IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Dr Laura Outhwaite

Laura is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO).

What attracted you to take up your position at IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society?

The opportunity to be part of IOE's new and impact-based research centre (the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities) was a huge draw for me. As an early career researcher, the 5-year position combined with the wide-ranging networks, learning opportunities, and to be in the heart of the educational research, policy and EdTech space (such as with UCL EDUCATE) were all fantastic opportunities for me and my career.

What is the focus of your research and what benefits do you hope your discoveries will bring?

Working at the interface of theory and practice, my research expertise lies in developmental psychology, education, and innovation in different educational, cultural, and economic contexts. Working with interdisciplinary academics and industry partners, my primary research focuses on how educational technology can support learning outcomes.

In my most recent work, I am examining what makes an effective educational maths app and how can maths apps support young children’s mathematical development. This research will help parents, teachers, and policy-makers to make the best decisions for their children surrounding educational maths app use. 

What other subjects outside of your area of specialism interest you?

I am interested in how cross-disciplinary expertise and mixed methodologies, such as international development, child health, economics, and educational policy can come together to tackle global challenges in education, particularly those faced in low- and middle-income countries. 

I am excited to see where the next few years take me and my research."

How long have you been at IOE and what were you doing before that?

I joined IOE in October 2018 after completing my ESRC-funded PhD at the University of Nottingham with Professor Nicola Pitchford and Anthea Gulliford. My PhD research focused on understanding the reach and utility of the one billion maths apps for children aged 4-7 years in the UK and Brazil. My PhD research contributed to the initial evidence underpinning an EEF-funded efficacy trial of the apps in 113 primary schools across the UK.

What do you most enjoy about your position and why?

Working at IOE offers great autonomy and flexibility. In my role in CEPEO I have space and resources to pursue the research topics that really interest and inspire me. During my first year here, I have learned so much and have had the opportunity to build upon my PhD research, my networks, and make an effective transition to a post-doctoral researcher. I am excited to see where the next few years take me and my research. 

Has being in London been of benefit to the work you do?

Moving to London has expanded my network of like-minded academic and non-academic partners, all working towards improving education through high-quality research. The wide range of seminars and sandpit events across different disciplines has been a great contribution to this. IOE also offers lots of support and development for early career researchers that continues to be invaluable for my continued professional development and work-based wellbeing.