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Sara Hennessy


University Senior Lecturer in Teacher Development and Pedagogical Innovation

E-mail Address


+44 (0)1223 767657


BSc (LSE), PhD (UCL)

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • American Educational Research Association.
  • British Educational Research Association (Council Member).
  • European Association for Research into Learning and Instruction.
  • British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics.
  • International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education.

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Sara Hennessy is a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Development and Pedagogical Innovation in the Faculty where she teaches and supervises on Masters courses (in research methods and science education, including a "blended learning" course). Her research focuses on pedagogy related to educational uses of digital technology, from a sociocultural perspective. She has researched the use of interactive whiteboards and mobile computing devices. She is also analysing classroom dialogue, across subject areas and in contexts with and without technology.

Sara is also collaborating with colleagues elsewhere on research using technology to foster interactive teaching and inquiry-based, collaborative learning in schools and in-service teacher education in sub-Saharan Africa. An ESRC-funded project ('T-MEDIA') used digital video to document and analyse UK teachers' strategies for mediating the use of data projection technology to support secondary subject teaching and learning. Each of her recent research projects have produced interactive multimedia resources for use in teacher professional development. She held an ESRC Research Fellowship (2007-10) focused on teacher development through collaborative research with academic colleagues. Sara is a member of the Faculty's STeM Academic group and has a particular interest in science and mathematics learning.

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Research Topics

Prospective PhD Applications

Sara would welcome informal contact from prospective Masters or PhD students on any of the research topics mentioned above. There are also specific opportunities for students to be attached to ongoing research projects on interactive pedagogy with and without digital technology in sub-Saharan Africa and on dialogic teaching in UK schools or elsewhere. Please see and for example.

Research Projects

A Tool for Analysing Dialogic Interactions in Classrooms.
(British Academy, 2013-2015. With Sylvia Rojas-Drummond, Neil Mercer & Paul Warwick.)

OER4Schools: Introducing digital Open Educational Resources into Zambian primary schools through school-based professional development
(Commonwealth Education Trust, 2009-2014. With Bjoern Hassler.) Click here to access the OER4schools professional learning resource.

Using a CPD workshop programme to impact on the quality of classroom dialogue supported by the IWB
(ESRC Impact Acceleration, 2014. With Paul Warwick & Tatjana Dragovic.)

Bridging practice and research into teaching and learning with technology. (ESRC Research Fellowship RES-063-27-0081, 2007-2010)

This programme of work synthesised and disseminated the 'T-MEDIA' project and prior research. It aimed to consolidate and develop a distinctive line of empirical enquiry and theorising about the critical role of the secondary teacher in purposefully exploiting interactive whiteboards to support subject learning. The Fellowship activities included

Open Resource Bank for Interactive Teaching in mathematics and science (ORBIT).
(JISC, 2012. With Bjoern Hassler)

Teacher mediation of subject learning with ICT: A multimedia approach (T-MEDIA).
(ESRC, 2005-2007. With Rosemary Deaney).

Eliciting situated expertise in ICT-integrated mathematics and science teaching (SET-IT).
(ESRC, 2002-2004. With Kenneth Ruthven and Rosemary Deaney).

Sustainability and Evolution of ICT-supported Classroom Practice.
(British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, 2003-2004. With Rosemary Deaney).

Developing warranted practice in using information and communication technologies to support subject teaching and learning in the secondary school .
(Wallenberg Research Centre for Educational Improvement, 1999-2002. With Kenneth Ruthven, Rosemary Deaney and Sue Brindley).

Portable Information Technologies for supporting Graphical Mathematics Investigations (PIGMI) project (Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, 1996-1999. With Eileen Scanlon and Pat Fung).

Problem Solving in Design and Technology Education (ESRC, 1992-1996, with Robert McCormick and Patricia Murphy).

Conceptual Change in Science (ESRC InTER project, 1989-1991, coordinated by Eileen Scanlon and Ros Driver).

An Intelligent Arithmetic Tutor (Alvey/SERC, 1986-1989, coordinated by Tim O'Shea and Ann Floyd).

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Sara is overall coordinator of the Research Methods Strand of the Faculty's (8-10) thematic MEd courses. She also teaches and supervises on the Masters in Educational Research, MPhil Research Methods Strand and Science MEd courses. She has supervised and examined PhD and EdD theses, internally and externally.

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Click here to see recent prezi presentations of Sara Hennessy's research

Click here for details of downloadable publications on ICT-supported subject learning

Hennessy, S. (2014). Bridging between research and practice: Supporting professional development through collaborative studies of classroom teaching with interactive whiteboard technology. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. You can preview the first two chapters of the book or purchase it via this order form.

