Dr Paula Clarke

Dr Paula Clarke


My work typically sits at the intersection between Psychology, Education and Linguistics; it is generally applied in focus and uses a mixture of methodological approaches. I enjoy working in a collaborative and interdisciplinary way and value the opportunities it presents. 

I studied BSc (Hons) Psychology at the University of York (1996-1999) before working as a Research Assistant for Kate Nation and Maggie Snowling (2000-2001) in the Centre for Reading and Language also in the Department of Psychology at York. I stayed there for a further eight years. Completing a PhD in 2005 (Patterns of Memory Asset and Deficit in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder) under the supervision of Kate Nation and Graham Hitch, working as a Lecturer (2004-2006) and as a Post Doctoral researcher on the ESRC funded York Reading for Meaning project (2006-2009). I moved from Psychology to Education in 2009 when I was appointed as a Lecturer in the School of Education at Leeds.



  • MA Special Educational Needs Programme Leader
  • School of Education Director of Research and Innovation

Research interests

My research uses psychological theory to inform the development of intervention approaches and assesment. I aim to help children engage with text and experience reading with meaning. My work promotes the development of rich mental representations and emphasizes exploration of ideas in multiple contexts and sharing perspectives. I am interested in how we assess and capture children’s understanding of text and how we can develop methodologies that are inclusive and accessible for all. My work is also concerned with research designs to evaluate the impact of educational interventions. I am experienced in using Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) and have a developing interest in Design-Based approaches for intervention development. I also have long standing research interests in the area of Autism and I have the privilege of supervising some fantastic doctoral research in this area. 

Recently completed projects

Dynamic Assessment of Reading Test (DART) (funded by the Nuffield Foundation)

The Impact of Covid-19 on Key Learning and Education (ICKLE) (funded by ESRC/UKRI)

REAding with CompreHension (REACH) Primary (funded by EEF).

Research affiliations

Leeds Child Development Unit (LCDU) 

Language, Development and Cognition research satellite Language@Leeds

Centre for Applied Education Research 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc (Hons) Psychology (1st)
  • PhD Psychology

Student education

I teach across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, covering the following areas:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Learning Theories
  • Reading and Language Development
  • Literacy and Literacies
  • Cognitive Development
  • Ecological Approaches
  • Inclusive Education 
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities 
  • Research Methods  

Research groups and institutes

  • ICY: Inclusion, Childhood & Youth Research Centre
  • Centre for Disability Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>