• Room 01.004 - 71 University Street

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

- Design, implementation and evaluation of educational programmes and social interventions - Community based participatory research - Critical thinking - Educational attainment


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Statement

My research interests are wide and trans-disciplinary but sit under the umbrella concept of social innovation in education. In other words the design, implementation and evaluation of innovative educational programmes, supports, interventions and initiatives to help release the potential of the most disadvantaged in society. This research is reflected in my extensive body of research outputs.

I conduct my educational research within a range of academic disciplines and allied professional practice areas including: social policy; social work; nursing; medicine; and psychology. I have particular substantive expertise in addressing educational underachievement through the research and development of social innovations. All my research is underpinned by my expertise in educational/psychological theory and methods.

1. Co-design of social innovations in education, by promoting innovative design that is interdependent, creative, informed by theory/evidence, described by an explicit programme logic model and focused on supporting the most disadvantaged in society.

2. Scientific implementation of social innovations in education, typified by working with diverse groups of partners (i.e. policymakers, civil servants, community leaders, practitioners and the general public) to ensure educational programmes are co-designed (as described above in 1.) and co-operatively delivered in a feasible manner with quality, fidelity, engagement etc.; and

3. Critical evaluation of social innovations in education, with particular expertise in the use of pragmatic randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in social and educational settings. Primarily, investigating whether social innovations are having their intended effect/impact on key outcome measures (i.e., reliable and valid educational, social, economic and wellbeing indicators) particularly for those most in need of support. But in addition, more general critical thinking about the analysis, evaluation and conclusions made from all types of data and evidence.




Summary of current role

Currently, I am a Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences Education and Social Work (SSESW). My activities include:

  • Lecturing on and co-ordinating modules in the MEd course in the SSESW (e.g. Assessment Issues)
  • Developing Masters level programmes on Community Social Innovation
  • Supervising Masters Students
  • Supervising Doctoral Students

I am also a Fellow in the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation (CESI - www.qub.ac.uk/sites/cesi/). Within CESI my role is to enhance interdisciplinary research and teaching in the university and promote the use of evidence in policy and practice. Specific responsibilities include:

• I act as a Principal Investigator (PI), Co-investigator(CI) and Doctoral Supervisor on numerous research projects. To date, I have attracted external funding for 18 research projects with a value of over £3.2 million and £1.5 million secured as PI. I have been funded by several prestigious awarding bodies such as the Education Endowment Foundation (for whom I am an approved evaluator), Wellcome Trust and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

• Leading CESI’s work in their Innovation Zones (https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/cesi/zones/), which are real and sustained partnerships with local disadvantaged communities and the many professionals, organisations, policymakers etc. working with those communities. This work has the innovative aim of increasing the co-production and use of research evidence within these communities to assist in transforming policy and practice in order to help them realise their full potential and break longstanding cycles of disadvantage.

• Acting lead on CESI’s what works for educational attainment programme, which is focused on breaking the link between disadvantage and educational underachievement. My main role is to lead the group, facilitate grant applications and help develop the academic profile of early career members.


I have provided undergraduate and postgraduate lectures on a wide range of education and social science topics including: prevention and early intervention; implementation science; programme/intervention design; quantitative research methods; educational assessment; evaluation research; and special educational needs.

Currently, I am a co-ordinator for the Educational Assessment module in the MEd in the School of Social Sciences Education and Social Work. I also lecture on prevention and early intervention on the Special Educational Needs module in the same Masters programme. Previously, I have helped develop the Improving Children's Lives interdisciplinary Masters at Queen's, which blended face-to-face and online learning.

I am also a research supervisor for a number of Doctoral level and Masters students (please contact me for current opportunties).



Organisation or Committee





School of Social Sciences Education and Social Work (QUB)

Lecturer - Prevention and Early Intervention

2017- current

Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation (QUB)

Senior Research Fellow

2016 - 2017

Children’s Research Network of Ireland and Northern Ireland (CRNINI) Executive

Executive Committee (Chair)

2014 - Current

Improving Children’s Lives: International Interdisciplinary Conference, Belfast

Organising Committee (Chair)


Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers Implementation Plan Review Group (CIRG)

Steering committee (Member)

2013 - 2018

15th International Conference on Thinking, Belfast

Organising Committee (Member)


Thinking Skills and Creativity (Journal)

Guest Editor (special issue)


32nd International School Psychology Association Annual Conference, Dublin

Organising Committee (Member)



Centre for Effective Education 

Senior Research Fellow

2008 - 2016

Improving Children’s Lives

Operations Manager (organising research, committees and events)

2008 - 2016

Northern Ireland British Psychological Society (NIBPS) Branch

Committee (Member)

2008 - 2013

British Psychological Society Division of Academics Researchers and Teachers in Psychology.

Chartered Member (CPsychol)

2005 - Current

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Research Output

Applying the Spacing Effect in the Classroom

O'Hare, L., 16 Jul 2019.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Open Access

Using Spaced Learning for Secondary Science Revision: The SMART Spaces Programme

O'Hare, L., 23 Apr 2019.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

  • An implementation study of the Positive Action social learning programme in English schools

    O'Hare, L., Orr, K., Stark, P., Biggart, A. & Bonnell, C., 28 May 2018.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    Reflections on Researching Social and Educational Innovations

    Liam O'Hare (Keynote speaker)
    20 Jan 2020

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Big Parenting Survey 2019 Launch

    Liam O'Hare (Chair)
    19 Feb 2020

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar

    SMART Spaces: Design, Implementation and Evaluation a Spaced Learning approach for GCSE science revision

    Liam O'Hare (Keynote speaker)
    10 Jan 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Using Spaced Learning to Improve Your Exam Performance

    Liam O'Hare (Invited speaker)
    16 Sep 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Early Years Learning

    Jayne Hamilton (Chair), Liam O'Hare (Invited speaker), Heather Knauer (Invited speaker), Juan Bonilla (Invited speaker), Yulia Shenderovich (Invited speaker)
    17 Oct 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference


    A Feasibility Study and a Pilot Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial of the PAX ‘Good Behaviour Game’ in Disadvantaged Schools

    Author: O'Keeffe, J., Jul 2019

    Supervisor: Thurston, A. (Supervisor), Kee, F. (Supervisor) & O'Hare, L. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Measuring critical thinking skills and dispositions in undergraduate students

    Author: O'Hare, L., Oct 2004

    Supervisor: McGuinness, C. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in an undergraduate student population : associations with health, education and social services

    Author: McGavock, L., Sep 2012

    Supervisor: Spratt, T. (Supervisor), Larkin, E. (Supervisor) & O'Hare, L. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy