Meet our Fellows

Fellows List

Dr Yurgos Politis: Outgoing Fellow

Project Title: Virtual Learning for People with ASD

Host Institution: University College Dublin and Michigan State University

Host PI: Professor Lizbeth Goodman (UCD) and Professor Mike Leahy (MSU)

Home Institution: University College Dublin


A UNESCO report (2013) stated that approximately 15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability. The necessity therefore of addressing the diversity of needs of all learners through inclusive teaching practices and reducing exclusion within and from education, is of paramount importance (UNESCO, 2005). Inclusion has been implicitly supported since the Universal Declaration in 1948 and it has been mentioned in a number of key UN Declarations and Conventions. In the Irish context, the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) ACT 2004 states that “... a child with special educational needs shall be educated in an inclusive environment…” (DES, 2004; p. 7). However, at a recent conference (NCSE, November 2014, Dublin), Prof. Samuel Odom said it was often hard for parents of children with autism to access information on treatments or to understand the information. He outlined some of the most up-to-date research evidence on effective interventions for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and described how these can be put into practice. Autism may not yet have a cure but treatment is available in many different forms.

Over the past 50 years, numerous studies have shown that Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory, can meaningfully improve socially significant behaviours and that these interventions can have a positive impact on behaviour (Baer et al., 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991). This proposed study will make use of a Virtual World (VW) to help teachers create Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for 15-18 year-old students based on ABA methods. The sample will include students with moderate ASD and co-morbid ID/ASD, with an impact analysis comparing sample groups in the USA and Ireland. The Fellow will train on ABA methods in MSU and on VWs as well as Impact Analysis measures with UCD/Hao2."

Dr Yurgos Politis Bio

Yurgos  completed a 4-year Physics degree at the University of Athens and qualified as a Physics teacher. He then undertook a Masters in Education and a PhD in Physics Education in University College Dublin. He has taught at both second and third level and has been a teaching and research assistant and/or postdoctoral researcher in the Schools of Physics and Education in UCD, NUI Galway, UCC and IT Tralee.

He considers himself both an educator and a researcher. As an experienced teacher and teacher-trainer he has taught at a variety of levels in the educational system. From an after-school programme with senior and junior infants at Our Lady’s Grove secondary school in south Dublin, to a secondary school in county Kildare and higher education as both a physics lecturer/teaching assistant (NUI Galway/IT Tralee and UCD respectively) and a science methodologist at the teacher training programme in NUI Galway. He has had significant research experience during his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the areas of physics and physics education. In recent years he has been involved with really interesting educational research topics as a postdoc. He has worked on projects on higher education, development education, transnational families, inclusive education, adult education and lifelong learning at UCD, UCC and DCU.

In 2013-14, while at SMARTlab and the Inclusive Design Research Centre of Ireland at UCD, he was working with as well as on behalf of wide variety of learners with disabilities as we have successfully delivered the Inclusive Learning Project for the European Commission's Leonardo Project. In the course of that project he has become much more aware of the huge potential for assistive technology tools and open online learning tools to be customised and personalised to support learners with all levels of intellectual and physical ability.

Yurgos is a founding member of the Early Career Higher Education Researchers’ (ECHER) network that was established in 2011 during the CHER (Consortium for Higher Education Research) conference in Reykjavik. As a member of ECHER’S executive committee, he organises events for early career researchers during some of the main conferences in the field (CHER and EAIR). He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the INTED 2015 and 2016 conferences. He was a member of the program committee of ICALT 2015 (The 15th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies). He is a reviewer for the 1st track of the ECER conference.


  • Politis Y., Deveril D., Baldiris Navarro S., Avila C., de Lera E., Monjo T. and, Goodman L. (2014). Introducing the Inclusive Learning Handbook: an OER for teachers and policy makers. Valencia: IATED Academy Publishing. View article
  • Zervas P., Kardaras V., Baldiris Navarro S.M., Bacca J., Avila C., Politis Y., Deveril, Treviranus J., Fabregat R., Goodman L. and Sampson D.G. (2014). An Online Educational Portal for Supporting Open Access to Teaching and Learning of People with Disabilities. In D.G. Sampson, D. Ifenthaler, M. Spector & P. Isaias (eds.) Digital Systems for Open Access to Formal and Informal Learning. Dordrecht: Springer. View article
  • Politis, Y., Deveril, D., Goodman, L , de Lera, E., Baldiris Navarro S.M., Treviranus J., Monjo, T. Fernandez, C.,  Zervas P. and  Sampson D.G (2013).  The Inclusive Learning Handbook for Teachers and Policy Makers: