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Funders and community partners include the Academy of Finland, the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB), Concern Worldwide, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth (DCEDIY), the European Association of Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), the European Commission, the General Teaching Council for England, the Irish Research Council (IRC), the Jacobs Foundation, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), the National Middle Schools Forum, the Nuffield Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), University College Dublin (UCD), and Young Social Innovators.

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GUIDE (Growing Up In Digital Europe: EuroCohort) will be Europe’s first comparative birth cohort survey: a Research Infrastructure that will be an important source of high quality longitudinal statistical evidence to support the development of social policies which will enhance the wellbeing of children, young people and their families across Europe for many years to come. GUIDE has been recently appointed to the ESFRI 2020 Roadmap for top ranked European research infrastructures. GUIDE has received funding from the European Commission through  MYWeB (GA 613368), the European Cohort Development Project (ECDP) (GA 777449), and the COhort cOmmunity Research and Development Infrastructure Network (COORDINATE) (GA 101008589).

Led by Jennifer Symonds, UCD & Gary Pollock, Manchester Metropolitan University.

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The COhort cOmmunity Research and Development Infrastructure Network for Access Throughout Europe (COORDINATE) project brings together 22 partners from 14 countries to increase access to data on child wellbeing across Europe through data harmonization, education and training, and transnational access visits. COORDINATE will also pre-pilot the Growing Up in Digital Europe (GUIDE) survey with children and parents. COORDINATE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101008589.

Led by Gary Pollock, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Jennifer Symonds, UCD. UCD team led by Orla Doyle, with Laura Taylor and Seaneen Sloan.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Children with Special Educational Needs (ICOSEN)

ICOSEN is an Irish national study of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the education of children with special educational needs. The study is a mixed methods investgation involving children and young people, and their special needs assistants, special education teachers, class teachers, and principals, in mainstream primary and post-primary schools and in special schools. ICOSEN is funded by the National Council for Special Needs Education (NCSE).


Led by Jennifer Symonds, Joyce Senior, Gabriella Martinez Sainz, and Dympna Devine, UCD. Previously led by William Kinsella, Joyce Senior, Jennifer Symonds, Seaneen Sloan, Grainne Ni Dhomnaill, Gabriella Martinez Sainz, and Dympna Devine, UCD. 

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CSL is Ireland's first national cohort study of primary schooling, providing evidence to inform national curricular reforms and support children's wellbeing and learning. Approximately 200 primary schools, 4,000 children, their parents, teachers and school principals are helping the UCD research team to understand children's experiences and development across seven years. CSL is funded by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCSE).

Led by Dympna Devine, Jennifer Symonds, Seaneen Sloan & Gabriella Marinez Sainz, UCD.


Integrated Model of Momentary Learning in Context

IMMoLIC is an Emerging Field Group where researchers will imagine and systematically build a model of how children learn momentarily in classrooms by integrating perspectives from motivation, emotion, conceptual change, and metacognition. The collaboration is funded by the European Association of Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) and the Jacobs Foundation.

Led by Jennifer Symonds, UCD, & Ricardo Böheim, Technical Univeristy of Munich. 

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Young Social Innovators (YSI) promotes social innovation education in post-primary (secondary) schools across Ireland. Each year, YSI gives over 8,000 young people the opportunity to use their creativity to respond to social issues in their schools, communities, and beyond. 

The research project focuses on the impact of social innovation education on the wellbeing of students, teachers, and communities, and is funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) in partnership with YSI.  

Led by Andrea Maynard, UCD in collaboration with Jennifer Symonds, UCD.

This investigation will explain variation in cognitive functioning across the lifespan as a direct and indirect function of engagement in education and working. The investigation uses the Growing up in Ireland (GUI) and Irish LongitudinalStudy on Ageing (TILDA) datasets to examine cognitive brain health and engagement across three aged-graded transitions: the transition to primary schooling in early childhood, the school to work transition in young adulthood, and the transition from working life to retirement in later adulthood.


Led by Niall Costello, UCD, in collaboration with Jennifer Symonds, UCD, and Brian Lawlor, Global Brain Health Institute, TCD. Funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC). 


