Valentina Andries (PhD student)

Thesis title: Promoting play in a children's hospital: a person-centred approach to technology design with families


In my doctoral project, I am exploring the role of digital technology in fostering play behaviours, especially social play, with young children, parents and practitioners in a hospital setting. I am also interested in how we can include children and other relevant stakeholders in designing technology to improve children's wellbeing in clinical spaces. My PhD is funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) and the ECHC (Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity), and it is part of a 1+3 project. This entailed carrying out a Master's Degree in Educational Research (Moray House School of Education, the University of Edinburgh), which I earned in 2016.

I also hold a Master's Degree in AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication) from the University of Dundee, which was fully funded, and where I was supervised by Prof. Annalu Waller (School of Computing) and Dr. Douglas Potter (School of Psychology). That MSc entailed gaining an understanding of how technology can be designed and evaluated effectively for improving communication among individuals with speech impairments.

I have worked as a research assistant on an inter-disciplinary project (Education, Psychology and English Literature) named Growing Up A Reader (GUAR), lead by Dr. Sarah McGeown (Moray House School of Education). The project was aimed at researching what entails to be a reader in the 21st century, by exploring young children's and adolescents' perceptions, experiences and motivations behind their reading practices. More details to be found on the website:

I have been tutoring in the School of Education and the School of Informatics at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and I have been a Teaching Assistant, co-supervising MSc students in the School of Informatics, together with my first supervisor, Prof. Judy Robertson.


Research summary

I am interested in children's interactions with digital as well as tangible and immersive technologies, and the impact of embedding technologies in home, classroom and clinical spaces. I am also keen on learning more about participatory and user-centred design approaches, involving children, individuals with special needs, and students.

Current project grants

Together with Sabina Savadova (PhD candidate at Moray House School of Education:, I have been awarded a Universitas21 Graduate Collaborative Research Award along with Professor Lydia Plowman as Lead Supervisor. The project is titled as "How can interactions with digital media foster refugee families' transition to a new culture: A case study of refugee families in Auckland, New Zealand". This one-year-long project involves the University of Edinburgh (lead institution), the University of Maryland and the University of Auckland.


CHI Play (conference on game player-computer interaction) in Melbourne, Australia

IDC (Interaction Design for Children) in Idaho, USA

UKLA (United Kingdom Literacy Association) - paper presented together with Dr. Sarah McGeown on participatory approaches employed for the GUAR project