My research focuses on children’s learning in the early years and the ways in which this is supported in preschool settings and at home. I am interested in children’s experiences, the perspectives of their parents and the practices and professional knowledge and beliefs of practitioners in early care and education settings. This interest in pedagogic actions and interactions is at the centre of my research into young children’s engagement with new technologies, approaches to learning in preschool and at the beginning of primary school and Gaelic-medium early years education. Projects looking at the practices of childminders caring for children under three years old and at the literature on educational interventions for the under three’s are extending my work on pedagogy and the influence of the context in which children are growing up.
With Lydia Plowman and Joanna McPake I co-directed a series of Economic and Social Research Council-funded projects researching children’s engagement with technologies: Interplay: Play, Learning and ICT looked at their experiences with technology in the preschool playroom while Entering e-Society: Young children’s development of e-literacy and Young Children Learning with Toys and Technology at Home were both concerned with playing and learning with technologies at home. My research on Gaelic-medium preschool education has been carried out with Joanna McPake (University of Strathclyde) and Wilson McLeod (University of Edinburgh). We have reviewed Gaelic-medium early education and childcare in Scotland and investigated the pedagogical challenges experienced by children and practitioners in language-immersion settings.
In September 2013 I was a Visiting Academic at the Early Years Research Centre, University of Waikato, New Zealand https://education.waikato.ac.nz/the-early-years-research-centre/ . I am the convenor of the Scottish Educational Research Association Early Years Network and a member of the editorial board of Early Years and the International Journal of Early Years Education.