IoE Research Staff and their Projects
The University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) is a vibrant hub of innovative and impactful educational research.
In the latest UK Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), we were ranked in the top ten nationally for our research publications with 80% of our research considered to be world-leading or internationally excellent.
Below, you will find a summary of our research staff and their projects (as ordered alphabetically by their surname). Our staff are also available to comment on a wide range of key national and international educational issues and policies. If you are a journalist and would like to interview a member of our staff on a particular issue/policy, please direct your enquiries to the IoE’s Research Communications Lead (Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai).
Prof. Helen Bilton
Professor of Outdoor Learning
Prof. Bilton is a national and international expert on the outdoor teaching and learning environment for children, in particular young children but older too and also playtime/recess. Prof. Bilton is writing a series of books detailing the developmental needs of young children when working in the outdoor environment. She is hoping these will make child development accessible to the range of staff found in schools and settings for children under five. She is also concerned about the commodification of the outdoors and as such writing about this. Another research area concerns continuing professional development and in particular the support staff within schools. She has written two on-line courses for such staff: supporting-learning-primary and supporting-learning-secondary. These are on the FutureLearn platform and freely available worldwide. These courses have been analysed in terms of impact on the whole staff group. Further interests include behavioural insight and managing children’s and adult learners’ behaviour when in a teaching situation.
Research interests: outdoor teaching and learning environment
For more information on Prof. Bilton’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Emeritus Professor Paul Croll
Prof. Croll’s research interests include inclusion and special educational needs, classroom observation, levels of educational participation, quantitative methods and longitudinal analysis. Recent funded projects include, ‘Children’s Perceptions of the Value of Education’ (ESRC, £189,000), ‘The Formation and Transmission of Educational Values’ (ESRC, £54,000) and ‘The Education of Excluded and Disaffected Young People’ (Lifelong Learning Foundation, £40,000). He is currently working on a study of continuities in mental health difficulties over time. Professor Croll is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and served for eight years as Editor of the British Journal of Educational Studies. He has served on many Economic and Social Research Council panels and committees including the Grants Assessment Panel, the Centres and Large Grants Panel, the Professorial Fellowships Committee and the Research Seminars Panel (Chair).
Research interests: special educational needs, educational values, educational participation, quantitative methods, longitudinal analysis
For more information on Professor Croll’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here.
Prof. Alan Floyd
Professor of Education
Prof. Floyd has taken part in several externally funded research projects. Currently, he is working with Dr. Jacqueline Baxter at the Open University on a £300k UKRI – ESRC funded project ‘Leading school learning through Covid-19 and beyond’ which aims to explore how school leaders strategically manage and plan for online provision of learning, through the pandemic and beyond. Prof. Floyd was also a co-investigator on the ‘‘Understandings and formulation of democratic strategy in federated school structures in England’ project again with Dr. Jacqueline Baxter and Professor Chris Cornforth at the Open University Business School. This project, funded by The Leverhulme Trust / British Academy, investigated how governing boards in geographically dispersed groups involve stakeholders within strategic decision-making processes. Prof. Floyd has also been successful in twice gaining funding from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education allowing him to explore distributed leadership models with Professor Dilly Fung and lead the first national study of Associate Deans in the UK with Dr. Diane Preston.
Research interests: career trajectories; distributed leadership; higher education leadership; leadership development; Multi Academy Trusts (MATS) and strategic management; perception and experiences of being in a leadership role; professional identity
For more information on Prof. Floyd’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here. You also can watch him talking about his research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Naomi Flynn
Associate Professor of Primary English Education
Dr. Flynn is a primary school English teacher educator with a research specialism in the teaching and learning of children who have English as an additional language (EAL). Her research always involves teachers in one way or another and she is particularly interested in how the profession might be best supported to adapt their practice for EAL learners. To this end, her publications span practitioner-oriented EAL guidance and research analysing policy for EAL. Naomi’s current research is bringing a US-created pedagogy for multilingual learners to UK classrooms. Her expertise in this field is recognised through her Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award ($15,000) for research in the US in 2021. Naomi is committed to public engagement through her work as Co-Director of Bilingualism Matters @Reading and her role on the national executive committee of the National Association for Language Development In the Curriculum (NALDIC). Her successes in building collaborative partnerships with schools and Local Authorities include supervision of two PhD students funded with the highly prestigious ECRC-SeNNS Collaborative Studentship award. Naomi also has expertise in the teaching of phonics and was part of the IoE team delivering Department for Education-funded phonics roadshows (£47,000) in 2017. She is an Expert Advisor to Oxford University Press for phonics teaching in English Language Teaching contexts.
