuster. Heil, J. (2012). Pain on the run: Injury, pain and performance in a middle distance runner. The Sport Psychologist, 26, 540-550. Holland, M.J.D., Woodcock, C., Cumming, J. & Duda, J.L. (2010). Mental qualities and employed mental techniques of young elite team sport athletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 4, 19-38. Hurley, O. (2003). Psychological understanding of, and responses to, sporting injuries in elite athletes. Unpublished PhD thesis, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Hurley, O., Moran, A. & Guerin, S. (2007). Exploring athletes’ experience of their injuries: A qualitative investigation. Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, 3, 14-23. Jackman, B. (2010). Blue Blood. Co. Meath, Ireland : Irish Sports Publishing. Jackson, R.C. & Baker, J.S. (2001). Routines, rituals, and rugby: Case study of a world class goal kicker. The Sport Psychologist, 15, 48-65. Moran, A. (2012). Sport and exercise psychology: a critical introduction. London: Routledge. Moran, A., MacIntyre, T., Campbell, M. & Foster, D. (2011). Metacognition and action: The road less travelled. Symposium held at the International Conference On Thinking (ICOT, Belfast; 22nd June). Nichols, A.R., Jones, C.R., Polman, R.C.J. & Borkoles, E. (2009). Acute sport related stressors, coping and emotion among professional rugby union players during training and matches. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Sports Science, 19, 113-120. O’Driscoll, B. (2005). A year in the centre. Dublin: Penguin Ltd. O’Gara, R. (2009). My autobiography. London: Transworld Ireland. Richardson, P., Goodwin, A. & Vine, E. (2011). Research methods and design in psychology. UK: Learning Matters Ltd. Woodcock, C., Holland, M.J.D., Duda, J.L & Cumming, J. (2011). The psychological qualities of elite adolescent rugby players: Parents, coaches and sport administration staff perceptions and supporting roles. The Sport Psychologist, 25, 411-443.

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The Evolution of Irish Design Practices: Mapping Connections Between Practice, Culture and Politics Dr. Linda King In 2009 the Architects’ Department of Dublin City Council nominated Dublin for World Design Capital designation in 2014. This biennial competition, run by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, celebrates the accomplishments of cities that have used design as a tool to reinvent themselves and improve social, cultural and economic life. The Dublin bid was named Pivot. While Dublin was shortlisted from fifty-six to three entrants, Cape Town was the ultimate winner. A requirement of the Pivot bid document was the inclusion of an overview of design activity in Ireland throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. While discrete histories of some fields of practice did exist, there was no detailed overview of Irish design that drew these strands together. Consequently it was difficult to evaluate the unique historical conditions that influenced the development of Irish design activity generally and Dublin design activity specifically. This essay was an attempt to fill that gap and provide context for the bid document as a whole. keywords: Ireland, design, industry, education, history


The Evolution of Irish Design Practices

In its current format the text represents the content of one of the final iterations of the essay. As the bid document evolved the essay was edited down to form two pieces of work: a substantially shorter piece outlining the main thematics of design activity entitled ‘Irish Design: History, Context and Possibilities, 1900-2011’ and an accompanying timeline that extracted key dates and protagonists and added some further detail. These were both included in the Pivot book (Dublin City Council, 2011) and website (www. pivotdublin.com). The inclusion of multiple dates and emblematic projects in the original, the expanded and the subsequent shorter essay and timeline was a conscious decision to encourage use of the text as a starting point for further research and scholarship. In this version the emphasis has, in the main, been placed on key thematics and design practices as opposed to individual achievements. However there are exceptions, particularly where individuals have given their names to practices or work as individual designers. There is also a distinct focus on architectural achievement reflecting the provenance of the bid.1

Introduction: Where is the ‘Design’ in Irish Creativity? In January 2011, the Irish actor Gabriel Byrne launched Imagine Ireland, a yearlong festival of Irish culture which took place in New York. Referencing Ireland’s literary and musical heritage, Byrne stated that it was important to demonstrate how Irish culture comprises more than ‘Yeats, Joyce, Beckett and U2’ and that the creative and visual arts are central to Ireland’s future economic recovery.2 The rhetoric surrounding the Imagine Ireland project was notable on many levels: it referenced the long legacy of Irish emigration to the US and acknowledged the rich network of creative talent comprising the Irish Diaspora; it drew parallels between Ireland’s current – and continuing - economic crisis and that of the recession of the 1980s when the creative and visual arts grew in spite of economic downturn; it was celebratory of contemporary practices and optimistic about future achievements. In essence, the Imagine Ireland project offered that Ireland should ‘imagine’ itself into a brighter future spearheaded by networks of indigenous and Diasporic creative talent. What is particularly notable about Byrne’s thesis is the emphasis on Irish writing, highlighting an oft-repeated observation about Irish creativity: that is dominated by the written word as opposed to visual images or designed objects. However, it is not difficult to understand how such assumptions can be made. While there is much research into Irish design developments at the levels of under- and post-graduate education – typically as part of qualifications for practice-based subjects - the relative lack of publishing on Irish design ensures that such research

remains within the confines of academia and does not often reach the level of public discourse. The narrative presented here draws parallels between the lessons and achievements of the past in order that possibilities for the future can be considered. In framing this narrative, the threads of politics, economics and nationalism weave through the chronology as all are intrinsic to understanding the unique evolution of Irish design practice. It offers that Irish design can be viewed as series of networks: a national network of design activity linked to economic stimulation and nation-building; an international network of design influence that evolved through Ireland’s long history of emigration and less wellknown history of immigration; an educational network that has grown and sustained design development; and contemporary communicative and travel networks that enabled Irish designers to position themselves within global networks of influence. In so doing it places particular emphasis on Dublin as the country’s capital city and the centre of much creative activity. This essay makes no claim to comprehensiveness and is an attempt to broadly map the legacy and trajectory of Irish design activity over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Writing overviews of any topic is inherently problematic. Once committed to text narratives can become ‘fixed’ and built upon; all historical writing is subjective, in spite of aims to the contrary; personal interests and experiences colour meaning; choices, selections and edits are made for a variety of pragmatic and ideological reasons. Notwithstanding these shortfalls, historical overviews can provide useful starting points for further research and at the very least, crudely map a territory that others can build upon.

Broad Brush-Strokes: Design, Industrial and Educational Heritage Pre-Independence When compared to other countries of Europe and the US, it can often seem that Ireland’s indigenous visual and material creativity had a spectacular start as defined by the artefacts of the early Christian period (for example, the Book of Kells, c.800), only to come to a shuddering halt sometime before the twentieth century. In some respects this neat narrative has some truth: Ireland has a distinct economic and political history that has often mitigated against industrial development and by extension, the development of design practices. Ireland’s unusual position within Europe - that of a colonized country surrounded by colonizing forces – fostered a political and economic climate of flux and instability, restricting the growth of an industrial base necessary for fostering

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innovation and developing and expanding design activity reliant on the packing and promotion of goods and services. Within this context and even post-independence, Irish design was often more concerned with adopting and adapting visual languages honed in other jurisdictions, than on innovative forms. Unlike the experience of Continental Europe, for example, the printing boom of the sixteenth century that gripped Germany, Britain, Holland and Italy - the antecedent of graphic design practice - by-passed Ireland, while the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that swept across Europe and the US established a limited hold in an Ireland that had a subordinate place within the British Empire. What manufacturing did exist by the nineteenth century led to discrete pockets of industrial production, principally in the areas of shipbuilding, ironworking and alcohol production. However, the sustained growth of indigenous industry was hampered by the aftermath of the Act of Union (1800) - when economic investment and autonomous political status were withdrawn - and compounded by a worldwide recession in the 1870s. By the early twentieth century what industry survived was mostly confined to the six counties of Ulster where shipbuilding and ceramics (for example Beleek pottery, 1863-) flourished. By World War I the region was the world’s largest producer of linen and Harland and Wolff (1861-) had gained international notoriety after it launched the ill-fated, but luxuriously designed, Titanic in 1912. Farming was, until the second half of the 20th century, the main driver of Irish economic activity and while industrial production was a relative anomaly within an economy based on agriculture, it did exist. Of such examples much manufacturing comprised localised, craft-based industries dotted around the island, featuring glass making (for example Waterford Crystal, 1783-1851) and textile manufacturing (for example Avoca Handweavers, c.1723-; Morton’s Rugs, Donegal, 1898-1957), however, there were many criticisms about the ‘quality’ of Irish products and their ability to compete within export markets. Examples of large-scale manufacturing could be found in the cities and in Dublin, brewing (Guinness, 1759-), distilling (Powers, 1791-; Jameson, 1780-), baking (Jacobs, 1881-; Johnston Mooney and O’Brien, 1835-) and paper production (for example Swiftbrook Paper Mills, Saggart, 1760-1968) thrived. The city had also developed a modest textile industry (for example Greenmount Spinning Company, 1835-1920s) and was home to Dunlop Tyres which established its first manufacturing plant in the city in 1890, transferring production to England a decade later. The importation of Palladian and Neo-Classical architecture


in the eighteenth century under the direction of James Gandon, Thomas Ivory and Edward Lovett Pearce, amongst others, ensured that the city’s architectural expression became a potent example of a localized adaptation of international forms. This provided the city with its distinctive urban plan and left a legacy of some of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the British Isles. After the devastating consequences of a Famine (1845-9) that substantially reduced the Irish population by over two million through death and emigration, economic stagnation took hold and by the early twentieth century Dublin had some of the worst poverty and mortality rates in Europe. Yet, the city could also boast some notable achievements that would stimulate design activity in the coming decades. Industrial exhibitions to promote the links between art, creativity and industry were held in Dublin (1853, 1883, 1907) and Cork (1882) and Irish goods and products featured in the US-based World Fairs of Chicago (1893) and St Louis (1904). Within a ten-year period Colleges of Commerce (Rathmines, 1901), Marketing and Design (Mountjoy Square, 1905) and Technology (Bolton Street, 1911) were established and by the mid-century these provided innovative courses in commercial art and architecture3 and complimented the existing educational provision of the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (1877).4 Nationally a School of Design was established in Cork (1850) which evolved into the Crawford Municipal School of Art (1885) and a School of Ornamental Art appeared in Limerick (1852) was subsumed into the Municipal Technical Institute (1911).5 As the twentieth century unfolded against a backdrop of further instability including urban unrest (the Dublin Lockout, 1913), international conflict (World War 1), national rebellion (the Easter Rising, 1916), armed resistance against British rule (the War of Independence, 1919-21) and Civil War (1922-3) design production could claim some notable achievements. The Dublin stained-glass artist and illustrator Harry Clarke produced some of the finest gift book illustration found in Europe or the US including the volumes Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (1916) and Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe (1919, 1923). Amongst many stained glass commissions Clarke also contributed windows to the Honan Chapel in Cork (1916), a project that is one of the finest examples of the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement in its interpretation of the European ideas of Gestamkunstwerk. Influenced by the writings of William Morris the project exemplifies how local craft traditions and indigenous visual forms materialised cultural distinction and the desire for political independence. 1916 also witnessed the opening of one of Dublin’s most important advertising agencies, McConnell’s,


The Evolution of Irish Design Practices

and the introduction of the city’s first motorized taxis, exemplars of early attempts to modernise the city’s communicative and transport systems. New and innovative technologies were not confined to the capital: the Italian inventor and communication pioneer Guglielmo Marconi established the first regular transatlantic wireless service in Clifden in Galway (1907), demonstrating how, at the turn of the century, Ireland was linked into a network of international communications, while Ford Motors opened a manufacturing and assembly plant for cars and tractors in Cork (1917-84). Inspired by Henry Ford’s desire, as an IrishAmerican, to stimulate economic growth in the county of his father’s birth, the latter is a notable example of Irish industrial manufacturing linked to emigrant history.

Modernization and Nation Building: 1920s-50s The Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) was established in 1922, the year James Joyce published Ulysses, his tribute to Dublin city. However, the bitterly divisive Civil War that followed created further instability on the island. Against a backdrop of economic challenges, the first government, led by Cumann na nGaedheal, embarked on an ambitious project of nation building that had considerable influence on the development of nascent design practices. This comprised the creation of a national network of infrastructure and communications including the employment of German workers from Siemens to design and build the first hydro-electrical station for the Electricity Supply Board (1926-9) and the launch of the first state radio station, 2RN (1926). Mass produced designed objects played a crucial role in visualising independence and political autonomy culminating in the first definitive stamps by James Ingram (1922), coinage by Albert Power (1928) and banknotes with imagery by John Lavery (1928), all of which synthesised historical references within contemporary idioms. The renaming of streets and state buildings after Irish political and revolutionary figures, particularly in Dublin, were important gestures of national pride that visually stripped the urban landscape of colonial references and recast these as symbols of political independence that became part of the everyday experiences of the populace. A similarly economic and highly charged political act comprised the repainting of post boxes from ‘British’ red to ‘Irish’ green and many of these repurposed post boxes still punctuate the national landscape. Sackville Street - Dublin’s main thoroughfare – was renamed O’Connell Street after suffering seven years of hostilities and was rebuilt with the Savoy Cinema by F.C. Mitchell (1929) and Clery’s Department Store by Ashlin & Coleman (1920) – modelled on Selfridge’s in London forming key focal points.

Little indigenous industry emerged in the 1920s - Cork’s Carrigaline Pottery, (1928-80) being a notable exception - and the focus on growing the Irish language through the school system to the exclusion of art education, was to prove detrimental to the growth of professionalized design activity. This political decision ensured that Ireland was hopelessly ill equipped to embrace the ‘art for industry’ pedagogies that swept across Europe and the US in the early decades of the twentieth century. Against this backdrop some of Ireland’s most significant design achievements happened outside the island including the pioneering work of emigrant Eileen Gray. Based in the South of France and absorbing influences from the avantgarde practices of the de Stijl and Bauhaus, her radically Modernist home, E1027, was completed in 1929. She did retain connections to Ireland, however, referencing the quality of Irish textile production, she had her ‘St. Tropez’ rug produced by Donegal Tweed (1925). In the 1930s emigration dipped as the Great Depression in the US (1929-31) limited employment opportunities for those wishing to leave the country. Industrial employment and output increased between 1931-8, including footwear, clothing, glass, and confectionery, but was to be shortlived. The Economic War with Britain (1932-8), initiated by successive Fianna Fáil governments, limited the market for exports and the introduction of protectionist policies for Irish industry ensured there was little or no competition between indigenous Irish goods. In this climate poor design standards prevailed, leading to the establishment of a government-led Design Committee (1937) to enquire into standards of ‘design and decoration’ of Irish goods, an initiative that failed to get beyond the stage of discussion. Nonetheless, there were areas of development and expansion that laid seeds for future design activities. In spite of limited markets new advertising companies sprang up across Dublin (Arks, 1931; Arrow, 1931; Janus, 1935; O’Kennedy Brindley, 1937), the Grafton Academy of Fashion emerged (1938) and Colm O’Lochlainn designed one of the first modern uncial typefaces, Colmcille (1936). Although industrial development was limited, Newbridge Cutlery (1931, now Newbridge Silverware), Arklow Pottery (1934-99) and Dubarry Shoes (1937-) were also established during this time. The greatest achievements of the 1930s were in the areas of communication and infrastructure and these directly impacted on the growth of design activities. Aer Lingus, the national airline, was founded in 1936 and RTÉ, the national radio broadcaster was launched in 1937. Both of these companies would later play pivotal roles in providing greater connectivity between Irish people and internationalising influences. In terms of Irish visibility

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abroad, Guinness opened a monumental brewery complex in London (Park Royal, 1932-2005) designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and Michael Scott designed the iconic ‘Shamrock Pavilion’ for the New York World Fair (1939). The Pavilion, a showcase of Irish industry and – quite conservative - artistic achievement, was housed in a structure that was completely Modernist at ground floor level but when viewed from overflying aircraft provided one of the most recognisable and conventional motifs of Irish identity. Scott was also one of a number of architects who designed a network of hospitals (including Portlaoise, 1938; Tullamore, 1937) which, like the Pavilion, strongly demonstrated the influence of European Modernism and was also responsible, through the RIAI, for bringing the Bauhaus’ Walter Gropius to Dublin in 1936. In a country dominated by conservative Catholic influence, as exemplified by Ireland’s hosting of the Eucharistic Congress (1932), one of the most radical architectural designs of the period was the Church of Christ the King, Cork (1931), designed by Chicago-based architect, Barry Byrne who had trained under Frank Lloyd Wright. Yet despite the existence of radical Modernist forms the popularity of cinema going ensured that the more populist and decorative style of Art Deco became the favoured expression of Irish architectural modernity. The market for exports fell sharply during the 1940s as a consequence of World War II and industrial activity was curtailed. If the 1930s were characterized by insularity, the 1940s were characterized by the expansion of state infrastructure, a preparedness for future international connections, the slow dawning that the tourism industry was central to economic development and a gradual acknowledgement by government for the need to link art with industry. The decade began with ambitious attempts to physically link Ireland with wider spheres of influence: the completion of Desmond Fitzgerald’s Dublin Airport (1940), an exemplar of Modernist architecture, was followed by the first commercial transatlantic flights into Ireland by TWA and Pan Am (1945) and the opening of Shannon Airport (1947). Shannon employee Brendan O’Regan, in an example of astute entrepreneurialism, established a Duty Free shop and the concept was exported world-wide. Internally focused infrastructural projects included the start of the Rural Electrification Scheme (1946) and the consolidation of public transport in the form of Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ, 1946). The dormant company, Waterford Glass, was re-established by a Czech manufacturer Charles Bacik and glass designer Miroslav Havel (1947-2009) and renamed Waterford Crystal (1950), providing evidence of how immigration had a significant impact on Irish manufacturing and design.


