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- PublicationA Scoping Review to Map the Evidence on Family Carers Who Combine Work with CareIntroduction: Family carers provide a wide range and significant amount of assistance to relatives, friends and neighbours who are ill or disabled. Statistical data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that at least 1 in 10 adults is involved in informal, and most often unpaid care. About half of the proportion of those who participate in a caring role combine this with paid employment and balancing both roles can be a challenge. Consequently, there is increased demand for the introduction of measures to reconcile paid work and care-provision. Unfortunately, much remains unknown about the lives of family carers who balance work with care. Aim: The present work endeavours to illuminate this topic by scoping the extent, range and nature of available evidence on ‘family carers who are in paid employment’. Methods: Steps followed when carrying out the scoping review included: i) Clarifying the research purpose and question; ii) Identifying relevant research studies from various electronic databases, reference lists of identified studies, and grey or unpublished literature; iii) Selection of studies by two independent reviewers; iv) Collating data using an excel data sheet; and v) Analysing and summarising data using qualitative thematic analysis. Results: Two-hundred-and-sixty-three publications were incorporated, and these comprised a variety of research study designs, which were based in different countries. Six themes were emergent from the scoping review findings. The first was the compound carer’s experience who is a working family carer; subthemes relevant to this group were coping, health outcomes and employment outcomes. A subsequent theme was health outcomes for working family carers; health outcomes were subdivided into mental health, physical health, and health behaviour outcomes. The theme on the profile of characteristics for working family carers comprised of subthemes indicative that caring was largely a gendered activity, with age as another important variant — caring increasing at older ages. The economic impact of caring on working family carers was an eminent theme with a clear personal economic impact and national economic impact. A significant finding was the theme on conflicting priorities among working family carers; subthemes related to this were either work-to-family conflict or family-to-work conflict. The most important theme in the present work was that on employment outcomes among working family carers with subthemes characterised by employment participation, employment-related disadvantages, work-place provisions in place for this group and positive employment impacts. Finally, it was clear that there were support services for working family carers and thus this was an apparent theme; subthemes related to this were the formal services and social support services. Conclusions: Evidence on working family cares is vast and covers a wide range of topics such as compound caring, health, demographic profile, conflicting priorities, finances, employment, and support services. Working family carers face the difficult task of balancing work with care which could lead to negative outcomes related to employment, finances, and health. Implications for applicability: The pressures associated with the dual responsibility can be alleviated via the introduction of support services and policies to support working carers.
- PublicationThe 'Build-Up' Approach to Academic Writing Skills Development: The Case for a Discipline-Driven Collaborative DesignThis paper discusses the design and delivery of support for academic writing skills development. The paper also presents a case study of such support on an undergraduate, part-time degree programme at University College Dublin (UCD). Elton (2010) suggests that the approach to academic writing is discipline dependent and that neither specialists in academic writing nor practising academics in a discipline can separately provide students with the necessary support to develop the ability to write. Three models of academic skills support are provided in the literature; bolt-on, build-on and build-up. These models provide a useful framework for conceptualizing the different approaches to skills development (academic writing in this case). The 'bolt on' approach describes institutions that provide additional sessions to address academic writing (Wingate, 2006). The 'build-in' approach is where the provision of such support is embedded into the curriculum and usually occurs early in a student’s studies. Finally, the ‘build-up’ approach, first suggested by Dowling and Ryan (2007), is explored. In this approach, institutions provide supports embedded in the delivery of the curriculum and allow students to 'build-up' their academic writing skills, not only upon programme commencement, but throughout the duration of their studies. The paper asserts a greater likelihood of success in developing academic writing skills where interventions are embedded within a broader framework of student support. Through ongoing collaboration between programme support and academic staff, academic writing skills interventions can be scheduled in a progressive manner throughout a degree.
- PublicationThe role of line managers and co-workers in mediating informal flexibility for working family carersPurpose: Our paper identifies the enabling mechanisms through which carer-friendly informal flexibility is enacted in the workplace and explores whether these enabling mechanisms help working carers remain in the workforce and avoid taking leave from employment. Methodology: Twenty-six working carers in Ireland were interviewed. Interviews were semi-structured, and questions were formulated around three broad themes: participants’ caregiving role; their employment situation; and the services and supports available to them. Findings: The findings highlight three mechanisms through which carer-friendly informal flexibility is enacted: reassurance and pre-emptive support; carer advocacy; and idiosyncratic deal making (i-deals). In the absence of informal flexibility, disruption to working arrangements is likely in the form of intermittent periods of leave from the workplace. Research limitations/implications: Greater diversity in the profile of our study participants could be helpful, particularly the inclusion of more male carers and those working in the private sector. Practical implications: A greater emphasis on informal, locally negotiated, flexible working arrangements would facilitate carers to remain in employment. Originality/value: Our research explores the enabling mechanisms through which carer-friendly informal flexibility is enacted. Our study uncovered the pivotal mediating role played by line managers and co-workers in supporting carers to secure access to these informal flexible working arrangements.
- PublicationIndividual-Level Learning(Red Globe Press (Palgrave Macmillan), 2015-05-07)Have you ever wondered how you gained some new piece of knowledge or how you learned a new skill? This chapter provides an introduction to the complex topic of how individuals learn. The chapter begins with an explanation of what we mean by ‘learning’ and explains the different types of learning, formal and informal. An overview of the human and dispositional factors influencing learning is provided, along with the main barriers to learning that individuals sometimes encounter [KEY TERM: individual traits or attributes, e.g. personality]. A range of learning theories are introduced, including adult learning. The chapter also introduces you to the important concept of experiential learning. An explanation of the different steps in the learning process is provided, along with an overview of the learning styles that learners may display. The chapter concludes with a discussion on e-learning, its benefits and the kinds of support individuals need while engaging in this kind of learning.
- PublicationSupporting Mature Learners at a DistanceThis paper will examine some of the key themes arising in the literature in respect of learner support and will present a case study highlighting how the features of effective learner support have been implemented on a non-traditional distance learning programme within a traditional University setting. The innovative model of learner support has been designed and implemented at a programme-level and is founded upon the ‘centrality of the learner’ and seeks to reconcile the needs of the learners and the needs of the institution. These supports have had a direct and positive impact on student learning, have fostered an environment where learners experience a strong sense of ‘connectedness’ to this distance learning programme and to the University itself and have been a significant factor in the continuing high satisfaction surveys of learners and in the high learner retention rates. In order to create and sustain an effective learning environment, the degree of learner support requires customisation to meet the needs of the particular group of learners. Rowntree (1992) suggests that distance learners may need support of different kinds at different stages of a programme. This paper will examine the particular types of support non-traditional learners may need in a variety of areas and at different stages of a programme. Each element of learner support will be discussed in the context of a single framework which consolidates and unifies disparate aspects of student learning. The paper will also address issues such as the centrality of the learner in learner support design, the models of learner support, the need for learner induction, to help learners become independent and self-directed and the importance of feedback as an ingredient in learner development.
- PublicationAcademic Skills Development and the Enhancement of the Learning ExperienceMaking the transition to higher education can present considerable challenges to learners, and these challenges are evident in the development of effective study, learning and meta-cognitive competencies. The development of such competencies represents an integral element of a more satisfying and effective learning experience for both learners and tutors. In 2005, UCD School of Business introduced two accredited academic skills modules that are embedded in the programme of study being undertaken. These programme-specific modules aim to help learners identify and develop the key study skills, habits and practices that contribute to a more effective learning experience. Through workshops, exercises, coursework and formative feedback, learners put into practice academic skills, such as note-taking, essay writing and reflective writing. While this paper is based upon the experience at UCD School of Business, the case is located within the broader discussion of academic skills development. Little has been written about such provision in the Irish context but the paper acknowledges an increase in evidence of such developments. Thus, the literature base regarding skills development and provision in the UK has been useful.
