Our research group members have a number of exciting research projects.
Current research projects
Dr Sarah Foley is part of the global birth-cohort Evidence for Better Lives Study team, an innovative project, involving a collaboration of 13 universities, following 150 mothers and children in eight sites in four different continents.
With funds from the CAHSS Challenge Investment Fund, Dr Sarah Foley and Dr Aja Murray in Psychology are testing the psychometric properties of widely-used questionnaires and exploring links between maternal risk factors and early child outcomes across sites.
Through this project we aim to develop and implement a peer support system that would enhance social interaction and wellbeing whilst also providing academic support during the period that is associated with higher perceived isolation in taught master’s programme. This project is funded by a Student Experience Grant and is being led by DPiE member Dr Julie Smith.
Adolescents with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience significant difficulties in a broad range of domains, but peer problems and emotion regulation problems can cause particular distress. These issues have also been linked to the higher rates of anxiety, depression and behavioural problems experienced by adolescents with ADHD. However, there is currently a lack of effective support suitable for adolescents with ADHD to help them develop skills to overcome these issues and apply them in a real-life context.
The purpose of the present project is to pilot smartphone-based data collection on the daily life functioning and experiences of adolescents with ADHD to inform and improve the assessment, monitoring and treatment of ADHD and associated issues, especially peer problems and emotional regulation problems. Findings can inform better and more tailored interventions to help adolescents with ADHD in these domains.
They can also inform the development of smartphone-based interventions, making support more immediate and accessible for adolescents affected by ADHD symptoms. Indeed, in other areas of mental health, smartphone-based applications to collect information on daily life symptoms and functioning and to deliver interventions has proven highly promising. However, the techniques have yet to be fully developed for adolescents with ADHD. While many ADHD-focused smartphone applications exist, they are not backed up by rigorous evidence. It is crucially important, however, that smartphone-based applications for adolescents with ADHD are based on high-quality scientific evidence.
Collaborators: Dr Aja Murray, PI (Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh), Dr Anastasia Ushakova (Medical School, Lancaster University), Dr Sinead Rhodes (Child, Life and Health / Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh), Dr Lydia Speyer (Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge) Professor Dr Luis Rohde (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul), Dr Ingrid Obsuth (Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh) and Professor John Devaney (School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh), and Dr Tracy Stewart (Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh). If you would like further information, please contact Dr Tracy Stewart.
The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated mental ill-health in adolescents, placing pressure on mental health services, with schools becoming a frontline service for the identification and treatment of mental health difficulties. Challenges implementing mental health efforts in schools include practical/time resource difficulties, to stigma and challenges with programme fidelity.
This project addresses these challenges by translating recent research findings on Covid-19, education and adolescent mental health into practice through a series of certified continued professional learning workshops for teachers and to co-create a new evidence-based resource to support mental health in schools. There is a strong imperative need to develop new multidisciplinary and participatory models of mental health and this project will make a significant contribution to such work, by translating research evidence into educational practice, to provide new and sustainable ways of supporting adolescent mental health in the classroom.
Collaborators: Dr Tracy Stewart, PI (Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh), Professor Gillean McCluskey (Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh), Professor Lesley McAra (Director of Edinburgh Futures Institute, University of Edinburgh), Professor Debi Fry (End Violence Lab, University of Edinburgh) and Dr Josie Booth (Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh). If you would like further information, please contact Dr Tracy Stewart.
In this project we aim to work with neurodivergent young people to co-design a neurodiversity-informed peer support model for use in mainstream secondary schools. It is intended to nurture a positive outlook on neurodivergent identity, a sense of belonging and self-advocacy skills. This model will be trialled and evaluated to investigate its impact on neurodivergent pupils’ educational engagement, inclusion, and wellbeing.
This project is funded by the Salvesen Mindroom Centre Scientific Advisory Board, is a collaboration between Clinical Sciences, Education, and Health in Social Science, and will involve work with a range of community stakeholders. The project team is Dr Catherine Crompton (principal investigator), Dr Karen Goodall, and Dr Katie Cebula. For more information, please contact Dr Katie Cebula.