As the decade ended and heralded complete political autonomy with the transition from Free State to Republic (1949), a number of important initiatives were established that would have long lasting influence on the growth of Irish design activity. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA, 1949) was established to support the export of goods, the encouragement of inward foreign investment and the stimulation of indigenous industries, while in the same year the Irish government commissioned the Report on the Arts in Ireland, authored by Thomas Bodkin. This emerged as a scathing attack on the standard of design activities in the state, calling for educational reform, stronger links between design and industry, study of design developments in Scandinavia, France, Germany and Britain, and the importance of high quality design publicity for the tourism industry. An aspect of the report’s legacy is that many of its suggestions influenced state intervention into design professionalization and reformed design education in the 1970s. The 1950s witnessed unsurpassed levels of unemployment and emigration but the period was also characterized by a growth in design activity, much of which arose through immigration or was allied to tourism development. In this respect the most significant design developments occurred in the field of graphic design. By 1950 Sun Advertising (established 1945) had begun to entice Dutch graphic designers from Dutch airline KLM to work on an ambitious advertising campaign for one of its most prestigious accounts, Aer Lingus. While this decision might seem unusual it was in part recognition that Ireland lacked the necessary indigenous experience in handling an account that had an international presence. In the post-World War II climate of aviation expansion, Aer Lingus had begun to expand its network of European routes and established a transatlantic route in 1958. In its combined roles of de facto tourism authority, flag-carrier and transportation agent, it was hugely significant in how Ireland was viewed internationally and indeed, how Irish people articulated their own sense of national identity. The first KLM designer, Guus Melai, arrived in 1951, followed by a steady stream of Dutch expertise throughout the decade, the majority of whom settled permanently in Ireland. As the decade progressed these designers (some of whom were trained by Bauhaus graduates) were much sought after and worked for many tourism-related companies including Bord Fáilte (for example Ireland of the Welcomes, 1952-) and John Hinde (1956-), as well as a host of indigenous companies (including Guinness and RTÉ). Recognition of the importance of tourism development to the national economy, particularly in relation to the US market, accelerated after the popularity of John Ford’s film The Quiet Man (1952) and influenced the launch of the an Tóstal


The Evolution of Irish Design Practices

festival (1953-8). Recognition of the economic potential of Irish-based filmmaking was articulated with the establishment of Ardmore Film Studios in Wicklow (1958-) which began production with Fielder Cooke’s direction of the Walter Macken play Home is the Hero (1958). Other immigrants also made significant contributions to Dublin culture: the US mining engineer, Chester Beatty, bequeathed his vast collection of Asian artefacts to the city in 1954, while Danish fashion designer Ib Jorgenson established his haute couture business in 1957. Irene Gilbert and Sybil Connolly had also established haute couture fashion houses - in 1951 and 1952 respectively capitalizing on the strength of Irish textile manufacturing on which they based many of their designs. Connolly’s work in particular was much sought after in the US and the patronage of Jacqueline Kennedy was a contributing factor to this success. Textile manufacturing demonstrated strengths in other areas as the number of carpet companies around the country grew including Donegal (1954-), Youghal (1954-84), and V’Soske in Galway (1957). Immigration to Ireland may have been discrete but significant, however, emigration peaked in 1957 and had a direct effect on adding to the Irish design Diaspora, particularly in the area of architecture and engineering. In terms of Irish designers seeking opportunities abroad, one of the most notable practitioners was the structural engineer Peter Rice, who joined Ove Arup in 1956 and worked on the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre. Rice left Arup to establish his own company, RFR (1982-), in Paris with Ian Richie, the architect who would eventually design Dublin’s Spire (2003) on O’Connell Street. Against a backdrop of economic gloom, design advocacy slowly emerged, even though the infrastructure to support design activity was limited. Another outcome of the Bodkin Report (1949), for example, was the establishment of the Arts Council (1951) which organised an Irish branch of Britain’s Design Research Unit under the guidance of industrial designer, Misha Black. In Ireland the DRU produced small touring exhibitions based on the principal of ‘art applied to industry’, showcasing the best of indigenous and international design. Two examples of its instructional mandate – for both public and manufacturers - were the International Design Exhibition (1954) which focused on the work of European and Northern European designers, and the Irish Design Exhibition (1956) which profiled ‘indigenous talent’ including work by the Dutch designers working within the tourist industry. The advertising industry continued to expand with the establishment of the Institute of Creative Advertising (1958, now ICAD) and the publication of its journal Campaign (1959-62). Without formal education in graphic design practices, many artists and architects

moved into this field, the most significant being Design Consultants (1953-c.1957) - later known as Signa Design Consultants. Signa included the architect Pat Scott and the artist Louis le Brocquy and produced graphic design, textiles and furniture, with an emphasis on visualizing Irish identity. As the decade unfolded, design advocacy and the professionalization of design activities reflected a growing awareness of the importance of design to the national economy. The display of Irish products and services in the annual Industrial Parades (1951-69), combined with the work of the export authority (Córas Tráchtála [CTT], 1952) and the industrial development agency for the Gaeltacht regions (Gaeltarra Éireann, 1957) also contributed to public and political discourse on design-related issues. By the late 1950s the gradual shift of focus from political and economic insularity to greater international engagement accelerated with the publication of TK Whitaker’s Programme for Economic Expansion (1958). Supported by one of Ireland’s great modernizing influences, Taoiseach Seán Lemass (1959-67), it paved the way for economic development through greater engagement and trade relations with Europe, culminating in Ireland’s application for (1961) and acceptance to EEC membership (1973). In the coming decades design activity became a central concern in the packaging of goods and services aimed at international markets.

Professionalising Design: 1960s-80s Between 1959 and 1968 industrial output rose, exports grew, foreign investment increased and Irish people experienced a rise in living standards. The visual evidence of such changes were particularly evident in Dublin which experienced an architectural boom. As extensive urban planning expanded the city’s borders, office developments and new corporate headquarters redefined its fabric. The US Embassy by American architect John Johansen (1964); the Bord Fáilte headquarters by Robin Walker (1961) and the RTÉ headquarters by Ronald Tallon, (1960c.1975) - a consequence of the broadcaster launching the state’s television service in 1961 – are emblematic of such changes. Walker and Tallon, like many of their generation, had trained for periods in the US, and influenced by such pioneers as Mies Van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, contributed to the architectural infrastructure of a modern, internationally focused Ireland. The reforms of Vatican Two (1962-5) initiated a vigorous programme of Catholic church building of which Liam McCormick’s Burt Chapel in Donegal (1967) is a significant and idiosyncratic example that exemplifies how the fabric of church buildings reflected vernacular forms in the attempt to localise Catholic religiosity. Amongst the architectural Diaspora Kevin Roche established an architectural firm in

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the US with John Dinkeloo: Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates LLC (KRJDA, 1966-). Taking over the practice of their mentor Eero Saarinen, KRJDA was highly influential and designed buildings for numerous US organisations including John Deere; the United States Post Office; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the United Nations. Most recently KRJDA realised Dublin’s first purpose-built convention centre (2007-10) as part of the Dockland’s development. While architectural practices were intent on adopting international ideas, other areas of design practice were not as quick to rise with this tide of change. Arising out of the criticisms of Bodkin and others, a group of European designers (including Kaj Franck and Åke Huldt) were invited by CTT to survey standards in Irish design (1961). Their observations, published as Design in Ireland (or the Scandinavian Report, 1962) were highly critical of indigenous design standards and educational provision with the exception of craft and textiles - and called for the establishment of specialist industrial design courses. In part response to the report the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW, 1963-88), the first government-sponsored design agency in the world and most significant milestone in Irish design development, was established as a subsidiary of CTT. KDW focused on the training, modernization and promotion of industrial, graphic and craft design, in addition to making sustainable links with extant Irish manufacturers and small-craft initiatives. It also opened retail units in Kilkenny and Dublin (1976-88) where the best of contemporary Irish design was profiled alongside exemplars of European design. It attracted a synthesis of indigenous and immigrant practitioners including Dutch ceramicist Sonja Landweer and Finnish silversmith Bertel Gardberg, and was a conscious attempt to stimulate design development in a country where such activities had not organically occurred. By the mid-1960s textiles and graphics were a main source of design employment and KDW had particular successes in these areas. Irish graphic designer Damien Harrington - who had trained in Holland – set up the graphic design workshop of the organization, producing logos for a host of semi-state companies including the Post and Telegraphs (1969); the Dairy Council; and the Office of Public Works (1973). Harrington’s work successfully visualised a sense of an evolving and nuanced Irish identity that synthesised both contemporary and historical references with the visualization of the abstractions of infrastructure and service. Other notable KDW achievements included Helena Ruuth’s textile designs for the Terence Conran designed seating at Heathrow Airport (1966) – which were manufactured by Birr Fabrics (c. 1966–91) - Holger Strøm’s


iconic IQ light (1972), Irish Aluminium’s bright yellow litter bins (1972) - which were nationally distributed - and a series of influential KDW promotions in department stores across the US and Britain (1967-72). The KDW model was eventually exported to developing nations, including the Philippines, as an exemplar of how to artificially stimulate and accelerate design activity. One of the other successes of the 1960s was the continued growth of indigenous film production and the emergence of design activity as linked to this emergent industry. Dubliner Josie McAvin’s pioneering work as a set decorator led to Oscar nominations for Tony Richardson’s direction of Tom Jones (1963) and for Martin Ritt’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965). In 1986 she won an Oscar for her work on Sydney Pollock’s Out of Africa. During the 1970s the seeds of future design education provision were sown through the establishment of a network of Regional Technical Colleges across the country. In Dublin the restructuring of the NCA as the National College of Art and Design (NCAD, 1971-) and establishment of Bauhausian foundation course in Dun Laoghaire (late 1960s) that evolved into Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design (1979-1997), redefined creative arts education and new – but generalist - courses in design emerged. Ireland’s increasing industrial focus influenced the establishment of a new design organisation to award design excellence, the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI, 1972-), exemplifying how design activities were developing distinct identities and becoming more professionalised. Architectural practice remained strongly reflective of economic and industrial growth as exemplified by the Bank of Ireland headquarters by Ronald Tallon (1978) and the Carroll’s Factory, Dundalk by Scott Tallon Walker (1970). However, the focus on architectural modernization also sometimes proved controversial, as demonstrated by Sam Stephenson’s Central Bank (1975) and his designs for the Dublin Corporation Offices (1976) which were built on top of one of the world’s most important Viking settlement sites at Wood Quay. Such projects influenced public discourse on how Irish culture might meaningfully reconcile past with present in its efforts to modernise and internationalise. On a much smaller scale the work of illustrator Jim Fitzpatrick offered a visual solution as to how the two abstractions might co-exist. As author of the iconic image of Che Guevara, as derived from Albero Korda’s famous photograph of 1960, and with his album cover designs for Thin Lizzy (including Jailbreak, 1976; Johnny the Fox, 1976; Black Rose, 1979), Fitzpatrick’s fusion of Celtic, psychedelic, comic book, and science-fiction references synthesised past and present, local and international and reached an international –


The Evolution of Irish Design Practices

predominantly youth - audiences through the popular forms of posters, advertising and music packaging. Looking back over the 1980s it is possible to spot similar trajectories to the 1950s in that both periods of deep recession stimulated high levels of creativity and ingenuity. As the first degrees in design were established by NCAD in 1981, a new generation of formally trained designers emerged mid-decade. Many of these graduates established graphic design and industrial design consultancies of which Design Factory (1983-), Designworks (1983-) and Design Partners (1984-) are amongst those companies still operating, the names of which testify to the relative novelty of professional design qualifications. The launch of Apple’s Macintosh computer (1984) further influenced the establishment of design companies; by giving designers greater access to the means of production, a variety of skills that had previously represented numerous discrete jobs were suddenly accessible and affordable to many. This technological shift facilitated graphic design companies to emerge independently of the advertising agency system and to evolve distinct specialisms. The decade also witnessed new patterns of design expertise imported into Ireland including Hong Kong-born John Rocha who established his Chinatown fashion label (1983-8). An increased emphasis on temporary foreign investment, particularly in the area of animation, became evident with the establishment in Dublin of O’Sullivan Bluth Studios (1985-95) and Murikami Wolf Swenson (19892000) who produced films and shows, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987–96) for export around the world. One of the biggest causalities of the decade was the closing of KDW, which, after running into financial difficulties – including a loss-making London store (1986) - experienced the withdrawal of state subsidies and was closed down. Within the wider spheres of influence, work began on Dublin’s ambitious Dockland Development Plan with International Financial Services Centre (1988-) at its core. Industrialist Tony Ryan established Ryanair (1985-), breaking the monopoly on domestic aviation held by Aer Lingus, and the company eventually revolutionized airline travel across Europe with its low-cost model based on the American company Southwestern. Yet, against this backdrop of significant entrepreneurialism, employment opportunities were limited and similar to the experiences of the 1950s, a new wave of emigration defined the decade and resulted in many design graduates seeking experience abroad. This has, however, ensured that Ireland has a large network of design Diaspora that has continually opened up avenues for graduates. In a decade marked by the acceleration of violent unrest in Northern Ireland, Belfast became a centre of world

attention for two widely divergent reasons in 1981: the republican hunger strikes (1980-1) and the establishment of a manufacturing plant for DeLorean cars (1981-2).

Design Maturation and Economic Downturn: 1990s-Present 1990 was the year that Alan Parker’s film about a Dublinbased band, The Commitments, premiered. The film portrayed the bleakness of a city riddled by unemployment in contrast to a group of young Dubliners determined to succeed as musicians. As more design graduates emerged from a growing creative arts sector, a determination to succeed was also reflected in a significant rise in indigenous design companies. While this was notable in the area of fashion (for example Louise Kennedy, 1990-) and industrial design (for example Dolmen, 1991-; and Philip Kenny, 1991-), the field of graphic design experienced particular growth. In Dublin alone Language (1990-), Dynamo (1992-), Imagenow (1992-), RedDog (1993-), and Public Communications Company (1995-2012), were established while companies also sprung up outside the capital, including Carton Levert in Donegal (1998-), demonstrating how evolving media and communication networks no longer tied practitioners to the country’s economic centre. Synthesis in industrial design, graphic design and digital technology led to the establishment of new fields of activity, reflected in the number of companies established in the areas of game design (as exemplified by Havoc, 1998-), interface design (for example Frontend, 1998-) and interactive design (as demonstrated by Martello Media, 1986-; X-Communications, 1994-2013; and Webfactory, 1995-). Dublin’s Temple Bar area (1991-) became a site of architectural innovation and experimentation for indigenous companies who were known by the collective moniker of Group ’91. Turning a multiplicity of derelict buildings into cultural institutions, housing and restaurants, the Temple Bar redevelopment plan ultimately created new tourist attraction within the city centre. Just five years after The Commitments was released Ireland was a very different place. Poised on the brink of an unprecedented economic expansion that would last for thirteen years, a new found wealth became visible in the very fabric of the country as rapid urban and suburban expansion irrevocably changed the landscape. The aims and aspirations of the Celtic Tiger period are etched into architectural infrastructure of the country as can be seen with one of the flagship projects of this era: the Dublin’s Docklands development. This area is punctuated with a number of monumental structures by international architects including a bridge by Santiago Caltrava (2009), the aforementioned National Conference Centre by Kevin

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Roche (2010) and the Grand Canal Theatre by Daniel Liebskind (2010), reflecting a change in the axis of the city along its waterfront. Significant infrastructural projects were also completed during this time: a network of national motorways now provides greater connectivity between cities and towns, Dublin’s Luas system of trams (2004) connects city with suburbs, the city has now two international standard sports stadia in Croke Park (2005) and the Aviva Stadium (2010), and the new Dublin airport terminal, T2 (2010), conceived to address the high levels of tourists travelling to and from Ireland. From the perspective of design education, the 1990s experienced huge developments across the country as the Institutes of Technology (formerly the Regional Technical Colleges)6 expanded provision and their main focus of vocational training shifted to providing design education to the level of degree status. In a relatively short period of time the IoT sector became the main provider of design education offering courses in graphic, animation, industrial, fashion, production design for stage and screen, textiles, craft, model-making, furniture and architectural design. Coinciding with seismic shifts in the development of new media and technologies, a new generation of graduates emerged with a range of transferable skills in these areas. The quality of Irish design graduates, strengths in design innovation, and development of communication infrastructure had some influence on trans-national companies such as Google deciding to locate European headquarters in Dublin (2004) and the establishment of MIT’s Media Lab, Europe in Dublin (2000-5), with the remit applied research. From the turn of the century, Irish design became far more visible and confident due in part to the profile of the design Diaspora who reached new levels of international recognition. This is particularly evident in the area of fashion design and millinery. Orla Kiely (1993-) and Philip Treacy (1990-), both based in London, have become international household names, while the leather goods of Pauric Sweeney based in Florence (2004-) and the work of Una Burke – who has designed costumes for Lady Gaga (2009) – are regularly reviewed in the international press. For most of the 1990s and 2000s, unprecedented economic growth led to an increase in design purchasing as Irish people travelled more, had greater disposable income, and house buying and selling became national obsessions. As a response to these new markets a number of fashion designers diversified into the design of household products: Kiely now designs furniture, tableware and household accessories while John Rocha pioneered a wave of fashion designers designing Irish glass products with his Waterford Crystal collaboration (1997).