Hennessy, S., Warwick, P., Brown, L., Rawlins, D., & Neale, C. (Eds.). (2014) Developing interactive teaching and learning using the IWB: A resource for teachers: Milton Keynes: Open University Press. An outline of the contents is available here; see also the free online resources. To purchase the book, use this order form.

Hennessy, S. & London, L. (2013). Learning from international experiences with interactive whiteboards: The role of professional development in technology integration of in classroom teaching. In Review of the Italian Strategy for Digital Schools (report for the Ministry of Education). Paris: OECD Publishing.

Hennessy, S. (2014). Using the interactive whiteboard to support dialogue in the whole class context. In N. Pachler & M. Leask (eds.), Learning to Teach Using ICT in the Secondary School. Routledge.

Hennessy, S., Haßler, B., and Mwewa, G. (2012). Using digital technology and school-based professional development to leverage interactive classroom teaching in Zambia. In J. MacBeath and M. Younger (Eds.), Millennium Goals Revisited: A Common Wealth of Learning. London: Routledge.

Hennessy, S. (2011). The role of digital artefacts on the interactive whiteboard in mediating dialogic teaching and learning. Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, 27 (6), 463-586, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00416x.

Hennessy, S., Warwick, P., and Mercer, N. (2011). A dialogic inquiry approach to working with teachers in developing classroom dialogue. Teachers College Record, 113(9), 1906-1959.

Warwick, P., Hennessy, S. and Mercer, N. (2011). Promoting teaching and school development through co-enquiry: Developing interactive whiteboard use in a 'dialogic classroom'. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 17(3), 303-324.

Deaney, R. and Hennessy, S. (2011) "A case study of using multiple resources to teach straight line graphs." In A. Oldknow and C. Knights (Eds.), Enhancing Mathematics with Digital Technologies, Chapter 3: Key pedagogical issues in embedding ICT in teaching and learning mathematics. Continuum International.

Hennessy, S. and Warwick, P. (2010). Editorial: Research into teaching with whole-class interactive technologies. Technology, Pedagogy and Education (themed issue on interactive whole class technologies) 19(2), 127-131.

Mama, M. and Hennessy, S. (2010). Level of technology integration by primary teachers in Cyprus and student engagement. Technology, Pedagogy and Education (themed issue on interactive whole class technologies) 19(2), 269-275.

Mercer, N., Hennessy, S. and Warwick, P. (2010).  Using interactive whiteboards to orchestrate classroom dialogue. Technology, Pedagogy and Education (themed issue on interactive whole class technologies) 19(2), 195-209.

Hennessy, S. and Deaney, R. with Tooley, C. (2010). "Using the interactive whiteboard to stimulate active learning in school science." In M. Thomas and E. Cutrim-Schmid (Eds.), Interactive Whiteboards: Theory, Research and Practice, 102-117. Hershey, PA: IGI-Global.

Hennessy, S., Harrison, D. and Wamakote, L. (2010). Teacher factors influencing classroom use of ICT in sub-Saharan Africa. Itupale Online Journal of African Studies (Education in Africa: Developments in the 21st century), (2) 39-54.

Hennessy, S. and Deaney, R. (2009). The impact of collaborative video analysis by practitioners and researchers upon pedagogical thinking and practice: A follow-up study.
Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 15 (5), 617-638.

Hennessy, S. and Deaney, R. (2009). 'Intermediate theory' building: Integrating multiple teacher and researcher perspectives through in-depth video analysis of pedagogic strategies. Teachers College Record, 111 (7), 1753-1795.

Bowker, A., Hennessy, S., Dawes, M., and Deaney, R. (2009). Supporting professional development for ICT use in mathematics using the T-MEDIA multimedia resource. In Joubert, M. (Ed.) Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics, 29(1), 19-24.

Hennessy, S., Mercer, N., and Warwick, P. (2008). Exploiting interactive digital technology to enhance dialogic classroom interaction. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), New York.

Ruthven, K., Hennessy, S., and Deaney, R. (2008). Constructions of dynamic geometry: A study of the interpretative flexibility of educational software in classroom practice. Computers and Education, 51 (1), 297-317.

Dunham, P. and Hennessy, S. (2008). "Equity and use of educational technology in mathematics."
In K. Heid and G. Blume (eds.), Research on Technology in the Learning and Teaching of Mathematics: Syntheses and Perspectives. Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, NC.

Hennessy, S., Deaney, R., Dawes, M. and Bowker, A. (March 2008). Supporting professional development for ICT use in the secondary classroom using a multimedia resource: A Report to NCETM. Downloads available

Hennessy, S., Deaney, R. (Sept. 2007). Teacher mediation of subject learning with technology: A multimedia approach. Final Report to ESRC. Downloads available

Hennessy, S., Deaney, R., Ruthven, K. and Winterbottom, M. (2007). Pedagogical strategies for using the interactive whiteboard to foster learner participation in school science. Learning Media and Technology, 32 (3), 283-301.