Research interests: English as an additional language; pedagogy in multilingual classrooms; migration and education; policy and practice for the teaching of English; research-informed teaching
For more information on Dr. Flynn’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Prof. Carol Fuller
Professor of Sociology of Education
Prof. Fuller is currently working on a number of research projects, primarily focused on confidence, self-efficacy and empowerment. Her work is strongly framed within a social justice agenda and is increasingly concerned with issue of identity and inequality. Currently, she is co-leading the ‘Marvellous Mums’ project with Dr. Maria Kambouri. Funded by the University of Reading’s Widening Participation Scheme (£79,000), the project is an ‘outreach/impact’ activity focusing on aspirations. Specifically, it sets out to raise the confidence and self-efficacy of parents who in turn support the aspirations and confidence of their children. Other current and recent externally funded projects include work with Ufton Court Educational Trust (£14,000), Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (£68,000), Reading and Slough Local Authorities (£12,000), Eton College and the Whitley Community Development Association. Prof. Carol has a growing research interest in ‘Left-Behind’ Children as well as gender in China.
Research interests: confidence; empowerment; identity; inequality; self-efficacy
For more information on Prof. Fuller’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Prof. Suzanne Graham
Professor of Language and Education
Prof. Graham is currently part of three big research projects. The first project, ‘Linguistic Creativity in Language Learning’, is being led by Prof. Graham in collaboration with the University of Cambridge. It explores the impact of using literary and non-literary texts on the motivation and linguistic development of learners of French and German in secondary schools. This project is the Education Strand of Creative Multilingualism, a large interdisciplinary project with several universities headed by the University of Oxford, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (£4,000,000). The second project that Prof. Graham is part of is called ‘Developing the Teaching of Reading in Modern Foreign Languages’. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation (£190,000) and led by the University of Oxford, this project investigates whether instruction in phonics and reading strategies can improve progress and motivation for secondary school learners of French. Her third project is ‘The Language Magician‘. Funded by the European Commission (around €280,000) and in collaboration with several European partners, this project builds on Prof. Graham’s Nuffield Primary Modern Languages project in creating an assessment tool for use in primary languages classrooms throughout Europe.
Research interests: foreign/second language learning in schools; foreign language reading and listening comprehension; language learning motivation
For more information on Prof. Graham’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Prof. Richard/Rebecca Harris
Professor of History Education
Prof. Harris is currently leading a research project exploring the school experiences of young people who identify as LGBT+, particular the way in which LGBT+ issues are presented in the curriculum. Prof. Harris has also been working on a project which has explored: the role of risk aversion in teachers’ curriculum decision making; the extent to which history teachers deliberately plan for a disciplinary approach to teaching; and how far history teachers systematic plan to develop a framework of historical knowledge for young people. His/her recent project (funded by Ufton Court) has been an evaluation of using an outdoor learning approach to teach history to primary school pupils, which has highlighted a positive impact on pupils’ cognitive understanding of history, as well as a positive impact on attitudes towards the subject.
Research interests: action research; curriculum; history education; LGBT issues; teacher decision making
For more information on Prof. Harris’s research interests, please visit his/her staff profile page here. You also can watch Prof. Harris talking about his/her research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Karen Jones
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Management
Dr. Jones’ research primarily examines women’s careers and leadership, and she has a strong interest in the learning of leadership. Current projects include a Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives-funded study into the ‘Underrepresentation of women and BAME staff in professorial and senior leadership roles in UK Higher Education’. This was supported by funding for two Undergraduate Research Opportunities Project (UROP) students, one of which was selected as the overall winner of the 2020 UROP scheme for the creation of Graphic Art illustrations of the findings from the study. Other current projects include: ‘Taking a maternity break from academia: the perceptions, implications and experiences of women returning to academia’ and ‘Academic Career Breaks: post-doctorate hell – rhetoric or reality’. These projects involve secondary analysis of data from a global survey on academic career breaks, conducted by piirus.ac.uk, jobs.ac.uk and Research Media. Dr. Jones has led and participated in a range of externally funded projects. Examples include: Eton College and evaluation of an £8 million programme of leadership development, known as ‘LEAD Wales’, funded by the European Social Fund and Welsh Government, with Swansea University and Bangor University.
Research interests: women and leadership; gender; identity; feminist and critical perspectives; leadership learning and development.
For more information on Dr. Jones’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Holly Joseph
Associate Professor of Language Education and Literacy Development
Dr. Joseph’s research examines reading development and difficulties, using eye tracking to monitor exactly where children look while they are reading text, providing a window onto the cognitive processes that underlie developing reading. Recent research projects that she led include novel word learning in children who speak English as an additional language (funded by British Academy, £10,000) and the use of specialist fonts to support children with dyslexia (funded by Experimental Psychology Society). Dr. Joseph has also hosted a number of recent workshops for academics and practitioners on bilingualism in the classroom and overcoming barriers to literacy. She is Co-Director of Bilingualism Matters at Reading and in this role has written opinion pieces on educational policy and is running an even Multilingual Storytime event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science. She has also been awarded a Royal Society Pairing scheme award in which politicians are paired with scientists in order to gain an insight into how research findings can help inform policy making.
Research interests: reading; eye movements; English as an additional language; dyslexia; reading comprehension
For more information on Dr. Joseph’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Maria Kambouri
Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education and Care
Dr. Kambouri is currently co-leading the ‘Marvellous Mums’ project with Professor Carol Fuller. Funded by the University of Reading’s Widening Participation Scheme (£70,000), the project is an ‘outreach’ activity focusing on aspirations. Specifically, it sets out to raise the confidence and self-efficacy of parents who in turn support the aspirations of their children. Recently, she has completed the ‘4Ps – Project: Practitioners & Parents Play Partnership’ project, which focuses on identifying the best practices when developing effective partnerships between parents and practitioners in early years education. This project was funded by the Froebel Trust (£19,500). Her next steps include building on and disseminating the results deriving from these two projects, but also pursuing further funding to examine how parents and early years practitioners can work together in order to identify the key principles of a pedagogy that is inclusive, celebrate diversity and allows children to holistically develop, free of limitations implied by gender stereotypes.
Research interests: children’s aspirations; gender stereotypes in early years education; parent-practitioner partnerships in early years education; teaching and learning science in early years education
For more information on Dr. Kambouri’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Rowena Kasprowicz
Lecturer in Second Language Education
Dr. Kasprowicz’s research draws on both second language acquisition theory and language teaching practice to explore foreign language teaching and learning within the primary school classroom. Dr. Kasprowicz is co-leading the Gaming Grammar project, which investigates the development and use of innovative, digital game-based techniques for foreign language grammar learning. This work forms part of the activities of the Digital Creativity Labs, funded by a £4 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). In addition, Dr Kasprowicz is a collaborator on the Open Accessible Summaries In Language Sciences (OASIS) initiative (funded by The British Academy and The Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account), which is establishing a systematic and sustainable culture of providing open, accessible summaries of research in the language sciences.
Research interests: game-based learning; grammar teaching and learning; language analytic ability; second language acquisition; young learners
For more information on Dr. Kasprowicz’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Lecturer in Primary Mathematics
Nasreen’s research interest lie in constructs of identity. Her Ed.D focus is on how biographical processes and experiences shape identity development and career trajectories of Primary Teachers who become Primary Mathematics Specialists (PMaSTs). Nasreen used a unique graphical tool, developed by herself, called a ‘Life Graph’ in order to capture the personal and professional trajectories of primary teachers who became PMaSTs. In addition to teacher identity, Nasreen has an interest in pupil identity and capturing the relationships between pupil and teacher mathematics identity. She is currently working with a local school, supporting the development of using mathematics journals with a group of Year 5 and 6 pupils in order to enable deep reflection on their mathematics learning. This work aligns with the principles of metacognition and self-regulation.
Nasreen convenes the research project for Part 3 BA Primary Education (QTS) students. This is an 8,000-word dissertation undertaken by the students on an aspect of teaching and learning in primary schools.
Research interests: identity development and career trajectories of primary mathematics specialist teachers; Life Graph; pupil identity
For more information on Nasreen’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Dr. Daisy Powell
Associate Professor in the Psychology of Written Language
Dr. Powell’s research interest and expertise lie in the area of literacy acquisition and the role of both cognitive factors (e.g. phonological processes) and environmental influences (e.g. the home literacy and language environment) on children’s early reading development. Previously, she has led a £97,565 ESRC-funded longitudinal study investigating Rapid Automatized Naming performance and its relationship to reading. Prior to that, she has also contributed to another ESRC-funded study investigating cognitive processes and their relation to reading in children with rapid automatized naming deficits. Dr. Powell was also part of a group of University of Reading’s Institute of Education researchers involved in delivering a series of Department for Education (DfE)-funded “Phonics Roadshows” across the UK (value of bid: £40,260) and has also carried out other work related to the Phonics Screening Check funded by the DfE.
Research interests: literacy acquisition; home literacy and language environment in children’s early reading development; role of modern technology in literacy acquisition; cognitive developmental psychology; experimental psychology
For more information on Dr. Powell’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Prof. Cathy Tissot
Professor of Education and Special Needs
Prof. Tissot has had a longstanding interest in appropriate educational provision for children with additional learning needs. Her research focus is on children on the autism spectrum and in particularly those who are very affected by their autism. More recently, she has written on ways to support severely disabled individuals to have an appropriate sexual identity.
For more information on Prof. Tissot’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: autism; disability; sexual identity
Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai
Associate Professor of Mathematics Education
Dr. Trakulphadetkrai’s research interests are centred around the use of storytelling to help enrich mathematics teaching and learning experiences. Currently, he leads the non-profit research-based MathsThroughStories.org initiative, which sets out to investigate various aspects of using mathematical story picture books in mathematics teaching and learning. The website also offers valuable and free resources for parents and teachers. Since its launch in March 2017, the website has now been viewed over 300,000 times by more than 70,000 teachers and parents from over 180 countries. Dr. Trakulphadetkrai has also provided training to over 500 in-service teachers at schools and around 2,000 teacher trainees at around 30 universities across the UK and internationally on how to integrate mathematics story picture books in mathematics teaching.
In addition to his roles as Associate Professor of Mathematics Education and as Director of Research Communications at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education, Dr. Trakulphadetkrai also serves as the Co-Convenor of the British Education Research Association’s Mathematics Education Special Interest Group. Previously, he has served as an executive committee member of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics; as Chair of the CPD Business Group and trustee of the UK Association of Teachers of Mathematics; as Chair of the British Congress of Mathematics Education’s Communications Committee, as well as Co-Editor of the Mathematical Association’s Primary Mathematics Journal.
Research interests: mathematical story picture books; mathematics and language proficiency; mathematics and literacy; primary mathematics education; comparative education
For more information on Dr. Trakulphadetkrai’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here. You also can watch him talking about his research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Anna Tsakalaki
Lecturer in Education
Dr. Tsakalaki is currently leading a one-year research project, called ‘Transferable vocabulary: Exploring linguistic diversity at the interface between arts, literacy and mathematics with EAL and non-EAL students in mainstream education’. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (£6,000) through the University of Oxford’s Creative Multilingualism, the project will: explore the use of linguistic diversity in everyday primary mathematics teaching with students with English as an Additional Language (EAL); propose creative ways of learning vocabulary across subjects, and evaluate development of mathematical language ability and of inclusivity of practices over time. Previously, Dr. Tsakalaki has collaborated with colleagues at Oxford Brookes, Reading, Winchester and UCL in educational research projects in various fields including the development of literacy skills, vocabulary, language teaching and learning, interaction between EAL and mathematics abilities, partnerships between schools and between practitioners and parents and inclusion of learners with different educational needs.
Research interests: literacy difficulties in different languages
For more information on Dr. Tsakalaki’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here. You also can watch her talking about her research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Billy Wong
Associate Professor in Widening Participation
Dr. Wong is passionate in STEM education research, especially science and computing education from the perspectives of social inequalities and identities. He is currently leading a 3-year research project to understand and address the ethnicity degree awarding gap in STEM higher education. This project is funded by the University of Reading (£40,000). He is also part of a sister project funded by Imperial College London, looking into the identity developments of underrepresented STEMM students (£50,000). From March 2021, he will co-lead a project exploring female computing performance and subject choice in English schools, funded by the Nuffield Foundation (£243,000). He led the ‘Ideal’ University Student project, funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme (£10,000) and investigated the expectations of undergraduates from the perspectives of staff and students themselves. He has written about the concepts of science capital and science identities, especially for girls and minority ethnic students. More recently, he wrote about the academic success of non-traditional university students.
Research interests: computing education; higher education and attainment; ideal student; science education; social identities & inequalities
For more information on Dr. Wong’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here. You also can watch him talking about his research by clicking on the video images below.
Dr. Pengchong (Anthony) Zhang
Lecturer in Second Language Learning
Dr. Zhang’s research interests are focused on the impact of different classroom practices on the development of foreign/second language vocabulary knowledge and listening proficiency. His PhD research, using a quasi-experimental, mixed methods design in a classroom intervention, compared second language vocabulary learning through listening with different types of vocabulary instruction. In addition to the development of second language vocabulary and listening, he is also interested in the relationship between language learners’ general proficiency (e.g., linguistic knowledge) and their strategy use. In particular, how these relationships may influence learners’ further vocabulary learning and listening improvement in the classroom context. Dr. Zhang is currently writing up publications and funding applications to conduct impact-related work based on his PhD research. He is broadening the scope of his expertise in factors influencing vocabulary development by also working on the project ‘Linguistic Creativity in Language Learning’, a strand of the large Arts and Humanities Research Council – funded research programme Creative Multilingualism, led by the University of Oxford.
Research interests: second language vocabulary teaching and learning; second language listening comprehension; language learner strategies
For more information on Dr. Zhang’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here. You also can watch him talking about his research by clicking on the video images below.