One of the most significant growth areas for the international recognition of Irish design has been in fields relating to the film and animation, where Irish designers have demonstrated a particular strength in collaborative practice. Illustration and technology have merged in concept design, as exemplified by Dermot Power’s work on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002), the Harry Potter series (2002-4) and collaborations with Tim Burton on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Alice in Wonderland (2010). Costume designers have been particularly successful: Joan Bergin has had Emmy wins for The Tudors (2007, 2008, 2010) and Consolata Boyle won an Emmy for The Lion in Winter (2003) and Oscar and Bafta nominations for The Queen (2007). In production design and art direction Tom Conroy and Colman Corish won Emmys for The Tudors (2010). Irish animation companies have also garnered huge international recognition with Oscar wins and nominations, specifically Brown Bag Films for Give Up Yer Old Sins (2002) and Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty (2010), Cartoon Saloon for the Secret of Kells (2009) and Ruarí Robinson for Fifty Percent Grey (2001), while Richie Baynam won an Oscar for his digital effects on James Cameron’s Avatar (2010).

Conclusion: The severe downturn in Ireland’s economy since 2007 and the banking crisis that followed has resulted in a deep and long-term recession, which will take decades to reverse. Ireland cannot compete within a global market in the areas of industrial and manufacturing but its designers have shown an aptitude for adaptability, skills transference, versatility and resilience, which is particularly evident with new and emergent technologies. Although Ireland’s history of design activity is relatively short, this short overview offers some insight into how Ireland has negotiated design activity as a driver of economic, cultural and social development and how design innovation has arisen from previous recessionary times. Edna O’Brien once commented: ‘When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen but ferociously tenacious’; it could be argued that in reflecting a national psyche such tenacity in the face of adversity also defines the pattern of Ireland’s design heritage and suggests a richness of future accomplishments.7


The Evolution of Irish Design Practices

Footnotes: 1 Since the Pivot essay was first published I have attempted to address a number of gaps in the original essay through other commissioned pieces including another survey on Irish Design for the Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press for the five volume series: the Art and Architecture of Ireland (AAI, 2014). This co-written piece entitled ‘Design and Material Culture, 1900-2000’ has provided the opportunity to expand a number of points particularly with regard to the analysis of design education, graphic design and design related to film production. A number of IADT staff have initiated research into aspects of Irish Design which will further expand and enrich the narrative including Liam Doona and Elaine Sisson who are currently researching areas of Irish theatre design. At the annual Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI) Awards for design excellence, 2012, the Pivot team (comprising Dr. Linda King, Red & Grey Design, Emma Curley Architects, Areaman Productions and Dublin City Council) were presented with an award for Outstanding Contribution to Design in Ireland. 2 Lara Marlowe, ‘Ambitious display of creative talent asks US audiences to imagine a better Ireland’, Irish Times, 8 January, 2011, p. 3. 3 These were eventually amalgamated into the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). 4 This evolved into the National College of Art and Design (NCAD). 5 These were, in part, the antecedents of Cork and Limerick Institutes of Technology (CIT, LIT). 6 Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design became a Regional Technical College for a brief period before becoming the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire in 1997. 7 With limited extant literature many friends and colleagues generously offered advice on accumulating the data comprising this essay. I would like to extend particular thanks to Colman Corish, Emma Curley, Keith Foran, Alastair Keady, Anna Moran, Sorcha O’Brien, David Smith and Donald Taylor Black for their respective insights.

Select Bibliography: Bodkin, Thomas (1949) Report on the Arts in Ireland the Stationary Office, Dublin

Comhairle Ealaion (The Arts Council) / The Design Research Unit (1956) Irish Design Exhibition 1956

Comhairle Ealaion (The Arts Council), Dublin.

Corás Trachtála (1962) Design in Ireland – Report of the Scandinavian Design Group in Ireland, April 1961 Corás Trachtála/The Irish Export Board, Dublin

Cullen, L.M. (1972) An Economic History of Ireland Since 1660, Batsford, London

Kennedy, Brian. P. (1994) ‘The Irish Free State 1922-49: A Visual Perspective’,

in Gillespie, R. and Kennedy, B. P. (eds.) Ireland – Art into History, Town House/Roberts Rinehart, pp. 132-152, Dublin/Colorado.

King, Linda and Sisson, Elaine (2011) Ireland, Design and Visual Culture: Negotiating Modernity, 1922–1992 Cork University Press, Cork

Marchant, Nick and Addis, Jeremy (1985) Kilkenny Design: twenty-one years of design in Ireland Lund Humphries, London

Oram, Hugh (1986) The Advertising Book – the History of Advertising in Ireland, MO Books, Dublin

Pivot: Turning Design Inside Out (2011) Dublin City Council, Dublin

Thorpe, Ruth (ed.) (2005) Designing Ireland – a Retrospective of the Kilkenny Design Workshops, 1963-1988 Crafts Council of Ireland, Kilkenny.

Turpin, John (2005) The Irish Design Reform Movement of the 1960s

in D.P. Doordan, Design History – An Anthology, pp. 252–69. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Situating the Natural History Museum: (Re)placing a Dublin Institution into Context Sherra Murphy The Natural History Museum Dublin is one of Europe’s few remaining examples of a largely intact nineteenthcentury natural history museum. It is currently understood as a ‘museum of a museum,’ but this portrayal obscures the complexity of the museum’s role in the development of science and education in Victorian Ireland. Museums in Ireland reflected the values of the learned societies which created them; the Royal Dublin Society encouraged the development of practical science as a form of ‘useful knowledge,’ a stance reflected in the Natural History Museum’s collections. From 1840 to 1860, the RDS and its Natural History Museum were at the centre of intellectual life in Dublin, and were embedded into national and international networks of knowledge and discovery. The current public mythologies around this popular museum have obscured its history of involvement in key episodes of nineteenth-century Irish intellectual, economic and social life. keywords: natural history museum dublin; royal dublin society; irish science; nineteenth-century science; nineteenth-century intellectual history; irish history; irish museums; natural history museums


Situating the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum Dublin is one of Europe’s few Victorian-style natural history museums remaining largely intact. It has long been a favourite civic amenity for locals and tourists alike; its crowded displays filled with deceased creatures have earned it the title ‘the dead zoo.’ Its popularity rests in its ability to manifest a way of thinking about the natural world that appears simultaneously foreign and uncannily familiar. It is generally characterised as a ‘museum of a museum,’ a fortuitous leftover from the late Victorian era, but this portrayal masks the complicated history to which it belongs. Along with its parent organisation, the Royal Dublin Society, it was part of a larger complex of associations, endeavours and ideas which sought to shape the intellectual, moral, cultural and economic character of Ireland. The museum’s relationships with important nineteenth-century institutions and figures demonstrate the nuance and complexity of period debates around the role of science, especially natural history, in defining and developing Ireland’s resources. Yet, the Natural History Museum has been largely disregarded by recent scholarship in Irish political and cultural history, history of science and history of museums; even the institutional histories of the Royal Dublin Society tend to treat it incidentally, if at all. In the absence of sustained scholarly attention, its historical significance has been obscured beneath an accretion of popular mythologies which diminish its role in the history of science and intellectual culture in Dublin.

The Natural History Museum Dublin In 1922, the newly formed Irish Free State assumed responsibility for Ireland’s cultural institutions from the British government and set about restructuring them to reflect a distinct Irish identity.1 Seeking international advice, Minister for Education Eoin MacNeill commissioned a report. Authored by Professor Nils Lithberg, director of the Northern Museum, Stockholm, The Lithberg Report (1927) shaped the future direction of Ireland’s national museums complex. One of its primary recommendations was a focus on Irish antiquities and archaeology as a means of constructing a clear sense of national identity.2 Lithberg’s findings were validated by the Carnegie Report (1928), which seconded a focus on ‘national character,’ urging attention to Ireland’s ethnology, folklore and history.3 The new government heeded these findings, but the choice to focus attention and funding primarily on Irish antiquities and ethnography, coupled with severe budgetary limitations, left the rest of the collections in a precarious state and set the Natural History Museum onto a path of creeping neglect. Explanations for the twentieth-century neglect of the Natural History Museum have ranged from

the Free State’s bias against the Anglo-Irish influence in Irish science, to an anti-modern tendency in the heart of romantic nationalism, but Nicholas Whyte proposes that for the new government, ‘the common thread [was] not the downgrading of science, but the cutting of government expenditure…The new Free State was not hostile to modernity. It was simply hostile to spending money.’4 The long-term aftermath of those early choices meant that the Natural History Museum became the subject of regular protests in the Dáil as it slowly fell into disrepair and disorganisation due to consistent understaffing and underfunding. In 1929, Ernest Alton, TD asserted that the collections of fine art and natural history were ‘almost derelict’ due to lack of financial support. Other TDs supported Alton in demanding adequate provision for all collections, citing their educational value.5 A 1957 Séanad debate indicated that thirty years later little had changed. Senator William Bedell Stanford outlined the poor condition of the museums, stating that the ‘Archaeological Museum and the Natural History Museum are not worthy of our capital city,’ noting that the Natural History Museum in particular had deteriorated significantly over the previous forty years.6 From the inception of the Free State, Dublin’s Natural History Museum became static, remaining unchanged even throughout the 1980s, a period when European and American museums generally, and science museums in particular, underwent seismic shifts in their approaches to exhibition, and in their engagement with museum audiences.7 In 1988, funding became available to rewire and redecorate the Natural History Museum.8 The works were a restoration rather than a modernization; repairs, cleaning and repainting restored it from a disorganized dusty relic to something approximating its late Victorian condition. Dublin possessed, through accident engendered by neglect, an intact example of the Victorian cabinet museum, untouched by twentieth-century museum theory. The restoration caught the attention of evolutionary biologist and popular science author Stephen Jay Gould, who marked the occasion with a paean entitled ‘Cabinet museums revisited,’ extolling the virtues of Dublin’s Victorian-style museum. Gould had made a research visit in 1971, and described his experience of ‘a dingy place,’ with ‘little light…and dust absolutely everywhere.’9 On revisiting in 1993, he discovered that ‘not one jot or tittle of the exhibitions had been changed, but all the surroundings have been meticulously restored to their original condition[.]10 Gould argued for the benefits of maintaining Victorian museums as a historicising counterpoint to the modernizing trends of fewer specimens and increased interactivity; he praised the Dublin curators for restoring ‘their original housing to one of the world’s

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finest and fullest exhibits in the old and still-stunning cabinet style – not just a room to showcase the past, but an entire building in its full integrity.’11 Long-term neglect had shifted the Natural History Museum’s purpose from an originally active scientific institution to what is now most often described as a ‘museum of a museum,’ itself an object which preserves the material history of museums. If, as Roland Barthes asserts, objects are never just ‘themselves,’ but are a form of communication, a type of social usage which is added to pure matter,’ then the physical qualities of this museum, its ‘matter,’ are keys to a series of period social usages that were largely erased while the museum languished in civic limbo.12 In order to restore the museum to its correct place in Irish history, it is necessary to disrupt the comfortable mythologies which have come to surround it.

United States, forming webs of scientific exchange through the publication of new research. Irish scientists exchanged specimens and maintained networks of correspondence with international scholars and institutions. The Royal Dublin Society and its museum comprised one of the primary hubs around which scientific activity in Ireland revolved in the nineteenth century. John Wilson Foster, through his work on the place of science in Irish cultural history, has proposed that ‘there are blind spots in our rear-view vision of Irish culture,’ episodes which have been overlooked in the creation of a coherent narrative of national history.16 The Natural History Museum Dublin became one of those blind spots when it was disregarded in favour of the antiquities which became central to the formation of that national narrative.

The trope ‘museum of a museum’ has given rise to a widespread public perception that the Natural History Museum is an unaltered example of a nineteenth-century science museum.13 This mythology was in full force in April 2010, when the museum reopened after another period of refurbishment in the aftermath of the collapse of a stone staircase. During the week it re-opened, press and broadcast accounts were filled with nostalgic reminiscences of childhood hours spent among the specimens, and declarations of affection for the ‘dead zoo.’ Consistently repeated was the notion that the museum had ‘remained virtually unchanged since it was opened in 1857.’14 Cursory examination of historical records shows that this is patently incorrect; in 1857 the ground floor of the museum was unfinished, and the exhibits on the first floor were minimal due to lack of funds to purchase display cases. The entrance was through the front door of Leinster House, with the museum accessed through a connecting curved corridor. The tile floor at ground level was not laid until 1864.15 Many of the handsome wood and glass cases were not built until after 1877. In 1857, it bore only slight resemblance to the museum which stands today.

Museums and natural history

The museum’s current representation as a nostalgic remnant of Dublin’s past obscures the fact that the Natural History Museum was originally built to house then-modern and growing scientific collections which were seen as essential to educational and economic development in Ireland, and which were conceptually situated within the wider developments of science in Europe. Irish scientists such as John Hart, William Kirby Sullivan, Robert Kane and Richard Griffith studied abroad, primarily in Paris, Germany and Scotland, returning to Ireland with the personal connections and scientific methods they had gained. Royal Dublin Society publications, such as the Journal of the Royal Dublin Society, were exchanged for the publications of other learned societies across Europe and into Canada and the

Museums are myth-making enterprises. Their core activities of collecting, preserving and displaying objects conserve the intellectual and material culture of the past. Assembling collections isolates particular objects, lifts them out of their original contexts and marks them out as exemplary and worthy of sustained attention. Curating objects into museum displays organizes them into coherent forms of information, deriving their logic not from the values of their producers, but from the prevailing norms of their institutional stewards. Susan Pearce cites the power of the ‘unique museum mode, the ability to display, to demonstrate, to show the nature of the world and of man within it by arranging the collected material in particular patterns, which reflect, confirm and project the contemporary worldview.’17 Museum objects are deployed to create narratives about the order of the world. Natural history museums occupy a central but complex space within the history and praxis of museums, having developed out of the ethos of the Renaissance cabinet of curiosity. Cabinets were assembled by wealthy collectors in an attempt to contain the sum of human knowledge in one room, and as a means of demonstrating status.18 As the practice of collecting became embedded into the intellectual developments of sixteenth-century Europe, professionals such as apothecaries, gardeners and university men also began to amass collections of natural materials for study; collections shifted from being solely the province of the wealthy into the service of practical science. Divisions between naturalia, objects produced by nature, and artificialia, objects produced by man, were also concretised at this early stage into a dichotomy between nature and art, and ‘[c]ollections of naturalia were formed to support the investigative interests of scholars adumbrating what would be called ‘natural sciences’ in later centuries[.]’19


