Our staff are engaged in a variety of research projects evolving from a community of learning, which link in with our research themes.

You can get involved with our research either at an individual level, or in partnership as part of another organisation or institution. 

Research Seminar Series

Keep an eye on our events to find out about the School Research Seminar Series and reading and writing groups for oppotunities to share knowledge and ideas.

Current Projects

SCOT: STEM Career Long Professional Learning Online Training in Scotland

October 2019 to March 2020: Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM

This project aims to investigate the skills and knowledge gaps in STEM education to identify, create and deliver new innovative online career long professional learning (CLPL) modules which specifically address the needs of STEM teachers and could contribute towards Masters level qualifications.

The University of Aberdeen has long term expertise in delivering education across remote and rural areas in teacher education. More recently the Institution has focussed on developing a wide range of innovative online and blended educational courses across a range of disciplines using a CPD model which can be expanded progressively up to Master’s degree level.

The research team anticipate this scoping study will lead to the development of inclusive, open and accessible online modules to all teachers in Scotland regardless of their geographical location. This project is being supported by Education Scotland’s Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM Grants Programme through the Scottish Government STEM Education and Training Strategy.

The team consists of Dr Chrissy Mangafa (School of Education), Prof Alison Jenkinson (School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition), Dr Martin Barker (School of Biological Sciences) and Dr Dean Robson (School of Education).

Educational Inclusion in Cambodia: A Scoping Study

The study was led by researchers from the University of Aberdeen and the University of Battambang, Cambodia, alongside KHEN, an Education NGO and key education system actor in the region. This team collaborated to explore the potential for capacity-building in inclusive practice in remote rural schools in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Inclusive Education for All).

Though schooling is now compulsory in Cambodia, only 50% of children in rural areas have access to education. Schools that do exist often run in make-shift buildings with no electricity or clean water, poorly qualified teachers and no resources. This affects literacy rates and the quality of educational provision and inclusion. However, KHEN is currently working to address these challenges and has built 41 new or re-furbished schools since they were established in 2014, influencing the lives of over 9,000-children. Most newly built schools have basic disabled access and all teachers receive child rights education from KHEN. However, it remains unclear to what extent these schools are inclusive, especially for children with additional support needs.

To explore this, a Scoping Study was conducted in two remote areas of Battambang Province. Inclusion surveys were sent to over 200 teachers. Observations were undertaken in 5 schools, and teachers, Headteachers, District Officers and the Director of Battambang Teacher Training College were interviewed to determine perceptions of inclusive education. The findings indicate that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current quality of inclusion in rural schools. Interviewees cite a lack training and resourcing, and a range of socio-cultural and economic barriers as key factors.

The research team is now working on a practical, context-sensitive and sustainable capacity-building programme to support professional development in inclusion amongst practitioners in rural schools and to enhance the quality of educational inclusion for all children.

KINDINMI: The Kindergarten as a factor of inclusion for immigrant children and their families

The KINDINMI project is funded by the Erasmus Plus Programme of the EU and involves staff from the Universities of Aberdeen, Olomouc (Czech Republic), Uppsala (Sweden) and Vienna (Austria)

The recent wave of immigration to Europe has been bringing big issues concerning the inclusion of migrants in the host countries. Although school is considered as a medium for integration, learning different subjects often meets barriers, not only those of language but also in terms of cultural traditions.

Older children arriving have difficulties learning the new language (or becoming literate) as well at catching up with the curriculum. A lot of focus has been put on just this category, in some countries attending preparatory classes before being able to integrate the compulsory school or the upper secondary school, in others more or less directly put into ordinary classes, with variable success.

Meanwhile, very little focus has been put on younger children in the age of attending nursery school or preschool. For different reasons, some migrant families choose not to put very young children in preschool. A consequence of such a choice is that the child for example risks beginning compulsory education with no or poor knowledge about the language of the host country as well as social codes and practices. As the person taking care of the child often is the mother, another consequence is that she will also have more difficulties with social inclusion or with getting access to tools for inclusion, for example by attending classes to learn the language of the host country.

The reason for choosing preschool as a focus is that preschool, although it is not compulsory in our countries seems to be a possible way for migrant families to better integrate and be included in the host country. At every level, this project also aims at changing attitudes towards migrants and their families and at developing educational tools and professional development courses to facilitate the inclusion of migrants. It is also aimed at migrants themselves to help them understand different cultural codes, in order to become confident social actors in the host country.

The KINDINMI project is funded by the Erasmus Plus Programme of the EU and involves staff from the Universities of Aberdeen, Olomouc (Czech Republic), Uppsala (Sweden) and Vienna (Austria).

Verbatim Performance

Dr William Barlow is working with colleagues at New York University and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on using verbatim performance as a research technique to contribute to our understanding of potential internal or overt bias in relation to perceived gender, ethnicity and accent.

Verbatim performance is a genre of theatre which centres on interviews with people that form the basis of a representation. The stimuli of a verbatim performance originate from a variety of sources including government statements, well-known personalities and politicians, documentary films and contemporary documents to name but a few. All source materials are freely available and in the public domain. Therefore, verbatim performance is not created by a playwright or a devising process. Instead, it centres on real people, in a specific place and time, using their words gestures/physical characteristics. The Verbatim Performance Lab (VPL) then creates a flipped version of the original source by swapping genders, ethnicity and accent while retaining original source words, gestures and physical characteristics. The difference is that this time the words might be spoken by an actor of a different colour/race/gender and accent.

