Our Experts

Dr Karen Orr

General Information

Research Interests

  • Research interests span several disciplines across psychology, education, and children’s rights.
  • Particular interest in: educational disadvantage and underachievement; improving children’s and community’s outcomes; children’s wellbeing, both in school and the wider community; the psychological factors related to wellbeing and social and emotional learning (including for example, self-efficacy, resilience, self-management, and decision-making etc.); children’s participation rights and empowerment.
  • Methodological research interests include: quantitative and qualitative methods; participatory research; rights-based research; implementation studies; evaluation studies; and psychometrics.

Background & Qualifications


  • BSc Psychology (2003), Queen’s University, Belfast
  • MSc Communications, Advertising, and Public Relations (2004), Ulster University
  • PhD Psychology (2011), Queen’s University, Belfast (Supervisor: Professor Carol McGuinness)

Employment background

  • 2021: Research Development Manager (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), Ulster University.
  • 2012-2021: Research Fellow, Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation, Queen’s University, Belfast.
  • 2011/2012: Trial Researcher, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moore’s University.
  • 2011: Research Associate, Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health, Ulster University.

External Interests & Community Service

  • Member of the British Psychological Society
  • Steering group member for a range of community initiatives

Research & Scholarship

Deborah Roy, Emma Berry, Karen Orr & Martin Dempster (2023) ‘Barriers to recycling plastics from the perspectives of industry stakeholders: a qualitative study’, Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 20:1, DOI: 10.1080/1943815X.2023.2190379

Purdy, N. Walsh, G., Orr, K., Millar, A., Ballentine, M. (2023) Testing Times: Northern Ireland School Transfer without Tests in 2021. Belfast: Centre for Research in Educational Underachievement, Stranmillis University College.

Purdy, N. Gibson, K., Orr, K., Tsang, K. (2022) Perceptions of Level 4 & 5 Qualifications in Northern Ireland, Belfast: Centre for Research in Educational Underachievement, Stranmillis University College

Bloomer, S., Purdy, N. Gibson, K., Orr, K. (2022) The Assessment of Vocational Education and Training Qualifications: a review of European policy and practice. Belfast: Centre for Research in Educational Underachievement (CREU), Stranmillis University College

Lundy, L., Byrne, B., Lloyd, K., Templeton, M., Brando, N., Corr, M-L., Heard, E., Holland, L., MacDonald, M., Marshall, G., McAlister, S., McNamee, C., Orr, K., Schubotz, D., Symington, E., Walsh, C., Hope, K., Singh, P., Neill, G., & Wright, L. H. V. (2021). Life Under Coronavirus: Children’s Views on their Experiences of their Human Rights. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 29(2), 261-285.

Lundy, L., Orr, K., Marshall, C., (2020). Children’s rights budgeting and social accountability: Children’s views on its purposes, processes and their participation. Global Campus Human Rights, Vol 4, No 1.

O’Hare, L., Stark, P., Orr, K., Biggart, A., Bonell, C., (2018). Positive Action Pilot Report and Executive Summary. Education Endowment Foundation, 2018. Report available here: https://pureadmin.qub.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/149777004/Positive_Action_report.pdf

Lundy, L., Orr, K., & Shier, H. (2017). Children’s education rights: Global perspectives. In M. Ruck, M. Peterson-Badali & M. Freeman (Eds), Handbook on Children’s Rights: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Routledge

Orr, K., Emerson, L., Lundy, L., Royal-Dawson, L., Jimenez, E. (2016). Enabling the exercise of civil and political rights: The views of children. Report available here: http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.se/library/enabling-exercise-civil-and-political-rights-views-children

Marshall, C., Lundy, L., & Orr, K. (2016). Child participatory budgeting: a review of global practice. Report available here: https://plan-international.org/publications/child-participatory-budgeting

Rankin, A., Kuznesof, S., Frewer, L., Orr, K., Davison, J., de Almeida, M; Stewart-Knox, B., (2016). Public perceptions of personalised nutrition through the lens of Social Cognitive Theory. Journal of Health Psychology, p. 1-10.

Orr, K. (2015). The views and experiences of young people in Northern Ireland: Exploring participation, knowledge and respect for rights, community life and leisure, and mental health. Report available here: http://www.childrenslawcentre.org.uk/images/Young_Peoples_Survey_Report_final_10715.pdf

Lundy, L., Orr, K., & Marshall, C. (2015). Towards better investment in the rights of the child: The views of children. Report available here: http://www.childrightsconnect.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ReportonChildrensViews_InvestmentinChildren.compressed.pdf

Jerome, L., Emerson, L., Lundy, L., & Orr, K. (2015). Teaching and learning about child rights: A study of implementation in 26 countries. Report available here: http://www.unicef.org/crc/files/CHILD_RIGHTS_EDUCATION_STUDY_final.pdf

Emerson, L., Lloyd, K., Lundy, L., Orr, K. & Weaver, E. (2014). The legal needs of young people in Northern Ireland: The views of young people and adult stakeholders. Report available here: https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforChildrensRights/filestore/Filetoupload,455277,en.pdf

Emerson, L., Orr, K., & Connolly, P. (2014). ‘Evaluation of the effectiveness of the ‘Prison to Peace: Learning from the experience of political ex-prisoners’ educational programme’. Report available here: https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/ofmdfm_dev/prison-to-peace-evaluation-report.pdf

Orr, K., & McGuinness, C. (2013). What is the ‘learning’ in Games-based learning? In T. Connolly et al., (Eds.). Psychology, Pedagogy and Assessment in Serious Games. IGI Global.

Stewart-Knox, B., Kuznesof, S., Robinson, J., Rankin, A., Orr, K., Duffy, M., Poinhos, R., Vaz de Almeida, MD., Macready, A., Gallagher, C., Berezowska, A., Fischer, A., Navas-Carretero, S., Riemer, M., Traczyk, I., Gjelstad, I., Mavrogianni, C., Frewer, L., (2013). Factors influencing European consumer uptake of personalised nutrition. Results of a qualitative analysis. Appetite, Vol. 66, p. 67-74.