By Emma Sumner – UCL-IOE, Department of Psychology and Human Development

Rachel Finapiri was a placement student from University of Surrey working with Emma Sumner and Elisabeth Herbert at UCL-IOE (Department of Psychology and Human Development) between February and July 2019. Rachel was on the Masters (MSc) in Developmental Psychology programme at Surrey and was keen to gain research experience during her time at UCL. Rachel helped the iRead team on various research related tasks. On completion of her visit, we asked her about her time spent working on the iRead project. Here’s what Rachel had to say…

What tasks were you involved in as part of the iRead project?

I was involved in a variety of tasks, such as conducting a literature review on the role of highlighting text while reading, helping to create materials for the Reader study (e.g., the texts that children would read in the experiments), as well as preparing the assessment materials. I was also involved in the data collection phase. This involved visiting primary schools and administering standardised, and more informal, assessments to children struggling with reading. I was able to score the assessments and I participated in data entry.

After learning about the iRead game (Navigo) and eReader (Amigo), what do you think of them?

I think the iRead games and the eReader are a really good way to engage children in their personalised learning. They are able to play a variety of games which require a different learning skill. The tips (feedback) that are included in the games and the way it was created ensured that the children were both able to learn and have fun, which I think is important for the child’s enjoyment and education. They also got a sense of being able to have control in the game because they were able to personalise their characters, which they all seemed to really enjoy.

The eReader is also very good for helping children to learn at their own pace. The highlight feature is a really good way to help children focus more on parts of the words that they may have difficulty with and the ‘tricky words’ list allows them to go back to any difficult words and practice them.

What did you enjoy most about being part of the iRead project?

I think the most enjoyable part for me was the data collection phase. Seeing the children interact with the eReader and the games was a highlight. As I was part of the preparing process for the study, it was nice to then see how the children reacted to the technology. It was nice to see that they wanted to keep playing on the games and the eReader. All of the children we worked with had different personalities, so it was great to see both those louder and quieter children interact and enjoying the technology.

What do you think this experience adds to your MSc studies?

My MSc is in Developmental Psychology, so seeing the way that children learn and how they interact with the technology puts my studies into practice. The project also contributed to my decision for the focus of my dissertation project, where I am exploring the relationship between reading ability and anxiety. More broadly though, I think learning how to administer the psychometric assessments is a useful skill and I had not been part of a research team before, so I believe that I have learned about how to communicate and work with others (including researchers, but also teachers and children).

What’s next for you?

I have to complete my MSc at the University of Surrey and I plan to get more research experience. In fact, this experience at UCL led to me acquiring a part-time research assistance position on a language intervention project in the Psychology and Human Development department. I’m pretty sure that my experience as part of the iRead team, helped me with this application! I hope to pursue a career in research and will consider potential PhD opportunities.

A huge thank you goes to Rachel for all of her help with the iRead project. It was a pleasure to have you as part of the team. Wishing you all the best!

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