I’m a developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist. I work in an Education Faculty alongside psychologists, philosophers, economists, historians, artists and sociologists.
Sara joined the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education as a University Lecturer in 2011. She is a PI in the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL). She studied for her Maîtrise in psychology and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Paris 8 while on placement at the Salpêtrière Hospital’s Brain Imaging Unit. Sara then gained her Masters and PhD at the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science, followed by postdoctoral research at the University of Bristol’s Cognitive Development Centre.
The focus of Sara’s research is belief formation and belief revision, particularly during the preschool years when children learn about a constantly changing world. Central to her research agenda is the role of cognitive flexibility in the formation and expression of beliefs about two core domains of knowledge: the social world (e.g., perspective-taking) and the physical world (e.g., gravity and inertia). How do children discover the general laws underlying these domains? How entrenched are their beliefs and what kinds of evidence are needed to revise these? In addition to basic research, Sara translates research from cognitive development into educational contexts. What types of strategies can children use to solve everyday problems more effectively, and how can adults support this? Later in development, what are the key factors in adults’ use of evidence-based reasoning (e.g. critical thinking and scientific reasoning)? Sara’s recent projects addressing questions like these have been funded by the Newton Trust, a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant, and the LEGO Foundation.
I’m especially interested in the early years, when brain development is very fast and environmental influences can have a big impact.
My Typical Day:
Reading science papers, giving students feedback on their work, attending meetings abotu course administration
What topics do you work on?
cognitive development, executive functions, science education, STEM gender gap, 21st century skills
What methods do you use?
experimental design, structured observation in classrooms, teacher focus groups