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Presented by Dr Kara McGann, Senior Labour Market Policy Executive, IBEC

Dr Kara McGann is a Senior Labour Market Policy Executive at Ibec, the Irish employer and business representative body. Kara provides strategic advice and support on diversity and inclusion, skills and labour market policy and practices to Ibec member organisations. This includes the development of tools and guidelines, lobbying and developing policy positions. She is also a board member of Skillnets and a member of the Governing Authority of DCU.

Prior to joining Ibec in 2008, Kara worked for a number of years as an organisational psychologist and human resources manager in industry and lectured at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive level.

Kara holds a PhD in psychology from UCD, a Master of Business Studies and is also a practicing psychotherapist.

Plenary sessions

Student experience and trends

Presented by Mark Mitchell, Director, gradireland

This session will discuss the findings from our largest student survey! We canvassed nearly 15,000 students from 24 institutions in Ireland, North and South. This survey provided a broad snapshot of interests, aspirations and preferences of the student population on the island of Ireland.


The skills of peer assessment and feedback

Presented by Dr Arlene Egan, Coach: Design and Innovation, IMI.

A core competence associated with effective teaching in Higher Education is self-awareness which is connected to reflective practice. Through reflection, educators can gain insight into personal strengths and limitations which is of benefit when deliberately focusing on enhancing learners’ knowledge, skills and dispositions.

This talks centres on lesson learned following an iteration of an accredited programme for the professional development of teachers in Higher Education, developed for both experienced and novice teachers to learn new skills and share existing ideas. The design of the programme ensured that peer assessment and feedback were embedded to support assessment of, for and as learning.

This talk examines the perceived value of peer assessment and feedback in relation to learning from the perspectives of both learners enrolled on the programme and the academic programme team. Attention is paid to how the use of peer assessment and feedback impacts the learning and development experience and a conceptual model is proposed to develop confidence in giving feedback, a skill which transfers from educational contexts into the workplace.

From this session you will:

  • Reflect on your own attitude to peer assessment and peer feedback and the impact of your attitude
  • Consider whether the ability to give feedback is a desirable skill for your learners now
  • Contemplate the gap between the value of feedback in education and workplace environments
  • Understand a model which can be applied to incrementally build confidence and competence in giving and receiving feedback.

Meet the speakers

Co-teaching: Supporting participation, engagement and learning in a large university class

Presented by Ann Marie Farrell and Dr Anna Logan; School of Inclusive and Special Education, Institute of Education, Dublin City University

This study focused on the collaborative practice of two teacher educators who implemented a co-teaching intervention with a class of 400 first-year students. The impetus for initiating co-teaching arose from the redesign of the programme and wish of the two presenters to increase the range and nature of participation of students in the large class setting.

Co-taught sessions have been a key component of the delivery of this module since 2013 when both co-teachers decided to formally evaluate this practice with two successive cohorts of students.  Data sources included online student evaluations, peer observation and feedback, and teacher educators’ reflections on planning notes and review of videoed sessions.

The student cohort was very positive in terms of the effectiveness of the co-teaching approach in allowing more active engagement and helping them to understand the concepts. From the perspectives of the co-teaching lecturers and independent peer observers, co-teaching enabled greater student participation and replicated a learning context that might be more usual with much smaller groups.  Further, it allowed for provision of formative feedback both during and following the co-taught sessions that would not otherwise have been feasible.  Finally, it allowed the student voice to be heard within the large class context.

From this session, it is intended that participants will:

  • Recognise the key characteristics of co-teaching
  • Explore the potential and challenge associated with co-teaching large classes
  • Reflect on the extent to which co-teaching can facilitate increased student engagement, participation and understanding
  • Consider the potential for co-teaching in their own context

Meet the speakers


Rise of the marketing automation robots

Presented by Anthea Bakas, Associate Director, CRM and Marketing Automation at Study Group, Worldwide

Artificial intelligence has, perhaps inevitably, entered into higher education’s marketing and recruitment processes.

