Within the area of Psychology of Education, I have a particular research interest in the application of psychological principles (theory, research, methodology, intervention / prevention) to each of the following areas of enquiry – either as separate fields of enquiry, or as is often the case, overlapping areas. Much of my published research in these areas can be accessed, free of charge, via the links on the publications page.
Bully/Victim Problems: Links to Educational Attainment and Health and Well-being
Exploring the nature, incidence, correlates, intervention, prevention, and management of bully/victim problems in schools. This research is directed towards policy development and psychological interventions to reduce victimization, to increase psychological health and well-being, and to enhance educational attainment.
Psychology Applied to Education
My research interest in this area relates to the role of “psychology in education” – as opposed to “educational psychology” per se. That is, I am keenly interested in “psychology for educators”, and “education for psychologists”. This questions the linkages between psychology and education – whether at policy, research, academic, or practice levels. All of this is aimed at fostering psychologically healthy schools and classroom environments.
Educational Guidance and Counselling
Ireland is in a unique position in that it has highly trained professionals who are skilled in the areas of vocational guidance, psychology, and counselling (non-therapeutic). Whilst many of these practitioners are also teachers, there are a large number who can be found working in other areas where their skills are most welcome (e.g., employment services, careers advisory services in colleges and universities, private practice). My research interests in this area relate to, for example: psychometrics and testing (standards in practice), the development of the competent professional, and the role of psychology in enhancing the work of the guidance practitioner. Some of my current research in this area is linked to the application of Universal Design principles to the practice of guidance, with specific attention to disability. Also, current research explores the experiences of participants in labour market activation programs (e.g., Springboard).
Special Educational Needs / Disability
As a psychologist, I have an interest in how educators conceive and understand “Special Educational Needs (SEN)”. For example, do all children not have SEN? How are the “categories” of SEN constructed – are these just another means of “social control”? Are labels not just for jam-jars? Do victims of bullying not have SEN . . . considering that the impact of victimization has directly (and repeatedly) been demonstrated to have a relationship with impaired educational attainment and lowered levels of health and well-being? How is SEN classified, assessed, measured, and resourced – and what impact does this have on children, families, teachers, schools, and society? These are just some of the issues that I am interested in with regards to SEN.
Rare Disease: 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome
Whilst education systems and educators are becoming more critically aware of the needs and requirements of children and young people with SEN / disability / intellectual disability, there is a dearth of attention being paid to the issue of rare disease. For some rare diseases, like 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, the manifestation of the micro deletion within each individual is variable – making a “one size fits all” approach to classification and resourcing difficult. But, is this not the case with other issues, such as dyslexia? I am also keenly interested in the issue of how children and young people with rare diseases are accommodated for in terms of their educational attainment and life / career aspirations.
Experiences of Bereavement, Separation, and Divorce
Whilst a regular and natural occurrence, the knowledge that we have regarding “normative” bereavement in schools is quite basic. There is a lot of attention paid to “critical incidents” in the school community, but everyone in the school community needs support and understanding when any bereavement happens. All too often the response of adults is well meaning, but not based on any evidence of what might actually work – or not! Schools and educators struggle with this issue. We have been exploring the personal experiences of school pupils who have experienced a bereavement and their subsequent educational and life outcomes.