Patrick Stark


  • Room 02.002 - 2 Fitzwilliam Street

    United Kingdom


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My interests are centred around the goal of applying a scientific approach to the development of programmes and interventions. In particular, I have experience in evaluating and designing interventions for a range of outcomes - improving learning, reading development and health outcomes such as mental health, prosocial behaviour and smoking prevention for school pupils.

My research interests include:

Evidence-based programme design and evaluation – My recent research has involved an evidence based approach to the design and evaluation of programmes for children and young people. Most recently I have worked on pilot studies and programme design projects to improve both academic and mental health outcomes in children.

Application of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to programme design -  With my background in psychology and neuroscience, I am passionate about applying the science of learning and memory to programmes for a range of outcomes. Since 2015, I have been a member of the SMART Spaces programme design team. We designed and piloted an evidence-based intervention for GCSE Science, which has been scaled up in a large RCT for which I am project mananger. We have engaged over 14,000 school pupils in England with this programme. As part of this research, I have studied in-depth the neural and cogntive underpinnings of memory, skill acquisition and learning.

Knowledge transfer from academic research for health and wider societal impacts - I was the entrepeneurial lead for the SMART Spaces team in the Lean Launch research and enterprise programme at QUB. Through engagement with potential health and learning industry partners, we discovered a range of potential applications of our research into learning and memory formation. We will be applying our evidence based learning approaches to health and medical training in the near future. 

Cognition and learning – I have conducted research which has explored learning, language development and memory development from childhood to adulthood from numerous perspectives. My doctoral work examined the role of speech perception in the phonological awareness of poor readers using both developmental psychology and neuroscience methods, and more recently I have worked on a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a school-based intervention to target speech, language and communication disorders. Recently, I was trial manager and CI on the Reciprocal Reading evaluation study - an RCT which is evaluating a reading comprehension programme.

Research Statement

Research funding:

I have attracted external research grants to a value of over £1 million.

Current Projects and Recently Completed Projects:

Talk of the Town speech and language intervention RCT (Completed October 2015). Funder: EEF.

Dead Cool RCT smoking prevention programme (Completed 2015). Funder: Public Health Agency.

NewsWise Pilot trial Study (Completed June 2016). Funder: Primary Science Teaching Trust.

Spaced Learning - Feasibility and Optimisation Study (Completed January 2017). Funder: EEF.

Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) Science Learning Project (Completed June 2017). Funder: Big Lottery Fund.

Positive Action Pilot Study - mental health and social outcomes for children (Co-Investigator and Co-Project Manager - Completed January 2018). Funder: EEF. 

Reciprocal Reading RCT (Co-Investigator & Trial Manager - August 2016 - present). Funder: EEF.

Cluster RCT of SMART Spaces (Co-Investigator & Project Manager - January 2018 - present). Funder: EEF.


This year I am lecturing on Educational Assessment on the MEd programme. I have lectured in the Education for Transformation International Summer School for the past two years.

I am currently a research supervisor for MSc students on the MSc Educational Leadership, MSc Autism Spectrum Disorders and TESOL programmes.


I am currently Project Manager and CI on the Cluster RCT of SMART Spaces. In this role, I am managing the delivery of the SMART Spaces Science Revision programme during its evaluation. I am also managing the delivery of a pilot version of the SMART Spaces Science teaching programme during its implementation study. 


My colleagues and I have had recent success with our research into Spaced Learning being cited in the most recent Ofsted inspection framework (2019). We are using this teaching strategy to deliver CPD to teachers all over England in the SMART Spaces project.

Research Focus

I have particular experience at quantitative analysis. I regularly use techniques such as regression modelling and multiple imputation when handling large datasets from randomised controlled trials. I acted as lead analyst for the Reciprocal Reading RCT and have written and published numerous statistical analysis plans ahead of conducting analysis for trials.

I am experienced at working with large scale matched datasets from the UK Government's National Pupil Database and have worked in collaboration with ONS and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency to examine public examination outcomes from interventions.

I also regularly adopt a mixed methods approach to research, and have a range of qualitative research experience for a range of outcomes, such as learning, speech and language disorders and mental health.



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