Deaney, R. and Hennessy, S. (2007). Sustainability, Evolution and Dissemination of ICT-supported Classroom Practice. Research Papers in Education, 22 (1), 65-94.

Hennessy, S., Wishart, J., Whitelock, D., Deaney, R., Brawn, R., la Velle, L., McFarlane, A., Ruthven, K. and Winterbottom, M.
Pedagogical approaches for technology-integrated science teaching.
Computers and Education, 2007, 48 (1), 137-152.

Hennessy, S.
Integrating technology into teaching and learning of school science: a situated perspective on pedagogical issues in research.
Studies in Science Education, 42, 1-50.

Hennessy, S., Deaney, R. and Ruthven, K. (2006).
Situated expertise in integrating use of multimedia simulation into secondary science teaching.
International Journal of Science Education, 28 (7), 701-732.

Deaney, R., Ruthven, K. and Hennessy, S. (2006).
Teachers' developing 'practical theories' of the contribution of information and communication technologies to subject teaching and learning: an analysis of cases from English secondary schools.
British Educational Research Journal, 32 (3), 459-480.

Deaney, R., Hennessy, S. and Ruthven, K.
Teachers' strategies for making effective use of data logging in secondary science lessons.
School Science Review, 2006, 88 (323) 103-110.

Hennessy, S., Deaney, R. and Ruthven, K. (2005).
Emerging teacher strategies for mediating 'Technology-integrated Instructional Conversations': a socio-cultural perspective.
Curriculum Journal, 16 (3), 265-292, doi: 10.1080/09585170500256487 (Available online at

Hennessy, S., Ruthven, K. and Brindley, S. (2005).
Teacher perspectives on integrating ICT into subject teaching: commitment, constraints, caution and change.
Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37 (2), 155-192, doi: 10.1080/0022027032000276961

Ruthven, K., Hennessy, S. and Deaney, R. (2005).
Incorporating Internet resources into classroom practice: pedagogical perspectives and strategies of secondary-school subject teachers.
Computers and Education, 44 (1), pp. 1-34, doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2003.11.001

Ruthven, K., Hennessy, S. and Brindley, S. (2004).
Teacher representations of the successful use of computer-based tools and resources in teaching and learning secondary English, Mathematics and Science. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20 (3), 259-275.

Deaney, R., Ruthven, K. and Hennessy, S. (2003).
Pupil perspectives on the contribution of ICT to teaching and learning in the secondary school. Research Papers in Education. 18 (2), 141-165.

Ruthven, K. and Hennessy, S. (2002).
A practitioner model of the successful use of computer-based tools and resources to support mathematics teaching and learning: An exploratory study through departmental interviews in English secondary schools. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 49, 47-88.

Hennessy, S., Fung, P. and Scanlon, P. (2001).
The role of the graphic calculator in mediating graphing activity. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 2001, 32 (2), 267-290.

Hennessy, S. (2000).
Graphing investigations using portable (palmtop) technology. Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, 16 (3), 243-258.

Murphy, P. and Hennessy, S. (2001).
Realising the potential - and lost opportunities - for peer collaboration in a DandT setting. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 11, 203-237.

Hennessy, S. and Murphy, P. (1999).
The potential for collaborative problem solving in Design and Technology. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 9 (1), 1-36.

Hennessy, S. (1999).
The potential of portable technologies for supporting graphing investigations. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30 (1), 57-60.
Download full version (67 pages).

Fung, P., O'Shea, T. and Hennessy, S. (1998).
Pocketbook Computing: a paradigm shift? Computers in the Schools, 14 (3/4), 109-118.

Hennessy, S. Twigger, D., Driver, R., O'Malley, C.E., Byard, M. Draper,
S. Hartley, R., Mohamed, R., O'Shea, T. and Scanlon, E. (1995).
Design of a computer-augmented curriculum for mechanics.
International Journal of Science Education, 17 (1), 75-92.

Hennessy, S. et al. (1995).
A classroom intervention using a computer-augmented curriculum for mechanics. International Journal of Science Education, 17 (2), 189-206.

Hennessy, S. and O'Shea, T. (1993).
Learner perceptions of realism and 'magic' in computer simulation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 24 (2), 125-138.

Hennessy, S. (1993).
The stability of children's mathematical behaviour: when is a bug really a bug? Learning and Instruction, 3, 315-338.

Hennessy, S. (1993).
Situated cognition and cognitive apprenticeship: implications for classroom learning. Studies in Science Education, 22, 1-41.

S. Hennessy, R. McCormick and P. Murphy. (1993).
The myth of general problem-solving capability: design and technology as an example. Curriculum Journal, 4 (1), 74-89.