Situating the Natural History Museum

Though preservation is the central rationale for man-made objects of art and archaeology, natural history museums are primarily comprised of objects that are organic, prone to disintegration and, in the main, may be replaced.20 They are rendered valuable or desirable through their deployment within systems of ideas, rather than through worth determined by craftsmanship, rarity or marketplace value. Though museum collections in general serve to order the contents of the world into rational series, natural history collections take the order and functions of life itself in all its forms as their territory. Pearce specifies such collections as ‘systematic,’ noting that systematic collecting ‘has, in all its different manifestations…been accorded an intellectual primacy;’ she avers that ‘systematic collecting is an intrinsic part of the development of the natural sciences.’21 As natural history museums are manifestations of scientific practice, any study of them is interdisciplinary by definition, at a minimum comprising museum studies and the history of science.22 Taking into consideration that collections were often made as ancillary aspects of exploration, mapping, travel, colonial enterprise or economic development, the study of any particular natural history collection may also include political, intellectual, cultural and social histories within its purview. Through this complexity, natural history museums offer unique opportunities to consider the progression and meaning of scientific ideas within a wider a cultural framework. The Natural History Museum Dublin provides such a framework, offering significant potential for investigating the intellectual culture of mid-nineteenth century Dublin in its national and international contexts; yet, the academic work treating the museum directly is slight.23 The Royal Dublin Society’s Natural History Museum has never been the subject of an extended academic study, though it embodies many of the intellectual, scientific and cultural trends of the 1840s to 1860s in Dublin.24

The early museum at the Royal Dublin Society; setting a context To fully grasp the significance of the museum in its period context, it is necessary to examine its place within the wider ambition of the Dublin Society, which added ‘Royal’ to its name with the patronage of George VI in 1820. The early working principles of the Society dictated that the acquisition of knowledge was essential to improving Ireland’s material conditions; from the outset members were expected to educate themselves and one another in subjects which would foster improvement. Rule 19 of the first charter in December 1731, outlined the substance of what would become a standard methodology for the membership:

That every member of this Society, at his admission, be desired to choose some particular subject, either in Natural History, or in Husbandry, Agriculture or Gardening, or some species of Manufacture, or other branch of improvement, and make it his business, by reading what had been printed on that subject, by conversing with them who made it their profession, or by making his own experiments, to make himself master thereof, and to report in writing, the best account they can get by experiment or enquiry relating thereunto.25 The spirit of enterprising didacticism was a central feature of the organisation; the composition of its membership, especially at the upper levels, meant that the Society’s approach to science encompassed a set of fundamental aims, neatly summarised by G.F. Mitchell: We must always remember that the founders of the Society were essentially landed proprietors who were imbued with the aim of raising the standard of Ireland’s prosperity, an aim which, if successful, would be of benefit to them personally and to the nation as a whole.26 The collecting activities of the Dublin Society began in 1733, when it was given space in the basement of the Irish Parliament for exhibiting models of manufacturing and agricultural equipment.27 The audience for this experiment were the landed gentry comprising the upper echelons of Ireland’s political and social structures, many of whom were Society members, in order to edify them in the most recent techniques for managing the resources on their estates. The collection and display of objects for educational purposes was already a staple of European intellectual culture.28 The Dublin Society adopted collection and display as part of their didactic mission of self-education and economic improvement. By installing a museum into the basement of the Irish Parliament, they embedded the logic of European museums, with an emphasis on rational enquiry, into the heart of Ireland’s political life. Though the collections were modest and utilitarian at the outset, they developed rapidly when the Society relocated them from the Parliament building to Grafton Street in 1786; in reviewing the Society’s new premises, Gentleman’s Magazine noted that ‘[a]bove the meeting room is a library and a repository [museum] for mechanical models, save those relative to husbandry, which are deposited in another place belonging to the Society.’29 The ‘other place’ was a premises occupied by the Society on Hawkins Street, which also contained displays of mineral and fossil specimens, and housed the Society’s collection of books on husbandry, natural history and mechanics.30 The focus on natural history collection per se began in 1792 with the purchase of the Leskean cabinet of minerals,

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which also contained zoological and botanical specimens. Secured for Dublin by chemist and prominent Society member Richard Kirwan, it was already notable as one of the most comprehensive collections of European minerals, arranged according to the principles of influential German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner by one of his pupils, N.G. Leske, a professor of natural history at the university in Marburg.31 Mitchell reported that: The cabinet ‘was deposited in a spacious and elegant apartment’ in the Society’s premises in Hawkins Street where it was claimed to be ‘one of the most perfect monuments of mineralogical ability now extant’ which would ‘excite the curiosity of the unlearned and assist the researches of the scientific enquirer into nature.’ 32 The rooms housing the Leskean collection at Hawkins Street were opened to scholars for study in 1795, an event widely cited as the beginning of the Dublin Society’s natural history museum.33 When the Society moved to Leinster House in 1815, a series of six interconnected rooms were dedicated as a museum, with the building also modified to house a lecture theatre, laboratory and library.34 From 1815 to 1830 the collections expanded, their growth encouraged both by the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the new rooms in Leinster House. Kevin Bright points out that the ‘resumption of world trade after 1815, the growth of commerce and of the British Empire, expanded the scope of the RDS museum to global proportions in natural history, geology, antiquities and ethnology,’ and that donations began to arrive from across the Empire.35 By the early nineteenth century, the Royal Dublin Society had developed its efforts in improvement and self-education into an organised strategy, dividing its areas of interest into committees of agriculture, natural history, natural philosophy, chemistry, botany, manufactures and fine art, as well as a standing committee for its expanding library. These groups managed the Society’s collections and public activities; agricultural shows, a botanic garden, art schools, public lectures, and exhibitions of both art objects and manufactured goods operated alongside the natural history museum. The committees commissioned surveys, reports, registers of animal husbandry, scientific publications and practical manuals, all in support of their efforts in the growth and dissemination of practical knowledge in Ireland.36 These efforts were situated within a wider complex of improving and reforming institutions. The Irish learned societies pursued their activities as means of collecting and studying Ireland’s attributes such as natural resources, antiquities or ancient manuscripts; they assembled the evidence which established Ireland’s unique character.37 In


making the results of their studies public through lectures, papers and learned journals, they helped established a vision of Ireland’s distinctiveness both nationally and internationally. At the same time, the majority of the members of learned societies understood Ireland as logically residing within the administrative structures of Great Britain, though this stance was not universally held. The bodies of Irish material they assembled also fuelled nationalist aspirations, by establishing a corpus of evidence tracing Ireland’s ancient history and outlining its potential for modern economic development. The literary revivals of the late century, for instance, owe much of their source material to the collections of ancient manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy, which commissioned translations of foundational texts such as the Annals of the Four Masters or the Book of the Dun Cow. Antiquarian objects from the Academy’s collections, such as the Cross of Cong and the Ardagh Chalice, became part of the antiquities collections in Museum of Science and Art, the showpieces which the early Free State adopted as markers of national identity. The nationalist focus on economic self-sufficiency in the late nineteenth century may in part be traced to the lingering influence of Robert Kane’s 1844 volume The Industrial Resources of Ireland. Kane argued that Ireland possessed the resources it needed to create and support an economically viable manufacturing sector, thus reducing its dependence on imports. Deriving from a series of lectures he had given as a professor at the Royal Dublin Society, Kane’s book defined the terms through which Ireland’s economic progress was subsequently debated.38 The Royal Dublin Society was one of the largest and wealthiest learned societies, due in part to the generous grant it received from the exchequer. Parliament supported the Society’s mission of practical knowledge and improvement, especially the programmes which generated tangible results such as exhibitions, surveys and educational activities. In many ways, the Society spared Parliament the responsibility and expense of establishing certain civic institutions; museums and educational structures in science and art had been created by the Society as part of its overall mission.39 However, the relationship between the Royal Dublin Society and Parliament, conducted through the administration in Dublin Castle, was complex and often fraught with controversy. The primary source of tension was that the Society saw itself as an autonomous private members’ body, while Parliament saw it as at least partially answerable to the demands of central government, as the lion’s share of its funding flowed from the exchequer.40 The relationship between the Society, Dublin Castle and Parliament had ramifications for the development of the museum and its functions as a scientific and educational resource.


Situating the Natural History Museum

The Royal Dublin Society also had a large number of socially and politically influential members, many of whom played a role in the development of the museum. The Lord Lieutenant traditionally served as President of the Society; though the role was largely ceremonial, there was a direct connection between the Society and the political establishment in Dublin Castle.41 Members were drawn from other levels of the Dublin Castle administration; Thomas Larcom, part of the team which had headed the Ordnance Survey in Ireland, was the longest serving Undersecretary for Ireland (1853-68), and a long-term Royal Dublin Society member. Richard Griffith, head of the valuation surveys (1830-1864), who had previously worked as an engineer for the Society, was a lifelong member and was active on the Committee of Natural History. Landed gentry such as Lord Talbot de Malahide (James Talbot), Viscount Powerscourt (Mervyn Wingfield) and the Earl of Enniskillen (William Willoughby Cole) were active and influential participants in the Society’s affairs. Members who were prominent businessmen, such as flour merchant James Haughton, railway contractor William Dargan and publisher John Sproule, contributed their reputations and practical acumen to the Society’s endeavours. The Royal Dublin Society maintained close relationships with Trinity College, especially in the area of natural science; Haughton’s son Samuel, a geologist, and botanists William Henry Harvey and George James Allman, were professors at Trinity, and active members of the Society’s Committee of Natural History.42 The membership in general ranged across the upper and middle classes, taking in bankers, scientific instrument makers, barristers, civil servants, surgeons, military men, landed gentry, merchants and churchmen, among others. The members contributed objects for collections, conducted research, organised exhibitions, and wrote papers for talks and publications. They maintained an intricate network of personal and professional relationships which frequently influenced the learned societies in which they held membership; many of them were members of several societies simultaneously. Placing the Natural History Museum within the context of the political, intellectual and cultural environments of Dublin in the mid-nineteenth century reveals that its character and activities were far from the mythology of polite and genteel stasis through which it is viewed today, and uncovers its contribution to the emergence of scientific knowledge within increasingly specific and professionalised fields of inquiry. It also reveals that, though the science undertaken in Dublin may be considered within the context of British science in the period, it evinces a series of characteristics that makes it distinctive, revolving around the political and economic conditions of Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century. The Natural History Museum was

embedded into mid-nineteenth century Irish intellectual frameworks in ways that are no longer patently obvious. In the course of discussing Prince Albert’s involvement in the 1853 Irish Industrial Exhibition and the use of symbols as political expression, James H. Murphy observes that: The view of nineteenth-century Ireland that sees a brief literary renaissance in the 1830s and 1840s followed by a period of cultural desuetude until the Anglo-Irish literary revival of the 1890s needs to be modified at least to the extent of recognizing the explicitly cultural texture, albeit of a non-literary variety, of Irish political life. The promotion of science and the arts through exhibitions was a novel form of cultural activity; these became occasions for struggles of political ideology.43 Murphy identifies the demonstrable tendency in the historical record that situates the cultural life of the midcentury within narrowly defined terms. The customary historiographical focus on upheaval and revolution in Irish history, whether political or literary, has resulted in less obvious areas of discourse and debate being insufficiently examined, obscuring their ideological importance. The energy of discovery and the rhetoric of national character are partly transferred during this period to the exhibition hall, the scientific lecture, the learned paper. Considering period discourses on the life cycle of the salmon, for instance, may seem less compelling than analysing the aftermath of the Repeal movement, but both engage issues of land use, economic development and international relations.44 Extant historical mythologies, particularly in the area of science, are unhelpful in reversing this trend; easy truisms around the Anglo-Irish dominance of nineteenthcentury science, for instance, are demonstrably more nuanced than their depictions in standardised accounts. From the 1840s to the 1860s Dublin was filled with a rich and varied set of cultural and intellectual activities, many of which centred around learned and reforming societies such as the Royal Irish Academy, The Royal Dublin Society, and Dublin Statistical Society, and that promoted science, literature, the arts and social reform as part of the wider project of improving Ireland’s national character. In addition, smaller scientific and cultural societies abounded, devoted to specific areas of interest such as natural history, microscopes, photography, antiquities, geology and archaeology, organised for study and exchange between the like-minded in their pursuit of increasingly well-defined fields of knowledge. The majority of these societies possessed collections which they catalogued, studied and displayed, and many of them had museums. They encouraged the writing, reading and publication of

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scholarly papers in their respective fields, maintaining relationships with similar societies nationally and internationally through the exchange of correspondence, speakers and printed material. The ‘cultural texture… of Irish political life’ in mid-century, as Murphy pinpoints it, develops in large part through the membership of key public figures in the learned societies, who bring their intellectual interests and personal relationships to their political and civic agendas. The various societies were deeply interconnected with one another and shared membership was common. The learned societies constituted a web of social and professional relationships which had far-reaching effects on civil and political policy. The Natural History Museum developed within this rich pool of cultural and scientific activities. Dublin was the hub of an intellectual network which included the learned societies, but also took in social clubs, mechanics’ institutes and governmental and professional bodies across the island. The collective work of these varied groups was disseminated through museums, displays, exhibitions, lectures, social events and publications. The collection and dissemination of knowledge was a hallmark of the Victorian period generally, and a distinctive feature of civic life in mid-Victorian Dublin. As in London, the pursuit and collection of knowledge was primarily driven by the rubric of improvement, operating on the underlying assumption that the increase and acquisition of knowledge was a form of salvation. Improvement became a nineteenthcentury watchword; Ireland’s social and economic histories, specifically the versions of them which occupied the imagination of the central government in London, meant that improvement was bound up with the political desire for security and control, supported by a thoroughgoing approach to the collection of knowledge. Science and scientific collections were at the heart of this set of midcentury ideals, as the learned societies sought to contribute to the project of strengthening Ireland’s internal stability through the identification and development of natural resources, and to take advantage of them through an increasingly well-educated population. Though the learned societies and their scientific activities were central features of mid-century life in Dublin, they are normally bypassed or downplayed by standard historical overviews. Setting the Natural History Museum into a wider period context reveals the deeply interconnected intellectual network of which it was an integral part, standing as an exemplar for the cultural interconnections which rendered the period rich in investigation and learning, in debate and discourse, and which were arguably more open and flexible than in the earlier or later periods of the century.


Footnotes: 1 Prior to 1877, Irish museums had been housed within learned societies, primarily the Royal Dublin Society and the Royal Irish Academy, which had formed collections as part of their institutional remit. In 1877, the Parliament assumed responsibility for those collections, until they were taken over by the Free State. 2 Nicholas Whyte, Science and colonialism in Ireland,(Cork, 1999) pp.147-8; Marie Bourke, The story of Irish museums, 1790-2000; culture, identity and education, (Cork, 2011) pp.330-333. Lithberg also recommended that the staff and funding for the Natural History Museum be increased, but the Dáil chose to ignore that suggestion, signalling a slow decline in the museum which lasted until the late 1980s. For a discussion of the focus on antiquities in the formation of identity in the early Free State see Elizabeth Crooke, Politics, archaeology and the creation of a National Museum in Ireland: an expression of national life. (Dublin, 2000), pp.139-147 3 Marie Bourke, The story of Irish museums, 1790-2000; culture, identity and education, (Cork, 2011) pp.330-333. 4 Nicholas Whyte, Science and colonialism in Ireland, (Cork, 1999) pp.148. 5 Dáil Éireann, vol. 29, 17 Apr 1929, Committee on finance, vote 49, science and art. Alton was a professor of classics at Trinity College, and an independent unionist. Tierney, Law, Briscoe and Esmonde voiced their support in debates. 6 Séanad Éireann, vol. 48, 11 Dec 1957, tourist traffic bill 1957. Stanford added ‘We had a very large conference in this city last September, that of the British Association; and it was very sad for many of our scientists in Dublin that when members of that great and influential association went to see our Natural History Museum, they were bound to be gravely disappointed.’ Ironically, the museum had been opened during the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference exactly one hundred years previously. 7 For examples of the shifts which took place, consult Eilean Hooper Greenhill, Museums, media, message (New York, 1995) and Susan Pearce, Museums, objects and collections: a cultural study, (Washington 1993). 8 The closure was announced in the Irish Independent, 12 Jul 1988; the dates for reopening were debated in the Dáil throughout 1989, finally reopening in November. Funding was provided by the newly inaugurated National Lottery Fund, established in 1987. 9 Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Cabinet museums revisited,’ in Natural History; Jan 94, Vol. 103 Issue 1, p12-20. Later re-published as ‘Alive, Alive-O’ in Dinosaur in a haystack, (London, 1996), pp.240 10 Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Cabinet museums revisited,’ in Natural History; (Jan 1994, vol. 103, Issue 1). Later re-published as ‘Alive, Alive-O’ in Dinosaur in a haystack, (London, 1996), pp.240 11 Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Cabinet museums revisited,’ in Natural History; (Jan 1994, vol. 103, Issue 1). Later re-published as ‘Alive, Alive-O’ in Dinosaur in a haystack, (London, 1996), pp.241 12 Barthes, Roland, Mythologies. pp.109 13 On 5 July 2007, a cantilevered stone staircase collapsed in a restricted area of the building, injuring several teachers who were visiting the museum. In the aftermath, a safety audit deemed that the museum should be closed so that necessary repairs could be undertaken. Press account on 6 July 2007 and 22 April 2010 cover the event, and an excellent summation, titled ‘Natural History Museum; a history of neglect?’ may be found on Eoin Lettice’s blog Communicate Science: http://www.communicatescience.eu/2010/04/naturalhistory-museum-history-of.html 14 Irish Times, 22 Apr 2010 15 The process of constructing and finishing the museum is detailed in the Royal Dublin Society Natural History Committee Minutes 1854-1877.


