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. 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).
Dr. Alan Floyd
Associate Professor of Education
Dr. Floyd has taken part in several externally funded research projects. Currently, he is leading an evaluation of the Nxplorers Programme (Stage 1 and 2), which sets out to explore the impact of a worldwide leadership capacity building programme on the students and staff who have been involved to date. This project is funded by Shell/Shaping Learning (£22,000). Dr. Floyd is also a co-investigator on the ‘‘Understandings and formulation of democratic strategy in federated school structures in England’ project (with Dr Jacqueline Baxter and Professor Chris Cornforth, Open University Business School). This project, funded by The LeverhulmeTrust/British Academy (£10,000), investigates how governing boards in geographically dispersed groups involve stakeholders within strategic decision-making processes. Recently, he led the ‘Evaluating the effectiveness of the Researching Practitioner Development Framework‘ project (with Dr Hilary Lindsay, Open University). This project, funded by the Open University Research into Teaching and Learning Fund, aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a framework and on-line resource which was empirically developed to support students undertaking a professional doctorate.
For more information on Dr. Floyd’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here.
Research interests: career trajectories; distributed leadership; higher education leadership; leadership development; perception and experiences of being in a leadership role; professional identity
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.
For more information on Dr. Tsakalaki’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: literacy difficulties in different languages
Dr. Billy Wong
Lecturer 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 attainment gap for minority ethnic undergraduates studying STEM degrees. This project is funded by the University of Reading (£40,000). He is also leading the ‘Ideal’ University Student project, which is funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme (£10,000) and investigates 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. Working with external colleagues, he co-authors an annual report on the uptake of computing in English secondary schools. More recently, he wrote about the academic success of non-traditional university students.
For more information on Dr. Wong’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here.
Research interests: computing education; higher education and attainment; ideal student; science education; social identities & inequalities
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 Danos. 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.
For more information on Prof. Fuller’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: confidence; empowerment; identity; inequality; self-efficacy
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
Prof. Helen Bilton
Professor of Outdoor Learning
Prof. Bilton is a national and international expert on the outdoor teaching and learning environment for children. Currently, she is leading a number of research projects. For example, she is currently looking at the values and beliefs of early years educators and how these might influence attitudes to outdoor education. She is also investigating whether the experiences adults have as children shape their work as educators. Alongside these research projects, Prof. Bilton is also writing a series of books detailing the developmental needs of young children, looking at physical, language, mathematical, scientific and arts needs and developmental stages of children under five. These will be accessible to staff within schools and settings and also parents, filled with lots of photographs of children in action. She is also very interested in the support staff within schools and has written an on-line open course for support staff which will go on the FutureLearn platform, ready to go live in January 2019. Finally, Prof. Bilton contributes to Radio Berkshire regularly as their ‘go to’ education expert talking on a vast range of topics.
For more information on Prof. Bilton’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: outdoor teaching and learning environment
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.
For more information on Dr. Joseph’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: reading; eye movements; English as an additional language; dyslexia; reading comprehension
Prof. Jill Porter
Professor of Education
The research of Prof. Porter has three strands: a contextual and cultural understanding of the experience of disability to identify barriers and supports to participation; early numerical understanding and its role in the development of mathematical skills; and thirdly, the development and refinement of research methodologies that meet the particular challenges of research with less articulate and less powerful groups.
Prof. Porter is currently researching with colleagues at the University of Oxford on a 2-year project, called ‘Pedagogic and organisational mediation of experience in schools’ (funded by the John Fell Fund and the University of Oxford’s Green Templeton College). The project investigates the extent to which feeling safe, secure, respected and part of a school community are related to their experience of the barriers to participation in learning. In collaboration with the University of Reading’s Department of Computer Science, she is also carrying out research on the use of a specifically designed game to teach awareness of quantity to pupils with significant difficulties in mathematics. Prof. Porter is a member of the Excluded Lives Network and is contributing advice on inclusive school design as part of an ESRC IAA award.
For more information on Prof. Porter’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: contextual and cultural understanding of the experience of disability; early numerical understanding and learning difficulties; pupil voice and research
Dr. Karen Jones
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Management
Dr. Jones’ research primarily examines two key themes: 1) gender, women and leadership, and 2) the learning of leadership, including the evaluation of leadership development, learning transfer and impact. She has led and participated in a wide range of funded research projects. Previous projects include research and evaluation of an £8m programme of leadership development, known as ‘LEAD Wales’, funded by the European Social Fund and Welsh Government, with Swansea University and Bangor University. Recent projects include ‘Tackling stereotypes, sexism and unconscious biases in teaching and learning’, funded by the Teaching and Learning Development Fund (TLDF), University of Reading. Current research includes two Undergraduate Research Opportunities Projects (UROP): ‘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 career breaks, conducted by piirus.ac.uk, jobs.ac.uk and Research Media in 2016. The findings from these studies are being prepared for publication and dissemination. Another current externally-funded project includes work with Eton College.
For more information on Dr. Jones’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: women and leadership; gender; identity; feminist and critical perspectives; leadership learning and development; learning transfer and impact
Dr. Maria Danos
Lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care
Dr. Danos 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.
For more information on Dr. Danos’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
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
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. She is involved in collecting and analysing classroom data in multilingual classrooms across the US, UK, Germany and Finland as part of the OPETAN project. 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). 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.
For more information on Dr. Flynn’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
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
Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai
Lecturer in Primary 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 education. 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 177,000 times by more than 30,000 teachers and parents from over 160 countries around the world. Prior to joining the University of Reading, Dr. Trakulphadetkrai was part of a research team at the UCL Institute of Education (University of London), contributing to a €2 million European Union-funded research project, called ‘Creative Little Scientists (CLS): Enabling Creativity through Science and Mathematics in Preschool and First Years of Primary Education’, which spanned across nine European countries.
Dr. Trakulphadetkrai currently serves as an executive committee member and trustee of the UK Association of Teachers of Mathematics. Previously, he served as an executive committee member of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics; as Chair of the British Congress of Mathematics Education’s Communications Committee as well as Co-Editor of the Mathematical Association’s (MA) Primary Mathematics Journal.
For more information on Dr. Trakulphadetkrai’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here.
Research interests: mathematical story picture books; mathematics and language proficiency; mathematics and literacy; primary mathematics education
Emeritus Professor Paul Croll
Professor 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).
For more information on Professor Croll’s research interests, please visit his staff profile page here.
Research interests: special educational needs, educational values, educational participation, quantitative methods, longitudinal analysis
Dr. Richard/Rebecca Harris
Associate Professor of History Education
Dr. 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. Dr. 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.
For more information on Dr. Harris’s research interests, please visit his/her staff profile page here.
Research interests: action research; curriculum; history education; LGBT issues; teacher decision making
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.
For more information on Dr. Kasprowicz’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: game-based learning; grammar teaching and learning; language analytic ability; second language acquisition; young learners
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.
For more information on Prof. Graham’s research interests, please visit her staff profile page here.
Research interests: foreign/second language learning in schools; foreign language reading and listening comprehension; language learning motivation