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The Department of Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield

... is considered as one of the UK’s leading centres for research and teaching in human communication. The department has three research clusters which are active in the areas of Cognitive Neuroscience of Speech & Language, Clinical & International Linguistics, and Speech, Language & Literacy Development. The department has a vibrant Communication Clinic which hosts a range of activities for clinical teaching, research and civic engagement.

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Partner Focus: Jenny Thomson

I am a senior academic in the Department of Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield. 

My background training is as a speech and language therapist, and my PhD investigated developmental dyslexia through a developmental psychology lens. 

I teach on postgraduate courses that bring together speech and language therapists and educators, to learn more about speech, language and literacy difficulties in school age children. 

My research focuses upon the impact of digitisation for these children, in terms of learning to read, as well as using technology to support difficulties in oral and written communication.  

I am a Trustee for the Children's Literacy Charity and help co-teach an open access MOOC about supporting children with difficulties in reading and spelling (see here)

Why knowing more about reading fluency apps matters to you and your organization?

I am often asked by both practitioners and parents about how best to use technology to help children learn to read, and what apps are best. When I realised that there were not yet clear answers to this question, I immediately wanted to find answers! 


Why did you get involved in the project and what are your hopes for the project?

People's views about the use of technology with young children can often be quite polarised - either assuming it be negative, or having unchecked optimism for its potential. I sit somewhere inbetween - I am keen to understand both the strengths and weakness of technology supports, especially for struggling readers, and I hope this project will help us go some way towards achieving this.

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Partner Focus: Marta Wesierska

My main area of interest and the subject of my PhD thesis concerns the development of language and reading ability in young children with a focus on pupils acquiring English as their second language. Having completed my PhD I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity collaborate with Dr Jenny Thomson on a project investigating reading comprehension in the digital context. In this study we investigated the reading comprehension ability of primary school children on paper versus tablet screen to establish whether this group would be affected by the screen inferiority effect. 

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