Situating the Natural History Museum

16 John Wilson Foster, Recoveries; Neglected Episodes in Irish Cultural History 1860–1912, (Dublin, 2003) pp.1-5. Foster’s own significant contribution to that end is Foster, John Wilson and Helena C.G. Chesney, (eds.) Nature in Ireland: a scientific and cultural history, (Dublin,1997), though even this volume contains very little reference to the Natural History Musuem Dublin. 17 Susan M. Pearce, Museums, objects and collections, (London, 1992) pp.4 18 For an overview see N. Jardine, J.A. Secord and E.C. Spary (eds.), Cultures of natural history, (Cambridge, 1996); also Oliver Impey and Arthur McGregor (eds.), The origins of museums, (Oxford, 1985) For a wealthy Renaissance collector, the rarity of objects in a collection, or their beauty, richness or expense, could be as important as their intellectual value, and were means of demonstrating erudition and wealth. 19 Abt, Jeffrey, ‘The origins of public museums,’ in MacDonald, Sharon (ed.), A companion to museum studies (Sussex, 2011) pp.120-21 20 The exception is when an object or specimen is rare or allied to other information; Darwin’s finches, for instance. 21 Susan M. Pearce, Museums, objects and collections: a cultural study, (Washington 1993), pp.84 22 Nineteenth-century natural history museums have an additional level of complexity, in that many of the boundaries between disciplines which we now understand as commonplace did not yet exist, or were very much looser than we would see them today. 23 The notable exception is Juliana Adelman, ‘Evolution on display: promoting Irish natural history and Darwinism at the Dublin Science and Art Museum’ in The British Journal of the History of Science, xxxviii, no. 4 (December 2005) pp. 411-36. There is a short section on the RDS and its museums, including natural history, in Marie Bourke, The story of Irish museums, 1790–2000; culture, identity and education (Cork 2011) on pages 181-90, with single mentions also scattered throughout. Running to over 500 pages, this is the first published overview of the history of Irish museums, yet it gives scant attention to this important institution. 24 The single published volume specifically devoted to the museum, The Natural History Museum Dublin, was published in 1983 by the Stationery Office, authored by then-keeper C.E. O’Riordan. A slim volume, it is primarily a compendium of general information covering the span of time the museum has been extant, giving important names, events and dates, but lacking a context or deeper research which places the museum in a period context. White, H.B. The history of the science and art institutions of Dublin’, in Museum Bulletin, National Museum of Science and Art Dublin, v:I (Dublin 1911) is also a précis of the history of the RDS museums.

32 Mitchell, G.F. ‘Mineralogy and geology,’ in Meenan, James and Desmond Clarke, (eds.), The Royal Dublin Society, 1731-1981 (Dublin, 1981), pp.160 33 O’Riordan, CE, The Natural History Museum Dublin. (Dublin, nd) pp.8; Berry, Henry F., A history of the Royal Dublin Society. (London, 1915), pp.157; Scholars were required to present a letter of introduction or to be introduced by someone known to the Society, underscoring the importance of networks from the earliest days of the museum. 34 Mitchell, G.F. ‘Mineralogy and geology,’ in Meenan, James and Desmond Clarke, (eds.), The Royal Dublin Society, 1731-1981 (Dublin, 1981), pp.162. The house was the former stately home of the Earl of Leinster. 35 Kevin Bright, The Royal Dublin Society, 1815–45. (Dublin, 2004), pp. 46 36 There are several histories of the RDS which treat its activities and history; however, none of them contain s thorough history of the Natural History Museum and its impact on Irish science and society. See Henry F. Berry, A history of the Royal Dublin Society. (London,1915); James Meenan and Desmond Clarke, (eds.), The Royal Dublin Society, 1731-1981 (Dublin, 1981); Kevin Bright, The Royal Dublin Society, 1815–45. (Dublin, 2004) 37 The Royal Dublin Society, Royal Irish Academy, Kilkenny Archeological Society, Dublin Geological Society, Dublin Statistical Society and other smaller societies each sought to marshal like-minded members in discovering and presenting original Irish material for an audience of national and international fellow scholars in their disciplines. Many scholars belonged to more than one society, and their disciplinary interests often overlapped. 38 The Royal Dublin Society encouraged and funded the publication of Kane’s book as part of its focus on improvement and useful knowledge. 39 The level of support the Royal Dublin Society enjoyed is clarified in the opening summaries of Report from the Select Committee on the Royal Dublin Society, HCCP 1836 (445) Parliament eventually took over direct control of Irish schools and museums, consolidating and centralizing British civic institutions as the century progressed. 40 Several Parliamentary reports examine and attempt to correct the sources of tension, most notably Report from the Select Committee on the Royal Dublin Society, HCCP 1836 (445); Report from the Select Committee on the Royal Dublin Society, HCCP 1864; and Report from the select committee on scientific institutions (Dublin) HCCP 1864 (495) 41 George William Frederick Howard (Viscount Morpeth, later the Earl of Carlisle) served as Chief Secretary (1835-41), and later held two terms as Lord Lieutenant (1855-58 and 1859-64), therefore President of the RDS.

25 Henry F. Berry, A history of the Royal Dublin Society, (London, 1915)

42 Membership lists and committee memberships are printed in the annual Proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society.

26 G.F. Mitchell, Mineralogy and geology, in James Meenan and Desmond Clarke, eds., The Royal Dublin Society 1731–1981, (Dublin 1981) p. 154.

43 Murphy, James H., Abject loyalty: nationalism and monarchy in Ireland during the reign of Queen Victoria (Cork 2001), pp.110

27 H.B. White, ‘The history of the science and art institutions of Dublin,’ in Museum Bulletin, National Museum of Science and Art Dublin, v:i (1911) pp.7

44 Debates around fisheries policy were hotly contested in the mid-century Ireland, as they centred on the differences between inland waterways and seashores, with landowners from each claiming rights to profits from the cash-valuable species. Poorer inhabitants also claimed traditional rights, frequently exercised through poaching. The RDS and the museum were involved in the debates, as the breeding habits of the fish were only being discovered; natural science and its findings had direct influence on the policies regarding this species. Parliament legislated the Irish salmon fishery several times between 1836 and 1864, with emerging scientific information playing a role in the outcome.

28 For an overview see Oliver Impey and Athur MacGregor, The origins of museums, (Oxford, 1985) 29 Berry, Henry F., A history of the Royal Dublin Society. (London, 1915) pp. 91 30 Berry, Henry F., A history of the Royal Dublin Society. (London,1915) pp. 91–3; This premises was modified and became the Society’s headquarters until the move to Leinster House in 1814. 31 Wyse-Jackson, Patrick, ‘Fluctuations in fortune; three hundred years of Irish geology,’ in Foster, John Wilson and Helena C.G. Chesney (eds.), Nature in Ireland: a scientific and cultural history. (Dublin, Lilliput Press 1997) pp.94-95; Mitchell, G.F., ‘Mineralogy and geology,’ in Meenan, James and Desmond Clarke (eds.), The Royal Dublin Society, 1731-1981 (Dublin, 1981), p.159. Kirwan was a prominent member of the RDS, and was a devotee of Werner’s ideas about geology and the formation of the earth. Werner’s assertion that water was the main force in geological formations was countered by James Hutton’s assertions that heat was the cause of geological change. Kirwan’s purchase of the Leskean collection brought Dublin into active participation in the heated debates between the ‘watermen’ and the ‘firemen.’

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Social Realism Re-imagined: Alternative Representations in Irish Television Drama Dr. Díóg O’Connell Ireland’s passage from boom to bust in the first decade of the twenty-first century has generated much discussion about perpetrators and beneficiaries with a general acceptance that a certain coterie of vested interests operated in a cocoon, protected by a lethargic approach to scrutiny by relevant watchdogs. In some quarters, the net of blame is cast more widely. Some would have it that the entire country was on the make, behaving like immature teenagers unable to cope with a financial windfall. In the discourse around popular culture, it has been argued that an alternative view to the boom times was never presented, leaving a vacuum of critically engaged texts at the time.


Social Realism Re-imagined

Discussing new Irish cinema since the reactivation of the Irish Film Board in 1993, Barton (2004), Ging (2002) and McLoone (2000) are critical of the new wave for an absence of an engaged critique of Irish society. However, looking back from a distance an appraisal of Celtic Tiger drama allows alternative interpretations. Visual texts sometimes reveal a more complex representation, unnoticed at their initial reception. The range of styles and themes explored through television drama between 2000 and 2007 are much more eclectic and diverse than previously appreciated. While criticisms of these years tend to be directed at what was not represented rather than what was, this paper explores three dramas, Bachelors Walk (20012003), Pure Mule (2005) and Prosperity (2007), as a critique of these times and an alternative representation of Irish life. The party was not for everyone, the reasons being varied, including a mix of choice, limitations and circumstance. This paper explores how these drama productions narrate more nuanced stories from Ireland at this time.

Introduction Bachelors Walk (2001-2003), Pure Mule (2005) and Prosperity (2007) offered a direct challenge to and criticism of these faux boom times, only legible now when the rose-tinted spectacles have been removed. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, it can be suggested that within certain areas of popular culture, and in television drama in particular, a degree of unease was the narrative hinge in some productions. Representations in these narratives both control and subvert. They control through the frame of the dominant ideology of the time, a position maintaining that progress is achieved through modernity, symbolised in urbanisation, café culture and a move away from the traditional mores of Irish society – religion, repressed sexuality and political violence. At the same time they subvert, by presenting an alternative picture to the material gains of Celtic Tiger Ireland, a space where not everybody wants to work in financial services and the dot com industry or become property tycoons. A narrative structure balancing residual and emergent cultures (Tulloch, 1990) presents an alternative view and a critique of what was going on in the public and private sphere of economic Ireland in the first decade of the new millennium. Through the prism of social realism, this paper examines how a traditional method of subversive narrative is reimagined for a contemporary audience. Spanning the range of comic to serious drama, these three productions represent both a formal and social disruption to the perceived dominant ideology at the time, promoted throughout public discourse. In true Brechtian realism, whereby the means of narrative construction calls attention, in a political way, to the core message of the text,

the narrative social quality becomes a form of knowledge and the ‘political artwork embodies a difference between the way things are and the way they can be’ (Tulloch, 248: 1990). Pleasure for Brecht relies on the spectator’s new recognition that ‘the world can be remade’ (Tulloch, 249: 1990), and thus becomes a challenge to the status quo. It is argued here that this political device combined with a social realist aesthetic meant that these television dramas, through their loyal following at the time and positive critical acclaim, hit a nerve with Irish television audiences. This paper suggests that a critique of these times is found in a range of drama productions, subtle in their expression but poignant and enlightening from the vantage point of the present. What makes these productions all the more interesting, radical and subversive are the tensions revealed within the new order, tensions that did not always stem from one fixed position. Although many of the characters are depicted as participants of the booming economy (Scobie and Séamie in Pure Mule), they are not necessarily seen as beneficiaries. Other characters clearly reject the new order (Raymond, Barry and Michael in Bachelors Walk) yet still survive, while some didn’t get a look in (Stacey in Prosperity), remaining and being kept outside of opportunity and advantage. This paper explores three dramas that control and subvert the ideology of the time, through the traditionally radical aesthetic of social realism, but re-imagined for a new age. When we look back from the vantage point of economic bust and full blown recession, these dramas present a radical alternative, welcomed at the time as a form of entertainment and escapism but now viewed as some sharp commentary and criticism.

Social Realism – Historical Context Social realism evolved from realism, a term with multiple definitions, but most associated in television drama with ‘kitchen sink’ drama, soap opera etc. Realism is often inextricably linked with verisimilitude, different to naturalism by drawing attention to ‘truth’. As a concept, realism has a powerful philosophical thrust, relying on an ideological commitment to an objective, external reality (whether of timeless universal abstract notions like ‘human nature’, or of historical but objective facts like class struggle) (Cook, 47-49: 1990). The status of external reality is privileged over its representation, i.e. we look through the representation for a ‘truth’ beyond, or else some kind of cultural resonance, significance or explanation. Realism can be then understood as an aesthetic construct dependent upon a set of artistic conventions and forms. Social Realism developed in British cinema first, and like other political movements in cinema (French New Wave, Italian Neo-realism for example) emerged as a result of

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critical writings in film journals. Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz argued in the seminal film publication Sight & Sound for a new type of film ‘which would discard outmoded artifice in favour of the simplicity and freshness of personal observation of every day reality’ (Ibid: 147). As socialists, these critics/writers pitted themselves against the artificiality of Hollywood and requested a personal poetic observation of reality, giving rise to the documentary forerunner of British Social Realism known as Free Cinema. Like all movements it lasted just as long as it was commercially viable and its formation policy remained intact - in this case its adherence to realism. The films directed by Lindsey Anderson (If, 1968), Tony Richardson (A Taste of Honey, 1961) and Karel Reisz (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 1960) were generally centred on themes that embodied issues of class, gender and youth, exploring what became known as the social problem film, demonstrating a committed left wing view of British films and an interest in artistic form. This aesthetic and narrative form was appropriated into television drama in the 1960s, notably in such ground-breaking productions as Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home (1966) and Kes (1969), continuing the tradition of observational style, long takes and improvisation. These productions brought a political edge to the realism approach, by combining the specific subject matter with a distinctive aesthetic approach. Social realism is defined as a mix of style, form and types of film practice, historically contingent. Themes, issues and representation change over time, are often politically significant and ideologically laden. Social realism developed an identifiable aesthetic characterised by hand-held cameras, real locations and an absence of a laugh track. Silence as a narrative device is often appropriated to allow the script to breathe, characters develop and actors perform away from the scrutiny of a live audience (Bignell & Lacey, 2005). The narrative aesthetic gives a feeling of improvisation, low budget produced television reminiscent of improvisation of French New Wave and Italian Neorealism: it is stylish and visually ambitious in its aesthetic. Many of these devices have remained intact while new aesthetic features have developed in a newly adapted form of social realism. As has been noted elsewhere (Sheehan, 1987; Gibbons, 1996) Ireland’s output of television drama in the 1960s and 1970s was remarkable for a country of its size and the newness of its broadcasting service. While the 1960s was characterized by a predominance of Abbey Theatre stage play adaptations, the 1970s was the most innovative decade for the eclectic range of dramatic productions. Ireland’s close proximity to Britain and its nearest competitor, the BBC, meant the standards of production were set very high


(Sheehan, 1988; Gibbons 1996). This challenge, which the new station, RTE rose to, particularly in the field of drama, meant that the strong tradition of social realism drama filtered through, emerging in such notable productions as A Week in the Life of Martin Cluxton (Brian McLochlainn, 1971). Telling the story of a male youth just released from a reform school in the West of Ireland and how he tries to re-integrate into society in the absence of any state support or efforts at rehabilitation, this drama can be seen as a political drama in a similar vein to Cathy Come Home. MacLochlainn mixes documentary style approaches such as the voice over and direct address to the camera with fictional drama, portraying urban Dublin through an aesthetic of social realism. While not having the same political impact as Cathy Come Home, A Week in the Life of Martin Cluxton is an important historical document in revealing the close relations between British traditions and the nascent television station in Ireland of the 1970s. McLoone (1984) writes about the significance of A Week in the Life of Martin Cluxton as an intervention into conflicting discourses between church and state, ultimately endorsing a progressive and far-sighted position at the time and calling for the welfare state to take responsibility for this social problem. The fact that Irish writers, producers and directors were exposed to weekly BBC television drama meant that this era was both innovative and experimental. However, Ireland’s economic downturn in the 1980s meant that the level of output of drama plummeted and although recent years have seen a growth and diversity in the range of Irish television drama, the success of the 1970s has not been re-visited despite the economic growth and boom in the 1990s. One of the more innovative and critically acclaimed dramas of recent years, while distinctly modern in many production approaches, is reminiscent of these historical movements and as Fintan O’Toole (2007) has noted, nods back in the direction of dramas such as Cathy Come Home and A Week in the Life of Martin Cluxton. A collection of productions glance back to this politicised tradition, adapt it for a new age and present some key, critical dramas of recent times. These dramas are examined here.

