Faculty Directory

Patrick McQuillan

Associate Professor


TCS Teaching, Curriculum, and Society


Pat McQuillan has studied the education of middle schoolers, high schoolers, and educators themselves for decades. His expertise includes education reform, urban school leadership, complexity theory, qualitative research, methods for teaching history, and education that emphasizes social justice and wellbeing.

McQuillan earned a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from Brown University and completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Wesleyan University. He has authored dozens of publications, including recent studies on using Twitter in the classroom. He is currently following the work of four principals from the Lynch Leadership Academy and assessing their performance through the lens of complexity theory.

Wherever he works with educators—at Boston College and other institutions—McQuillan uses his passion for curriculum and evaluation to improve learning and teaching and to cultivate lives of meaning and purpose. One example: the action research he conducted at Manual High School in Denver, where he helped faculty and administrators revamp instruction, assessment, and site-based management.


  • Agostinelli, A., & McQuillan, P.J.  (2020).  Accounting for Bilingual Learners in the History Classroom: A Sociolinguistic Case Study of Teachers in Training. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the New England Educational Research Organization, Portsmouth, NH.
  • McQuillan, P.J.  (2019).  Quantifying the Metaphor: Looking at Educational Change Through the Lens of the Complex Adaptive System. Paper presented at the Conference on Complex Systems, Nanyang Technological Institute, Singapore, October, 3.
  • McQuillan, P.J., Walsh, M. & Raczek, A.  (2019).  Using the Complex Adaptive System as an Analytic Heuristic. Paper presented at the Complexity Symposium: Exploring the Possibilities at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, September 13. 
  • McQuillan, P.J., Wortham, S.  & Madres, J.  (2019).  Educating for “Lives of Meaning and Purpose”: Emerging Opportunities for Catholic (and Secular) Higher Education. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Meeting, Toronto, Canada.