Our research

Our research is organised into three different themes.

Literacy learning: We are interested in what children learn about the English orthography throughout school and what insights into language they attain as they learn more. We help them think about why some words sound the same at the end – for example, “magician” and “education” – but are spelled differently. When they realize that the reason is that the words are formed by different parts – “ian” at the end is used for people, “ion” at the end for abstract nouns – they become better at spelling and also at making sense of new words. We have devised the programme “Discovering the Secrets of Words”, which you can download from our resources page. It has been used by many teachers to help their students to improve spelling and to develop ways of working out the meaning of new words. Our findings have inspired researchers who work with children learning to read in other languages to investigate the same processes, with positive results also.

Learning mathematics: There are large differences between children in how easily they learn mathematics and how much they enjoy it. Our research investigates the reasons for these differences and how most children can learn and like mathematics more. Quite often, children need to use actions to help them think through a problem and later on can use mathematics to model what they did in action. They truly enjoy mathematics when they know they have reached a solution through their own reasoning. In our studies, we investigate how children combine their reasoning skills with the mathematical signs – numbers and diagrams, for example – to solve problems. Some of our results are surprising to most people: many children can solve multiplication and division problems in action when they are only 5 or 6 years of age. We think that education can use these reasoning skills much more effectively in the future and we have designed materials to help teachers do so. You can download some of these materials from our resources page.

Deaf children learning: Many deaf children learn more easily if they have the opportunity to use their visual skills during the learning process. Our research shows that deaf children benefit significantly in learning mathematics when they work with materials designed to take full advantage of their visual learning. They can also develop greater understanding of English language and orthography by using space to represent language and playing language games that offer insights into grammar and word formation. The resources that we have developed for teachers to use in the classroom can be downloaded from the resources page.

Page last modified: July 13, 2011