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Department of Education

Viewing archives for Child Development and Learning

Danielle is a DPhil student researching how Black-British doctoral students navigate the spaces of the elite, providing a new theoretical framework to understand their agency better.

Her main interests are in Human Flourishing, Cultural Geography, Psychology, and Justice, and her work aims to inform and reform educational frameworks and practices.

Following Danielle’s BSc in Psychology and MRes in Research Methods in Psychology, she founded a social enterprise that merges psychological and academic strategies to guide undergraduate and master’s students study practices. In addition to this, Danielle provided pedagogical and behavioural support across SEN college, secondary and primary schools.

Some of Danielle’s notable work includes her research introducing a new University-wide EDI strategy at her former Higher Education institution, presenting insights and way-forwards on youth homelessness to HRH Prince Williams, and providing discipleship to next-gen leaders.

Ernesto is interested in several aspects of language learning, cognition and education in different international settings, especially in the Global South. He is currently a Research Officer for TalkTogether, a UKRI GCRF-funded research project based at the Department of Education at the University of Oxford.

Ernesto holds a PhD in Psycholinguistics for his experimental and corpus-informed work on the interaction between children’s working memory and subject-verb agreement. He has been employed in different capacities as a researcher/teacher by the Open University (UK), University of Westminster and the University of Havana.

He has acted as a resource person on IDRC-funded large-scale projects led by PI Freda Wolfenden, working with education researchers, experts and stakeholders in Latin America and the Caribbean (Honduras, Jamaica, Argentina, Colombia), Africa (Ghana, Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya) and Asia (India, Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam).


Roque-Gutierrez, Ernesto and Ibbotson, Paul (2023). Working memory training improves children’s syntactic ability but not vice versa: A randomized control trial. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 227, article no. 105593. DOI:

Ibbotson, Paul and Roque-Gutierrez, Ernesto (2023). The Development of Working Memory: Sex Differences in Accuracy and Reaction Times. Journal of Cognition and Development (Early Access). DOI:

Gimenez, Julio; Baldwin, Mark; Breen, Paul; Green, Julia; Roque Gutierrez, Ernesto; Paterson, Richard; Pearson, Jayne; Percy, Martin; Specht, Doug and Waddell, Guy (2020). Reproduced, reinterpreted, lost: Trajectories of scientific knowledge across contexts. Text & Talk, 40(3) pp. 293–324. DOI:

Prior to joining TalkTogether, Hannah worked at the intersection of education and international development. Her work focused on designing and evaluating interventions and programmes targeting children, teachers and parents in low- and middle-income countries.

Hannah is fluent in Kiswahili and is particularly interested in the influence of language, culture and environment on early childhood development, especially socio-emotional skills. Hannah gained an MSc in Education and Child Development from the University of Oxford, and a BA Hons in African Studies and Swahili from SOAS, University of London.

Athina is a Research Officer working on TalkTogether: Supporting Oral Language Development.

The project investigates children’s oral language in multilingual urban poor contexts, with an aim to develop and evaluate an intervention programme for kindergarten classes. TalkTogether is an international collaboration led by Prof. Sonali Nag and involves academic and non-academic partners in India.

Athina completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge being awarded a PhD Studentship from the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. Before her PhD, Athina obtained a MA in Linguistics from the Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. During her MA studies, she did an internship at the University of Amsterdam where she was involved in testing bilingual children and used the data to write her MA thesis on the occurrence of cross-linguistic influence in the acquisition of grammatical gender by Greek-Dutch bilingual children. She also worked as a student assistant for three months at the Center for Language and Speech Technology of the Radboud University of Nijmegen with her task being the preparation of a literature overview of the indicators investigated and reported in the literature to predict L2 oral proficiency, as well as, a review of the systems (manual and automatic) used to evaluate speaking proficiency. She holds a BA in Greek Philology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. During her BA, she also spent an academic year at the University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain as a student being awarded an Erasmus scholarship. Finally, she has a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and has some teaching experience with children and adults in various settings (immigrant populations, undergraduates, foreign and repatriated students).

