Cormac McGrath

Cormac McGrath


View page in English
Arbetar vid Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik
Telefon 08-16 39 74
Besöksadress Frescativägen 54
Postadress Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

About me 

I trained initially to become a secondary school teacher in English and Philosophy. Early interests in D.H Lawrence and moral philosophy were translated into the practice of secondary school teacher.  

After a few years teaching, I became interested in teachers’ professional development and worked online with teacher training at Harvard School of Education’s Project Zero (

This lead me to a position as Educational Developer at Karolinska Institutet, KI where I continued to work with teachers’ professional development. In parallel with my work at KI I conducted research and wrote my thesis: What we talk about when we talk about change: A study of change practice and change agency in Higher Education (

My research interests extend to student and teacher learning in higher education. Further I also study and drive development within the context of leadership in higher education.

Nyare publikationer

Groen, C. M., McGrath, C., Campbell, K. A., Götherström, C., Windebank, A. J., & Landázuri, N. (2017). Promoting international collaboration and creativity in doctoral students. eLife6.

Macassa, G., Hiswåls, A. S., Ahmadi, N., & McGrath, C. (2017). Att utbilda folkhälsoarbetare inför en okänd framtid: insikter från ett´ nytt kandidatprogram som kombinerar häldofrämjande med hållbar utveckling. Socialmedicinsk tidskrift94(3), 309-317.

McGrath, C. (2017). What we talk about when we talk about change: a study of change practice and change agency in higher education.

Berman, A. H., Biguet, G., Stathakarou, N., Westin-Hägglöf, B., Jeding, K., McGrath, C., ... & Kononowicz, A. A. (2017). Virtual Patients in a Behavioral Medicine Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Participants’ Perceptions. Academic Psychiatry, 1-11.

Macassa, G., Hiswals, A. S., Ahmadi, N., & McGrath, C. (2017). Educating Public Health Professionals for an Unknown Future: Insights from a New Bachelor Programme Linking Health Promotion and Sustainable Development. Research in Health Science2(2), 70.

Henningsohn, L., Dastaviz, N., Stathakarou, N., & McGrath, C. (2017). KIUrologyX: Urology As You Like It—A Massive Open Online Course for Medical Students, Professionals, Patients, and Laypeople Alike. European Urology72(3), 321-322.

McGrath, C., Barman, L., Stenfors-Hayes, T., Roxå, T., Silén, C., & Laksov, K. B. (2016). The Ebb and Flow of Educational Change: Change Agents as Negotiators of Change. Teaching & Learning Inquiry4(2), 1-14.

Vaitsis, C., Stathakarou, N., Barman, L., Zary, N., & McGrath, C. (2016). Using Competency-Based Digital Open Learning Activities to Facilitate and Promote Health Professions Education (OLAmeD): A Proposal. JMIR research protocols5(3).

Kononowicz, A. A., Berman, A. H., Stathakarou, N., McGrath, C., Bartyński, T., Nowakowski, P., ... & Zary, N. (2015). Virtual patients in a behavioral medicine massive open online course (MOOC): A case-based analysis of technical capacity and user navigation pathways. JMIR medical education1(2).


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2020. Klara Bolander Laksov, Cormac McGrath. International journal for academic development 25 (1), 1-4
  • 2020. Cormac McGrath, Matilda Liljedahl, Per J. Palmgren. Medical Education 54 (3), 188-195

    Objectives: As educational theories are increasingly used in medical education research there are concerns over how these theories are used, how well they are presented and what the authors intend. Communities of practice (CoP) is one example of an often-used theory and conceptual framework. This paper presents a critical analysis of how CoP theory is used in medical education research.

    Methods: A critical literature analysis was undertaken of articles published between 1998 and 2018 in eight internationally recognised medical education journals. From a total of 541 articles, 80 articles met the inclusion criteria and were analysed and mapped according to various patterns of use.