- PublicationThe Usefulness of Digital Badges in Higher Education - Exploring the Student PerspectivesMany students entering higher education (HE) today have never known life without the internet. By the time students enter HE, many have been exposed to playing digital games and consider them a very useful learning tool. However, utilising gamification for student engagement and student learning in HE has not been investigated thoroughly, and this paper attempts to contribute to this emerging field of study as suggested by Gibson et al. (2015) and Reid et al. (2015). A survey investigating the usefulness of digital badges for student learning and engagement was distributed to two hundred and fifty-seven (275) undergraduate students at the College of Business, University College Dublin. The results suggest that the incorporation of digital badges into a module is beneficial as they can help students organise their study, maintain and track their progress, and motivate them to engage with module content throughout the semester. The survey results also provide some evidence that digital badges can make a positive contribution to student engagement within a module, particularly where they are directly linked with the module assessment requirements. Overall, digital badges have the potential to be a highly effective pedagogical tool that can also positively impact on the learning experience more generally.
- PublicationColliding worlds: Family carers’ experiences of balancing work and care in Ireland during the COVID‐19 pandemicThe COVID-19 pandemic public health and social protective measures imposed globally resulted in partial or full closure of key services and supports for people with a disability, chronic illness or age-related dependency. This caused huge disruption to care provision and family carers were relied upon to assume this care at home. Many family carers, including those in employment, found themselves navigating additional care responsibilities without ‘usual levels’ of support from family, friends, work, school, day care services, homecare and community services. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family carers, their employment and caregiving responsibilities, through the lens of the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 1989). Adopting a qualitative research approach, sixteen family carers (14 females, 2 males) who were in employment prior to the onset of or during the pandemic, participated in an in-depth, semi-structured telephone or online video interview between June and September 2020. Interviews lasted between 45 and 100 minutes, were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis of the interview data identified four main themes: colliding worlds; navigating unchartered waters alone; opportunity despite adversity; and the relentless unknowing. Findings indicate that the onset of the pandemic resulted in the sudden loss of valued resources, which disrupted routines and caused care and work life domains to become intrinsically intertwined. Consistent with the main principles of the COR theory, adapting and transitioning to different ways of working and caring with depleted resources and supports, generated considerable stress for family carers and impacted their wellbeing. The implications for employers, healthcare providers, policy makers and other key stakeholders are considered, to enable family carers to successfully reconcile work with care and protect their wellbeing, as the pandemic continues to unfold and in the event of future societal crises.
Scopus© Citations 19 332
- PublicationThe Changing Shape of University Decision-Making Processes and the Consequences for Faculty Participation in Ireland(Taylor and Francis, 2013)For faculty, the idea of collegial and participative decision-making has been one of the central values of academic life. Yet, despite evidence that universities in Ireland have experienced considerable institutional change in recent years, there remains a considerable dearth of research on its consequences for faculty participation in governance and decision-making processes. A case study of the School of Business at University College Dublin is used to illustrate how a programme of large-scale institutional change has transformed the school’s decision-making processes, and the participation and influence of faculty in those processes. While the case study points to the reduced involvement of faculty in university governance, the most significant finding highlights the move towards a much more executive-style approach to management, and a substantial loss of influence and involvement by faculty in school decision-making.
Scopus© Citations 8 399
- PublicationThe changing demands of academic life in Ireland(Emerald, 2014)Purpose: The consequences of institutional change for faculty is an under-researched aspect of the higher education (HE) sector in Ireland. The purpose of this paper is to report on the changing demands of academic life in Ireland. Design/methodology/approach: A case study of the School of Business at the largest university in Ireland, University College Dublin, set out to determine the extent to which HE change is impacting on faculty. The research, involving 28 interviews with faculty and manager-academics, covered the five-year period since the appointment of a new President in 2004. Findings: The research provides evidence of an increasing focus on more explicit research output requirements; the growth of routine administration and teaching and learning compliance requirements; and the greater intensification of work and working hours. Research limitations/implications: While the university was at the forefront in implementing large-scale institutional change in Ireland, further research is needed to explore the issues raised in this paper in the context of other schools and the remaining six Irish universities. Originality/value: Few empirical research studies have been conducted in Ireland on how institutional change is impacting on the working lives of faculty. This paper serves to shine a light, for the first time, on the perspectives of faculty regarding the changing demands of academic life in Ireland.
Scopus© Citations 5 416