Accessibility statement

Dr Gill Francis



I am a developmental cognitive psychologist with interest in researching play and development in neurodiverse and typically developing children. Currently, I am the recipient of a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (2021-24 cohort) and work as a Research Fellow in the department. I initially joined the department as a White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow (WRDTP - 2020-21 cohort). Prior to this, I worked as a Research Associate at the EdTech Hub at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. My career in education began as a primary school teacher where I worked for ten years before undertaking graduate studies.

I completed a PhD in Education with the research centre for Play Education Development and Learning (PEDAL) and an MPhil in Education and Psychology at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. I also hold a BEd in “Educational Testing Measurement and Evaluation” from the University of West Indies. More broadly, I am passionate about research that supports the development and learning of marginalised children. Specifically, I apply quantitative research methods like latent variable modelling, twin modelling, meta-analyses, etc. to study child development in diverse samples.



Peer-reviewed publications

Francis, G., Deniz, E., Torgerson, C., & Toseeb, U. (2022). Play-based interventions for mental health: A systematic review and meta-analysis focused on children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and developmental language disorder. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 7, 23969415211073120.

Lynch, P., Singal, N., & Francis, G. A. (2022). Educational technology for learners with disabilities in primary school settings in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic literature review. Educational Review, 0(0), 1–27.

Major, L., Francis, G. A., & Tsapali, M. (2021). The effectiveness of technology-supported personalised learning in low- and middle-income countries: A meta-analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology, n/a(n/a).

Francis, G., Farr, W., Mareva, S., & Gibson, J. (2019). Do Tangible User Interfaces promote social behaviour during free play? A comparison of autistic and typically-developing children playing with passive and digital construction toys. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 58 68-82.


My primary research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust investigates ‘Genetic and Environment Influences on Young Children’s Play’. I collaborate with Dr Umar Toseeb who leads the Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopmental Diversity (CANDY) Group and Professor Kathryn Asbury Director of the GenOmics And Life Stories (GOALS) group.

Research group(s)

External activities


  • Collaboration on the development of TEACH Secondary version of the World Bank’s Teacher Classroom Observation Tool (Teach).

Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD


Linkedin - Gill Althia Francis