2022 Lawrence Bragg Medal and Prize

Dr Eilish McLoughlin for outstanding leadership in physics teacher education and significant impact on the learning and teaching of physics in Ireland.


Award winner Eilish Mcloughlin

Dr Eilish McLoughlin has been a leader of pre-service physics teacher education at Dublin City University since her first academic appointment in 2000. In 2016, she founded the STEM Teacher Internship Programme to provide pre-service physics teachers with the unique opportunity to complete paid internships in a STEM role in industry. Over the past six years, McLoughlin has led the national expansion of this programme to include pre-service primary and secondary STEM teachers from across six Irish universities and provide 180 paid internships across 38 host organisations. Project costs have been funded through parternship with private industries and Science Foundation Ireland. This programme has impacted on pre-service teachers’ understanding of integrated STEM education, supported them in designing learning opportunities based on real-world contexts, and fostered education–industry partnerships in STEM education.

McLoughlin has led several national programmes aimed at improving in-service teachers’ competence and confidence to teach physics at early childhood, primary and secondary level. She designed and leads a national upskilling Professional Diploma in Teaching Physics programme for secondary level teachers to become qualified to teach physics. This first-of-a-kind programme aims to develop teachers’ content knowledge and experimental skills alongside their pedagogical knowledge for teaching physics. Funded by the Department of Education, 87 teachers are enrolled on this programme delivered by a partnership across three universities. She led the Improving Gender Balance in Ireland project in a strategic partnership with the IOP and Science Foundation Ireland to support non-specialist teachers teaching physics at lower secondary level. This programme adopted a holistic approach to supporting students in making informed and unbiased choices around physics and careers in physics.

McLoughlin has also initiated and led several European projects focused on supporting pre-service and in-service teachers’ understanding and use of inquiry approaches in physics education. She has facilitated physics teachers to carry out their own practitioner inquiry (RISE, STAMPEd, 3DIPhE), conduct remote inquiries (STEM Digitalis), foster open school and community partnerships (OSOS), and use inquiry-based learning and assessment approaches (ESTABLISH, SAILS).

She is passionate about sharing her experiences and research with physics teachers, educators and researchers across the globe through invited talks, conference presentations and publications. She co-edited the handbook Connecting Research in Physics Education with Teacher Education published by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Commission for Physics Education (2022). She was an invited author in the European Physical Society’s Grand Challenges in the Horizon 2050 publication to share her vision for the ‘Future of Physics Education’ (2021).