Dr Emma Blakey

Department of Psychology

Lecturer

Portrait image of Dr Emma Blakey
Portrait image of Dr Emma Blakey, Department of Psychology

emma.blakey@sheffield.ac.uk

Full contact details

Dr Emma Blakey
Department of Psychology
Cathedral Court
1 Vicar Lane
Sheffield
S1 2LT
Profile

I am a developmental psychologist and I’m part of the Sheffield Cognitive Development Research Group. My research focuses on how children develop high-level cognitive skills known as executive function, why we see differences in those skills, and how their development can be best supported.

I studied at the University of Sheffield for my degree, Masters and PhD and returned as a lecturer in 2017. In between then, I was awarded an ESRC overseas research award and spent several months working in Dr Sandra Wiebe’s lab at the University of Alberta running EEG studies to understand the neural correlates of executive function in toddlers. I then worked as a post-doctoral research at Cardiff University working on an inter-disciplinary project looking at how causal beliefs influence children’s time perception.

I love that my job allows me to learn and teach about children’s development, and more recently understand the ways we might best support development and reduce the impact of social inequality on children’s outcomes. I am also passionate about widening participation and enjoy engaging in opportunities to talk about my work with the public. I also enjoy getting students involved in research and have had many students work with me on summer research placements.

Qualifications
  • PhD Developmental Psychology (University of Sheffield)
  • MSc Psychological Research (University of Sheffield)
  • BA Philosophy and Psychology (University of Sheffield)
Research interests

I’m interested in the development of children’s executive functions (attention, memory, and the ability to regulate behaviour). In particular, I’m interested in how these develop in toddlers and preschoolers, why we see individual differences in these skills and how their development can be best supported. My research also examines how executive functions might relate to school readiness and why these abilities may vary according to children’s socio-economic background.

I am part of the Sheffield Cognitive Development Group where we run child development studies with local schools and families. If you would like to take part in our studies with your child, or if you want to find out more about our lab group, please see the Sheffield Cognitive Development Research Group page.

Publications

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Journal articles

All publications

Journal articles

Research group

Current PhD students

  • Ella James-Brabham: Understanding how we can close the achievement gap: The role of SES and cognitive factors on early mathematical skills. Funded by an ESRC studentship award co-supervised by Dan Carroll and Paul Wakeling (University of York).

  • Yesim Yavaslar: The development of cognitive flexibility in early childhood. Funded by the Turkish Government co-supervised by Dan Carroll.

  • Christ Billy Aryanto: The role of musical use on individual differences in executive functions. I am Billy’s second supervisor; he is first supervised by Claudia von Bastian.

  • Aleksandra Laketa (International Faculty, City College, Thessaloniki): The role of acculturation and motivation in testing the bilingualism cognitive advantage. Funded by a SEERC fee scholarship and co-supervised by Ana Vivas (SEERC) and Elisavet Chrysochoou (Aristotle University).

  • Arvesa Studenica (International Faculty, City College, Thessaloniki): Mechanisms underpinning the so-called bilingual cognitive advantage. Funded by a SEERC fee scholarship and co-supervised by Ana Vivas (SEERC) and Elisavet Chrysochoou (Aristotle University).

Grants
  • ESRC New Investigator Award (2021-2024): Why do inequalities emerge in children’s early cognitive development? (£298,846). With Danielle Matthews (mentor).

  • ESRC White Rose Network Grant (2017-2021): Inequalities in Cognitive Development (funded 3 x 1+3 PhD studentships across the White Rose doctoral training partnership). With Mark Mon-Williams (PI), Rosie McEachan, Liam Hill, Amanda Waterman, Dan Carroll, Kate Pickett and Paul Wakeling. 

  • The Nuffield Foundation (2017-2018): Testing a short executive function training intervention to improve academic skills in children before they start school (£179,111). With Dan Carroll, Danielle Matthews, and Lucy Cragg. To find out more about this project, see our webpage here.

  • The Economic and Social Research Council (2015): The neural correlates of cognitive flexibility in 2- to 4-year-olds (£2692). With Dr Sandra Wiebe (University of Alberta). Overseas Institutional Visit Award.

  • I have received a number of grants from the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scheme and the Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) scheme to fund undergraduates to do a summer research project.

  • University of Sheffield Science Faculty Widening Participation Grant (2013) to develop a STEM activity for schools (£1200).

Teaching activities

Undergraduate Teaching:

  • I am the Developmental Stream Leader and am responsible for managing and teaching PSY1004 and PSY2004 Developmental Psychology (level 1 and 2)
  • I supervise Extended Essays and Research Dissertations (level 3).
  • I am a personal tutor to students at all levels.

Masters Teaching:

  • I teach about longitudinal methods on PSY6121 Research Methods for Psychologists
  • I supervise Masters projects in Developmental Psychology. Past MSc students have examined how cognitive skills support school readiness, and how different kinds of parenting styles associate with children’s development.
Professional activities

Psychology Department Roles:

  • I am the Developmental Psychology teaching stream leader.
  • I run the departmental open days.
  • I am the junior representative on the departmental Research Committee.
Public Engagement and Media

Events

I enjoy organising exhibitions, talks and activities to demonstrate my research.

These have been held as part of Pint of ScienceIgnite Academy, exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection, Cambridge Secret Garden Party with Guerilla Science, the Sheffield Mobile UniversityDiscovery Night and in locations around Sheffield for National Science and Engineering week and Sheffield City Council’s LearnFest.

I also enjoying giving talks in schools and recently ran a workshop on school readiness for local teachers and educational psychologists.

Articles and programmes