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Research News

Research Strategy

Three key strategic objectives have been identified for research at St Mary’s University College:


Develop a profile of knowledge from research that informs and enhances learning and teaching in the College.


Produce high quality research output with a focus on educational issues, but not limited to such issues.


Maintain a support service that enables, encourages and facilitates engagement with research and scholarship.

Social Media


The College’s research social media account on X (@StMarysResearch) is used to disseminate success stories by academic staff in connection to their research.

Staff Research Interests

The current or most recent research interests of academic staff offer a brief personal insight into each member’s field of research that relates to their scholarly activities and their students’ learning.

Dr Angela Vaupel’s research focuses on interdisciplinary aspects of cultural studies with expertise in film, exile, German, Irish and identity studies. Publications include peer-reviewed books, chapters and articles on (German-language) exile literature, conflict and film, minority identity representations and (post-) memory in European cinema, Irish-German cultural relations and encounters, as well as transcultural education.

Dr Barry Doherty is interested in research in the area of mathematics education. Most recently, he has been investigating the developing understanding among trainee teachers of the features and characteristics that make an effective school mathematics classroom task. The findings of this research will inform the College’s initial teacher education courses in mathematics.

Dr Brian Hanratty’s recent research focuses on the methodology of teaching poetry to third-level BEd/BA students, through the medium of Irish. The research is being conducted collaboratively and is complemented by research papers he has already published in English on the methodology of teaching poetry. It is also underpinned by his attempts at the creative writing of poetry. This research, which is bilingual in its focus, has been presented in draft form at a conference.

Dr Ciarán Kearney’s interests focus on the psychology of wellbeing, as well as mental health and high performance in sport teams and organisations.

Dr Claire Connolly’s research relates to tutors’ improvement of feedback given to student teachers during placement, as well as student teachers’ engagement with and in education research during their initial teacher education programmes.

Dr Donna Hazzard focuses her research on the pursuit of critical literacy by understanding the experiences of teachers in Northern Ireland. She is also a current lead researcher in a project exploring knowledge and awareness of reasonable accommodations for initial teacher education students with disabilities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ciaran Walsh conducts research on the value orientations in physical education. This refers to the professional practices and programmes of study in physical education being concerned with the values, beliefs and philosophies held by teachers that impact upon their teaching approaches, the content they focus upon, and the ways in which they carry out assessment.

Dr Eddie McGee’s research interests primarily focus on the fields of theology, religious education and pastoral care within schools. Currently, he is carrying out research into the effectiveness of a self-reflective framework for school improvement in a faith-based setting and also examining the ministry and ongoing formation needs of permanent deacons within the Catholic church across Ireland.

Dr Elaine McLaughlin is involved in research examining value orientations in physical education. It focuses on the professional practices and programmes of study in physical education. It is concerned with the values, beliefs and philosophies held by teachers that impact upon their teaching approaches, the content they focus upon, and the ways in which they carry out assessment.

Dr Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh is currently completing a monograph on working-class militancy and loyalist reaction in Ulster’s Linen Triangle between 1918-26. He intends to research a close study of counter-revolutionary violence in the Tyrone borderland 1920-22, which will help expand the research base for a subsequent autobiographical monograph on Charlie Daly.

Dr Frances Burgess has research interests that focus on music teachers through the life-course, i.e. pedagogy, identities and careers. She has participated in projects related to social justice and activism in music education, integrating visual arts and music, and examining music provision for teachers in initial teacher education. Her work encompasses action-research, self-study, biographical and narrative approaches.

Dr Gabrielle Nig Uidhir’s research is on Irish-medium education. Currently, she is working on a study that unmasks essential Irish-medium immersion-specific teacher competences to identify a knowledge base that consists of distinctive professional competences, considered essential to teachers in immersion education, from an Irish-medium teacher-informed perspective.

Dr Geraldine Magennis-Clarke believes that the field of literacy education continues to move apace and practitioners are operating in exciting but very challenging times. Therefore, her research interests focus on a re-examination of the scientific and pedagogical evidence base regarding the most efficient and effective ways to help the school population become competent readers.

Geraldine Parks has current research interests that are focused on finding ways to overcome maths anxiety amongst teachers, as well as student teachers, and developing and improving pedagogy for the teaching of numeracy in schools. She is also interested in understanding and analysing the effect of ‘maths mastery’. Her research aims to provide problem solving strategies and resources to assist teachers in developing key skills (analysing, reasoning, creativity, etc) in children and to develop a framework for teaching for robust understanding and assessment in maths.

Prof Gerard McCann has been working on a number of research projects based around international development, global learning and economic development. This includes a co-edited textbook on global education in Ireland, which will be published soon, and a book on Europe’s international development policies.

Gerry Trainor is involved in research on mathematics education. Currently, he is working on a research project to explore student teachers’ perceptions of what makes a good mathematics classroom task and how/why this develops over the course of their initial teacher education.

Joe Hughes has a strong interest in learner support and facilitating teaching and learning. He would like to bring this research lens to his subject specialism of technology and design.

Jonathan Worley relates his research to the teaching of academic writing. His planned research involves the literacy level of incoming Liberal Arts students to investigate the perception of a decline in students’ literacy and its possible causes.

