Dr Sarah McGeown

Co-Deputy Director of Research, Knowledge Exchange and Impact (RKEI) / Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology


  • MA (Hons) Psychology, University of Aberdeen, 2002
  • MRes Psychology, University of Aberdeen, 2003
  • PhD Psychology, University of Hull, 2008
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, 2010
  • Higher Education Academy Teaching Fellow, 2011

Responsibilities & affiliations

Membership of Professional Bodies

British Psychological Society and United Kingdom Literacy Association.

Editorial/reviewer activities

  • Associate Editor for the Journal of Research in Reading (2018 - present)
  • Ad hoc reviewer for: Learning and Individual Differences, Child Development, Educational Psychology, Scientific Studies in Reading, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Learning and Instruction and the British Educational Research Journal.

Undergraduate teaching

Education Studies 2 A (MA Primary)

Children and Young People (MSc TLT)

Cognitive and Social Development in Education (MA Primary)

Postgraduate teaching

Child and Adolescent Development (MSc Education)

Psychology of Learning and Teaching - course organiser (MSc Education)


Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I would be interested in supervising doctoral research students in the areas listed in the research tab.

Current PhD students supervised

  • 2018 - : Brendan Kwiatkowski. Thesis title: Canadian adolescent males' masculinities and school experiences: A mixed methods approach
  • 2019 - : Jill Steel.  Thesis title: Children's emotional wellbeing and reading outcomes: Exploring the impact of reading to dogs. 
  • 2020 - : Charlotte Webber.  Thesis title: Tackling the drop-off:  Understanding the teenage reading experience.

Past PhD students supervised

  • 2013 - 2016: Jennifer Salfen. Thesis title: Extracurricular activities and positive youth development in adolescence. 
  • 2014 - 2017: Matluba Kahn. Thesis title: Environment, Engagement and Education: Investigating the relationship between primary school grounds and children's learning: A case study in Bangladesh (with Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture).
  • 2014 - 2018: Xiaoyi Hu. Thesis title: Foreign language learning, anxiety and motivation among primary school aged children.
  • 2014 - 2018: Thalia Theodoraki. Thesis title: Executive functions and academic attainment among adolescents (with Department of Psychology).

Research summary

My research focuses on children's and adolescents' reading development, with past research examining  the effectiveness of different approaches to initial reading instruction and the influence of instruction on children's reading strategies.  More recently, I have become interested in understanding children's and adolescents' motivation and engagement in reading, and how to promote this in school.  


Project activity

My research projects focus on developing children's and adolescents' reading engagement and reading skills.  A common theme across my projects is the collaboration with non-academic experts to connect research and practice.  

In 2019, I co-founded LALco: Language and Literacy: Communication, collaboration, co-production (www.lalco.org.uk) with Lynne Duncan at the University of Dundee.  This is a multidisciplinary network of individuals with a shared interest to promote attainment and equity in the language and literacy skills of children and young people.


Current project grants

2021- 2023: Nuffield Foundation: Love to Read: A co-designed intervention to motivate and engage child readers. This project will involve researchers, teachers, children and national literacy organisations working together to co-design an intervention to promote reading for pleasure among primary school aged pupils.

2020-2024: Social Graduate School of Social Sciences Collaborative Scheme (PhD studentship): Tackling the drop-off: Understanding the teenage reading experience. This project, in collaboration with Scottish Book Trust, will seek to understand adolescents' reading experiences and identify approaches to promote greater motivation and engagement in reading.

2019-2021: Carnegie UK Engaging Libraries, with Wellcome and The Wolfson Foundation: Sharing Stories - Working with parents to support their child’s language and literacy. This project, in collaboration with Glasgow Life, aims to engage parents with research-informed approaches to promote language and literacy skill and enjoyment with their preschool children.

2019-2021: Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre: Learning about neurodiversity at school. In this project we will co-design and evaluate a resource for children to learn about neurodiversity, with supporting resources for teachers. You can learn more about this project here: http://dart.ed.ac.uk/research/leans/

Past project grants

2018-19: Challenge Investment Fund: Growing Up A Reader. This was an interdisciplinary research project (Education, Psychology, English Literature), in collaboration with Scottish Book Trust, which aimed to understand what it means to be a young reader in the 21st century, through children and adolescents' perspectives. You can learn more about this project on our website: www.growingupareader.education.ed.ac.uk

2017-18: Scottish Universities Insight Institute: Conversations about language and literacy: Promoting equity and attainment through engagement. This grant led to LALco (www.lalco.org.uk), our multidisciplinary network to connect individuals focused on improving attainment and equity in language and literacy.

2016-2017: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account: Improving children's reading: Research informing practice. This project, in collaboration with teachers from 22 primary schools in Scotland, led to the following website: www.readresearch.education.ed.ac.uk which hosts materials aimed at bridging the gap between research and practice.

View all 53 publications on Research Explorer