I am a Professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology and direct the ReadOxford research group.
I can’t remember not being interested in reading. I was the family book worm as a child. As a teenager, I became fascinated by how we use language to communicate with each other. Encouraged by my fantastic English teacher (thank you Mr Rice) I learned that by studying psychology I could learn more about human communication. The rest, as they say, is history. I did my first degree in Psychology at the University of York. As a first year undergraduate, I went to a lecture on reading development by Charles Hulme. The spark was now definitely lit. I then stayed at York to do my PhD on spelling development, supervised by Charles. I then did post-doctoral work with Maggie Snowling on reading and language in children with poor reading comprehension – a topic that has kept us busy for the last 20 years, plus...I moved to Oxford to take up my current post in 2002. My research focuses on a range of questions concerning the nature of reading and its development, from how children begin to recognize words through to how meaning is extracted and constructed as people read. Alongside my basic research, I am committed to building links between psychological research and educational policy and practice.
Please visit my Academic Pages at the University of Oxford here.
My favourite word
My favourite childhood book
My favourite word is serene, or perhaps serenity. I like the image it conjures of being calm, tranquil and at ease. The reality of me is not serene at all -- and on those rare occasions I might appear serene, it's a bit like a duck: calm on the surface but much flapping and paddling underneath.
A difficult decision, but a clear winner from childhood is What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. I’m a Katie rather than a Katy, but I was a tomboy and an accident prone one at that so had some empathy for Katy Carr. I remember choosing it in WH Smith – a red ‘leather look’ hardback edition with gold lettering, bought using a gift token. It was the poshest looking book I owned and it still sits on my shelf at home today.