Evidence suggests that children must be motivated to read and actively engage with reading on a regular basis if they are to reach their full potential as readers. This project will involve co-designing an intervention to motivate and engage child readers. It will draw upon existing theory, research, and children’s insights, sharing these with teachers in a series of co-design workshops. The intervention will be evaluated in a feasibility study across 6 UK schools.
This project is funded by Nuffield Foundation and is being carried out in collaboration with Scottish Book Trust, Education Scotland, and National Literacy Trust, with Laura Shapiro (Aston University) and Jessie Ricketts (Royal Holloway) as co-investigators. For more information, please contact Dr Sarah McGeown.
Drawing on the different socio-cultural and cognitive factors associated with critical thinking skills for students (particularly ESL students), we propose a model for teaching these skills through situated simulation and authenticity. The aim of the project is to develop, implement, and evaluate a programme of situated learning experiences to support postgraduate learners to engage more critically with academic texts prior to commencing with the dissertation phase of their studies. This project is funded by the Principal’s Teaching Award. If you would like further information, please contact Dr Julie Smith.
This project aims to support primary school teachers’ professional learning and increase their engagement in research activities, through a project which combines early literacy, physical activity and embodied cognition. The project involves the dissemination and co-creation of research concerning the role of physical activity and embodied cognition on children’s reading development. This project is funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration grant in collaboration with City of Edinburgh Council. For more information, please contact Dr Josie Booth.
This novel project involves the linking of data from education with routinely collected health information to create a unique resource for further research. This project is funded by the Salvesen Mindroom Centre Scientific Advisory Board. For more information, please contact Dr Josie Booth.
Move2Learn is an international research-practitioner collaborative project, investigating how interactive museum exhibits can help young children aged 3-6 years express, communicate, and develop their scientific thinking. We plan to: Develop a new practitioner/researcher interaction model to strengthen collaborations among informal learning practitioners and learning science researchers; understand the role of embodied interaction in young children’s learning about science and inform the intentional design of science exhibits and body-based communication. This project is funded by the Wellcome Trust. For more information, please contact Dr Andrew Manches.
Declines in book reading and falling attitudes toward reading throughout the teenage years have been cause for concern over the last decade. However, very little research has attempted to understand teenagers’ reading experiences, from their perspective. Working closely with Scottish Trust Book and in collaboration with a Teenage Advisory Panel, a mixed methods research study will be conducted to explore teenager’s cognitive, social and emotional reading experiences.
This project is funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences. If you would like more information about this project, please contact Dr Sarah McGeown.
This project aims to raise children’s and teachers’ understanding and awareness of neurodiversity, by engaging directly with teachers, children and neurodiverse individuals to develop resources for primary schools. At its heart, neurodiversity is about recognising and respecting that all children and young people are different and that learning difficulties reflect the natural variation that exists among us. While it does not deny the need for additional support, neurodiversity promotes a positive perspective on difference.
This project is funded by the Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre. If you would like further information, please contact Dr Sarah McGeown.
Children with ADHD often show difficulties in the use of strategic thinking functions making it difficult to plan out, initiate and successfully complete tasks and this is linked to difficulties in academic learning.
The current project involves a development and feasibility study of a school-based, teacher-led training programme designed to target core aspects of cognitive impairment in ADHD. Our ADHD-specific devised training programme also comprises an intervention focused on facilitating the child to become aware of their symptoms and their effect on learning (psychoeducation). This intervention will upskill children to have an informed understanding of their symptoms tooling them with skills they can apply to aid their learning and ultimately use as life skills.
Collaborators: Dr Josie Booth (Lecturer, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh) and Dr Sinead Rhodes, PI (Salvesen Mindroom Centre Senior Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh). If you would like further information, please contact Dr Tracy Stewart or Dr Josie Booth.
Details of the intervention, including teacher and parent downloadable booklets, can be found at the Edinburgh Psychoeducation Intervention (EPIC). We are currently investigating longer-term effects for children and their teachers and identifying how the intervention can be embedded within classroom practice.
