Developmental Psychology

The work of this group has three main strands: (1) Cognitive & Social Development - this includes work on the impact of socio-cultural contexts on human cognition and identity development, children’s evaluation of other people as sources of information, children’s understanding of emotion, the nature of mother-child interactions, children’s interactions with their peers and explanations for school bullying; (2) Language & Literacy - this has a focus on the development of speech, reading, spelling, writing and handwriting; (3) Developmental Disorders - this includes research on children with hearing impairment, Specific Language Impairment, Dyslexia, Developmental Coordination Disorder, Autism and sleep disorders.

Some of our research focuses on the description of typical development and explanation of developmental processes in different domains. Other work is concerned with understanding the mechanisms underlying atypical development and an examination of ways to support children and their families. Several staff in the DP research group work with professionals from other disciplines including health and education and are concerned with the production of practical assessment tools and the evaluation of intervention approaches to help children achieve their full potential.

Much of our work is conducted in schools and family homes. Research conducted on site at Oxford Brookes usually takes place in one of our specialist labs. We have a BabyLab with special facilities including an eye-tracker and observation room. We also have a Perception and Motion Analysis (PuMA) Lab with equipment for the detailed analysis of movement.

Staff undertaking research in developmental psychology

Click on the links below to find out more about individual staff research interests and specialisms.

Research Assistants

Current PhD Students

Completed PhD Students

  • Judith Gentle (2015) 'Walking patterns of individuals with & without Developmental Coordination Disorder'
  • Gaby Illingworth (2014)
  • Dr Mona Sakr (2013) 'Young children's screen picture-making'
  • Mellissa Prunty (2013) 'Developmental Coordination Disorder: A focus on handwriting'
  • Dr Emma Sumner(2012) 'Dyslexia & writing: Beyond single word spelling difficulties'

Current news

  • 30 March 2015. Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez has been describing her research on infant language development to Kat Orman on BBC Radio Oxford this morning.
  • 11 Feb 2015. Prof Anna Barnett gave her professorial lecture 'Childhood difficulties with movement skills: Understanding Developmental Coordination Disorder' as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations at Oxford Brookes University.

Recent Funded Work

  • Harris, M. Impact of new technology on reading skills of deaf children. ESRC 2012. (£361,500).
  • Barnett, A.L & Wiggs, L. Sleep disturbance in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. The Waterloo Foundation 2012. (£59,361).
  • Wilmut, K. and Barnett, A. L. Navigational abilities of typically developing individuals and individuals with Developmental Coordination Disorder. ESRC 2012 (£280,261).

Selected Recent Publications


Sakr, M., Connelly, V., & Wild, M. (2015). Narrative in young children's digital art-making. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 1468798415577873.

Wilmut, K., Du, W., & Barnett, A.L. (2015) How do I fit through that gap? Navigation through apertures in adults with Developmental Coordination Disorder. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0124695. doi: 10.1371/journal/pone.0124695.


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