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Durham University

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Dr Ourania Maria Ventista

Contact Dr Ourania Maria Ventista (email at

Affiliate of the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education


Dr Ventista is a Researcher in the School of Education at Durham University. She is an Accredited Researcher (Office for National Statistics) and an Associated Researcher of the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education. She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the British Educational Research Association (BERA), a member of the Hellenic Educational Society, a member of the Young People & Society Study Group at St Chad's College and a member of Josephine Butler College Senior Common Room (SCR).

Dr Ventista is currently researching teacher recruitment and retention strategies (ESRC-funded project).

She is a qualified teacher and she taught in primary schools in Greece and England. She worked as an education consultant (Head of Assessment at Evidence Based Education). As part of her role, she trained academics, school leaders and teachers to develop, analyse and improve the quality of their assessments.

She received her Bachelor (first class) in Primary Education from the University of Thessaly. She researched on social representations of the effective primary school among Greek parents while the country was facing the social consequences of the economic crisis. The results of her research highlighted that parents did not restrict their expectations solely on cognitive gains of schooling. Then, she started developing her interest in teaching interventions which can potentially increase the critical thinking and creativity of the students. Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a typical example of interventions aiming to develop these thinking skills. For this reason, she implemented a short-term P4C project in Greece to investigate how students and teachers respond to this intervention.

Dr Ventista holds an MSc in Educational Assessment from Durham University. She implemented established assessments tools of critical thinking and creativity to investigate their convergent and discriminant validity. Her dissertation focused on criterion validation of motor development tools of the iPIPS project by Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University.

Her PhD thesis evaluates the impact of the Philosophy for Children programme on pupils' cognitive and non-cognitive skills. For her research project, she conducted a systematic literature review and a quasi-experimental study with primary schools in England. After the encouraging results of the P4C project at Durham University, she decided to explore further the P4C impact on attainment. Influenced by her previous study on school effectiveness, she decided to examine the P4C impact on the attainment of students who are eligible for Free School Meals (secondary data analysis of the National Pupil Database). 

During her PhD studies, she offered assistance in different research projects. In 2016 she helped with the piloting of the BASE - Reception Baseline Assessment (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) in schools. She also assisted with the fieldwork for the Youth Social Action Trials and Children's University project.

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LinkedIn: Dr Ourania M Ventista

Teaching Areas

  • Academic year 2017-2018: Critical Perspectives in Education (core module for MA in Education)
  • Academic year 2018-2019: Judgement-based Assessment (core module for MSc in Educational Assessment)
  • Academic year 2018-2019: Standardised Tests and Exams (core module for MSc in Education Assessment)
  • Academic year 2019-2020: Research Methods in Education (core module for BA in Primary Education, Year 2)

International Collaborations

'Critical Thinking in Teacher Education' : Collaborating with Prof Stavroula Kaldi, Prof Christos Govaris and Mr Efstathios Xafakos from University of Thessaly. The project aims to investigate whether teacher education in Greece sufficiently prepares teachers to teach critical thinking.

Research Groups

School of Education

Research Projects

School of Education

Research Interests

  • Philosophy for Children
  • Evidence-based Education
  • Experimental Research Design and Controlled Trials
  • Educational Assessment
  • Creativity and Critical Thinking Assessments
  • Criterion Validity
  • Assessment in Massive Open Online Courses
  • Non-cognitive skills
  • School effectiveness
  • Social Inequality
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Teacher Education
  • Teacher Recruitment and Retention
  • Teaching Ethics

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2019: Speaker:

    Ventista, O.M. (2019). Can thinking be taught?: The impact of the Philosophy for Children programme on the critical and divergent thinking of primary school pupils. The Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, University of Central Lancashire, England (Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain)

  • 2018: Invited Editor :

    Invited Article Editor for the journal

    SAGE Open

  • 2018: Invited Speaker:

    Ventista, O.M. (2018) . Evaluating Controlled Trials in Education: What evidence can I trust?. ResearchED Blackpool.

  • 2018: Invited Speaker:

    Ventista, O.M. (2018). Philosophy for Children: Evaluating the effectiveness of the school-based intervention. Philosophising with Children Conference. University of Thessaly, Greece.

  • 2018: Keynote Presentation:

    Ventista, O.M. (2018). What do teachers need to know about assessment?. Data and Assessment Conference: The Accelerator to Outstanding Outcomes for Children. Exeter, England.

