Dr Maria Evangelou

Maria studied at the Faculty of Primary Education at the Aristotle University of Thessalonica Greece and taught in a primary school for 8 years in Greece before moving to England.

In 1996 she received a Masters degree in Language and Literature in Education (English as a Mother Tongue) (ESRC studentship) from the Institute of Education, University of London.  She won an ESRC studentship and obtained a doctorate (D.Phil) from the University of Oxford in 2001(St Anne’s 1997).  In 2008 she completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PG DipLATHE) and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Maria is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. She is the Director for MSc Education; the pathway Leader for the MSc in Child Development and Education; the convener of the Families Effective Learning and Literacy (FELL) Research Group http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/research/fell/ and the co-ordinator of the Departmental Research Theme Language Cognition and Development.

Her research focuses on the evaluation of early childhood interventions; the development of children at risk of educational underachievement; the language and literacy development in early years; enhancing parental engagement in children’s learning; parenting education and support; the effects of home learning environment and quality learning environments; early years professional development; the methodological issues involved in research; and the role of evidence-based practices in education.  Her methodological expertise covers longitudinal studies, quasi-experimental designs, mixed methods and systematic reviews.

Maria’s research has focused predominantly on the evaluation of early childhood interventions.  Through a series of four studies, she has used complementary and rigorous methodologies to explore different aspects of the effectiveness of the Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP).  PEEP is a birth to five intervention that aims to improve the life chances of children from a disadvantaged area of Oxford by raising their educational achievement through working with their families.  The research findings contribute to the evidence-base on which the provision of early childhood interventions maybe considered.  She has led many large studies evaluating parenting programmes including the Birth to School Study (BTSS) and the Evaluation of the Early Learning Partnership Project (ELPP).  Maria was awarded the Brian Simon Educational Research Fellowship from the British Educational Research Association (BERA) for 2006/7 for the project: A systematic review on ‘hard-to-reach’ families.  During 2009 she led the literature review on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development that provided part of an evidence-base which informed the review of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum in England in 2010.   She was one of the Principal Investigators on a major longitudinal mixed methods National Evaluation of Children’s Centres (2009-2015) project studying their impact on children and families. She was leading the parenting strand of the evaluation.  The study was funded by the Department of Education (DfE), and was carried out jointly between the University of Oxford, NatCen and Frontier Economics.  She is currently involved in four research projects funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and one funded by Horizon 2020.

She frequently reviews papers for submission to many national and international journals including the: British Educational Research Journal; British Journal of Educational Psychology; Children and Youth Services Review; Children and Youth Services Review; Early Childhood Research Quarterly; Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development; International Journal of Early Years Education; International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders ; Journal of Early Childhood Research; Journal of Educational Psychology; Learning Culture and Social Interaction; Learning Media and Technology; Oxford Review of Education; and Research in Comparative Education.  She also reviews research grant applications and end of an award reports for the ESRC and for the Irish Council for children with Special Needs.

Maria would welcome informal contacts from prospective doctoral students interested in the following topics:

  • Evaluation of early childhood interventions (e.g. evaluations of interventions focusing on Language and Literacy development)
  • Parental education and support, parental involvement
  • Early years curriculum
  • Transition between and within pre-school environments
  • Quality of preschool environments
  • Early years professional development

Completed Doctoral Students

  • Dr Alex Baron (2017) Retooling the approach to students’ self-regulation development in early childhood: An analysis of the Tools of the Mind curricula effects
  • Boby Ho-Hong Ching (2016) – Contributions of the understanding of the part-whole relationships in additive reasoning to children’s success in story problem solving: A longitudinal study
  • Dr Gillian Lake (2015) Let’s Talk! Supporting children’s oral language through sustained planned pretend play and storybook reading in the early years
  • Dr Coral Milburn-Curtis (2015) Is this the right room for an argument? The effects of an internet-based argumentation intervention on self-regulated learning, achievement and progress in young adolescents in England.
  • Dr Lindsay Burton (2011) – Community-Based Early Learning in Solomon Islands: Cultural and Contextual Dilemmas Influencing Program Sustainability.
  • Dr Ebrahim Talaee (2010) – Patterns of Home Computer Use and their Relationships with Children’s School Achievement and Social Behavioural Development.
  • Dr Eleni P. Soukakou (2007) AERA shared Best Thesis award (2009) – Assessment of quality of classroom practices in inclusive preschool settings: Development and validation of a new observation measure.

Current Doctoral Students

  • Denny Vildiridou (Co-supervisor): An exploration of museum pedagogical approaches and practices: An in-depth case study of museum educators in two museums in Oxford
  • Hanako Shimamura (2nd supervisor): Teacher-child relationships – self regulation, social emotional skills, and academic achievement: comparing two different kindergarten programmes
  • Nardos Tesfay (started 2012) (Co-supervisor) – Opportunities to learn: the effects of poverty on children’s development and learning in Ethiopia.
  • Xi Lian (2nd supervisor): The English language learning outcomes at primary school level of young EFL learners in China
  • Lauren Burton (Co-supervisor): The spelling of a word does not always parallel with the way it sounds: the importance of teaching children morphological spelling rules
  • Yu Wing (Brad) Chan (2nd supervisor) Transfer of phonological and morphological awareness in Chinese Children Receiving English Instruction: An intervention
  • Zhen Zheng  (2nd supervisor) The Collaborative function of Oral Form, Written Form, and Meaning in Chinese Children’s Learning of English Vocabulary
  • Mariana De Albuquerque Simoes (1st supervisor)  Mapping Mathematical Knowledge of Preschool Children in Brazil


  • Department staff


  • Associate Professor
  • Convener: FELL Research Group
  • Convener: Language Cognition and Development Research Theme
  • Course director: MSc Education
  • Pathway Leader: MSc Education (Child Development and Education)

Subject area

  • MSc Education (Child Development and Education)
  • MSc Education (Research Training)

Research groups

  • Families, Effective Learning and Literacy (FELL)