Current Research Projects
This project explores the utility of eye-tracking in the study of literary devices characteristic of both Modernist literature and the popular crime/thriller genre. Experimenters typically use simple texts of only a sentence or two rather than real literary texts. Our studies will increase scientific understanding of how authentic literary texts are read, as well as demonstrate the value of complementing theoretical claims about literary devices with empirical testing.
To become skilled readers, children need to move from sounding words out to recognising them rapidly via access to rich, long-term memory representations. Little is known about how this transition is achieved, and why some children have difficulty. This project will address these questions in a set of learning studies with typically-developing and reading-impaired children, focussing particularly on the long-term consolidation of word representations. We will explore the role of sleep in promoting the consolidation process, in both children and adults. The findings will directly inform theory and practice in reading acquisition and enhance the treatment of reading difficulties.
Nurturing a Lexical Legacy: Understanding the Transition From Novice-to-Expert in Children's reading Development
How do children move from slow and effortful reading, where they "sound-out" words and struggle with fluency, to develop the fast, efficient and effective word recognition system that characterises skilled visual word recognition? Our new programme of research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will help us answer this question.
Do language skills in infancy predict how well children will learn to read? Are children who are slow to learn to produce and comprehend words at risk of later problems with language and literacy, once they reach primary school? Kate Nation and Kim Plunkett set out to explore theses questions in the Nuffield Learning to Read Project. Fiona Duff and Gurpreet Reen worked hard on the project, completing it in 2015. You can learn about are findings here. We are grateful to the many families who participated in our study, and to The Nuffield Foundation who funded this research.
This is a new project, funded by The Leverhulme Trust. The scientific study of reading has taught us much about the early stages of learning to read. Critically however, little is known about how children develop from novice-to-expert: how do children move from the laborious process of “sounding-out” words to fluent and apparently effortless reading later on? We will take a novel approach to exploring this question by combining corpus-based analyses with empirical studies of children’s reading behaviour. Specifically, we will investigate when and how often children encounter words, and in what types of contexts, to reveal how different experiences with words drive the development of reading.