  • 2017: Half Colours Award:

    Josephine Butler College

    For the contribution as 'Scholarly Activities Officer' in the MCR Committee (2016-2017); organising the 'Josephine Butler Research Forum' (two-day interdisciplinary conference) and talks for the postgraduate students of the college

  • 2017: Invited Speaker:

    Ventista, O.M. (2017). Massive Open Online Courses: Is self-assessment the most appropriate type of formative assessment?, Day Workshop. Assessment and Feedback: Transforming Curricula and Assessment in HE. University of Bath, England.

  • Reviewer :

    For the journals

    Review of Education: An International Journal of Major Studies in Education (BERA)

    Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning

    E-Learning and Digital Media

    BERA Annual Conference (2018)


Book review

Chapter in book

  • Ventista, O.M. (2018). A Literature Review of Empirical Evidence on the Effectiveness of Philosophy for Children. In Family Resemblances: Current Proposals in Philosophy for Children. Duthie, E., Moriyón, F. G. & Robles Loro, R. (ed.) Madrid: Anaya. 448-469.

Conference Paper

Doctoral Thesis

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)


  • See, B.H., Morris, R., Gorard, S. & Ventista, O.M. (2019), Most Promising Approaches To Recruiting And Retaining Teachers In High Need Areas: A Systematic Review Of Empirical Evidence, The European Conference of Educational Research (ECER): Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future. Hamburg, Germany.
  • Tzika, V., Ventista, O.M., Govaris, C. & Xafakos, E. (2019), Pre-service teachers’ views about teaching critical thinking skills, The 19th Biennial Conference of International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching (ISATT 2019). Sibiu, Romania.
  • Gorard, S., See, B.H., Morris, R. & Ventista, O.M. (2019), Who doesn't want to be a teacher? And why?, BERA Annual Conference 2019. Manchester, England.
  • See, B.H., Ventista, O.M., Gorard, S. & Morris, R. (2019), Who Doesn’t Want To Be A Teacher? And why?, The European Conference of Educational Research (ECER): Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future. Hamburg, Germany.
  • Ventista, O.M. (2018), Does Philosophy for Children improve the critical thinking of the primary school pupils?, BERA Annual Conference 2018. Newcastle, England.
  • Ioannou, S., Chatziefraimidou, A. & Ventista, O.M. (2018), Negotiating Ethics in Primary Schools: Theories, Resources and Teaching Approaches, The European Conference of Educational Research (ECER): Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?. Bolzano, Italy.
  • Kaldi, S., Govaris, C., Xafakos, E., Ventista, O.M. & Tzika, V. (2018), Pre-service teachers’ perceptions of teaching critical thinking skills in primary schools, 11th PanHellenic Conference of the Hellenic Educational Society. Patras, Greece.
  • Ventista, O.M. (2017), A rapid literature review of empirical research on Philosophy for Children, 18th ICPIC Conference: Philosophical Inquiry with Children Coming of Age: Family Resemblances. Madrid, Spain.
  • Ventista, O.M. (2017), Massive Open Online Courses: Is self-assessment the most appropriate type of formative assessment?, Day Workshop. Assessment and Feedback: Transforming Curricula and Assessment in HE. University of Bath, England.
  • Ventista, O.M. (2016), Self-assessment in Massive Open Online Courses, Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA): Innovation in Assessment and Feedback Practice. Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Ventista, O.M. & Siddiqui, N. (2016), Which school interventions are beneficial for the development of non-cognitive skills of primary school students? A review of existing evidence, The European Conference of Educational Research (ECER) 2016, Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers. Dublin, Ireland.
  • Ventista, O.M. & Coe, R. (2015), Can Creativity and Critical Thinking be assessed as general constructs or as subject-specific skills?, The European Conference of Educational Research (ECER): Education and Transition. Budapest, Hungary.
  • Ventista, O.M. & Paparoussi, M. (2015), Discussing the ‘missing piece’ and fulfilment: philosophical discussions in the primary school with literature as stimulus, The European Conference of Educational Research (ECER): Education and Transition. Budapest, Hungary.
  • Ventista, O.M. (2015), Social representations of the effective school among Greek parents in a period of crisis, College of St Hild and St Bede: Postgraduate Symposium. Durham, England.

International Collaboration

  • Internationa collaboration Greece