Dr Kirsten Darling-McQuistan

Dr Kirsten Darling-McQuistan
Dr Kirsten Darling-McQuistan

Dr Kirsten Darling-McQuistan

B.Ed (hons), PG Certificate in Early Years Education, PhD



Room MR604, MacRobert Bilding, King's College, Aberdeen, AB24 4FX


Prior to joining the School of Education in April 2016, I worked as a Primary School Teacher in schools in Angus, Fife and Camden, London. During this time I primarily taught in the Early Years, enjoying the creative, emergent and outdoor learning possibilities, which are more widely afforded at this stage of the curriculum.

While teaching, I was determined to explore means through which to embed research and theory into my practice in order to explore issues relating to social justice. I therefore I undertook my PhD – a self-study – with the aim of developing a more participatory approach to learning and teaching. I did this by analysing my role and the impact it had on children's learning experiences in relation to the complexity of the social, political and cultural context in which I was teaching. This process, which ultimately led to me researching with the children, engaged me in overcoming ethical and methodological challenges associated with researching with young children. This, in turn, inspired my interest in creative research methods, including drawing and walking, and how they can be used to engage with the perspectives of children.

In my role as lecturer, I continue to be interested in how theory and practice can be brought together to support critical engagement with, and reflection on, the role of the teacher from a complex perspective.


  • B.Ed Education 
    2007 - University of Aberdeen 
  • PhD Education  
    2016 - University of Aberdeen 

Research Overview

Theoretically, I am currently intersted in how insights from Complexity Theory and Phenomonology can support a relational view of the role of the teacher in order to support sustainable and on-going change and emergence of practice.

Methodologically, I continue to be intersted in the role 'self-study', as a practitioner-based enquiry approach that is under-explored within Scotland, can play in supporting the transition of these theorical insights into practice. Within the field of 'self-study', I am also interested in exploring and developing creative research methods for classroom practice, which broaden current interpretations of 'evidence' in relation to learning and teaching.

Current Research

Dr Archie Graham and I represent the UoA, School of Education in the Scottish Universities Inclusion Group (SUIG). This group are curently undertaking a mapping excercise across all ITE providers in Scotland.  This project aims (i) to provide a comprehensive picture of inclusive pedagogy in initial teacher education across Scotland; (ii) to be able to respond to requests regarding the preparation of teachers to teach children with a range of Additional Support Needs; and (iii) to consider the ways in which inclusive pedagogy underpins initial teacher education.  Eight Schools of Education across Scotland are involved in this project. 

Within the UoA specifically, we are 'Exploring teacher educators’ enactment of inclusive pedagogies in Initial Teacher Education'.  This project aims to investigate in what way(s) teacher educators promote inclusion/inclusive pedagogy in Initial Teacher Education. 

Dr Liz Curtis and I represent the UoA, School of Education in the UArctic Thematic Network on Teacher Education for Social Justice and Diversity in Education (further information). We are currently involved in a collaborative project, titled ‘DistArctic’, through which we are setting out to explore the transformative affordances of online learning and teaching within HE.

I am contributing to a SUII funded project, titled ‘Food Activism in the School Yard’ (further information).


Archie Graham and Kirsten Darling-McQuistan. Academic paper presentation at School of Education Seminar: Exploring teacher educators’ promotion of educational inclusion in Initial Teacher Education.  University of Aberdeen, 23rd October 2019

Archie Graham & Kirsten Darling-McQuistan.  Invited paper: PROMISE project (an ERASMUS + project 'Promoting Inclusion in Society through Education: Professional Dilemmas in Practice’) Exploring teacher educators’ enactment of inclusive pedagogies in Initial Teacher Education: Edge Pedagogies. University of Aberdeen, Tuesday 24th September 2019.

Academic paper presentation at ATEE 2019 Annual Conference, Theme: Research into Practice.  Archie Graham and Kirsten Darling-McQuistan.  Exploring teacher educators’ enactment of inclusive pedagogies in Initial Teacher Education.  Wednesday 14th August 2019.

I recently presented at an international on-line seminar as part of the University of the Arctic, Thematic Network for Teacher Education for Social Justice and Diversity on 'Participatory Approaches', available: https://connect.funet.fi/p9qkkswww1g/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

I presented as part of a symposium at ECER (2017) on 'self-study' methodology. This involved close collaboration with colleugues from: Iceland, The Netherlands, England, Ireland and Norway. See following link for details of our symposium: http://www.eera-ecer.de/ecer-programmes/conference/22/session/13044/


Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Teaching

  • PGDE Primary (Core Programme Team and LinC Tutor)

Post-graduate Teaching

  • Inclusive Practice (Programme Director and tutor)

PGR teaching

  • PhD Supervison: David Barnard
  • PhD Supervison: Nantia Chatzitheadorou 
  • PhD Supervision: Julie Bray
  • PhD Supervision: Tracy Edwards

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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals