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#WeAreIOE: Introducing IOE Students and Staff with Spotlight on...

Trista Wu - Education Studies Student

Trista Wu

Myself & what I am studying

I am a second-year Chinese student who is taking Education Studies at IOE. During my first year of study, I enjoyed my learning at IOE a lot, ranging from having collisions of ideas on lectures or seminars to visiting on-going exhibitions held by UCL. What I like the most about the learning life at IOE is the multimodality contained in the course, including in-class debating, poster drawing, films watching and corresponding critical reflection, project filming and presenting with teammates, and field trips to the British Museum, etc. The experience I gained was unprecedented for me as a Chinese student, and it created a lot of memorable highlighting time for my university life.  

What led me to choose my current major?

As many people know, education is not a common subject that Chinese students would choose as their university major as compared to science subjects. Though growing up as the second eldest child in a family with four siblings would have huge impacts on me choosing education as my major, the main reason does not lie in here. My first motive was my realization of how the Chinese educational system, though undeniably has its strengths, limits students’ autonomy to explore and their discovery into “WHO they want to be”. At the same time, I found myself enjoy helping the young resolving their inquires and always being fulfilled by giving useful advice. I want to not only help but also invigorate the many young spirits! Then, my experience, motives, interests, abilities, and where I wish to go jointly tell why I chose education as my major. 

Projects that I am involving in currently

I am currently based in China, and working as a remote research assistant for the Laboratory for Lifelong Learning Tsinghua University (TULLL). Presently, we are undertaking a range of exciting educational projects, ranging from Playful Learning & Creativity to Lifelong Learning. The research project that I am involving in cooperates with the LEGO Foundation and concerns the Pedagogy of Online Teaching. We draw our research from the observation and data collected from an online course, which is to teach primary school students the way to create their computer games through coding. Other than probing into education with play and online learning, education with media, dancing, and museums are also the areas that I want to look into. Therefore, I wish to explore all of the fields of interest and discover which educational path I want to take in the future.  


Xuanyi Ma - PGR student

Xuanji Ma
Hi, there. I am Xuanyi Ma, a third-year doctoral student from Department of Culture, Communication and Media. My research is on adult participants’ real-time physiological and emotional responses to unfamiliar music played with a traditional Chinese instrument – Erhu.

When I did my BSc Psychology course, I was impressed by research on how background music helps with students’ academic performance. As I used to play piano and sing (solo and in the choir), this combination of music and psychology really inspired me. This combination has been my passion ever since. Although my examiner in my MSc Basic Psychology course did not regard my research “psychological”, I was determined to carry on my research on the communication of emotions in music because it is the topic that I really like to work on.

After attending a summer school in Cambridge in 2014, I made up my mind to do a doctoral degree in Psychology of Music in the UK. My concerns about me not having a degree in Music stopped me from applying a PhD directly, so I applied to do a postgraduate taught programme first to get to know this subject much better. I was really lucky to be accepted into the MA Music Education at IOE and came across so many fantastic colleagues and teachers. I was extremely happy when I met Professor Graham Welch in the classroom the first time because I had read a lot of his work before I came to London (and later, he became my supervisor!). During my MA Music Education, I applied for the PhD programme in the same department and was lucky (again) to get an offer.

Being a doctoral student was really a new experience at the beginning. Most of the time, you need to find out what you want and need for your study by yourself. The more articles I read, the more ignorant I think I am. Moreover, my research plan was continuously changed because I not only got new ideas from the reading but there were also previously unknown technical problems which had to be solved. Thus, I was very frustrated during the first year.  At the same time, I discovered programming and believed that it is something I should learn to enrich my skills and research (something I still believe in strongly). Fortunately, my principal supervisor Evangelos Himonides has a very strong background in Computer Science and he has been very kind and patient with his advice and suggestions. Now, I am getting on better with my study although there will undoubtedly be a lot of problems ahead.

I also made a lot of friends across different departments. We all came from different countries and  have various backgrounds. I really enjoy talking with them no matter if it is an academic discussion or communication on daily affairs. IOE is like a big family!

In the future, I hope to continue in academia as a research or teaching fellow. My wish is to carry on my current study on musical emotions as a bridge between music and science and to find the practical value of my theoretical study. 

Hope to see you all around soon!

Mary Chen Xiarong - Department of Social Science Doctoral Student


Mary Chen Xiaorong image

Hi, I am Mary Chen Xiaorong from Singapore. I am in my fifth year of doctoral study from the Department of Social Sciences at IOE. My research is on professional practice and learning at workplace and I am particularly focused on novices’ transition. I miss being on the campus as a part time student, who only travels to London to attend the taught modules. I guess many of you out there are in the same situation like me. We have to juggle work, study and family.

I wish you are doing well during the COVID19 pandemic and making good progress in your study, no matter which stage you are at. I am preparing for my viva and revising and polishing my thesis at the same time. In view of this, I am actively searching for opportunities which allow me to learn from others on presentation skills and academic argument skills.

I have joined two sessions of Doctoral Coffee Morning so far. These sessions are open to all doctoral students to share our projects, opinions and ideas fortnightly, and kindly hosted by our friendly Jade Chesterton from Student Services. The online session gives access to everyone who is interested to join, no matter where you are. At the moment, there is one student who volunteers to present his/her project and the rest of the participants will give comments and ideas during the session. I find these sessions are helpful and enjoying and there are always some learning points for me to take away. Furthermore, these sessions help to break the silo and you find new friends as well. So, I would like to encourage you to join the Doctoral Coffee Morning.

Hope to meet you online and meanwhile stay safe!


 Chloe Marshall - Professor of Psychology, Language and Education

Chloe Marshall

What is your role?

I’m Professor of Psychology, Language and Education and am based in the IOE’s Department of Psychology and Human Development. I lead the MA/MSc in Educational Neuroscience jointly with my colleague Professor Iroise Dumontheil at Birkbeck, and I chair the IOE’s Extenuating Circumstances Panel. I am also currently Principal Investigator on a research project investigating how people learn sign languages and a Co-Investigator on a project investigating how young children learn spoken words. My time is distributed fairly equally between teaching, supporting students in their studies, and research.

When did you join UCL and what did you do before?

My first career was as a Montessori nursery-school teacher. I also trained Montessori teachers, developed teaching materials, and wrote for education magazines. As a nursery teacher I became fascinated by children’s language development, and so decided to take a year off to study for an MA in Linguistics at UCL in 2000-2001. But I never made it back to the classroom (although maybe one day I will!). Instead, I stayed on at UCL to do doctoral and then post-doctoral research. I left UCL in 2008 to take up a lectureship at City, University of London, and spent several happy years there teaching trainee speech and language therapists and researching deaf children’s sign language development. I then joined the IOE as a Senior Lecturer in 2011. When the IOE merged with UCL during the 2014-15 academic year, that’s when I returned to UCL!

What do you do when you are not supporting staff and students?

Normally I would spend quite a lot of time travelling – both for work and for pleasure – but since international travel became all but impossible earlier this year my partner and I have been enjoying exploring our neighbourhood instead (we live in central London). I’m a keen gardener and look after the communal garden in our block of flats, which is an excellent way of relaxing at the end of a long work-day. I’m also a keen birdwatcher, and never cease to be amazed by the number and variety of birds that we see in our garden and during our London walks. And when no one else is around – either in the office or at home – I play youtube videos of the Finnish symphonic metal band ‘Nightwish’ at full blast and sing along.

Daniel O'Connor - Library Staff

Daniel O'Connor IOE Library Staff

What is your role?
I’m the Subject Liaison Coordinator and Comparative Education Librarian here at the UCL Institute of Education Library. I work with the Subject Liaison Team and colleagues across UCL Library Services to support teaching and learning  activities at the IOE. This includes helping to manage and develop what is the largest education collection in Europe. I also have specific responsibility for the International and Comparative Collections in the Library which focus on education systems and practice in countries and regions around the world.
In addition, I work with the IOE Subject Liaison Team to provide Library inductions and library skills training sessions for students across a wide range of courses. This is a really enjoyable part of my job, and we’re currently planning for the next academic year.
In summary, it’s a busy role with lots of responsibilities but it’s also hugely rewarding!
When did you join UCL and what did you do before?
I joined the Library in 2010, so I’ve been here a decade now – I don’t know where the time has gone, but it also shows how much I have enjoyed working here. I’ve had a variety of roles whilst at the Library too, and this has been really helpful in terms of understanding the processes that make a Library work to support our students.
Prior to working here, I worked at the British Library and before that I worked for a major charity as a bookseller.
What do you do when you are not supporting staff and students?
I love going to watch football and cricket and I take a keen interest in current affairs. I’ve got two house rabbits who are very spoiled! During the lockdown period, I’ve signed up for weekly British Sign Language lessons over Zoom, I’m making slow progress but I’m going to stick at it!

IOE ranked World Number 1 for Education in QS Subject Ranking 

The IOE has been ranked as the world number one for Education in the 2023 QS World University Rankings by Subject. Professor Li Wei, Director and Dean of IOE, said: “To be ranked first in the world in any single year is a tremendous achievement; to be ranked first for 10 years in a row is truly outstanding. To have our work, what it stands for and its impact recognized in this way is significant for the faculty, for UCL and for the UK in terms of its higher education offering – I am incredibly proud and appreciative. This performance reflects the commitment of all IOE colleagues, academic and the professional services staff who support their work, and our students, as well as the impact of our international network of alumni as they put their learning into practice in their workplaces and communities.”