Research Area

STEM Education





EPI*STEM, School of Education

Research Leader

Prof. Merrilyn Goos

What attracted you to the Succeed and Lead Fellowship?

My previous experience as a postdoctoral researcher focused mainly on the project/s I was working on. The Succeed and Lead Fellowship programme offers the opportunity for me to focus on core competencies I want to develop. I feel this will allow me to develop the knowledge, behaviour and attributes of a highly skilled researcher. 

Research Goal

The aim of my research is to explore gender equality in science and mathematics and to determine the best practices for enhancing female participation in science and maths at primary, secondary and tertiary level.

Research Background

I received a Bachelor of Science with concurrent Teacher Education (Biology, Physics and Agricultural Science) from the University of Limerick. I was awarded a PhD in Physics Education for the research I carried out in Limerick Institute of Technology under the supervisor of Dr Leah Wallace and Dr George McClelland. Following on from this I worked as postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning in Dublin City University investigating methods to assess science students problem solving skills. I then worked as a Science Project Officer in EPI*STEM, the National Centre for STEM Education. 

Research Expertise

In the last three decades very little has changed in relation to the number of females pursuing careers in STEM. My future research goal is to conduct a research synthesis of secondary sources of academic research and industry projects on gender equality in science and mathematics to address the research question, what are the best practices for enhancing female participation in science and maths at primary, secondary and tertiary level.

The focus of my work in this Fellowship on STEM Education concerns an International Council for Science funded project. The project is led by the International Mathematical Union and is titled ‘A Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical and Natural Sciences: How to measure It, How to reduce it?’. The main task I will be working on in the project involves developing a database of good practices.  A conceptual framework will need to be developed that identifies the practices that are currently employed to decrease the gender gap. The findings should provide a strong foundation to develop an independent program of research to promote women in STEM. This research can initially be piloted in Ireland. I then plan to pursue funding to expand the project to include European partnership.

Research Impact

A comprehensive analysis of the gender gap on a global scale has not be achieved. Compiling a database of measures taken to increase female interest and recruitment in STEM will allow policy makers to develop policies to support actions to reduce the gender gap in science and maths. The database intends to act as a living resource that can be expanded to include future initiatives. 

Selected Publications

Kelly, R., McGarr, O., Lehane, L., & Erduran, & S. (accepted Jan 2019) STEM and gender at university: focusing on Irish undergraduate female students. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education.

Kelly, R., Erduran, S. (2019) Understanding aims and values of science: developments in the Junior Cycle Specifications on nature of science and pre-service science teachers’ views in Ireland. Irish Educational Studies, 38(1), 43-70.

Kelly, R., McLoughlin, E., & Finlayson, O. E. (2016). Analysing student written solutions to investigate if problem-solving processes are evident throughout. International Journal of Science Education, 38(11), 1766-1784.

Kelly, R., Erduran, S., Walshe, G., & Guilfoyle, L. (2016) STeP into Science Project: Engaging Students, Teachers and Parents in Debates. Chemistry in Action, 108(2), 7-8.

Professional publications/Teaching resources

Walshe, G., Kelly, R. (2017) ‘Argumentation in Physics Teaching: How do we know what we know?’ Institute of Physics Frontiers of Physics Conference, Limerick: University of Limerick

Kelly, R., Erduran, S., Walshe, G., & Guilfoyle, L. (2016) ‘STeP into Science Project: Engaging Students, Teachers and Parents in Debates: Resources for Continuing Professional Development’, Limerick: University of Limerick

Contributed to Volume III (2016-2017) and Volume IV (2017-2018), Issues (1-9) of Science Scope, published by the Irish Independent.