Julie Hamilton’s research interests lie in two main directions: effective practice in maths education; and aspects of (student) teacher professional identity. For herself, one of the highlights of being involved in research is seeing the contribution academic work can make to the day-to-day experience of students, pupils, teachers and schools.

Karen McGivern’s expertise lies in a range of areas such as business, entrepreneurship, technology, initial teacher education and professional learning. She has presented at international conferences on creative and design thinking and has been involved in various research projects using multiple research tools.

Dr Katrina Mulholland’s greatest interest is the work that the science team is currently undertaking with trainee teachers to establish their knowledge and understanding of, and interest in, climate change and the science underpinning it. It is anticipated that the data will prove to be richly informative regarding not only common misconceptions, but also measuring attitudinal shifts and levels of ethical awareness.

Prof Martin Hagan’s research interests focus on teacher professional learning at all career stages and he has presented his work at regional, national and international conferences. He also has a publication record dating back to 2001, with a range of publications in peer reviewed journals.

Dr Matthew Martin is currently researching cultural and pedagogical inclusivity in relation to newcomer children. He is also pursuing a project with a Chinese college on student academic writing.

Oisín Mac Íomhair is interested in research on sport education, as well as the ‘dark arts’ of performance sports.

Padaí de Bléine conducts research on Irish language translation, as well as Irish literature (poetry / short stories).

Dr Seán Mac Corraidh is currently focused on three research projects. Firstly, a project to design a language framework for Irish-medium pupils at the primary phase. Secondly, a project exploring Séamus Ó Grianna’s writing style and use of Irish in his fictional prose writing. Thirdly, an auto-ethnographical account of his professional practice in teaching Irish and in Irish-medium education.

Sharon Haughey’s research interests include the following: the key issues facing Catholic education today; learning conversations in leadership in Catholic schools; pastoral care and ethos in Catholic schools; and video interactive guidance as a tool for professional reflection and development within initial teacher education. Her present research focus supports her teaching in a MEd module, titled “Leaders In Catholic Schools”, and the distinctive calling of Catholic educators to service.

Teresa Cash is interested in research exploring stories and history that have an emotional connection. She believes in connecting with history through the use of personal history, story and primary evidence. She focuses on investigating the potential cognitive and emotional benefits of integrating history and literacy through the use of picture books and historical fiction across the key stages for student teachers and teachers in the primary school.

Dr Thomas Rogan’s research interests include immersion education, bilingual education, and supporting learners with additional needs.

Dr Tracey McKay conducts research on leadership in Catholic schools, geographical education, as well as communication skills.

Archive Of Research-Related News

An archive of research news provides an historical account of research-related activities involving the College’s community of researchers. In this regard, the Research Office produces research newsletters in each academic year outlining successes and achievements in research by academic staff. These include news on publications, presentations at academic conferences, funded research projects, other types of activities, and staff research profiles.

Research NewsletterResearch NewsletterResearch Newsletter
Research Newsletter Issue 29 (Sep 2023 – Feb 2024)Research Newsletter Issue 19 (Sep 2018 – Feb 2019)Research Newsletter Issue 9 (Sep 2013 – Feb 2014)
Research Newsletter Issue 28 (Mar 2023 – Aug 2023)Research Newsletter Issue 18 (Mar 2018 – Aug 2018)Research Newsletter Issue 8 (Mar 2013 – Aug 2013)
Research Newsletter Issue 27 (Sep 2022 – Feb 2023)Research Newsletter Issue 17 (Sep 2017 – Feb 2018)Research Newsletter Issue 7 (Sep 2012 – Feb 2013)
Research Newsletter Issue 26 (Mar 2022 – Aug 2022)Research Newsletter Issue 16 (Mar 2017 – Aug 2017)Research Newsletter Issue 6 (May – Aug 2012)
Research Newsletter Issue 25 (Sep 2021 – Feb 2022)Research Newsletter Issue 15 (Sep 2016 – Feb 2017)Research Newsletter Issue 5 (Jan – Apr 2012)
Research Newsletter Issue 24 (Mar 2021 – Aug 2021)Research Newsletter Issue 14 (Mar 2016 – Aug 2016)Research Newsletter Issue 4 (Sep – Dec 2011)
Research Newsletter Issue 23 (Sep 2020 – Feb 2021)Research Newsletter Issue 13 (Sep 2015 – Feb 2016)Research Newsletter Issue 3 (May – Aug 2011)
Research Newsletter Issue 22 (Mar 2020 – Aug 2020)Research Newsletter Issue 12 (Mar 2015 – Aug 2015)Research Newsletter Issue 2 (Jan – Apr 2011)
Research Newsletter Issue 21 (Sep 2019 – Feb 2020)Research Newsletter Issue 11 (Sep 2014 – Feb 2015)Research Newsletter Issue 1 (Sep – Dec 2010)
Research Newsletter Issue 20 (Mar 2019 – Aug 2019)Research Newsletter Issue 10 (Mar 2014 – Aug 2014)

Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)

The College is involved with research seminars delivered through the Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, which is an annual programme of research seminars and academic workshops established in 2011 by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Research and Information Service in collaboration with local universities. Currently, the university partners include Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, The Open University, Stranmillis University College Belfast and St Mary’s University College Belfast. For further details, click on this weblink.