    Results: We discerned five categories of use, two misleading and cosmetic, off target and cosmeticising, and three functional, framing, lensing and transferring. A considerable number of articles either misrepresented the point of communities of practice or used it in a cosmetic fashion. The remainder used the theory to frame an ongoing study in relation to other work, as a lens through which to design the study and collect or analyse data, or as a way of discussing or demonstrating the transferability of the findings.

    Conclusions: We conclude that almost half of the reviewed articles did not offer a functional and rigorous definition of what is meant by CoP; instead, they used it in a potentially misleading or cosmetic manner. This study therefore calls on editors, reviewers and authors alike to increase clarity and quality in the application of CoP theory in medical education.

  • 2020. Cormac McGrath (et al.). The Law Teacher

    Concerns have been raised about how well legal education prepares law students for the reality of their future work life. Some research suggests that law students find it difficult to transfer and apply theoretical knowledge to decision-making in real-life contexts. This article presents a novel way, virtual law cases (VLCs), to teach and learn legal knowledge, analytical reasoning and decision-making skills in a safe environment without real-life repercussions. The paper sets out a number of steps when developing a virtual law case and illustrates the different elements that are included. The article also reports the results of the pilot testing with other colleagues, legal experts, as well as with law students in a Swedish legal education context. Early evidence suggests that colleagues and legal experts are confident that using VLCs is a valuable way to teach legal reasoning and decision-making, and that VLCs offer students a tool that allows them to see how legal fields are interconnected.

  • 2019. Cormac McGrath. International journal for academic development

    This paper presents the findings of a four-year research project studying change practice and agency in higher education. The main findings of five empirical studies are presented. These findings lay bare how academic staff perceive opportunities to change their practice, identify leaders’ strategies when trying to bring about change, illustrate the different and at times incompatible ways of understanding change initiatives, acknowledge the importance of moral dimensions in change, and demonstrate how leaders mobilise theory when engaging in change practice. The article synthesizes the results of the project and draws conclusions with a view to how academic developers may best engage with critical stakeholders in higher education institutions. The paper concludes by presenting some thoughts on how a new model for academic development may take form. The paper aims to provide insights, inspiration, and critical dialogue to researchers in academic development.

  • 2019. Cormac McGrath, Torgny Roxå, Klara Bolander Laksov. Higher Education Research and Development 38 (5), 1001-1014

    The study aims to move beyond idealised and predominantly trait-based typologies of leadership and leadership roles and addresses collegial leaders' practice of change in higher education. Collegial leaders at two research-intensive higher education institutions, who had received educational leadership training, were studied. In the study, we explored ordinary actions and change practices as a way of understanding emerging practices among collegial leaders. Five categories were identified that show how collegial leaders experience change, process change and organise the practice of change. The article also contributes a critical discussion on the notions of collegiality in a consensus-seeking context, which may be relevant for academic developers, policy makers, and researchers alike.

  • 2019. Cormac McGrath (et al.). International Journal of Ethics Education 4 (1), 23-29
  • 2019. Cormac McGrath, Per J. Palmgren, Matilda Liljedahl. Medical teacher 41 (9), 1002-1006

    The qualitative research interview is an important data collection tool for a variety of methods used within the broad spectrum of medical education research. However, many medical teachers and life science researchers undergo a steep learning curve when they first encounter qualitative interviews, both in terms of new theory but also regarding new methods of inquiry and data collection. This article introduces the concept of qualitative research interviews for novice researchers within medical education, providing 12 tips for conducting qualitative research interviews.

  • 2019. Christian Stohr (et al.). British Journal of Educational Technology 50 (1), 166-176

    Despite the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and the field of MOOC research, we have a limited understanding of the specific needs of different learner groups and how MOOCs can successfully address those needs. Video lectures and demonstrations are a central learning component of MOOCs. This paper contributes to the research community by examining the use of MOOC videos for two groups of learners. In particular, we explore whether there is an observable difference between specialists' and non-specialists' video-watching activity. We analyse data collected from three MOOCs on the edX platform. Our findings indicate that while age and educational background impacts the level of video activity, there is no significant difference between specialists and non-specialists. We conclude that the MOOC format may be suited to non-specialist groups, allowing them to self-direct their learning and utilise videos as educational resources.

