Dr Derek Barter

Adult and Community Education, ALL Institute

Co-ordinator of Continuing Education Programmes and Manager BA Local Studies and BA Community Studies

Maynooth University School of Education
(01) 708 3948


I am the Continuing Education Co-Ordinator in the Dept. of Adult and Community Education (DACE) Maynooth University. The role of Continuing Education Co-ordinator is wide and varied and also encompasses that of the BA Manager of the Part- Time Degree. The aim of this area of the department is to facilitate the entry into higher education of mature students who may or may not be first time entrants to university and foster a culture of lifelong learning for personal, community and professional development.   I work with different statutory, voluntary and especially community organisations in order fulfil the university’s strategic goal for Community Engagement (Campus Engage).  Involvement with different communities and widening participation to non traditional students are two areas of my work for which I have a passionate interest. Delivery of our Outreach, Part-Time and Out of Hours courses function as de facto alternative access routes for students into Maynooth University. Initiatives, such as the Communiversity which brings higher education out of the campus in a partnership arrangement between MU, Leader Partnership Companies and Local Public Libraries, is a good example of this process in action. However, it is not enough merely to recruit students into the university and I consider the main purpose of education is to accommodate the student’s ability to engage with their own life world and to allow the student to succeed and flourish in an array of domains.   I have been in the fortunate position as continuing education coordinator and as a lecturer on the evening degree in Local Studies and Community Studies, and more recently on the University’s Critical Skills to witness such development.

Research Interests

Community Engagement. Widening Participation. Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation.

Honours and Awards

  Year Title Awarding Body
2009 2009: NALA ACE award winner for Soilse/NUIM Return to Learn
2010 2010: Aontas STAR award winner.
2008 2008: Aontas STAR award winner Dublin and Leinster region.

Teaching Interests

I have been teaching study skills to adult students on the night-time degree for the past number of years.  Teaching adults returning to education or entering university for the first time is immensely rewarding and to witness the journey that people undertake within their first semester let alone the from beginning study to graduation and beyond is an incredible privilege.  I fully believe the the best support that students have is from their fellow students and besides giving people the expected mechanical skills of reading academic texts, note taking, research and writing skills I strive to create a learning environment wherein the student can, through dialogue with their peers and the course material, develop their ability to think critically about the social, political and economic forces that impact upon their lives and reflect upon their own position in relation to these phenomena. Critical reflection in this sense being the impetus for action.

I am also currently teaching first year undergraduate Critical Skills Reflective Practice and Experiential Learning.  The new curriculum has given me the opportunity to engage with a younger aged cohort and use pedagogical methods that I have built up over the years to encourage these students to explore their life world as emerging adults with a critical eye.The Critical Skills modules that I deliver are very much process driven.  They are designed to not so much de-programme Leaving Certificate students as so many critics of the second level exam based system suggest is necessary but to allow space for decompression and personal development. 

Being in the liminal position between two sets of students whose life trajectories and motivations for studying in a Higher Education institution are very different it has been interesting to say the least.  To be able to implement some of the same curriculum content and get each perspective will inform my teaching practice into the future.

External Collaborators

  Name Role / Description Country
Ballyfermot Partnership Community Engagemtent Partner IRELAND
Northside Partnership Community Engagemtent Partner IRELAND