Research Projects

Several colleagues are working on, or have recently completed, externally funded research projects:

Louise Courtney and Suzanne Graham: THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN, A strategic partnership project supported by the EU under the programme Erasmus+   webbyeuerasmusflag



Building on their earlier Nuffield Foundation research project, Louise Courtney and Suzanne Graham are working with 10 partners from four European countries to support the learning and teaching of foreign languages at primary school level. They are developing a computer game to be used as an assessment tool with young language learners in schools, called The Language Magician. The game will support teachers by giving them a tool to assess their pupils' abilities using non-threatening testing methods.

See the project website: THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN

Alan Floyd: An evaluation of the NXplorers educational programme. Funded by Shaping Learning.

NXplorersis an educational programme that introduces young people to the complex and creative thinking needed to bring about positive change. Focused on the Food - Water - Energy Nexus, the programme aims to build awareness, develop knowledge and provide thinking tools and complex problem solving skills to the leaders of the future. The purpose of this research project is to explore the impact of the programme on the students and staff who have been involved to date. Data will be collected using a two staged, mixed methods approach.

Understandings and formulation of democratic strategy in federated school structures in England (with Dr Jacqueline Baxter, Open University Business School), funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme.

This project investigates how governing boards in geographically dispersed groups involve stakeholders within strategic decision making processes. Data are being collected by documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews with school leaders, board members and national leaders of governance.

Carol Fuller: The outdoors indoors: Girlhood. Funded by Ufton Court Educational Trust.

Building on previous research that explored the educational impact of the outdoors, this 5 year project considers how and in what ways outdoor experiences impact on confidence, identity and connections to community.

Suzanne Graham: Linguistic creativity in language learning. Funded by the AHRC.

Linguistic creativity in language learning is the Education Strand of a large, £4m interdisciplinary project, Creative Multilingualism[SG1] , led by Oxford University and funded by the AHRC through its Open World Research Initiative. Linguistic creativity in language learning explores creativity within the modern foreign languages classroom by investigating the impact on language learning of the use of different kinds of written texts (literary and non-literary) in French and German. It is also comparing functional, information-giving teaching approaches and ones that involve creative personal responses from learners such as drama and creative writing.

Holly Joseph and Jeanine Treffers-Daller: Novel word learning during reading in children who learn English as an Additional Language. Funded by the British Academy.

Children who speak English as an Additional Language (EAL) underperform at primary school relative to their peers who speak English as their first language, especially in literacy. Using eye tracking to index online learning as it happens, this project explores how children who do, and do not, speak more than one language learn new word meanings that they encounter as they read.

Maria Kambouri-Danos (PI): 4Ps- Project: Practitioners & Parents Play Partnership- Strengthening practitioner-parent collaboration. Funded by the Froebel Trust.
This is a joint collaboration between colleagues from the University of Reading (Maria Kambouri-Danos, Teresa Wilson, Jo Elsey, Geoff Taggart and Anna Tsakalaki), the Open University (Myria Pieridou) and the University of Roehampton (Suzanne Quinn). The project aims to strengthen early years practitioner-parent collaboration through the use of partnership sessions focused on Froebelian principles of play and Froebel's concept of 'Living with children.' The research component of the project involves the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data, giving an in-depth understanding of the participants' views and the perceived impact of the partnership sessions that were developed and evaluated through the project.

Further information can be found here: Daisy Powell (with Tze Peng Wong, PI): Analysis of cross-language transfer in early literacy acquisition among bilingual Malay-English speaking children in Malaysia. Funded by the British Academy/Malaysian Academy of Sciences.

The aim of this project is to investigate reading development in bilingual children learning to read in two languages simultaneously. English is an official language in Malaysia, and while schooling is in Malay, all Malaysian children learn English from the beginning of primary school. Both Malay and English use the Roman alphabet, but the Malay writing system is very consistent, without the many irregular words (e.g. yacht) found in English. We are therefore interested in discovering whether experience with the simpler, Malay writing system might help children learning to read in English. We are also investigating whether the same cognitive skills (e.g. phonological awareness, vocabulary) and environmental factors (e.g. the home literacy environment) are equally important for learning to read in both languages.

Jeanine Treffers-Daller (with Ianthi Maria Tsimpli (PI), Denes Szucs, Theo Marinis, Suvarna Alladi, Lina Mukhopadyay, & Minati Panda): Multilingualism and multiliteracy: Raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India. Funded by the ESRC.

This project examines the causes of low educational outcomes in schools in India where many children fail to achieve basic literacy and numeracy levels.

Billy Wong: Mapping the characteristics of the 'ideal' university learner. Funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust

The Ideal Uni Student (IUS) project aims to better understand what is expected of university students. Implicit and unspoken expectations, especially from staff, can result in diverse but patterned student experiences, and contribute to wider social inequalities and reproductions. This comparative study will map out the student characteristics that are valued by staff and students themselves, across four broad disciplines: arts & humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and applied sciences. Project website:[

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