Stephanie Burns

    Dr Stephanie Burns

    Research Fellow

    Phone: +44 (0)28 9097 5655

    For media contact email
    or call +44(0)2890 973091.

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    Research Interests

    My research interests are interdisciplinary, crossing the fields of education, psychology and sociology, and focus 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.

    Research Statement

    I am currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations within the School of Psychology, working on the impact evaluation of the PEACE IV Objective 2.1 Children and Young People Programme. This Objective targets young people aged 14-24 years from more marginalised and disadvantaged communities. 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 impact evaluation is to test the intervention logic, and form a view of the effectiveness and impact of the PEACE IV Objective 2.1 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 from Phase I of the project was collected through participant and project surveys, as well as focus groups conducted 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 project impact.


    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  ) 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

    Duration: 2015-2018


    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)

    Duration: 2011-2015


    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)

    Duration: 2013-2014


    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. My thesis title was 'Understandings of 'respect for diversity' within primary schools in Northern Ireland'.

    I have delivered course content on the School of Education's M.Ed. in Inclusion and Special Needs Education. I also take PGCE tutorials and supervise a Master's-level student.

    Frequent Journals

    • Journal of Peace Education

      ISSNs: 1740-0201

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1740-021X


      Scopus rating (2018): SJR 0.441 SNIP 1.024


    • Irish Educational Studies

      ISSNs: 0332-3315


      Scopus rating (2018): SJR 0.337 SNIP 0.602


    • Field Methods

      ISSNs: 1525-822X

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1552-3969

      SAGE Publications Inc.

      Scopus rating (2018): SJR 0.676 SNIP 1.256


    • Policy Futures in Education

      ISSNs: 1478-2103

      Symposium Journals Ltd

      Scopus rating (2018): SJR 0.341 SNIP 0.578


    • Research Update

      Journal: Specialist publication

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    Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

    ID: 1635435