Prosperity – Social Realism Re-imagined New social realism in many ways is a very different aesthetic. It must be based on the traditional form which sought to use the vehicle of drama to explore themes and issues of a social and political nature. Yet, it responds and reacts to visual and narrative changes within cinema since the 1990s, whereby narratives became fragmented and less seamless. These stories are told with a faster narrative tempo and often in ‘easily digestible narrative segments’.


Social Realism Re-imagined

The term ‘flexi-narratives’ has been appropriated to denote multiple storylines and a narrative movement between them that is fluid and easy. The themes are similar to the tradition of social realism, defined as social problems – alcoholism, drugs, male violence, paedophilia and racism while the aesthetic value contains a brighter visual palette and enhanced colours in mise en scene (Cooke, 2005: 183-197). Samantha Lay identifies three key themes in contemporary social realism to include a crisis in masculinity, the de-politicisation of the working class through a shift in emphasis from production to consumption and the prevalence of a therapeutic discourse in social realist texts (Lay, 2002). The solutions to the crisis in masculinity, for example, are generally framed in either failure or utopianism while the problems are teased out through conversational tracks shared in personal discourse among characters. Bachelors Walk, Pure Mule and Prosperity comply in many ways to this template. Sometimes, this therapeutic discourse is a device used as a way of avoiding solutions. Or maybe, as was the tradition, these texts were not out to find solutions, rather they sought to put their finger on something that had not yet found a means of expression. Prosperity is a four part drama series, written by Mark O’Halloran and directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Adam & Paul, 2004; Garage, 2007; What Richard Did, 2011), following the lives of four characters on one day, living on the fringes of Celtic Tiger Ireland. Each episode is devoted to one character, with their lives overlapping tenuously. What makes this drama relevant is that it links back to a tradition of radical drama from the 1960s and 1970s known as Social Realism, evolving in Britain and appropriated by some Irish writers and directors in the nascent days of Irish television. Yet, far from being anachronistic, this drama embodies through its narrative and aesthetic a distinctly contemporary feel. Characterised by a low-key approach to narrative development, little in the way of plot points and dramatic moments punctuate the stories, similar to ‘kitchen sink’ drama and social realism narratives. These dramatic scenarios unfold as observationally constructed with the significance of their stories not realised until the closing sequence and sometime later when the subtleties of approach have sunk in. In Prosperity the modern urban yet alienating environment of Dublin city is evoked in a style reminiscent of Abrahamson’s earlier feature film, Adam & Paul. These dramas reveal that Irish film and television narratives do not remain immune to foreign influences. In fact Irish visual narratives are clearly part of a globalised popular culture that sees the narrative moving away from the omniscient approach to dominant point of view in a direction of more nuanced and varied perspective as structured through episodic serial drama. Episode One focuses on Stacey (Siobhan Shanahan), a 17-year-old single mother who whiles away her time on the

streets of Dublin with her small baby, hanging out in what is sometimes referred to as ‘the new Mecca of Ireland’, the shopping centre. She looks for appropriate places to feed and change her baby, while waiting to return to her ‘Bed and Breakfast’ accommodation each evening. Housed through the social welfare system in this type of accommodation after becoming homeless, she is forced to roam the streets during the day. The other three episodes follow the stories of Gavin (Shane Thornton), a 14 year old boy with a stammer who is both a bully and is being bullied; Georgie (Gary Egan), who is struggling with a drink problem, and Pala (Diveen Henry), an African living in Dublin who finds herself increasingly isolated. In a similar episodic approach to Pure Mule, each episode is tenuously linked visually, rather than narratively, yet also acts as standalone drama. This approach to social realism drama ties to the aesthetic defined in the 1960s and 1970s whereby the visual milieu of the characters is bound by spaces clearly identified by their social class and yet it also re-imagines social realism politically by pushing the boundaries of those spaces further into the public domain. Through this contemporary aesthetic, these narratives raise issues but within the context of wider society, by situating the characters in broader public spaces, shared with people from other social and economic milieux. This approach sets it aside from traditional social realism which imposed boundaries of space that defined and limited the experiences of the main characters to an environment populated by themselves (Bignall & Lacey, 2005). It could be argued that contemporary social realism opens up the social issue to see it as society’s problem rather than a class-based issue. While not self-consciously demonstrating that the Celtic Tiger has an under-belly, this series reveals another side to Ireland’s growing prosperity during the first decade of the new millennium, that there are many marginalized people living on the fringes of society, yet they are still very much part of the complex Irish society that has developed over the past fifteen years. While traditional social realism would have cast these characters in a defined space of urban, working class, separate and rarely encountering other social classes, a traditional aesthetic of social realism, this series places its characters centrally within contemporary society, unseen but not hidden. It is not that these stories are untold, that these sections of society are invisible or absent or that mainstream Ireland is oblivious to this parallel way of life. If anything, this marginalized sector of Irish society is, ironically, very much visually to the fore by occupying and inhabiting public spaces in Ireland. Their existence can’t be unknown. What is unique and innovative about this series therefore, is its approach to the art form rather than its polemical

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objective, signalling a shift in social realism drama. This series develops out of the shadow of radical, ideologicallydriven social realism drama yet has a distinctive 21st century feel to it. Neither polemical nor didactic in tone, it allows the narrative advance through the development of its characters. While British television drama of the 1960s and 1970s had a function as a consciousness-raising vehicle, Prosperity resonates more in the vein of Ken Loach’s My Name is Joe (1998), a film that uses the personal story of its main character to reveal the social issue at its core, than Ladybird Ladybird (1994), whereby the characters become ciphers to push a political theme, and consequently is all the more effective for it. By focusing on the story this drama series reveals complex yet subtle characters rather than plots that simply act as a vehicle to convey snippets of time and space. Stacey’s character in Episode 1 resonates at a deeper level through absence of verbal expression. Failed somewhere along the way, by her family, her education, her society we can only surmise - she has been rendered inarticulate about her own situation. This is not to say she doesn’t experience or feel emotionally, she cannot find the means to express it. This inability, or disability, is brought into sharp relief through her relationship with her baby’s father and other people around her. Social realism as an aesthetic movement centres on the premise that the personal is political. Through what the characters say and do, polemics is explored. The narratives explored here focus more on what the characters see and hear, shifting the narrative construction in a new direction, reflecting the changes in the broader political discourse over a number of decades. These narratives reflect the change to ideological discourse, whereby the character is not excluded bodily but materially from the status quo. In Stacey’s case, the absence of control over her own life is in stark contrast to the perceived nature of modern Ireland. During the Celtic Tiger years the notion of individualism dominated, premised on the belief that we are all masters of our own destiny. Characterisation in Prosperity suggests something different, not so much the marginalized and dispossessed but the ‘ghosts’ of society, who are very much present but not seen or felt. Reminiscent of Kirsten Sheridan’s Disco Pigs (1999) and Lenny Abrahamson’s Adam and Paul, Gavin in Episode 2 reflects the urban male youth figure, a familiar anti-hero of recent Irish cinema. However, in Abrahamson’s construction, pity and fear is simultaneously evoked. Gavin is vulnerable but in the absence of any protection for his vulnerability he turns his emotions inside out to become a bully, wayward and anti-social, rounding on the one companion he has. Thus his fragility wins out to tragic effect. Rather than pitting opposites against each other, this drama reveals the


complexity of a modern society, revealing the downside, not so much giving voice to the hidden aspect but allowing the shadows come to the fore. Collectively, this series of episodes reveals other parts to the mosaic of Irish society. In an era of economic prosperity and consumer values, light is focused on the shaded areas normally silenced by the public discourse of celebration. Traditionally, social realism acted as a vehicle for the types of stories re-imagined here. Where this drama series deviates from traditional social realism drama is in its subtle approach to its core meaning, developed and articulated through its characters, who are not simply ciphers for a polemical position but rather reveal through nuanced subtlety how some sections of Irish society have been left behind or outside, and thus excluded from the ‘great move forward’. Similarly to the early pieces, Episodes 3 & 4 tell the story of one character on this particular day and follow their narrative as they grapple with alcoholism and social exclusion respectively. It is an observation of those on the margins, yet people inhabiting very public physical spaces, which are encountered by mainstream society but are rarely heard or invited to speak.

Social Realism meets Comedy Drama Pure Mule and Bachelors Walk function as a critique of the material values of the Celtic Tiger years in Ireland and yet they do not present a unified voice. In Bachelors Walk, the overall theme and atmosphere is one of nostalgia for a simpler way of life without rejecting modernity or embracing traditionalism. This simplicity is based on a previous era, pre-economic boom and referring to the preceding recession of the 1980s. With this type of representation, there is a danger of looking back with nostalgia, by using a narrative of realism disguised as romanticism. Clearly, the comfort zone for Bachelors Walk is in a pre-M50 generation of casual employment and relaxed lifestyle. Whether this is a romanticisation of the past or a critique of the present is revealed through the narrative tension in the text. This approach simultaneously offers a path to regression and nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ while also critiquing the new way of life under the guise of economic prosperity. It does this by refusing to embrace and endorse the material and consumer values of the economic boom. Cast in the mould of comic social realism Bachelors Walk plays with many contemporary themes and preoccupations of the city as a modern and alienating space, while at the same time evoking the notion of ‘village’ and the idea of the ‘flaneur’, in parts. Its central theme echoes that of Pure Mule. The dramatic scenario explores the characters’ choice between adapting to a new environment by negotiating and letting go of the past or rejecting the new order and remaining stuck in the past. Like Pure Mule, although situated within the milieu of Celtic Tiger Ireland,


Social Realism Re-imagined

it’s about the sentiment of a pre-M50 generation (Tracy, 2006). Through the dialectic of tradition and modernity, this drama teases out both the losses and gains as a society moves along an axis towards what is commonly perceived as ‘progression’. The icons of tradition are contrasted with those of modernity. Bachelors Walk where the three main characters live, rent free, in a shabby-chic Georgian House and the evocation of Joyce’s Dublin as a village where you bump into old friends and acquaintances, drop everything and catch up over a pint in Mulligans of Poolbeg Street, are contrasted with café culture Dublin, the Luas and the Spire on Dublin’s main thoroughfare. Traditional themes of community, identity and re-imagined family are established in Episode 1. The re-constructed family of three bachelors and their new flat mate, Alison (Marcella Plunkett) regroup each evening around the kitchen table to reinforce their unit and protect themselves from a growing alienation outside their home on Bachelors Walk. The themes of modernity such as alienation and confusion are evoked through their failure in the job market and their bad luck in romance. The world that Raymond (Don Wycherley), Michael (Simon Delaney) and Barry (Keith McErlean) occupy, while clearly located in the time span of the Celtic Tiger years, is anything but boom time Ireland. Evoking a feel for 1980s Dublin, before cars were clamped and people had long commutes to work from the outer suburbs, these three guys park outside their house on Bachelors Walk, not a double yellow line or clamper in site, and walk around the city as Leopold Bloom did, bumping into people they know. Is Bachelors Walk a fantasy about a bygone era, reminiscent for times past or is it critiquing the way the city has now developed? The answer may lie in the ending of the first series, whereby none of the three main characters meet the expected levels of success in the workplace or in their romantic lives. In what could be seen as a brave ending that rejects the convention of the dramatic cliff-hanger hoping for a sequel, Bachelors Walk’s conclusion is maudlin and morose, playing out to a Tom Waits number as the three bachelors are reduced to emotional wrecks in double failure. Is this a traditional endorsement of old ways over new? Does it celebrate a discourse of failure or critique a society that won’t admit mistakes? Is this a rejection of the new found belief in consumerism and materialism? The new Ireland is for those who want big bucks in big jobs and not for the casual, unfocussed drifter who could survive in the olden days of the 1980s but clearly not now. Pure Mule on the other hand tells the story of a series of characters who are benefitting materially from the new economic wealth of the country by having gainful employment facilitating a particular lifestyle. However,

that’s as far as the symbol of the new Ireland goes. Centred around the story of brothers Shamie (Tom Murphy) and Scobie (Garrett Lombard) who work as tradesmen on a new housing development on the edge of their hometown in midlands Ireland, Pure Mule is a six-part, episodic and character-driven drama focussing on a different character’s story each week, a structural approach adopted in Prosperity. According to Tony Tracy, Pure Mule displays common characteristics which depict a (post) modern Ireland. It shows a preference for the comic mode, often tainted by a bitter-sweet melancholia or satire, representing a culture in transition. Furthermore, it displays a discomfort with the changing social order, introducing a new iconography that might suggest alternative spaces for the expression of ‘Irishness’ (Tracy, 2006). However, like Bachelors Walk, Pure Mule is in a constant tug between tradition and modernity. Certainly the characters have a freedom offered by material wealth that the preceding generation evaded, their movement from traditional domesticity and the pub suggest they are as much prisoners of the old ways, unable to benefit from the new wealth. As Tony Tracy states, ‘the characters of Pure Mule move physically and imaginatively back and forth between these spaces; confused and often blind, they stagger (most literally) between past and future, between the confines of tradition and the new promise of consumerist plenty’ (Tracy, 2006). Therese’s episode in Pure Mule is truly a bitter-sweet representation of the Celtic Tiger years, appropriating the tradition of social realism thematically rather than aesthetically. Clearly marrying the wrong man, Therese (Eileen Walsh) craves all the trappings of the ‘princess’ life, her own castle (new house in suburban estate at the edge of town), tastefully furnished in advance of moving in and the illusion of compatible in-laws, the big happy family. She puts true friendship and family relations in jeopardy. In order to achieve this for his fiancée, Paul / Bomber (Gary Lydon), although having a prison term under his belt, continues to deal in drugs for fear of not being able to measure up materially. The narrative becomes unravelled at the end as all the cracks appear in the fabric of illusion. A heart breaking and contradictory tale of ambition and loss, this episode resonates all the more effectively now, as we view the wreckage of an economy / society built on sand.

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Conclusion Recent Irish drama, as represented through these productions, is caught in a confused present while looking back at the past. The past has been jettisoned by the driving forces of the Celtic Tiger, but some aspects of it are clinging on for survival, particularly by those who were not central beneficiaries of the new Ireland. This confused state is revealed in these dramas, a tension between residual and emergent cultures (Tulloch, 1990). The productions represent shifts in approaches to social realism over a forty year period. The narrative of personal events combined with storylines about social problems situated in a common and recognisable urban or provincial setting is still the defining narrative feature. However, the shift towards a contemporary frame of social realism reflects an ideological transfer over forty years. While the faster tempo in acting, narrative pace and music is varied across the three productions, each drama displays ‘easily digestible narrative segments’ and what Bignell terms ‘flexi-narratives’ – different stories presented with the fluidity of narrative allowing the focus to shift within them. While the social problems remain the same, alcoholism, lone parenting, sexuality, clearly positioned in an urban and provincial environment, each drama has a decidedly brighter visual palette and enhanced colours in mise en scene (Bignell & Lacey, 2005), reflecting the aesthetic development for a new age and new audience. These dramas offer a multiple range of critical perspectives on the Celtic Tiger years, challenging the dominant and accepted view of the social order that a rising tide lifts all boats. Those struggling in the spaces between the residual and emergent culture did so for many and diverse reasons. Human agency suggests that while some, through occupying the margins of a society based on neoliberal values, were left on the periphery, others clearly chose this way of life. Real narrative subversion takes place providing an opportunity for dissent to emerge, only becoming clearer now with the passage of time. However, while new social realism is said to identify the same themes as before, now the site of conflict shifts from the public to the private. Rather than society being held up to question, the site of negotiation is clearly at the level of the individual. The factory, the workplace and the community are no longer the milieu for working out the issue, thus potentially weakening the social or political message. Irish social realism, in its newly imagined form, has a lot in common with trends in Britain towards the private and the personal and away from the public and the social. And yet, there are attempts in these dramas to critique society, even if the site of resolution or negotiation is located at a


deeply personal level. At the height of the Celtic Tiger boom in Ireland, it could be argued that there was an unconscious censorship at work preventing the expression of dissent. Such was the ideological specification at the time that there was no room for begrudgers, naysayers or party poopers. Yet, popular culture will find ways of expression and the medium of television drama in Ireland has a decent enough history of speaking the unspeakable, if only at a subtle and sometimes roundabout way. These drama series, through the appropriation and re-imagining of the social realist mode of expression, broke the barrier of censorship and suggested that all was not well, compatible or welcome in Celtic Tiger Ireland. With the benefit of hindsight, these dramas proved prophetic.


