Cognition, Education and Language Research Theme
Working to advance our understanding of the factors, processes and mechanisms involved in language and education.
We conduct research in basic processes of cognition and language in humans and primates. Promotes the application of findings to education and learning. Exploiting overlaps in these three areas is a key strength of the group.
Researchers within the theme Cognition, Education and Language are experts in their field and have been funded in their work by the British Academy, EPSRC, ESRC, Experimental Psychology Society, Medical Research Council, Mind and Life Institute, the National Science Centre, Poland and the Nuffield Foundation.
Our research interests include:
- Spatial cognition
- Social media use and social relationships
- The links between cognition, communication and sociality in primates
- Emotion perception
- How language influences the way in which we perceive colours, facial expressions and recall of events
- The development of numeracy and literacy skills in childhood
- Preschool home environment and early number and literacy development
- Cognitive processes underpinning language development
- Media multitasking and its relationship with cognition
- Role of non-intellective variables on study processes and attainment
We employ a variety of methodologies to explore these topics including:
- Observational studies; of children’s and parents’ talk and interactions during book sharing
- Survey studies; examining self-reports of personality, emotional intelligence etc. and in the psychometric evaluation and development of new tools
- Big Data analyses; to investigate social media usage and well-being
- Experimental lab-based studies; visual perception skills, impact of bilingualism on cognition
- Eye-tracking; in language and reading comprehension and to indicate the uptake of social cues when learning in person and online
This strand focusses on the role of working memory and executive functions across normal development and in everyday decision-making and complex activities.
From an applied perspective, research focuses on:
- Attentional control over threatening information in police officers
- The role of top-down visual search strategies on the detection of emotionally relevant stimuli
- Executive functions in children and adolescents with ADHD and a range of comorbid developmental disorders especially dyslexia
- Theoretical understanding of the processes underlying visual cognition (e.g., face and object recognition) and how these may become impaired in developmental and acquired neurological disorders
- The relationship between working memory and intelligence in children
- How magnitude is represented and processed, and the extent that fundamental magnitude processing skills support the development of formal mathematics
- Investigating working memory involvement in multitasking among a set of errands within a virtual environment
- Longitudinal project examining the impact of the approximate number system (ANS) on the development of early number skills
- Autonomic nervous system activity underlying listening effort
- The relationship between the achievement motive and effort mobilization
- The link between exaggerated cardiovascular responses and effort mobilization in active coping tasks
This strand investigates the role of individual differences in both cognitive and social factors that may impact on students’ educational attainment.
Ongoing research focuses on the role of personality variables, test anxiety, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence on academic performance. These constructs have been found to support learning, complement ability and enhance achievement. In terms of the role of cognition in academic ability, we investigate the extent that working memory and other cognitive processes support the development of academic skills.
- How working memory supports the development of different mathematical skills and to what extent such cognitive skills may underpin gender differences in writing
- Whether media-multitasking behaviour or multitasking preference may be related to academic performance
- Developing and validating a measure of Assessment Self-efficacy for university students (curriculum enhancement project)
- Mentoring scheme for Level 4 students to support transition (curriculum enhancement project)
- Factors influencing the development of early numeracy (funded by the Nuffield Foundation)
- Cognitive and non-cognitive predictors of academic achievement
- Cognitive restructuring in second language learners in a higher education context
This strand is focussed on both normal and disordered language processing. Our research also encompasses normal and disordered development of literacy, with a particular focus on disorders of spelling (dysgraphia) and reading (dyslexia). This involves the study of how children learn to read and spell (e.g., using phonics) and what happens when things go wrong or develop more slowly. It has both an educational and a cognitive developmental focus.
We are also interested in the relationship between language, thought and culture. We study bilingual cognition in typical populations by investigating how speaking another language can impact on our perception of colour, facial expressions and memories for visual events. In some of our experiments, we temporarily ‘block’ how memories are formed by asking our participants to engage in a verbal interference task. More recently, we have explored the role of British Sign Language in communicating human emotions expressed through music.
- The role of second language proficiency on the perception of colour
- How the perception of happy facial expressions varies with language and culture
- How language and testing context influences our memory for visual events
We have strong collaborative links, both nationally and internationally, with other universities, charities and industrial partners.
Meet the researchers within this theme:
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Dr Anne-Marie AdamsRead more
Dr Emma AshworthRead more
Dr Amy BidgoodRead more
Dr Libby DamjanovicRead more
Dr Ross MacDonaldRead more
Dr David McIlroyRead more
Dr James NegenRead more
Dr Michael RichterRead more
Dr Sam RobertsRead more
Dr Alexandra SeddonRead more
Dr Fiona SimmonsRead more
Dr Magdalena SliwinskaRead more
Dr Elena Soto CalvoRead more
Meet the PhD students within this research area.