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School of Policy & Practice


Primary Department
School of Policy & Practice
Academic Staff
Phone number:
01 700
St Patrick's Campus
Room Number

Academic biography

Elaine McDonald worked as a post primary teacher for a number of years during which time she completed her doctoral research on the history of women's education in Ireland. Her research was awarded an IRCHSS (Government of Ireland Scholarship) and since the completion of her research she has worked full time in teacher education. 

From 2018-2021 she was Head of School of Policy and Practice. 

In 2021 she was  a recipient of the DCU President's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (Team Award).

Her teaching responsibilities are focused on the areas of student centred approaches to teaching and learning; gender and education and intercultural education.

Elaine is currently engaged in a collaborative research project with colleagues in the School(s) of Policy and Practice and SEIGS ( IoE, DCU); this project examines students teachers' engagement in school placement schools. 

She is External Examiner for the PME programme in UCC. She has previously worked as an External Examiner for GMIT/Letterfrack on their teacher education education programmes. 

Research interests

My research interests are two-fold:

History of Education/Loreto Education
I am interested in the history of women's education.  I am particularly interested in the history of Loreto education.  My scholarship focuses in particular on the foundress of Loreto, Mary Ward ( 1585-1645). In 2019 I was invited as the key note to speaker to deliver a lecture series on Mary Ward across Australia. I have also been invited to present at a large number of Irish conferences on Loreto education/Mary Ward/School vision/mission.

Teacher Education 
I am fortunate to work with colleagues who are committed to understanding how we can help and support  the professional development of student teachers. I am currently involved in two research projects that focus on teacher identity and professional development; the first project looks at students teachers experiences of being and belonging in school communities and the second project investigates innovative practices in school placement assessment.   See publications.