Previous Projects


The Safe Learning Study is a 5-year mixed methods randomized controlled trial of Concern Worldwide's programme to support children's literacy and well-being in Sierra Leone, West Africa. We are collaborating with 100 schools and communities to examine the development of children's wellbeing and literacy in the context of the programme. The Safe Learning Study is funded by Concern Worldwide. 

Led by Dympna Devine, Ciaran Sugrue, Seaneen Sloan, & Jennifer Symonds, UCD.

Scoping Review: Growing Up in Ireland

A team of cohort studies researchers are carrying out a scoping review to inform the development of a potential new birth cohort for the Growing Up in Ireland study. The review consists of a stakeholder consultation, and a literature review of design features, best practices, and possibilities, across selected birth cohort studies and the recent published literature. The scoping review is funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth (DCEDIY).


Jointly led by Jennifer Symonds, Laura Taylor, and Seaneen Sloan (UCD), and Yekatariina Chzhen (Trinity College Dublin). 

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Bullying in School Contexts in Ireland

Using the evidence from the Growing Up in Ireland and Children’s School Lives National Cohort Studies, we are investigating the risk and protective factors associated with bullying and victimisation in school-based contexts in Ireland. 

The study methods include systematic literature reviewing, multillevel modelling, person-oriented modelling, and complex large scale data. The reserach is funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC). 

Led by Giulio D'Urso, UCD, in collaboration with Jennifer Symonds, UCD.

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Plastic Raiders

The aim of Plastic Raiders was to reduce plastic litter in marine environments and waterways. The research team combined citizen science with artificial intelligence to provide higher quality data on plastic litter, which will feed into a novel waste management infrastructure that uses a multi-level engagement framework to engage citizens, government, and industries. Plastic Raiders was funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

Led by Francesco Pilla & Jennifer Symonds, UCD.


This project brought together academics and practitioners from the four nations of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Republic of Ireland to establish an interdisciplinary research network to study the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated policy responses, on children in the two countries and beyond. ICWBN was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and by the Irish Research Council.

Led by Yekaterina Chzhen, Trinity College Dublin; Julia Mikolai, University of St Andrews; Jennifer Symonds, UCD; & Susan Harkness, University of Bristol.

Human Learning

Set in the scenic University College Dublin campus, this undergraduate class provides first year students with psychosocial supports to help them have an adaptive transition to college. The research team studied the impact of attending Human Learning on students' motivation, momentary engagement, and achievement. The evaluation was funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

Led by Jennifer Symonds, Christopher Jepsen, & Sarah Brown, UCD. Co-leads Tony Perez, Old Dominion University; Benjamin Torsney, Temple University; & Andero Uusberg, Univeristy of Tartu. 

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PROSPER: The Professional Student Programme for Educational Resilience

Helping students to engage more deeply and frequently in schoolwork can improve students' life chances, and social equality. Working with students and teachers in low-income schools, the research and educator team designed PROSPER as a six-week (30-session) curricular resource to enhance 12 - 14-year old students' engagement in schoolwork using the motivational properties of adolescent role models and active learning. PROSPER was funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) and the manuals are freely available on this website for teachers and students to use.

Led by Jennifer Symonds, UCD & Benjamin Torsney, Temple University. 

Career Leap

Career Leap combines the energies of Dublin businesses, youth services and academic educators in the creation of a holistic programme for supporting hard to reach young people to engage in work, education and/or training. Career Leap has been successfully supporting young people to find employment and education since 2015.

Led by Carmel O'Sullivan, Trinity College Dublin, and (in 2015 - 2016) designed with Jennifer Symonds, UCD, and Jos Akkermans, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 

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Level Up

Level Up is a universal school based programme that aims to help 15 - 18-year-old school students develop their resources for work engagement. The programme covers core career competencies including values, interests, strengths, calling, career goals, self-profiling, job searching, valuing diversity, leadership, civility, teamwork, professional behaviour, listening, critical and creative thinking, and work engagement. Level Up was funded by University College Dublin. 

Led by Jennifer Symonds, UCD, & Benjamin Torsney, Temple University. 

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