In this session, we’ll take a look at how international demand generation, admissions processes for enquiries and applications, and conversion marketing are being automated.

Learn how educators are able to personalise the pre-arrival student experience by linking recruitment efforts to customer relationship management platforms like Salesforce and deploying chatbots.

Meet the speakers


Panel discussion

"The role of educators, careers advisors and employers in supporting students' ability to acquire, understand and use the employability skills they will need for the changing workplace."

The panel will discuss employability skills and equiping graduates and postgraduates for the ever changing world of work.

Facilitated by Dr Kara McGann, Senior Labour Market Policy Executive, IBEC









Meet the speakers

Dr Arlene Egan Mlitt, Coach: Design and Innovation, IMI

Dr Arlene Egan IMI gradireland Higher Education Symposium

Although an unrelenting curiosity has been the driver, my in-depth understanding of psychology has been the vehicle that transported me to where I am today. I was fortunate to study under one of the top minds in Sports Psychology (Prof Aidan Moran) where I began my applied work in developing interventions to enhance individual and team performance. The focus of my formal study then shifted to examining how thinking habits can influence performance and recovery.

Over the years I have worked with members from different sports including swimming and GAA on strategies to enhance performance and tackle issues that imped their development  including; managing anxiety, mental preparation, coaching for big competition and resilience, goal setting and attainment, deliberate practice, team building, performance mindset, gratitude, communication and managing injury. I have worked with children and adults, novice and elite, athletes and coaches who were all experiencing goal frustration due to ineffective thinking impacting performance. I have also applied my expertise in performance in educational contexts and in organisations where I develop individuals, teams and cultures.

Today, I can be found designing high performance, leadership programmes in the IMI. 


Ann Marie Farrell, Assistant Professor, School of Inclusive and Special Education in DCU’s Institute of Education


Previously, Ann Marie worked in mainstream primary, post-primary and special schools in Dublin. She has conducted research, published and presented on a range of topics relating to teaching, learning and inclusion of pupils with special educational needs in primary and post-primary schools.

Ann Marie is currently engaged in research focusing on preparation of student teachers for effective inclusion of all pupils and the practices of teacher educators. She works across a number of initial and continuing teacher education programmes at levels 8, 9 and 10. Ann Marie won the St. Patrick’s College President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012.


Dr Anna Logan, Assistant Professor in the School of Inclusive and Special Education, Dublin City University,  Institute of Education, St. Patrick’s Campus


Prior to working in higher education, Anna  spent almost twenty years working as a teacher in mainstream and special schools. Anna teaches across seven undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education programmes up to and including doctoral programmes,  and  received the St. Patrick’s College President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015.

She has conducted, published and presented research relating to many aspects of inclusion, learner voice, and transition. Anna is currently engaged in research projects relating to collaboration in higher education, teacher/assistant partnership and initial teacher education and continuing professional development for special and inclusive education with a particular focus on collaborative, blended and online approaches


Anthea Bakas: Associate Director, CRM and Marketing Automation at Study Group, Worldwide


Anthea has worked in international higher education recruitment for 10 years, specialising in systems and technology covering all areas from recruitment, admissions, IT and digital marketing (both b2b and b2c). Anthea’s CRM of choice is Salesforce; she knows CRM and how it needs to fit an organisations culture and process whilst ensuring an excellent customer experience. She has recently implemented Salesforce Marketing Cloud at Study Group.

Her specialisms are Salesforce implementations, architecture and solution design,  and marketing automation. As Associate Director, CRM and Marketing Automation at Study Group, Anthea has been responsible for implementing and embedding marketing automation. She is as focussed on growing Study Group’s marketing automation footprint by aligning platforms to unlock opportunities to optimise data. She is committed to enriching the student experience to enable students to select a Study Group partner, through the use of live data to drive ‘always on’, relevant, personalised customer  journeys. Anthea also directs on the use of marketing automation to enhance internal business processes which simultaneously elevate the student experience at Study Group.