Post Conference Resources

Some colleagues have generously shared their presentations and resources from the conference. We are very grateful for their generosity!

Presenter: Keren Coney

Title: Seeking Social Justice: what can be gained from involving autistic students as partners in the design of tailored employability provision?

Theme: Social Justice and equity

A recent study of the destinations of graduates found that of all disabled graduates, autistic individuals are least likely to be employed (AGCAS 2021). These findings are widely recognised in literature (Vincent 2020, Remington & Pellicano 2019). The disappointing outcomes for autistic people in the UK and beyond highlight the way in which these individuals are marginalised. This paper will outline the participatory action research project

conducted at a UK university over the past year which explored how to provide effective careers and employability support for autistic students.

Understanding that in order to create such support, it would be important to involve the

intended recipients, a careers practitioner recruited volunteers to act as consultants. These

autistic student consultants were engaged in all stages of the project, from analysing an initial survey of all autistic students in the university, to co-designing the careers-related activities and evaluating the effectiveness of these activities.

This participatory action research methodology not only provided the careers practitioner with real insights into what provision to include in the future, but also had an emancipatory impact on some of the student consultants. In addition, there are signs of a ‘ripple effect’ within the university, as those students and staff involved continue to seek to make positive changes for the sake of autistic students and disabled students as a whole. It is anticipated that the findings from this collaborative research could be used to bring about change at other educational institutions, resulting in more positive employment outcomes for autistic individuals.

Keynote Presenter: Harry Shier

Title: COVISION – Children as Innovators: Methodological challenges and Innovations

Description: Keynote presented by Harry Shier at CARN, National College of Ireland, Dublin, 30 October 2022

COVISION is an international collaborative research project, coordinated from UCD with

partners around the world ( Throughout its work, the COVISION team has

been advised by a Children’s Research Advisory Group (CRAG) made up of young people aged 12-16. The culmination of the project is the COVISION Co-Design Workshop, through which children and young people are developing and presenting proposals for new initiatives to support children and young people building long-term resilience in the face of disasters and pandemics.

In the course of this work, the project team has encountered, and tackled a number of

methodological challenges:

Working on-line during lock-down: COVISION’s biggest challenge has been recruiting children and young people interested in joining our CRAG and Co-Design Workshop, has highlighted the importance of knowing why they are acting as they are (praxis), the values they hold and taking action for change, and they believe it is a form of self- and collective- education.

Working on a global scale (Ireland, Australia, Taiwan, USA, Mexico): This means tackling issues

of time-zones, language, school commitments and on-line safeguarding.

Rigour and reliability: It is essential that participatory research with children is recognised as a source of valid and reliable knowledge. This can involve: training and preparation for child researchers; giving children “advisory” rather than “researcher” roles; and developing a more effective model for facilitation and the role of facilitator.

Anonymity or recognition: How can we harmonise the dissonance between the guarantee of anonymity we are required to give those children who engage in our research, and children’s desire to be seen, heard, identified, recognised and valued for what they contribute?

How do we use images? Normally, researchers do not publish photographs of research participants. But in the case of participatory research with children, there are several complicating factors: Many still consider children incapable of carrying out valid research, so we need convincing evidence. Children themselves want to be seen in these roles, and children themselves should have a say in deciding how their research is presented.

Presenter: Blair Niblett

Theme: Community action and activism

This workshop presents key ideas emerging from a new co-authored book entitled Environmental Ethics: A Sourcebook for Educators (Jickling, Lotz-Sisitka, Olvitt, O’Donoghue, Schudel, McGarry, & Niblett, 2021).

The slides also contain a link to the book as a free google book.

The book is intended as an entry point to the complex domain ofenvironmental education for K-12 teachers, post-secondary educators, and other non-formal/informal education practitioners; the workshop will explore the book as a springboard for the kinds of intentional reflective practice that characterize the cyclical processes of action research. Key proposals forwarded in the book are copacetic with action research methodologies. These include the notion of environmental ethics as an activity carried out every day by average people (as opposed to a special event, or work done only by experts), that stories of how we conduct our lives are important theoretical vehicles, and that living in environmentally ethical ways can be a source of joy in peoples’ lives, and not a dutiful drudgery.

The sourcebook is organized around three pedagogical themes: (a)Pedagogies that situate ethics-led learning in history and context, (b) Pedagogies that explore values and the moral

impulse, and (c) Pedagogies that stimulate and guide ethical action. The workshop format will allow time for presenters and participants to engage with a number of the active and reflective activities that are presented in the sourcebook. During the workshop, debriefing of the activities presented will have a twofold focus: exploring environmental ethics as action research in the sense of practitioner-reflection for improved practice, and perhaps more importantly in the sense of educator-learner collaborative engagement in action-reflection for building essential healthy relations between humans and the planet that sustains us all.


Sabine Tiefenthaler – Competence Centre for social work and social policy, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Laura Trott – Faculty of Education, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Elena Martorana – Family Point, Association La Strada-Der Weg

Title: Building bridges for early participation: Addressing resources and barriers in accessing child and family services experienced by refugee families.

Theme: Social Justice and equity

Parent, baby, and toddler groups (henceforth: group/s) can be a meaningful resource in the lives of families with small children (0-3 years). Therefore, they should be fully accessible to all families, including refugee families from Ukraine, who are experiencing multiple threats to their resilience. If the experience of refugeehood can negatively affect various aspects of family life, these groups might offer relieve, as they enable alternative relationship experiences for children and parents.

Based on this assumption, we developed a participatory action research project aimed at exploring the extent of and strategies for participation of refugee families in these groups, how their specific needs can be considered, and how the pedagogical quality of the groups can be secured, further developed, and reflected.

Volunteers and professionals who offer groups have already been participating in the project, while we are still establishing contact with Ukrainian refugee families, in order to gauge their interest in participating as co-researchers. During the planning phase, it has become apparent that refugee families encounter various barriers to accessing the groups. Access barriers can be located at the: a) Macro-level: Groups have inclusive strategies in place, but struggle to implement them due to a lack of financial and human resources. b) Meso-level: Different institutional actors (e.g., group and refugee reception facility) cooperate on an individual, volunteer-driven basis in short- lived efforts marked by a lack of structure. c) Micro-level: Refugee families discontinue attending groups after a series of initial encounters. Individuals offering groups perceive a need for low-threshold services, an inclusive attitude of individuals offering groups and an inclusive attitude of families already attending groups towards new families. Our presentation is planned to be drafted jointly with our co-researchers and will scrutinise the interaction of the diverse types of barriers, and the ways they shape the research process.