Meet the CSPACE Team – Matt O’Leary

Name: Matt O’Leary

Matt O'Leary - Office Photo - Feb 2016Role at BCU: Reader in Education

Research Interests:

  • Classroom observation
  • Teacher assessment
  • Teacher identity and professionalism
  • Teacher improvement
  • Teacher as researcher
  • Professional learning and development for teachers
  • Vocational pedagogy

Research you are currently working on: The impact of the government’s austerity agenda on further education; the politics and pedagogy of peer review in Higher Education; observing teaching in Higher Education

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Research methodologies you are using: In terms of my epistemological and methodological positioning, I am a mixed-methods researcher with understanding and experience of both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. The research I am currently working on is predominantly of a qualitative nature (i.e. interviews, focus groups and document analysis)

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: I am committed to encouraging a collaborative, participatory approach to research, wherever possible and appropriate, as I am mindful of the need to develop researc1h capacity amongst staff in education departments that have traditionally been on the margins of university research activity. One of the priorities for me in developing a research culture in education is the creation of a vibrant and collaborative environment in which staff are encouraged to engage in thinking, discussing and writing about their practice. I have witnessed directly the way in which working collaboratively with and mentoring others can help to develop research and writing skills, along with building the confidence of staff to produce publications. Talking to members of staff on a one-to-one basis to understand their interests, needs and what kind of support is best suited to developing their research and writing capacity, is crucial starting point in creating such a culture.

For me one of the greatest challenges in education research at the moment has to be the issue of IMPACT of educational research. Putting to one side the issue of party politics and the selectivity of successive governments to listen to or ignore the findings of educational research, the research community is still faced with the challenge of making findings more accessible to wider communities.

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Most influential research you have read/seen: I’ve always found Stephen Ball’s work incredibly interesting and a big influence on my own work.

Advice for new researchers: Work hard continuously! There are no short cuts to becoming a successful researcher. Intelligence will only get you so far. It’s about putting in the hours and effort on a continuous basis. It’s also worth pointing out that you’re likely to come up against lots of obstacles and challenges as part of any research project, but don’t let this worry you as it’s a natural part of (research) life and the way in which you respond to them is an important part of your development as a successful researcher.

Mini fact about you: Cycling and cooking are my two favourite pastimes when I’m not working or spending time with my family.

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