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Prof. Kate Nation

Investigating children's language and literacy development
Investigating children's language and literacy development

We are interested in various different aspects of psycholinguistics, with a particular focus on learning to read. Broadly, we work on two sets of problems, individual words and comprehension. At the word-level we are investigating how children learn to deal with words – the cognitive processes that enable them to move from slow and effortful reading at 5 or 6 years of age to fluent word recognition a few years later.  In terms of comprehension, our experiments are examining how we build a mental representation of text as we read – how readers select, integrate, maintain and update information dynamically as they process text. Uniting all our work is a concern with understanding learning processes themselves, rather than just measuring the end point of learning. This is achieved via three methodologies:  (1) studies with children that chart the development of reading and language, both in typical development and in children who find learning to read difficult; (2) training studies with adults that examine learning and generalization directly via experiments that mimic natural language development, but in a laboratory environment that allows tight experimental control and (3) studies (in children and in adults) that measure processing in real-time; when reading, the eyes move in a series of pauses and jumps known as fixations and saccades. Using an eye-tracker we record the positions of the eyes on a millisecond by millisecond basis. By manipulating certain aspects of the text to be read and examining when the eyes move, and where they move to, we gain a detailed index of the cognitive processes that underpin reading as it happens.

LCD is vibrant and active research group of postdocs, graduate students, research assistants and undergraduate interns, led by Kate Nation.  We are a member of the Developmental Science research grouping within the department.

For our research hub, please visit our pages over at ReadOxford.  You can also follow Kate on twitter @ReadOxford.

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Our team

Selected publications

Related research themes