Researchers at UCD


Mary Forrest



Mary Forrest was educated at the National Botanic Gardens, University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin. Following graduation from UCD she was appointed Heritage Gardens Fellow by An Taisce, to prepare an inventory of trees and shrubs in exotic plant collections in Ireland.  This work was subsequently published as Trees and Shrubs cultivated in Ireland.   She then became Head gardener at Glenveagh National Park, Co. Donegal. She was appointed lecturer in UCD in 1986 where she has since taught courses in Landscape Management, landscape trees and shrubs, garden history and Fundamentals of Horticulture  to students taking degrees in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. 
Her research interests include history of designed landscapes in Ireland,  cut foliage production, urban forestry and e-learning in horticultural education.    

She has been involved in European funded projects namely, Concerted Action (examining  minor specialist crops)
Cost Action (Urban forests and trees) and Erasmus Mundus (Fourth level agricultural education in Europe) 
She was a member of an EU project Innovation of the Teaching of Sustainable Development in Life Science in Europe (2010-2013)          


Honours and Awards

Year: 2005.
Title: Fellow Institute of Horticulture


Association: Institute of Biology now Society of Biology (1994 - date) , Function/Role: Chartered Member
Association: Institute of Horticulture (1987 - date) , Function/Role:

Other Activities

Editor  Moorea  Journal of the Irish Garden Plant Society  (2000 - date)

Member of editorial board   Urban Forestry and Urban Greening  published by Elsevier  (2002 - date) 





Research Interests

Development of allotments in Ireland
Urban forestry.
History of designed landscapes in Ireland.
Cut foliage production.
E-learning in horticultural education.



Teaching Philosophy

Each student is unique and class comes to learn about a topic for the first time. I must ignite the flame for each student, aware and respecting their reasons for taking a module. The theories which have influenced me as a teacher are Bloom's Taxonomy and Kolb's Learning cycle.

Enhancement of Teaching

Teaching Enhancement Improvement of quality of teaching As well as courses on the theory of pedagogy, courses on the use of equipment or topics such as group work or speaking to large classes have helped enhance lectures in particular. How to use of teaching equipment, e.g. data projectors, size of font or use of particulars in Powerpoint presentations have helped to improve the quality of my teaching. Student Feedback Formal student feedback is read by me and I seek to change issues when I can. Sometimes I have opposing comments, e.g. too many trees to examine in class, not enough trees to examine. My response is to highlight the essential trees and shrubs and place less emphasis on the unusual plants and place them on a side bench. Students will whether bidden or not will often provide feedback during practical classes or on field visits. Such comments are often very helpful. Primary and second level teachers have attended my classes. While I was concerned about having 'qualified teachers' present they said to me and to others that I was an excellent teacher. Having looked at myself on camera, I realised that I moved around too much and was have been a distraction to the class. In 2005 I was awarded Fellowship of the Institute of Horticulture for my contribution to horticultural education.

Review and Enhancement of Curriculum

Teaching approaches include the use of lectures, practical classes and individual projects and reports. A variety of assessments are used so as to allow for diversity in the class. Some students perform better at end of semester exams, while others prefer to gain marks, along the way and put effort into field reports etc. For some students the requirement to draw and prepare posters and design plans in the module Elements of Landscape Design is a challenge,but they rise to the challenge. This module also develops group work, both formally in class and informally as students undertake their individual projects. The final year Research Project also develops transferable skills, such as time management, the ability to work within guidelines, undertake a piece of research work and prepare written and oral accounts of the work. Linking a particular module with other modules is necessary for students as they commence a new module. In Landscape Trees and Shrubs the students are shown an unknown plant in a pot and asked what they need to know about that plant. The responses. e.g. soil requirements, propagation, size, allows me to link the module with Stage 2 applied sciences, particular level 4 modules and what will be addressed in my module. The modules are enhanced by participation in EU exchange programmes in other universities, met with staff and examined teaching facilites. Participation in an EU Cost Action Urban Forests and Trees provided not only recent research findings but while on field visits opportunities to photograph current best practice. The topic became part of a module. The Audit of Assessment project undertaken in 2007 - 2008 identified the range of assessments used in the Horticulture programme. It also identified 'clumping' of modules which in a later curriculum review was reduced.

Developing as a Teacher

Over the years I have attended about 26 courses in teaching and learning. The most significant were 'Adults and Learning' 24 lectures run by UCD Adult Education Centre Autumn 2000 awarded 70% An understanding of learning styles of people e.g those described by Honey and Mumford, theorist, activist, reflector and pragmatist have been helpful to me as a teacher and makes me that I must provide for the different types of learners in a class. The course also made by aware of by own learning style, I have a strong preference for 'reflector'; (I'd like to think about this') and a preference for 'pragmatist' ('How can I apply this in practice') Use of Pedagogical research In 2007 - 2008 participation in an Audit of Assessment project under taken by the College of Life Sciences T & L Committee provided the opportunity to examine the type and amount of assessment students in Horticulture Landscape and Sportsturf Management undertook each semester. Subsequently when module descriptors were reviewed 'clumping'of assessments was avoided where possible. Mentoring staff I have assisted new staff with module descriptors and staff in a Teagasc college with project work.

Innovation & Leadership

Publication of a textbook with worldwide usage and papers on assessment and feedback UCD co-ordinator of 2 Erasmus exchanges Participant in Socrates and Tempus exchanges Extern examiner in the U.K. and in Irish Institutes of Technology School Head of Teaching and Learning in SBES and AFVM Associate Dean Teaching and Learning SAFS Member of University Programme Board and CPD Board of Studies Member past and present of 6 Government committees



External Collaborators

Member of the Management Committee of an Erasmus Mundus project "Promoting Masters Programmes in agriculture and related sciences in European Universities" (2004-2007) of which UCD is a partner institution.