This project has been developed by researchers and practitioners to promote a sustainable model of collaborative problem solving within mathematics education. Focussing on the development of collaboration skills, the project aims to enhance learning in maths for pupils, and to provide support networks and structures for teachers across education sectors. The aims of the project are to develop models of partnerships across primary and secondary education which are contextually relevant; and to promote the teaching of maths through collaborative problem solving and problem posing. This project is funded by Education Scotland’s Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM grants. For more information, please contact Dr Julie Smith.
This project works with Scottish secondary pupils, their families and school staff to explore what it is like to have a diagnosis for a neurodevelopmental disorder such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and behavioural disorders such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). The study also looks at what it is like to be known for having difficulties with behaviour in school but no diagnosis and explores the reasons why some pupils are referred for diagnosis, and others are not.
Recent research projects
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects around 1 in 100 people. ASD is usually diagnosed in childhood, with average age at diagnosis being 55 months, with parents first reporting concerns before age two. In Lothian, a unique dataset tracks children through the diagnosis pathway. Data suggests that c.800 children in Lothian are assessed for ASD every year, and around 80% of those will receive a diagnosis of autism. Parents currently have to navigate a complex system for diagnosis which is often foreign to them, involving multi-disciplinary assessment, required as part of SIGN criteria for diagnosis. It has been reported that a lot parents do not understand the clinical language used, or the roles of the professionals and how they fit together. A key factor in extending the length of time this process takes is clinicians not having all the contextual information that they need. The process of diagnosis can be a difficult time for autistic individuals and their families.
If you would like further information, please contact Dr Tracy Stewart.
In this project we are using multi-informant approaches to develop new measures of depression that are tailor-made with, and for autistic children and adolescents, alongside input from parents and multiple professionals involved in their care, to improve diagnosis and treatment of depression.
If you would like further information, please contact Dr Tracy Stewart.
This project investigates the impact of school closures, exam cancelations and Covid-19 on the mental health of young people in Scotland. For more information, please contact Dr Tracy Stewart.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr Josie Booth.
This citizen science project involved working with the BBC and school pupils across the UK to understand the impact of intensity of outdoor activity on children’s cognition and wellbeing. For more information, please contact Dr Josie Booth.
This project, funded by Baily Thomas, explored outcomes and family experiences for children with genetic syndromes associated with intellectual disability, with a particular focus on sibling relationships and play in Williams syndrome and autism. The project was conducted collaborative with the Universities of Durham and Warwick. For more information, please contact Dr Katie Cebula.
This project explored children's interaction with their personal data and encouraged meaningful talk about the ways in which their data can tell someone who they are, where they are and what they do. This project was funded by the Edinburgh Futures Institute. For more information, please contact Dr Andrew Manches.
Move2Learn is an international research-practitioner collaborative project, investigating how interactive museum exhibits can be designed to help young children aged 3-6 years express, communicate, and develop their scientific thinking. This project was funded from Wellcome Trust Translational Impact Grant. For more information, please contact Dr Andrew Manches.
Numbuko is a virtual manipulative version of everyday colour maths materials for early numeracy, but with many benefits, such as blocks changing colour to let children explore number patterns. This project was funded from CAHSS Impact Booster Grant. For more information, please contact Dr Andrew Manches.
The Magic Cloud supports children’s learning through play, song and guided interaction from parents. This project involved working with local educational organisations to explore the potential of an Internet of Things platform for Early Learning. This project was funded from ESRC Business Booster Grant. For more information, please contact Dr Andrew Manches.
Growing Up A Reader was an interdisciplinary project, in collaboration with Scottish Trust Book and Edinburgh's Museum of Childhood which aimed to understand children’s and adolescents’ perspectives of what it means to be a reader in the 21st Century. Integral to this project was our participatory approach to research; we trained primary and secondary school students who joined our research team and conducted interviews with their peers. This project was funded by the University of Edinburgh Challenge Investment Fund. For more information, please contact Dr Sarah McGeown.