For more information, view the sources undertaken thus far via the VPL website.
One Seed Forward: Cultivating Education


School Gardens: Cultivating Education

The school gardens initiative is a collaboration between the voluntary organisation One Seed Forward and the School of Education in the University of Aberdeen.

The overall aim of the project is to create a School Garden Programme, the aim of which is to involve schools in being active participants in creating a physical garden space in their school that can be used to educate children in the benefits of growing their own food.

 Three schools in regeneration areas of the city, one in each nominated area, were involved in the pilot project. The participating schools were:

  • Bramble Brae primary school
  • Woodside primary school
  • Tullos primary school

 One result of the pilot project, apart from the development of the gardens in each of the schools, was the creation of an educational programme and materials which can now be rolled out to other schools.

 More specific objectives of the Garden Schools initiative are:

  • The creation of, or improvement to, a space in the school that can be used as a vegetable garden.
  • A developed school educational programme that includes local vegetable growing, health and nutrition benefits, recycling and composting, links to literacy, numeracy, citizenship, science and arts.
  • Developing links from garden projects to raise awareness of climate change and climate actions and sustainability.


OSF School Gardens Facebook Page

OSF School Gardens Twitter

MINE: Mobile Learning in Higher Education

The School of Education is part of an EU-funded Erasmus+ collaboration to increase the use of mobile technologies in Higher Education. In February 2018 three members of staff, Sarah Cornelius, Aloyise Mulligan and Rachel Shanks went to Lisbon with four students on the BA in Professional Development degree programme to take part in an Intensive Programme working with other university staff and students from Austria, Germany, Greece and Portugal. Staff and students worked together to design new curriculum materials, for example, using Instagram and video stories to share learning and podcasts to record reflections.

Recent Projects

Read more about some of our past projects below

Tales of Iona

Tales of Iona is an innovative and free game-based learning experience for upper Primary and lower Secondary learners created by the University of Aberdeen School of Education in conjunction with Hyper Luminal Games LTD on behalf of the Iona Cathedral Trust: a Scottish charity (SC017989) which seeks to “to advance the education of the public in relation to the history, culture, and heritage of Iona Cathedral and the Island of Iona”. 

The University development team, comprising Professor Do Coyle, Katrina Foy, Aloyise Mulligan, and Dr David Smith (Principal Investigator / Project Lead), sought to create through collaboration with Hyper Luminal Games LTD a relevant learning experience, which would combine clear pedagogical principles with the best of contemporary electronic game design.

The game-based learning experience has been designed to support learning both inside and outside a classroom setting.

Pedagogical Principles Underpinning the Game Design

 A variety of pedagogical principles permeate Tales of Iona:

  • Thinking Skills: Puzzles are a key feature of the game design.  They seek to challenge learners to think at a higher order level.
  • Instructional Knowledge: Some instructional knowledge is provided through the game narrative.
  • Curiosity: A pedagogy of curiosity / pedagogy of the question is central to the design of Tales of Iona – through the design of the narrative, in which ‘nuggets’ spark interest, and puzzles through to the artwork and centrality of the virtual library in the game.
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: The ‘library’ reflects the interdisciplinary possibilities that have been considered in the creation of the game.
  • Wiki: Tales of Iona seeks to use wiki pedagogy in order to enable learners to be a part of the ‘making’, construction, process through which their learner voice can be expressed. 
  • International Community of Learning: The wikis provide the opportunity for learners to engage in an international community of learning.

Technical Specification

Tales of Iona is powered by Unity WebGL and is playable on the following web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.  It can also be downloaded for offline playability. 

NHS Highland Parentcraft

NHS Highland is looking at how best to advise parents about their pregnancy and care of their new baby. The aim of the project is to enhance parentcraft education in NHS Highland.

We have developed 4 audio podcasts that can be downloaded. The topics are:

  • Giving birth
  • Crying
  • Feeding Problems
  • Sleeping

Professor Philip Wilson is the Principal Investigator and other project members include Dr Deborah Shanks from NHS Highland and Dr Rachel Shanks from the University of Aberdeen School of Education.

The study will take place between 1st December 2015 to 30th April 2016.


For more information, please contact:

Jane Chisholm, NHS Highland Parentcraft Sister
+44 (0)1463 704344


This project aims to propose, currently missing, the legislation framework for both PT & SCHE studies in Serbia (EQF Level 5). The proposed concepts, legislation and pedagogical and technological approaches for PT & SCHE studies will be tested and analysed using pilot implementations of five PT & SCHE programs, realized in both face-to-face and online modes of learning. After the first year of the pilot implementations, a detail analysis of its effects will be elaborated and reported, and implementation guidelines will be offered to HEIs interested in designing new PT & SCHE studies.

Expected impacts: wider access to HE, increase of enrolled students, increase of employment, qualifications of employees are more in line with the needs of their job.

Dr Rachel Shanks and Dr Bruce Scharlau are working on this project alongside colleagues from Tallinn University, Maribor College in Slovenia, the Open University of the Netherlands and nine Higher Education Institutions in Serbia.

This project is running to 14th October 2018.