I am the recipient of the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (WRDTP) at the Department of Education, University of York. I work with my mentor Dr Umar Toseeb who leads the Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopmental Diversity (CANDY) Group. Prior to that, I completed my PhD in 2020 at the University of Cambridge through a studentship with the research centre for Play Education Development and Learning (PEDAL) and an MPhil in Education and Psychology as an awardee of a Cambridge Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. I have a BEd in “Educational Testing Measurement and Evaluation” from the University of West Indies and worked as a primary school teacher for ten years before transitioning to research in child cognitive and developmental psychology.
My main research investigates specific ways that play impacts developmental outcomes for children with typical and atypical development. As example, my PhD explored the link between child pretend play and counterfactual reasoning and my postdoc work uses twin modelling to explore the etiology of child play and mental health. I use advanced quantitative research modelling techniques (e.g. structural equation modelling) and behavioural genetic methods to advance our understanding of the role of play in children’s development. I have diverse research experiences including conducting rapid evidence reviews, meta-analyses, and systematic literature reviews. I am also passionate about international development research and worked as a research associate with the EdTech Hub University of Cambridge and research consultant updating the Teacher Classroom Observation Tool (Teach) with associates at the World Bank.
Major, L., Francis, G. A., Tsapali, M. (accepted). The effectiveness of technology-supported personalised learning in low- and middle-income countries: A meta-analysis. British Journal Education Technology
Lynch, P., Singal, N., & Francis, G. A. (2021). EdTech for Learners with Disabilities in Primary School Settings in LMICs: A Systematic Literature Review [Working Paper]. EdTech Hub. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4348995
Major, L. & Francis, G. A. (2020). Technology-supported personalised learning: Rapid Evidence Review. EdTechHub. 10.5281/zenodo.3948175
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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2018.08.005
Damani, K., Francis, G. A., Major, L., McIntyre, N. (2021, April, 28). Equalising the playing field: Exploring the potential of digital technology to adapt learning in low-resource contexts. In A. Singh (Chair). Comparative International Education Society Conference [Roundtable]. https://convention2.allacademic.com/one/cies/cies21/
Francis, G. A. (2021) Pretend Play, Executive Functions, and Counterfactual Reasoning: Evaluating the case for a unified theory of imaginative representation. Series Seminar Presentations to: Professor Alison Gopnik, Cognitive Development and Learning Lab, Berkeley University of California; Dr Deena Weisberg, Star Lab, Villanova University; Professor Sarah Beck, Research Lab, University of Birmingham.
Francis, G. A. (2020, November). Pretend Play, Executive Functions, and Counterfactual Reasoning: Evaluating the case for a unified theory of imaginative representation. Seminar Presentations: Department of Education, University of York
Francis, G. A, Parr, T., Serpell, Z., & Ellefson, M. R. (2017, July). Executive Functions and Academic Achievement in a High Poverty Sample. Poster presented at 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. London, UK
Francis, G. A., Whitebread, D. & Gibson, J. L. (2016, November). Child Pretence and Counterfactual Reasoning: What is the nature of the relationship? Poster presented at Interdisciplinary Workshop on Counterfactual Thinking University of Toronto. Toronto Canada.
Francis, G. A, Parr, T., Serpell, Z., & Ellefson, M. R. (2016, May). Executive Functions and Academic Achievement in a High Poverty Sample. Talk presented at Kaleidoscope Conference 2016 - Themed "Mind the gap: Bridging theory and practice in educational research". Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Cambridge, UK.