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My research is inter-disciplinary in nature, drawing on methodology, theory, and practice in the fields of education, cognitive science, and psychology. In the area of early childhood development, I am interested how young children think about number and quantity, and how these basic skills (often referred to as number sense) support growth in mathematical skills. As part of this work I also examine how the development of cognitive skills, such as working memory or the ability to self-regulate behaviour, contribute to children’s typical (and atypical) development. I have also conducted research involving children and adults with hearing loss, and am keen to pursue studies examining how synchronous multi-sensory information (or a lack of) impacts on how we represent and activate numerical information.

My research also looks at the important environments in which children are learning and developing – the home environment and the classroom. This has included a focus on the informal numeracy interactions that may happen between children and parents, as well as the pedagogical approaches to numeracy that educators use in day care environments, and the quality of educator-child interactions.

Research findings from these studies have been used to examine early risk indicators of later mathematical difficulties, and have informed the development and implementation of classroom-based intervention.

Finally, and getting back to my initial roots as a cognitive psychologist, I am involved in a number of studies examining the conditions under which individuals activate semantic representations of magnitude. For example, when asked if two presented numbers are the same colour, do we still activate semantic information about those numbers, such as their magnitude or their position on a mental number line, even when we are not required to do so.


  • –present
    Professor, Macquarie University