Social Realism Re-imagined

References: Barton, Ruth (2004) Irish National Cinema Routledge

Bignell, Jonathan & Lacey, Stephen (2005) Popular Television Drama: Critical Perspectives (ed.) Manchester University Press

Cook, Pam (1990) The Cinema Book BFI

Cooke, Lez (2005) The New Social realism of Clocking Off’

in Bignell, Jonathan & Lacey, Stephen (ed.) Popular Television Drama: Critical Perspectives. Manchester University Press

Gibbons, Luke (1996) Transformations in Irish Culture Field Day Monographs

Ging, Debbie (2002) Screening the Green: Cinema under the Celtic Tiger

in Reinventing Ireland: Culture, Society and the Global Economy. Ed. Peadar Kirby, Luke Gibbons & Michael Cronin. London Pluto Press, 177-195.

Lay, Samantha (2002) British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit Grit Routledge

McLoone, Martin (2000) Irish Film: The Emergence of a Contemporary Cinema BFI

McLoone, Martin & McMahon, John (1984) Television & Irish Society RTE/IF

O’Toole, Fintan (2007) The Shock of the Raw

in The Irish Times, Saturday, 8 September 2007

Sheehan, Helena (1988) Irish Television Drama RTE

Tracy, Tony (2006) Pure Mule: A Review

www.estudiosirlandeses.org/Issue1/FilmReviews (accessed 1 May 2012)

Tulloch, John (1990) Television Drama: Agency, Audience and Myth Routledge

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Putting Research into Practice: The Development of Teaching and Learning at IADT 2009-2013 Dr. Marion Palmer Teaching in Irish Institutes of Technology was explored in a study in 2006-2007, as part of a doctorate in education. This study consisted of an online survey of 10 Institutes of Technology and a case study in one Institute. The research was submitted in 2009 with a set of recommendations for teaching and learning in the Institutes of Technology. This paper explores how these recommendations have been implemented in the researcher’s Institute of Technology.


Putting research into practice

Teaching and learning at IADT Teaching and learning at IADT is supported and managed in two ways. The Teaching and Learning Committee was set up in 2006 as a sub-committee of Academic Council with the aims to support and develop teaching and learning, including the scholarship of learning and teaching, at IADT. It has terms of reference and information is available on the Institute website (IADT, 2013). Prior to 2006 teaching and learning support was ad hoc although there was an Institute eLearning Steering Group (IADT Teaching and Learning Committee, 2010). In February 2007 the author was appointed as Head of Department of Learning Sciences with responsibility for leading teaching and learning in the Institute. Thus during the study, the researcher became chair of the Institute’s Teaching and Learning Committee and is still chair at the time of writing. This approach with teaching and learning as part of the work of Academic Council and also the responsibility of a Head of Department was a different approach to the enhancement of teaching and learning (Palmer, 2011). As the head of department appointed with the brief for teaching and learning and as a researcher of teaching and learning in Irish Institutes of Technology this paper explores how, if at all, recommendations from the research have been adopted in IADT. The paper is based on the annual reports of the Teaching and Learning Committee to the IADT Academic Council 2010-2012 as they cover the academic years 2009-2012, the researcher’s dissertation completed in 2009 and other internal IADT documents and presentations.

Figure 1: The Institutes of Technology 2006 Universal higher education 2006


Institutes of Technology Context change Levels 6-10 NFQ Structural change independent institutes



Teaching Assessment

Function lifelong learning & preparing students for industry Increase in student numbers

Figure 2: Teaching in the Institutes View from the study


Institutes of Technology Context change Levels 6-10 NFQ

Discipline / Practice


Structural change independent institutes

Teaching Assessment

Function lifelong learning & preparing students for industry Increase in student numbers

Teaching and learning in Institutes of Technology The Institutes of Technology were set up in 1972 under local Vocational Education Committees as Regional Technical Colleges (Palmer, 2009, p.2). By 2006 they had become independent institutes serving Irish society as shown in Figure 1. However the appointment criteria for lecturers remained and remains as originally set out (Palmer, 2009, p.6) an honours degree (or trade qualification) and three years relevant post-qualification experience. The study identified three fuzzy generalisations about teaching in Institutes of Technology. First of all it identified three groups of lecturers – academics who teach, practitioners who teach and teachers, this was seen as a useful typology (Palmer, 2009, p.155). Secondly teaching in the Institutes was identified as the accidental career, and finally that learning to teach in the Institutes is through workplace and professional learning.

Figure 3: Recommendations Recommendations for the future Lecturers

Institutes of Technology

Discipline / Practice

Context change Levels 6-10 NFQ


Structural change independent institutes

Educational theory

Learning Teaching Assessment

Function lifelong learning & preparing students for industry Increase in student numbers

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The study explored teaching from a range of perspectives, particularly that of the lecturers, and concluded that teaching in the Institutes was under pressure from the demands of society, particularly the increase in student numbers as shown in Figure 2. By 2004 approximately 55% of the school leaving cohort moved to higher education (Department of Education and Science, 2007) and this has increased to 65% in 2012 (O’Foghlu, 2012). Essentially the study argued that teaching is under pressure from the demands of the system and that lecturers are not equipped as professional educators as shown in Figure 2. It ‘indicated that lecturers in Institutes of Technology learn to teach by default and suggests that they would teach better with coherent educational development support’ (Palmer, 2009, p. 162).

Recommendations from the research The recommendations from the study focus on the elements needed to equip lecturers so that they can enable learning, teaching, assessment and scholarship in the Institutes. The recommendations can be summarised in a checklist as shown: Lecturers ffIdentify the focus of the lecturer – the discipline/ practice and/or teaching and their approach to students and learning. Matching the lecturer to one of the three groups – academics who teach, practitioners who teach and teachers, enables identification of the type of professional development seen as important and relevant. ffPlan for professional development as a teacher. ffExplore the accreditation of prior and experiential learning to recognise non-formal learning of teaching. Departments/Programme teams ffInclude a consideration of the professional development for teaching in the annual personal development planning meetings between lecturers and Heads of Department. ffEncourage lecturers to work together in local communities of practice (Viskovic, 2006, p. 333) through co-teaching, sharing assessments, peer observation, mentoring, researching teaching. Institutes ffHave a formal learning, teaching and assessment strategy for the Institute.


ffSupport teacher development through a mixture of work-based learning, events and formal learning. ffEncourage all staff in the Institutes to attend teaching and learning events. ffResource educational development through staffing and materials. ffExplore academic work in the Institutes and seek to maximise the link between the disciplines/practices and teaching. This paper now explores how these recommendations have been implemented in IADT using the annual reports of the IADT Teaching and Learning Committee and other IADT documents.

Teaching and learning at IADT reflections on the recommendations - Institute level The Teaching and Learning Committee works at Institute level so it makes sense to start with a review of the recommendations at this level. The recommendation regarding the formal learning, teaching and assessment strategy was completed before the research. As part of the Creating Futures strategic plan (IADT, 2008) the Teaching and Learning Committee was required to develop the strategy and this was completed and approved by both Academic Council and Governing Body in 2008 for two years. The strategy was reviewed as required in 2010 and again approved for two years and is currently under review. The challenge has been the communication and implementation of the strategy in the Institute, although the commendation from the Institute’s Institutional Review in 2011 (IADT, 2011) suggests that some progress has been made. There is clear evidence that the Teaching and Learning Committee has supported teacher development through a mixture of work-based learning, events and formal learning. The main focus has been events and these have been developing and increasing as shown in Table 1. The increased participation is notable and although there may be multiple attendance by individuals it is evidence of increasing participation by IADT staff.

Table 1: Teaching and Learning staff seminars and participation at IADT 2010-2012 Events




Number of participants




Seminars / workshops





Putting research into practice

These events provide useful opportunities for learning from work (Eraut, 2007, p. 132) as they support lecturers to build contacts within and across programmes and try things out. There is little evidence of observing colleagues teach or shadowing a colleague, although some programmes have a tradition of co-teaching. Other approaches to work-based learning suggested by the study (Palmer, 2009, pp. 155-156) including teaching induction and using IADT staff for staff seminars have been adopted. Teaching induction for new and experienced staff takes place each September and as required during the year. Staff with expertise have been encouraged to give seminars, and in 2011-2012 seminars on the use of iPads and Prezi as teaching tools were led by staff. One important initiative in the Institute has been the introduction of accredited courses in teaching and learning – formal learning for teaching. As a partner in the Learning Innovation Network (LIN), one of the Higher Education Authority’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) projects 2007-2012, IADT agreed to pilot with Athlone Institute of Technology a Level 9, 10 ECTS Special Purpose Award, the Certificate in Teaching and Learning, in 2009-2010. This pilot meant that IADT worked with the Teaching and Learning Unit in Athlone to implement an AIT award for IADT staff. The AIT Certificate in Learning and Teaching has been running since 2009 with IADT staff drawn from across the Institute as the programme team for IADT staff as learners. In 2012 IADT validated two LIN Certificates as shown in Table 2. These are running in 2012-2013. The impact of these accredited courses has been notable (Harding and Palmer, 2011, Palmer, 2011). This was surprising given that the research (Palmer, 2009, p. 138) noted that ‘in terms of accredited courses the participants were not sure about their benefit and more importantly could not see how they matched their career plan’. It may be that as they were on site, and thus accessible to staff, and that the certificates could be combined to form a LIN Postgraduate Diploma, has increased the visibility and relevance of accredited awards. Furthermore the general focus on teaching and learning evident in the Hunt report (Department of Education and Skills, 2010) may have provided insight into how such courses could aid career development as a lecturer. The impact noted in 2010 has been maintained in subsequent years. The encouragement of all staff to see teaching and learning has been focused on in a number of ways. The Institute Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy (IADT Teaching and Learning Committee, 2010, p.3) explicitly states;

The Institute aims to help students to reach their potential through the provision of a supportive, vibrant and challenging learning environment. All staff is involved in the construction of this learning environment. Staff from across the Institute are encouraged to take part in the teaching and learning seminars in a variety of ways. Invitations for events are sent to all staff by the Staff Training and Learning Development Officer. Managers are encouraged to support staff attendance (Palmer, 2012) at relevant seminars and accredited courses. This has worked well. To date the Institute Examination Officer, the Access Officer, two Heads of Department and one Head of Faculty have taken the AIT Certificate in Learning and Teaching, as well as staff from the Library and Student and Academic Affairs. Of the nine participants on the Certificate in Technology Enhanced Learning (2012-2013) there is one Head of Department and a Library staff member. This approach has supported the development of links within and across programmes, departments and functional areas. It has raised the profile of teaching and learning across the Institute. The resourcing of educational development has been through a number of mechanisms. The Institute has allocated staff to work on the Teaching and Learning Committee, a Head of Department to chair the committee and lead the work, an Institute administrator to manage the work of the committee and representatives from across the Institute including the academic areas, ICT, HR, Student and Academic Affairs as well as the Institute Registrar to take part in the committee and associated work. The committee works at a number of levels such as policy development, staff development for teaching and learning (included the accredited programmes) as well as some practical initiatives. This work is supported by a small budget, the access to the services of the Staff Training Learning and Development Officer and managed by a Head of Department – the committee chair. Additional resources have been provided through participation in a range of national projects. These included the National Digital Learning Repository (NDLR) as well as the Learning Innovation Network and two other SIF projects. These projects have provided funding for seminars and resources for staff development of teaching and learning materials, particularly digital learning objects. The final recommendation for Institutes was to explore academic work and to seek to maximise the links between the discipline/practice and teaching. This is more difficult to evaluate. There has been a Teaching Showcase since 2010. This uses posters to present work on teaching and learning and provides an opportunity to establish and develop links between the discipline/practice and teaching.

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Table 2: LIN Accredited Teaching and Learning Awards in IADT 2009-2013 LIN Academic Professional Development





Certificate in Technology Enhanced Learning


Certificate in Assessment and Evaluat ion


AIT Certificate in Learning and Teaching


The development of programme assessment strategies as required by HETAC Assessment and Standards (2009) may help achievement of this recommendation.

Reflections on the recommendations – departments/programme teams and lecturers Implementation of these recommendations is hard to gauge. The research was disseminated through an Institute Brown Bag lunch in October 2009 that was poorly attended. It could be argued that the research has not been disseminated to departments and programme teams. The researcher as Head of Department has implemented these recommendations, but in one of six Institute departments, and from September 2012 one of five departments. Annual personal development planning meetings were suspended in 2009 so there is little opportunity for the consideration of teaching and learning. Again the researcher aims to meet staff in her department once a year to be updated on both the work of the lecturer and any training needs, and teaching and learning is included in these discussions. However the work at Institute level, as discussed earlier, has provided opportunities for staff and programme development. Peer observation is part of the Certificate in Learning and Teaching, so staff share their experience across the Institute. The need to review assessment workload and plan programme assessment strategies encourages staff to develop shared assessments. The projects outlined earlier have encouraged staff to research teaching and to present their research at the Teaching Showcase. At lecturer level the availability of accredited courses in teaching and learning is beginning to have some impact. Lecturers, particularly part-time lecturers, are being encouraged and supported to participate as part of their professional development by Heads of Department and HR. The availability of teaching induction is seen as essential for the Institute and is becoming part of the professional development of staff. It can be argued that




professional development for teaching is becoming part of the Institute culture. To date recognition of prior and experiential learning has not been used in IADT to recognise and validate teaching and learning experience. This may be worth exploring. Finally, probably through lack of dissemination of the research, the typology developed in the study – academics who teach, practitioners who teach and teachers – has not been used as a tool by either lecturers or their managers to plan for their professional development.

Teaching and learning at IADT There has been considerable focus and investment in teaching and learning in higher education with the SIF projects (2007), the Hunt report (2010) and the establishment of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2013). IADT has benefitted from this focus and investment through participation in the SIF projects Learning Innovation Network, the Flexible Learning and Dublin Regional Higher Education area (DRHEA) as well as the NDLR. The aim of the investment is to implement Chickering and Gamson’s principles for undergraduate education (1987). Parallel to this work, research into teaching at Institutes of Technology was undertaken by the author as part of an EdD from 2006-2009. IADT has benefitted from research as the researcher is chair of IADT Teaching and Learning Committee. IADT development in teaching and learning is clear, evident and documented. It has prioritised and recognised teaching and learning through staff development, project grants and the Teaching Showcase held since 2010. This development has been recognised and commended externally through the Institutional review commendation for teaching and learning 2011, the receipt of a NAIRTL Award of Teaching Excellence for the researcher in 2011 and the appointment of an IADT lecturer, Rebecca Roper, as one of the five DRHEA Teaching Fellows in 2012.


Putting research into practice

The strengths and weaknesses of teaching and learning have been considered most recently in the Teaching and Learning Committee’s self-study report for Institutional Review (2010). It concluded that there is work to be done on implementing policy, developing the interaction between the committee and the Departments/Faculties and the links from teaching and learning to other areas of the Institute (e.g. Access Office). The self-study noted that: The Teaching and Learning Committee’s role in the development of teaching and learning at IADT through the prioritising of learning resources, support for staff and for teaching and learning initiatives contributes to the quality of education in IADT (iadt Teaching and Learning Committee, 2010, p. 10)

Conclusion This paper aims to review research and consider how the recommendations have been used to develop teaching and learning at IADT. It has aimed to place the research and the teaching and learning into context and consider if the Institute is balanced in terms of teaching and learning as shown in Figure 3. Overall it can be argued that at Institute level the recommendations, aimed at using educational theory to provide lecturers with the skills and knowledge to manage the task of lecturing, are being implemented with some success. At departmental and individual lecturer level the impact of the recommendations is unclear. Actions in IADT are enabling lecturers to develop as teachers and improve their knowledge and skills of their main professional activity.

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References: Chickering, A. W. and Gamson, Z. F. (1987) Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education,

http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committee/FacDevCom/guidebk/ teachtip/7princip.htm, (last accessed 28 March 2008).

Department of Education and Science (2007) Percentage of Age Cohort Entering Higher Education (1980-2004) http://www.cso.ie/px/des/database/DES/Education%20Statistics/ Education%20Statistics.asp, (last accessed 22 December 2007)

Department of Education and Skills (2010) National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 Report of the Strategy Group Summary (Hunt Report)

Dublin: Department for Education and Skills, available online at http:// www.hea.ie/files/files/DES_Higher_Ed_Main_Report.pdf.

Eraut, M. (2007) Early career learning at work and its implications for universities in Entwistle, N. and Tomlinson, P. Student learning and university teaching, BJEP Monograph Series II, 4. Leicester: The British Psychological Society pp. 113-133.

Fanghanel, J. (2007) Investigating university lecturers’ pedagogical constructs in the working context York: The Higher Education Academy http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/ourwork/ research/fanghanel.pdf, (last accessed 2 August 2007)

Harding, N and Palmer, M. (2011) Embedding core values in practice: the AIT/IADT experience

IADT Teaching and Learning Committee (2010) Teaching and Learning Committee Self-Study for Institutional Review Unpublished IADT document.

