Ms Andrea Higgins




Andrea Higgins is a lecturer and Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Special Educational Needs at the School of Education, NUI Galway. Prior to joining NUI Galway, Andrea worked as a primary school classroom and special educational needs teacher.

Research Interests

Building Teachers’ Professional Knowledge through Collaboration.  

Andrea Higgins- Doctoral Research Project- University of Bath, United Kingdom.  

Irish primary school teachers are facing a very different future, a defining feature of which is their ability to collaborate effectively with colleagues and thereby develop their professional knowledge. It is in the area of provision of education for children with special educational needs (SEN) that this shift to teacher collaboration is most obvious.  Within the legislatively mandated context of inclusive education, SEN teachers are now required to collaborate with their classroom colleagues in order to provide the most effective and inclusive teaching possible for students with SEN. Recognizing the challenges that this change brings, this study seeks to answer the question ‘How does collaboration between SEN and other teachers in schools in Ireland build and sustain their professional knowledge? As the first in depth study of this kind in Ireland, the research seeks to provide original insights through the use of semi-structured interviews with 50 Irish primary school SEN teachers. The study investigates the nature of the collaboration taking place and its ability to develop professional knowledge using Little’s (1990) continuum of teacher collaboration as an interpretative lens, the influence of organizational and social workplace factors on collaboration and teachers’ views on how it can better be supported.