Education Theses

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This collection is made up of doctoral and master theses by research, which have been received in accordance with university regulations.

For more information, please visit the UCD Library Theses Information guide.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 24
  • Publication
    Investigating School Supports for Children with English as an Additional Language (EAL)
    (University College Dublin. School of Education, 2022)
    This thesis examines the question of how best to support EAL children in schools, teachers’ experiences of the support factor that are most effective and the impact these identified support factors have on reading attainment outcomes for EAL children in Irish primary schools. The systematic literature review aimed to synthesize existing qualitative literature in the area of teachers’ perceptions and experiences of supporting EAL children in their mainstream primary classrooms. The review identified five overarching themes: specific vocabulary instruction; multimodal instruction; peer support; use of translation; and making the child feel valued. The empirical research used secondary data analysis from a large, nationally representative sample of Irish primary school children to examine reading outcomes for EAL children in 2nd Class. Out of the five previous support variables identified, three were deemed possible to analyse based on data availability: receiving learning support, peer support and teacher attitudes to inclusion. A regression analysis found that EAL children had poorer reading outcomes compared to non-EAL children, and teacher attitudes to inclusion was associated with better reading outcomes for all children but did not moderate the EAL-achievement relationship. Perceived peer support was not associated with better reading outcomes and receiving additional support was not found to act as a moderator. Limitations and implications for practice of both studies are discussed.
  • Publication
    Student Engagement & Social Disadvantage: The Importance of Supportive Relationships
    (University College Dublin. School of Education, 2022)
    This thesis examines the impact of social disadvantage on student engagement with respect to supportive relationships. Social disadvantage is when it is challenging for people to access resources due to physical, psychological, social or economic barriers. Student engagement is the active participation of students in academic tasks, involving a combination of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural functioning. The first paper of this thesis, a narrative systematic literature review, examines the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on schoolwork engagement in adolescence. The second paper, an empirical journal article, investigates the impact of social disadvantage on school engagement in children and explores the role of supportive relationships with parents, teachers and peers within this context. In the empirical journal article I used structural equation modelling with data from the Children School Lives study (a large, national representative sample of primary school children). Results suggest that social disadvantage has both positive and negative impacts on school engagement and that student-teacher relationships predicts all types of school engagement. The findings identify opportunities for practitioners to offer interventions within the educational domain to increase levels of school engagement in children. Limitations and implications of both papers are discussed.
  • Publication
    Childhood adversity and academic attainment: Examining risk, promotive, and protective factors
    (University College Dublin. School of Education, 2022) ;
    Research has established the negative association between experiencing adversity in childhood and academic attainment in school. However, less is known about the factors which moderate this relationship. This thesis, comprising of a systematic literature review and an empirical journal article, explores this topic. The systematic literature review identified promotive and protective factors for children who have experienced adversity and their academic outcomes. Findings suggested that factors relating to a child’s cognitive ability and parenting are the most commonly identified, and in some cases, moderate the relationship between adversity and academic attainment. Using data from the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) study, the empirical journal article narrowed this focus by examining factors within the school context. Moderation analysis indicated that factors relating to a young person’s attitudes and beliefs towards learning and school were protective for academic attainment outcomes but no effect was found for relational or school environmental factors. Given the importance of academic attainment for one’s life trajectory, findings from this thesis will guide the understanding of how best to support students to reach their potential in school, in particular those who have experienced adversity.
  • Publication
    Childhood Anxiety Development: School-Based Wellbeing Interventions, Gender and Socioeconomic Disadvantage
    (University College Dublin. School of Education, 2022) ;
    This thesis explores how individual socioeconomic status (SES), low-income schooling, gender and school-based wellbeing interventions impact children’s anxiety levels, through a systematic literature review and an empirical quantitative study. The research was underpinned by a post-positivism epistemology and was guided by Bronfenbrenner’s PPCT Model and the developmental psychopathology framework. Findings from the systematic literature review were inconsistent as to how effective wellbeing interventions are at reducing the anxiety levels of children attending low-income schools, and also at whether any positive effects arising from engagement with wellbeing interventions are maintained in the long-term. In the empirical study, findings were that being female and reporting greater family affluence are risk factors for experiencing higher levels of anxiety, and wellbeing interventions interacted with socioeconomic status to reduce anxiety development for more affluent children. The research is important for educational psychological practice as it provides information on whether wellbeing interventions are a worthwhile initiative to help reduce the anxiety levels of children in middle childhood and those attending low-income schools, while it also helps to expand our knowledge of the factors which influence the development of anxiety.
  • Publication
    COVID-19 school closures and school-based social and emotional learning programmes: impacts on social and emotional functioning for teachers and children
    (University College Dublin. School of Education, 2022) ;
    This thesis consists of two distinct papers; one investigating children’s social and emotional functioning in the context of the COVID-19 school closures; and the other examining the impact of social and emotional learning (SEL) programmes on teachers’ and children’s self-efficacy. The first paper of this thesis, a narrative systematic literature review, investigates the effectiveness of school-based SEL programmes on children’s and teachers’ self-efficacy. Data were insufficient to ascertain conclusive results, and findings indicate a gap in the research in this area. The second paper of this thesis, a quantitative empirical study, investigates the impact of the COVID-19 school closures on the social and emotional functioning of primary school children. Key findings were that the most impactful predictors of positive social and emotional functioning were spending quality time with parents, having siblings to play with, and playing outside with friends.