This research is concerned with changes in social inequalities in educational attainment over time, the relationship between macro-level education policy and social inequality, and the micro-level mechanisms for educational inequality.
My first empirical work on this topic investigated how social disparities in attending Gymnasium and qualifying for higher education in Germany have developed since the 1930s until very recently (together with Steffen Schindler, Reinhard Pollak, and Walter Müller).
Within AQMeN, we analysed the association between school curricula, examination results, and university entrance requirements and social inequalities in access to higher education comparing the Scottish and Irish education system (together with Cristina Iannelli and Emer Smyth). This paper was published in the British Educational Research Journal and has been shortlisted for the 2017 BERJ Editor’s Choice Award.
My paper (together with Katherin Barg and Michael Kühhirt) investigated whether social inequalities in attaining the Abitur (equivalent to A-levels) were smaller in East Germany than West Germany before reunification. In addition, we analysed whether Eastern social inequalities converged to the Western level after reunification. This paper was published in Sociological Science.
In 2018, I gained funding from the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (together with Edward Sosu) for a project investigating the mediating role of school absenteeism for social inequalities in educational attainment and post-school destinations. The project runs until March 2023. In 2022, I gained follow-up funding from the Nuffield Foundation to investigate the long-term consequences of school absenteeism for education and labour market outcomes (for more information on these projects see below).
From January to September 2021, we evaluated the East Lothian Tutoring Initiative (ELTI) (PI: Dr Edward Sosu; funding by STV appeal). The project undertook a process and impact evaluation of the ELTI on student learning outcomes. More specifically, the evaluation (1) documented the developmental process of the ELTI, (2) measured the impact of the tutoring programme on students’ attainment and aspirations and (3) examined the extent to which the intervention helps to reduce the attainment gap between students from disadvantaged and more affluent backgrounds.
Another project (2017-2019) with Strathclyde colleagues (PI: Dr Claire Cassidy) was concerned with nurturing school ethos to improve educational attainment and to help to decrease the poverty-related attainment gap in a secondary school in Glasgow. This project was funded by Glasgow City Council.