Personal profile

Research Interests

My work focuses on the causes and consequences of children’s language and literacy development and is shaped both by fundamental scientific questions and by the concerns of practitioners and policy-makers. My approach to longitudinal research capitalises on the power of statistical modelling to uncover causal relationships, whilst using carefully designed measures to extract key features of the underlying skills. This is key to uncovering the underlying skills that drive growth in language and literacy, and a fundamental aim of the Aston Literacy Project.

In collaboration with Jessie Ricketts, current work funded by the Nuffield Foundation addresses a central tenet of major theories of language and literacy development: that written text is key to word learning. Although there is plenty of evidence that better readers have larger vocabularies, we don’t fully understand why. Is this because better readers read more and are therefore exposed to more words? Or is this because they are better at using text to learn new words? We are investigating these questions longitudinally (following our Aston Literacy Project sample) and through detailed investigation of children’s reading activity.

The Home to School project aims develop a new way to address educational disadvantage in rural Africa, through a collaboration between academics from Kenya, Zambia and UK, teachers, families and community groups. We prioritise language and nutrition as fundamental to all later learning, and aim to (i) identify positive practices in the home that benefit early language development and nutrition and (ii) to work together with ECDE teachers as researchers to empower them to develop teacher and parent networks to share best practice in school and at home. The evidence base we will provide, and the networks we create provide a powerful basis for contributing to the development of the new Early Childhood Education curriculum in Kenya and to lobby for similar priorities in Zambia.

Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
telephone: +44 (0) 121 204 4052
fax: +44 (0) 121 204 4090


  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Reading Development


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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