Monaghan teacher Colm Mac Cinna made his mother proud when he received his MA in Education Management at today’s University of Ulster graduation ceremony.
In the early 1990s, Colm’s mother NÃ³ra - the first full-time Director of the Monaghan Education Centre - recognised that the local educational community would benefit from a university course at Masters level being offered in the town.
Colm, who is Deputy Principal of St Mary’s Boys’ National School in Monaghan, said:
“My mother approached the University of Ulster with a view to establishing a Masters degree programme at the Centre and thankfully the University agreed,” explained Mr Mac Cinna.
"Since it began in 1997, the Masters has been very successful, many teachers from the locality have studied the course, it's a great legacy for my mother. I always intended studying the course myself at some point, so I am pleased to have finally completed it at Monaghan.”
The highest overall graduating mark also secured Mr Mac Cinna the annual Biggar Award for education.
He said: "I was delighted to win the award, I really enjoyed the Masters and found it very informative and challenging. Educational management issues dealt with in the course are very relevant to all schools and educational institutions now and in the future.
“Our lecturers, Gareth Parry and Dr Sam McGuinness provided excellent tuition at the Monaghan Education Centre allowing us to gain useful insights into educational management. My thesis supervisor Professor Roger Austin and Dr Una O’Connor offered invaluable advice and guidance during the third year.”
One of the main components of the course is the final year research-based dissertation. Mr Mac Cinna looked at the use of ICT in school and at home.
The purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of the ICT background of pupils attending a Republic of Ireland senior boys’ primary school.
He said: “The main finding is that the information gathered from pupils supports the view that schools should, to talk to the pupils about their ICT access, activities and learning and their vision for ICT in order to better inform school policy and planning.
“This research has important implications as it is believed to be the first survey of pupil perspectives of home and school ICT conducted in a Republic of Ireland primary school.
“It provides insights into pupils ICT use ten years since the much heralded IT2000 schools’ ICT initiative that saw a concerted effort to introduce ICT into Republic of Ireland schools.
“It reveals how pupils access ICT in school and outside school and the influence of technology in their lives. Its findings suggest eliciting pupil perspectives provides a better understanding of their ICT background that could be used to inform school policy and practice and inspire further research in this field.”
The Biggar Award was originally established in 1877 by the then Professor of Hebrew and Biblical Criticism James Lyle Biggar. He had been appointed to the staff of Magee College, Londonderry, in 1885 and after having served only five years died unexpectedly in 1890.