Dr Karen Kerr

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
Dr Karen Kerr

Dr Karen Kerr

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

My main research interests are in outdoor learning and science education. I started my career as a primary teacher before moving into academia. Most recently I have looked at the outcomes of outdoor learning for children to include connection to nature, health and well-being and attitudes to learning science outdoors. Recent projects include Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) as well as looking at teacher professional development in the outdoors. The objective of my research is to engage with and inform educational provision in the outdoors and, more broadly, in the area of science teaching and learning..

Research Interests

Open to PhD applications in:

  • Outdoor learning
  • Connection to nature
  • Teacher professional development in science
  • Science education for primary aged children

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Public outreach & key achievements

I am the grant holder for the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project at Queen's. Together with the Field Studies Council NI we are rolling out this work in Northern Ireland. It is a citizen science project which aims to engage members of the public in outdoor learning and environmental monitoring. We aim to reach over 8500 children and young people in the next three years.

Research students

PhD area Spaced Learning at GCSE Science level: A pilot cluster randomised controlled trial of the SMART Spaces programme 
Name Ewan MacRae 
Years of study  
Country Northern Ireland 
DChild area Exploring the experiences of newcomer children to improve practice in preschool settings in Northern Ireland 
Name Louise Marks (second supervisor)  
Years of study 2012-2019 (Part Time) 
Country Northern Ireland   
EdD area Student Teachers’ Perception of Microteaching Experiences in Encouraging Learners’ Participation in the Classroom  
Name Daniel Eyisi (second supervisor) 
Country Nigeria
EdD area Successful policies for heritage language maintenance in bilingual primary school children in Northern Ireland’s growing multicultural communities. 
Name Andrew Fogarty (second supervisor)
Years of study 2014-2018 
Country Northern Ireland 


Alumni: Where are they now

PhD area On the Motivations, Aims and Contributions of Informal Science Education Companies in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. 
Name Dr Anthony Caldwell 
Country Northern Ireland 
PhD area Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for pharmacists: implications for professional practice 
Name Dr Laura O’Loan (secondary supervisor) 
Years of study Graduated 2017 
Country Northern Ireland 
Current Position Director of Pharmacy Training and  


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