  • 2018. Cormac McGrath, Gustav Nilsonne.

    Data sharing is increasingly practiced by researchers and mandated by research funders as well as scientific journals. However, data sharing within qualitative research paradigms is less common, and sharing interview data has particular challenges. Earlier debate has pointed to the value of data sharing for discouraging research fraud and permitting critical scrutiny. We elaborate on this discussion by highlighting the value of data sharing for cumulative science, for re-use, and to maximise the value of the participants’ contribution. We review methods and possibilities for sharing interview data, and give concrete recommendations for mitigating risks to the participants. In conclusion, we find that sharing of interview data is possible, valuable, and ethical, and serves a purpose for both journals and researchers.

  • 2018. Hanna Jansson, Madelen Lek, Cormac McGrath. Revitalizing Entrepreneurship Education, 82-96
  • 2018. Natalia Stathakarou (et al.). Education Sciences 8 (2)

    Introduction: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are an increasingly popular form of education in health professional education. VPs have been introduced in MOOCs to increase interactivity. There is a lack of research in understanding the reasons behind high dropout rates in MOOCs. We explored how learners interact with VPs and compared the significance of different VP designs on dropout rates. Methods: RCT of 378 participants split into two groups to interact with two VPs using different design: branching and linear. Data on node progression and VP attempts was analysed using descriptive and quantitative analysis. Results: Eight groups of learner interaction patterns were identified. The majority of learners completed the VP in a linear path in one attempt. A significant number either completed the case in a loop path in one attempt, completed in a linear path in multiple attempts or dropped out without attempting the case. VP design has a significant effect on dropout rates of learners. There is a higher dropout rate from a branched VP compared to linear VP. Discussion: Prior research showed that branched VPs are more engaging and promote greater learning compared to linear VPs. However, our results indicate that branched VPs had greater dropout compared to VPs that require less time to be solved. Conclusions: We conclude that branching had a negative effect on completion of the VP activity in the MOOC. Moreover, we believe that more complex VPs require more effort on task and this might not be a design that facilitates the interaction in a MOOC audience, where the participants might wish to acquire the basic medical knowledge offered by the course.

  • 2017. Gloria Macassa, Jose da Cruz Francisco, Cormac McGrath. Health Science Journal 11 (5)

    In recent decades, corporate social responsibility (CSR) as part of socially sustainable business organizations operations has become a common practice across developed and developing countries. The objective of this mini review is to reflect on the potential role that CSR might have on the health of stakeholders (employees and society in general). We suggest that there is an opportunity for business to become agents of change and contribute to improved population health. Therefore, public health researchers need to explore how business organizations can, through CSR impact population health currently and in years to come. This would occur through helping to address global challenges in the workplace and immediate local communities, but above all through identifying the role businesses play in contributing to sustainable development and sustainable population health/health promotion across entire societies regardless of their stage of economic development.

  • 2017. Cormac McGrath (et al.). International journal for academic development 22 (3), 257-269

    This paper addresses a relatively new phenomenon in higher education, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and explores conceptions around this new and emerging development from the perspective of a number of stakeholders in the university. A phenomenographic approach is adopted. The study explores how different stakeholders at a university perceive the MOOC phenomenon, and reflects on how the many conceptions stakeholders adhere to are made meaningful for academic developers in their role as 'partners in arms'. The conceptions run across a continuum from the local and narrow to the global and broad. The study identifies challenges to change agency in a higher education institution.