IADT Teaching and Learning Committee (2011) Annual Report to Academic Council June 2011 Unpublished IADT document.

IADT Teaching and Learning Committee (2012) Annual Report to Academic Council June 2012 Unpublished IADT document.

IADT Teaching and Learning Committee (2013) Teaching and Learning

Retrieved from www.iadt.ie/en/InformationAbout/TeachingandLearning

Knight, P. (2006) The effects of postgraduate certificates

Retrieved from kn.open.ac.uk/public/document.cfm?docid=8640,

Knight, P., Tait, J. and Yorke, M. (2006) The professional learning of teachers in higher education Studies in Higher Education, 31(3), pp. 319-340.

Learning Innovation Network (2013) Retrieved from http://www.lin.ie/.

O Foghlu, S. (2012) NAIRTL Awards of Teaching Excellence 2012 Speech

In Designing together: effective strategies for creating a collaborative curriculum to support academic professional development, Fitzpatrick, N.

Palmer, M. (2009a) Exploring Teaching in Irish Institutes of Technology

HETAC (2009) Assessment and Standards

Palmer. M. (2009b) Exploring Teaching in Irish Institutes of Technology

and Harvey, J. (Eds) Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, pp. 91-105.

Dublin: HETAC. Retrieved from http://www.hetac.ie/docs/Fina%20 English%20Assessment%20and%20Standards%202009.pdf.

IADT (2008) Creating Futures IADT Strategic Plan 2008-2012

Dun Laoghaire, IADT, http://www.iadt.ie/en/InformationAbout/ Corporate/Strategy/Thefile,1322,en.pdfs.

IADT (2011) IADT Institutional Review Response, Implementation Plan & Timeframe

Dun Laoghaire, IADT, http://www.hetac.ie/docs/IR%20IADT%20IR%20 Response%20to%20Panel%20Report%206%20July%202011%20(Final).pdf.

IADT Teaching and Learning Committee (2010) Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy 2010-2012

Retrieved from www.iadt.ie/en/InformationAbout/ TeachingandLearning/LearningTeachingandAssessmentStrategy

IADT Teaching and Learning Committee (2010) Annual Report to Academic Council June 2010 Unpublished IADT document.

Unpublished EdD dissertation Queen’s University Belfast.

IADT Brown Bag Presentation October 2009

Palmer, M. (2010) Developing Teaching in an Institute of Technology

Presentation at LIN NAIRTL Conference Royal College of Surgeons 2010.

Palmer, M. (2011) Academic Professional Development in IADT – the pilot Certificate in Learning and Teaching with Athlone Institute of Technology.

In Designing together: effective strategies for creating a collaborative curriculum to support academic professional development, Fitzpatrick, N. and Harvey, J. (Eds) Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, pp.140-155 .

Palmer. M. (2012) Teaching and learning @IADT

Unpublished presentation to IADT Management Team 10 December 2012.

Viskovic, A. (2003) Becoming a tertiary teacher in New Zealand: some perspectives on workplace learning in communities of practice

Accessed at: http://surveys.canterbury.ac.nz/herdsa03/pdfsnon/N1191.pdf

Viskovic, A. (2006) Becoming a tertiary teacher: learning in communities of practice Higher Education Research and Development, 25(4), pp. 323-339.


The landscape of learning and formative feedback

The Landscape of Learning and Formative Feedback: Choosing the ‘Right’ e-Learning Tool for Teaching Practice in Irish Higher Education Rebecca Roper The vast array of e-learning tools available since Web 2.0’s emergence in 1999 is, at times, staggering. From Audacity, ‘AudioBoo’, Blogs, Google Apps, iTunes U, Mailvu, Social Media, Skype, as well as Blackboard and other VLEs, to Twitter and YouTube, our ability to interface with students online has been greatly enhanced over the last decade. With all this choice comes inevitable quandaries; how do we best refine our practice to incorporate these tools and serve the students and still keep our assessment strategies and learning outcomes intact? This short paper will discuss some current challenges in higher education in Ireland, and outline the use of tools from the suite of Technology Enhanced Learning (Heeter, 2000) as a means to ensure assessment best practice in teaching.

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Within Humanities, Creative Arts and Business teaching, it is real-world experience and cultural context serving as a guide. Though models exist in all of these disciples, they function largely as metaphors to be tested in life. This type of union is a perfect landscape for deep learning, as a crucial category in learning can be gained through experience, reflection and dialogue (Borredon et al, 2011, Boud, 2001). Utilisation of metaphoric models as a framework for the incorporation of learning technologies is of course valid, but these must be tested in real-life teaching and learning situations by lecturers to see if they are robust, if they impact on student learning or are merely a technological addendum that may in fact distract from deep learning. Within the larger context, higher education in Ireland has experienced growth in student populations, particularly at undergraduate level. The recent HEA ‘National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030’ (2011) states that the number of people entering higher education in Ireland is growing and the profile of students is changing (2011, p.11). In addition, this report demonstrates a longitudinal growth comparison of the sector: in 1980 just under 15,000 new entrants came into higher education; by 2009 this had almost tripled to 42,500 (2011, p. 31), and the HEA expects comparable future growth over the next two decades. It is interesting to note that the February 2012 HEA publication ‘Towards a Future Higher Education Landscape’ states that staff-student ratios, which were close to international norms in 1980, have worsened due to the growth of students in the sector [(HEA, 2012), see also HEA (2011) Sustainability Report, p. 10]. Against the backdrop of growing student numbers and diminishing resources, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) is, in theory, a promising way forward. By integrating e-tools that can enhance deep learning and critical thinking, learning outcomes can be strengthened and responsive to changing student profiles and growing numbers. But the choice of tool vast, and decisions need to be tempered with a view to the learning needs of the students and importantly, to the teaching needs of the lecturer. With an influx of new entrants to the student population the concept of a ‘traditional’ student is indeed an anachronism and by extension, so too is the concept of a ‘traditional’ lecturer. Both sides of this dynamic partnership must work to embrace appropriate technology as a way to enhance mutual experience. It is with an awareness of the broader educational landscape, shifts in Higher Education, diminishing resources and increasing student numbers, that assessment practices in Ireland must be consistently examined. All too often work from students is only assessed summatively, and richness in outcomes from formative assessment can be left aside.


Higgins et al (2002) state that “formative assessment feedback is essential to encourage the kind of ‘deep’ learning desired by tutors”. One of the costs of a larger student cohort is the diminished ability to allocate time for formative feedback; this is certainly comprehensible within the current framework of HEI (Higher Education Institutions). However, this type of feedback is pre-eminent in the current literature as an essential component of best practice in student learning outcomes (Sadler, 1998, Nicol, 2006, Boud, 2001, Boston, 2002, Yorke and Longden, 2004, Krause et al, 2005, Race, 2010). Formative assessment, as defined by Sadler (1998), is “assessment that is specifically intended to provide feedback on performance to improve and accelerate learning”. This type of feedback is in contrast to summative outcomes and builds to create stronger and more active learning, leading to eventual summative assessment. Indeed, formative feedback is usually not graded, and can function as a critique of the students’ work, which is ‘advisory or evaluative’ (Kelly, 2005). Yorke (1999) shows that the number of opportunities available in third-level education for formative feedback is an important variable in non-completion by students in the early years of study. In a later study, Yorke and Longden (2004) argue that when a student is uncertain about their ability to succeed in higher education, formative feedback is of particular significance. This becomes crucially relevant as student profile changes in relation to age, gender identity, access issues and nationality define the landscape of higher education in Ireland. Without formative feedback these ‘uncertain’ students may leave education, which can have long-term negative effects on their ability to find employment and create income in their lives (Carnevale et al, 2011). In addition, the Yorke and Longden study attributes the decrease in formative assessment to an increase in summative assessment, and identifies this as a major factor in the ‘grades race’. A change in emphasis from summative to formative assessment has been shown to impact on the students’ sense of self and on their motivations and self-confidence (Higgins, Harley and Skelton, 2001). By focusing only on summative outcomes, students reduce the significance of valuable formative assessment, and may neglect what Atherton (2010) and Gibbs (2006) refer to as ‘deep’ and ‘lasting learning’. Formative assessment can be a strong tool in creating a student-centred approach in teaching and learning. This is prevalent in Ireland as part of best teaching practice. In their article ‘Designing Modules for Learning’, Donnelly and Fitzmaurice (2005) argue that formative feedback is the mechanism by which students “can then obtain feedback which will allow them to address any gaps in their


The landscape of learning and formative feedback

knowledge or skills” (2005, p.106). When a student engages in formative feedback with a lecturer, they have the opportunity to refine and reflect on a piece of their work before final submission, thereby creating self-regulation and honing crucial reflective skills that are necessary for higher-level thinking. Formulating strategies for crafting and delivering feedback is essential to student learning. According to Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006), good feedback: 1. helps clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, expected standards); 2. facilitates the development of reflection and selfassessment in learning; 3. delivers high quality information to students about their learning; 4. encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning; 5. encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem; 6. provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired 
performance; 7. provides information to teachers that can be used to help shape the teaching. The quality and timeliness of formative and summative feedback given to students contributes fundamentally to their engagement and success. The realm of formative feedback can be occupied not only by the lecturer; this type of feedback is being utilised as a vehicle to engage peer learning and assessment, applying critical frames to each other’s work. In so doing, the student refines their skill in assessing work, and valuable collaborative learning is achieved. The inclusion of student derived marking criteria in formative (as well as summative) feedback has been in practice for the last decade formally and inclusion in assessment design is common in best practice. Orsmond et al’s (2002) work from Staffordshire University is worth noting here. In this study, a student constructed formative criteria is outlined with exemplars, and shows that student judgment can be more objective as a result of peer assessment in comparison to self-assessment. That formative feedback is a crucial tool in the arsenal of the lecturer is well supported by the literature. The challenge is how to incorporate this ‘best practice’ into the real lives of learners and educators. The ‘How’ of the delivery of this feedback can be particularly challenging; feedback forms can be arduous to fill in, and larger class sizes mean delivering face-to-face feedback can be nearly impossible in a timely manner. Through the suite of digital tools available, particularly by what Steven Gilbert identifies as ‘low threshold applications’ or LTAs (2002), this task can be made more time effective and can help to ensure the timely incorporation of formative feedback for student’s learning.

LTAs are easy to learn, open source or low cost software solutions that are reliable and effective. According to Gilbert, “a new large group of mainstream faculty members [are] more likely to be receptive to what they perceive as only a modest change in their identity, role or workload that might be imposed by new teaching and learning applications” (2002). According to student feedback from a 2010 study undertaken in the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland, the integration of easy to use technologies in higher education ‘beneficially transforms learning, but will never replace lecturers’ (O’Donnell, 2010). The use of audio feedback as a tool for formative (and summative) assessment is one way forward to unlock time and create valuable feedback for student work. Audio feedback can be created in less time than written feedback by most lecturers, and the spoken word can be a richer medium to deliver feedback (Rotheram, 2009). The ‘Sounds Good’ project from Leeds Met over 2008 and 2009 outlines criteria that can optimize the utilisation of audio feedback for assessment: 1. The assessor is comfortable with technology, 2. the assessor writes or types slowly and records their speech quickly, 3. a substantive amount of feedback is given, and 4. a quick and easy method of delivering the audio file to the student is available. (Rotheram, 2009) Though three of the four criteria focus on the assessor, the fourth, a ‘quick and easy method’ of delivery is worth considering. Audio files are easily disseminated via email and other media sharing platforms. The prevalence of iPhones and other smart phones mean that recording devices are in our pockets and are readily available, though the cost of these devices should be considered and may be prohibitive for some students and lecturers. Online open source platforms like ‘Vocaroo’ (www.vocaroo.com) are easily accessed through the internet and require a built-in or USB microphone for the laptop or desktop computer; which anyone who uses ‘Skype’ (www.skype.com) will be familiar. In this study Leeds Met students were ‘overwhelmingly positive’ in response to whether audio feedback improves the students learning experience, citing the personal nature of the detail provided as evidence that the lecturer had carefully considered their submitted work (Rotheram, 2009). Lecturers commented that the use of audio feedback “allowed them to give more, higher quality feedback” (Rotheram, 2009). The personal nature of audio feedback may be further enhanced by the inclusion of image, or video. In this context, the use of ‘Mailvu’ (www.mailvu.com) as a low-cost tool for audio-visual feedback via email can be considered. Mailvu is an easy to use tool, and fits well within Gilbert’s definition

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of LTAs. Mailvu uses Adobe Flash Player, and stores the video clip on their website. The URL is embedded into an email, and when sent, the video plays in the message of the email. This tool incorporates the benefits of audio feedback with the addition of video for a more personalized contact point for students. Clarity can be enhanced with visual as well as audio feedback to the student, avoiding some of the misunderstanding of written communication, and generating an opportunity to “make connections with what is already known” (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). In evaluating options of audio and audio/video feedback to deliver or enhance formative assessment, it is useful to view the ‘Seven Principles of Good Feedback’ in relation to the LTA tools mentioned above: 1. helps clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, expected standards); Clarity of expectations and ‘what good performance is’ as expressed verbally will include vocal cadence and emphasis, letting the student ascertain where the lecturer feels the student has achieved and can improve on their work. 2. facilitates the development of reflection and selfassessment in learning; There is no overt relationship in relation to reflection and the choice of an LTA over face-to-face or written formative feedback, though this could be scrutinized in further studies. However, what is clear from the broader literature is the beneficial use of formative feedback as a peer assessment tool may also be facilitated through LTAs, particularly those that can be embedded into an Institutions Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). 3. delivers high quality information to students about their learning; The richness of audio feedback was cited in the Leeds-Met project to be beneficial as ‘high quality information’ in a majority of students; particularly one student with dyslexia found listening to their feedback easier than reading (Rotheram, 2009). 4. encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning; By incorporating a means through which the student can respond in kind to the feedback, dialogue will ensue, and evidence of reflection in dialogue (via audio/visual tools or in person) with the lecturer will develop. It is worth noting here that the basic plan for students and teachers for ‘Mailvu’ includes a prompt to send a ‘reply


video’ immediately and the open source tool ‘vocaroo’ has a ‘record’ button embedded at the top of the received recording. Both of these LTAs promote technologyenhanced dialogue between the staff member and student, or student-to-student when used as a peer assessment tool. 5. encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem; Positive feedback is an important aspect of formative assessment, and vocal tone, facial expressions and/or gestures can help communicate this effectively. In addition, the integration of technology by the lecturer may be perceived by the student as positive, and will encourage the student to use these tools successfully. 6. provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired 
performance; Student questionnaires and focus groups from the Rotheram ‘Sounds Good’ project (2009) reported that the use of audio feedback “helped them to understand better why they had received a particular mark”. When used for formative feedback, understanding can be gained to ‘close the gap’ towards stronger summative outcomes for the student. 7. provides information to teachers that can be used to help shape the teaching. By monitoring the student experience through dialogue via face-to-face discussion, questionnaires or through audio or audio/visual feedback, lecturers gain valuable information to reflect upon and enrich their professional practice. The experience the lecturer has with the technology will influence the experience of the student and vice versa, creating a potent space for mutually beneficial reflection, which shapes ongoing performative practice. Embracing technologically enhanced learning is imperative for lecturers and students in the 21st Century, and, when used judiciously with a view to the content and learning outcomes desired, can be a dynamic addition to communication. For students, more personalized use of technology by lecturers can preserve the richness of faceto-face formative feedback in an age of increasing numbers and needs. For lecturers this can be an invaluable as a way of connecting and nurturing growth in our student groups and work practice. Incorporating these tools can be challenging, but the advanced design of LTAs adds connectivity within the landscape of education. ‘Mailvu’ video messaging and ‘vocaroo’ audio feedback are tools in an arsenal of many that can be used to enhance teaching, develop deep learning and higher level thinking.


The landscape of learning and formative feedback

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Leaving Early: Undergraduate Non-Completion, Routledge, London.

Yorke, M. & Longden, B. (2004) Retention and student success in higher education SRHE and Open University Press.

Yorke, M. & Longden, B. (2008) The First-Year Experience of Higher Education in the UK Final Report HEA, www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/resources/publications/ fyefinalreport.pdf

Tool Reference: Mailvu is available on www.mailvu.com Vocaroo is available on www.vocaroo.com

Learning and Formative Feedback

Putting Research into Practice / The Landscape of

Natural History Museum / Social Realism Re-imagined /

The Evolution of Irish Design Practices / Situating the

Education / Use of Mental Preparation in Rugby /

Government Partnership / Transition to Higher

Cultural Homophily in Online Dating Text / The Open

Video / Dyslexia, Digital Technology and College /

Exploring Motivation and Self-Efficacy / Shared Social

Persuasion and Attitudes / A Fantasy of Ireland /


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