In her previous research, she investigated age (of onset) and first language effects on the acquisition of English grammar (focusing on finiteness) by Chinese and Russian child learners in a minimal input EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context. During her current role, she is involved in various research projects within TalkTogether all focusing on shedding light on child oral language development of (Kannada-speaking) children and/or aiming to support their oral language development through interventions.

Her research interests involve child (second) language acquisition with a particular interest in the development of morphosyntax, the factors both linguistic and contextual that shape it, and the support of oral language development through classroom interventions to help children be ‘readier’ for literacy and school.


Conference Papers

  1. ‘Age in child L2 acquisition: The case of finiteness’ (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Paper presented at the EuroSLA 28 conference, Munster, Germany, September 5-8, 2018.
  2. ‘The acquisition of finiteness in English by Chinese and Russian speaking children: the impact of age’ (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Paper presented at the workshop: ‘Age effects in bilingual language acquisition’ in Poznan, Poland, March 7-8, 2019.
  3. ‘The acquisition of finiteness in English by Chinese and Russian speaking children: the impact of L1 (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Paper presented at the workshop: ‘Tenselessness II’ in Lisbon, Portugal, October 3-4, 2019.

Poster presentations

  1. Age in child L2 acquisition: The case of finiteness (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Poster presented at the Lead summer school for L2 acquisition, University of Tübingen, Germany, July 23-27, 2018.
  2. Age in child L2 acquisition: The case of finiteness (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Poster presented at the School on Experimental and Corpus Linguistics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, September 25-27, 2018.

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Children follow natural developmental progressions in learning. Curriculum research has revealed sequences of activities that are effective in guiding children through these levels of thinking. These developmental paths are the basis for Learning Trajectories. Learning Trajectories have three parts – a learning goal, a developmental path along which children develop to reach that goal, and a set of activities matched to each of the levels of thinking in that path. Together, these help children develop to higher levels of mathematical thinking.
In this talk, we will present surprising research findings about early mathematics, including its predictive power, children’s potential for learning, and what we know about effective teaching using research-based learning trajectories. Takeaways include new supports for teaching and learning early math playfully and joyfully.

About the Speakers

Dr Julie Sarama is the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies and Distinguished University Professor, and Douglas H Clements is the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education.

Mirna Sumatic is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford. Her doctoral thesis is focused on student-teacher interactions and child-parent relationship quality.

Her research interests lie particularly in the moment-to-moment perceptions and fluctuations of these relationships and interactions, and how best for teachers and parents to support children’s learning in school and at home. Theoretically, Mirna is interested in applying and integrating attachment and motivation theories to her research.

Prior to starting her DPhil, Mirna completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath and went on to complete her MSc in Child Development and Education at the Department of Education, University of Oxford.

***Register in advance***

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected children’s educational experiences around the globe. Turkey was one of the countries that kept schools closed more than 200 days listed to be one of the longest closures across OECD countries (OECD, 2021). Many students had limited access to internet or technological devices, which led to major educational losses for children across the country (Ergun & Arik, 2020). Given these circumstances, policymakers and researchers expect the educational repercussions of the pandemic to be the most detrimental for children, who are at risk for low school achievement. This seminar will present the factors linked with learning losses during the pandemic, demonstrate the estimates of educational outcomes for disadvantaged children in relation to their home learning environments, and evaluate the educational policies and programmes implemented in Turkey. Speakers will also outline what future policies might look like to support children during their return to school. Micro-simulation analyses of existing datasets on pupil outcomes and family predictors from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), and interviews with national stakeholders will inform the findings of the study. The study has been commissioned by the UNICEF Turkey Office and is carried out by Development Analytics.

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Deficits in different aspects of early language impact on reading in different ways: while phonological deficits are a powerful predictor of later decoding and word-level reading skills, broader oral language skills form the substrate for reading comprehension. This two-dimensional model provides a useful framework for relating spoken and written language difficulties, but raises some interesting questions which Dr Emma Hayiou-Thomas will explore in this talk: what are the sources – in terms of the genetic and environmental etiology – of individual differences in phonological vs broader oral language skills? How does the etiology of these dimensions, and the relationship between them, change over time? Finally, are there other risk and protective factors beyond the language domain, that contribute to children’s reading outcomes?