  • 2017. Anne H. Berman (et al.). Academic Psychiatry 41 (5), 631-641

    Objective The purpose of this article is to explore learners' perceptions of using virtual patients in a behavioral medicine Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) and thereby describe innovative ways of disseminating knowledge in health-related areas. Methods A 5-week MOOC on behavioral medicine was hosted on the edX platform. The authors developed two branched virtual patients consisting of video recordings of a live standardized patient, with multiple clinical decision points and narration unfolding depending on learners' choices. Students interacted with the virtual patients to treat stress and sleep problems. Answers to the exit survey and participant comments from the discussion forum were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. Results In total, 19,236 participants enrolled in the MOOC, out of which 740 received the final certificate. The virtual patients were completed by 2317 and 1640 participants respectively. Among survey respondents (n = 442), 83.1% agreed that the virtual patient exercise was helpful. The qualitative analysis resulted in themes covering what it was like to work with the virtual patient, with subthemes on learner-centered education, emotions/eustress, game comparisons, what the participants learned, what surprised them, how confident participants felt about applying interventions in practice, suggestions for improvement, and previous experiences of virtual patients. Conclusions Students were enthusiastic about interacting with the virtual patients as a means to apply new knowledge about behavioral medicine interventions. The most common suggestion was to incorporate more interactive cases with various levels of complexity. Further research should include patient outcomes and focus on interprofessional aspects of learning with virtual patients in a MOOC.

  • 2016. Cormac McGrath (et al.). Teaching and Learning Inquiry 4 (2)

    In this paper, we are concerned with how change agents go about and experience change implementation in higher education. We identified change agents and interviewed them about how they implement change. Empirical data was analysed using a theoretical framework of change. The findings suggest that change in the university is enacted through a process of negotiation. The findings of this study may offer academic developers, pedagogical leaders, and change agents insight into the complex nature of the change process and inform change agents as to the complex nature and importance of their role.

  • 2014. Cormac McGrath, Klara Bolander Laksov. International journal for academic development 19 (2), 139-149

    In the wake of the Bologna process, many European universities are undergoing comprehensive educational reform. Our attention in this paper is focused on how a medical university came to terms with the challenges presented therein. We wished to explore how educators identify, understand and deal with opportunities for change at a medical university. To accomplish this, we devised meetings between the respondents and colleagues at the university and examined the reported results of these meetings. Our results suggest that there may be substantial educational crosstalk taking place, whereby people are experiencing a communicative mismatch in terms of negotiating the meaning of change initiatives. This can act as a hindrance for implementation of educational reforms. We acknowledge that educational developers and people in leadership need to consider different ways of creating opportunities for peer review and dialogue around educational issues in order to fully embrace opportunities for change.

  • 2014. Klara Bolander Laksov, Cormac McGrath, Anna Josephson. Advances in Health Sciences Education 19 (5), 1709-1720

    Today, the knowledge concerning clinical reasoning is advanced enough to translate into curriculum interventions such as an integrated curriculum, in which science theory and clinical practice can be interwoven effectively. However, the interpretations of what integration means differ and the purpose of this study was to elicit how students understand integration. This study was carried out using an interpretative perspective. Medical students, in their 2nd year of study, were asked to apply basic science knowledge from all previous courses to clinical cases in an examination. Subsequent to the examination, focus group interviews were conducted. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed by the use of qualitative content analysis. The analysis revealed how students comprehended integration: as the creation of wholeness, as relating new knowledge to core concepts, as reasoning, as application and as collaboration between teachers. The five categories were linked to three dimensions: intra-personal, inter-personal and organizational, each of which resonates with different theories of how expertise is developed. The outcome of this study adds to our understanding of how students conceptualize integration. The categories of 'integration' drawn out by the study are helpful in promoting further discussion of how eliciting students' own reports of cognition and may help the ongoing design of curricula by putting students at the center of the curriculum design process.

Visa alla publikationer av Cormac McGrath vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 17 oktober 2020

Bokmärk och dela Tipsa