Research Output per year
My research interests are interdisciplinary, crossing the fields of education, psychology and sociology, focusing broadly on the roles of schools and intergroup contact interventions in promoting social cohesion. I am particularly interested in issues of identity, multiculturalism and respect for diversity; inclusivity in education and shared & collaborative models of education; educational outcomes in contexts of adversity & inequalities in education; and the promotion of community participation and voice (particularly for children and young people). I am a mixed methods researcher, and have employed a range of methodologies during my career: interviews, focus groups, and creative methods with children and adults; psychometric scale development and factor analysis; secondary and longitudinal data analysis; and multivariate statistics.
I am currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations within the School of Psychology, working alongside Dr Danielle Blaylock (Principal Investigator), Dr Laura Taylor, and Prof Rhiannon Turner on the impact evaluation of the PEACE IV Objective 2.1 Children and Young People Programme ("Peace4Youth"). This Objective targets young people aged 14-24 years from more marginalised and disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland and the border region of the Republic of Ireland. Projects funded under the Programme are required to show clear development of sustainable participant capabilities in relation to the three Programme outcome areas of: good relations, personal development, and citizenship. The overall objective of the evaluation is to test the intervention logic and form a view of the effectiveness and impact of the investment. To do so, the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations evaluation team has used a rigorous methodology utilising a mixed-methods, longitudinal approach focusing on multiple levels of analysis. Primary data is being collected through participant surveys, as well as focus groups with key project personnel. This data has been analysed alongside monitoring and contextual data pulled from secondary datasets. Together these sources of data allow for the exploration of individual, project level, and social factors which may influence the impact of the project.
Whilst working at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (formerly School of Education) from 2012-2018, I was involved in the following research projects:
The Shared Education Signature Project Research Study
Description: The purpose of this study is twofold: (i) to examine the impact of different types of school-school collaboration on (soft) educational outcomes and reconciliation outcomes for pupils; and (ii) to explore and examine how particular shared education school collaborations work in practice as well as reasons why some collaborations tend to generate improvements in reconciliation and education outcomes while others do not. For the first element of the research, pupils who are partaking in shared education activities (funded by the Shared Education Signature Project – see http://www.sepni.org/site/ ) will be invited to complete an online survey developed by the Centre for Shared Education at the beginning and the end of each school year for the duration of the project. The second element will involve case studies of school collaborations to ascertain their experiences of shared education in Northern Ireland, and within each case study, the views of school leaders, staff and governors, as well as parents and children will be explored.
Research team: Dr Caitlin Donnelly (Principal Investigator); Dr Stephanie Burns; Prof Joanne Hughes; Dr Danielle Blaylock
Funder: Atlantic Philanthropies
Investigating Links in Achievement and Deprivation (ILiAD)
Description: This 3 year study explores differential achievement rates amongst pupils in 7 ward areas of Northern Ireland. The areas have been selected to represent a range of demographic profiles and both characteristic and anomalous patterns of achievement. The first stage of the project involves geo-social profiling and mapping the wards in respect of educational and youth provision. This will be followed by qualitative and quantitative data collection in each of the ward areas involving pupils, parents, and a range of other educational and community stakeholders. The aim of the analysis is to explore the range of factors that can influence educational outcomes for pupils in disadvantaged areas.
Research team: Ruth Leitch (PI), Joanne Hughes (Co-PI), Stephanie Burns, Michael Ievers, Cathal McManus, Robin McRoberts, and Ian Shuttleworth. With contributions from: Erik Cownie, Joanne Jordan, and Christine McSherry
Funder: OFMDFM (£292,563)
Education Inequalities in Northern Ireland
Description: To inform the development of the Equality Commission’s planned update of its ‘Statement on Key Inequalities’, this research investigated current educational inequalities in Northern Ireland (2008-2012) - giving consideration to the levels of educational access, attainment, progression and destination across the nine equality grounds (gender, disability, age, dependant status, sexual orientation, racial group, marital status, religious belief and political opinion) as well as other grounds wherein inequalities in education have been observed, such as whether a child has been in care; children at risk of poverty; and children who attend schools of different types and sectors. The research findings should assist in understanding the contributory factors and manifestation of educational inequalities for different groups, and thus provide feedback and recommendations for policies and actions aimed at improving educational opportunities for those affected.
Research team: Stephanie Burns (PI), Joanne Hughes, Ruth Leitch, Ian Shuttleworth
Funder: Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (£17, 981)
PhD research (2009-2013) Understandings of ‘respect for diversity’ within primary schools in Northern Ireland
My PhD research was funded by the Improving Children's Lives research initiative at Queen's University Belfast, and was completed at the School of Psychology at Queen's. This PhD was primarily qualitative, exploring how children who were born after the Good Friday Agreement understand the concept of respect for diversity, and the methods by which teachers and parents try to impart their own understandings of respect. These qualitative findings led to the successful development and validation of a psychometric measure of respect for diversity (using factor analysis), which can be used in conjunction with curriculum programmes that seek to promote respect for diversity.
Since 2018, I have delivered social psychology lectures to undergraduates on the BSc Psychology course at Queen's, and have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate psychology thesis students. I have also been a postgraduate personal tutor, and from 2019, will be involved in the delivery of lab demonstrations.
Implementing a contact-based peacebuilding intervention for youth in a post-accord zone: Challenges and opportunitiesBurns, S., Blaylock, D., Turner, R., Taylor, L. & Jeske, N., 2019.
Research output: Contribution to conference › Poster
Sense and Sensitivities: Researching children and young people’s identity and social attitudes in a divided societyBurns, S., Blaylock, D., McKeown, S. & Taylor, L., 2019, (Accepted) Researching peace and conflict: Field experiences and methodological reflections.. Acar, Y., Moss, S. M. & Ulug, Ö. M. (eds.). (Psychology Series).
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Chapter (peer-reviewed)
When group victimhood and personal experiences of conflict collide: Building citizenship from adversityBurns, S., Blaylock, D., Taylor, L. & Turner, R., 2018.
Research output: Contribution to conference › Poster
Teaching citizenship in the faith school: qualitative evidence from separate schools in Northern IrelandDonnelly, C. & Burns, S., 11 Aug 2017, In : Irish Educational Studies. 17 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Research output: Contribution to journal › Special issue
Activities per year
Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Participation in conference
Activity: Membership types › Membership of peer review panel or committee
Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work types › Publication peer-review
Adviser on establishing and defining baseline data, targets, outputs and result indicators for the proposed 2014 - 2020 Peace IV Programme in the areas of shared education & children and young peopleJoanne Hughes (Advisor), Danielle Blaylock (Advisor), Stephanie Burns (Advisor)
Activity: Consultancy types › KTP & Consultancy in kind