Ag spreagadh gasúir Ghaeltachta chun ceangal a dhéanamh le hacmhainní teanga saibhre digiteacha agus ag cruthú deiseanna idirghníomhaíochta idir na glúnta a thrasnaíonn teorainneacha baile-scoile-pobail / Encouraging Gaeltacht children’s engagement with rich digital language resources and creating opportunities for intergenerational interaction across home-school-community boundaries
Mac Uidhilin, Niall
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This thesis outlines the trajectory of a pedagogic intervention that was designed to support the language development of native-speaking children of Irish through their sustained engagement with rich language resources from the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta archive and with resources brought in from home. Design-based research, which is an interventionist, iterative approach for designing practical solutions to complex educational problems was a suitable approach to take in the context of the precarious nature of Irish as a community language in the Gaeltacht. The theories guiding the design of the intervention included socio-cultural theory, new literacies studies, multimodality and a number of theories that link school-based and out-of-school literacy practices. These include funds of knowledge, knowledge producing schools, artefactual literacies and identity texts. The research was conducted across three phases in two schools in Category A areas of the Conamara Gaeltacht. Phase 1 (preliminary/exploratory) and Phase 2 (initial learning programme) were implemented in one school and Phase 3 (refined learning programme) in a second. This helped to examine the transferability of the intervention to other similar contexts. Video data of the learning sessions, post-session design debriefings, interviews with the teachers and focus groups with the children were the primary means of data collection. Analysis was conducted using a variant of grounded theory which yielded initial codes and categories using constant comparison methods. Emergent themes were identified using visualisation and diagramming techniques. Narratives of Phase 1 and Phase 2 follow the emergent themes along the design trajectory of the intervention. Narratives of Phase 3 describes the learning trajectories of some of the participants. A robust technical infrastructure was implemented in both schools that enabled the digital resources to be shared by the children at home. The children were encouraged to engage with the resources with members of their families and reported interactions suggested that this was largely successful, illustrating how technology can strengthen home-school connections and create new opportunities for intergenerational language transmission. The intervention successfully encouraged the children to engage with rich language resources through the creation of multimodal artefacts that required the synchronisation of the audio with visual images. The pedagogic processes were designed to encourage repeated listening to the audio while both planning for and during actual artefact creation. A key finding was that many children identified personal connections in the resources and those who did tended to engage deeper and longer in the learning activities than those who did not. This was evidenced in their observed interactions and in their artefacts. The research produced a number of theoretical and practical outputs that should be of interest to both Gaeltacht teachers and policy makers.