Accessibility statement

Dr Sebastian Suggate



I am a developmental psychologist with links to education, currently working as a senior lecturer at the University of York. I enjoy researching the foundations of child development, in the hope that this gives me insight into the workings of the mind (I would have loved to have been a philosopher!).

I began my studies with naive ideas, completing my undergraduate and postgraduate study at the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago, receiving my PhD in 2009 under the wise guidance of Dr Elizabeth Schaughency and Professor Elaine Reese.

Guided by itchy feet, a desire to broaden my academic horizons, and to live and explore Central Europe, I was fortunate to receive a postdoctoral fellowship from the magnificent Alexander-von-Humboldt foundation. I subsequently worked with a couple of nice chaps (Professors Wolfgang Lenhard and Wolfgang Schneider), with whom I continue to conduct reading research to this day.

Despite (or perhaps due to) not reading a job ad properly (for my German was rusty back then), I began working directly in education departments, firstly as a lecturer at the University of Regensburg, working closely with Professor Heidrun Stoeger (2011-2014), then as a full professor at that Alanus University (2014-2015), then again as a senior lecturer and associate professor in Regensburg. In 2022, after a wonderful 12+ years in Germany, my family and I decided that we wished to relocate to the United Kingdom and I was fortunate to be offered a position at the University of York.

Departmental roles

  • Module leader “Embodied cognition in learning and development”
  • Programme Leader for PhD Psychology in Education



I conduct research into child and human development (without wanting to imply that children aren’t humans), with foci on reading and language, fine and sensorimotor development, digital media, and mental imagery as multimodal sensory simulation.


The contribution of fine motor skills to reading and writing development. Funded by the German Research Council and in collaboration with Prof. Stoeger from the University of Regensburg.

Various smaller projects on mental imagery, reading language, embodied cognition, and fine motor skills.

Research group(s)


  • German Research Council, €430,000

Available PhD research projects

  • Reading comprehension and mental imagery
  • Digital media and sensorimotor or imagery development
  • Fine motor skills and cognitive development


Current PhD students

  • Rebecca Winter
  • Viktoria Karle
  • Rosina Williams

External activities


  • Scientific Society for the Study of Reading
  • British Psychological Society

Editorial duties

  • I have served as a reviewer for currently over 50 different journals

Key publications

Suggate, S. P., & Lenhard, W. (2022). Mental imagery skill predicts adults’ reading performance. Learning and Instruction, 80(2):101633 DOI:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2022.101633

Suggate, S. P., & Martzog, P. (2020). Screen-time influences children’s mental imagery performance, Developmental Science, 23:e12978.

Suggate, S. P., Pufke, E., & Stoeger, H. (2019). Children's fine motor skills in kindergarten predict reading in grade 1. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 47, 248-258.

Suggate, S. P. (2016). A Meta-Analysis of the Long-Term Effects of Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, and Reading Comprehension Interventions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 49, 77-96. doi:10.1177/0022219414528540

Suggate, S. P., Schaughency, E. A., & Reese, E. (2013). Children who learn to read later catch up to children who learn to read early. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 33–48. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2012.04.004

Media coverage

  1. BBC Reel, 09.07.2020, Why the way our children watch screens matters
  2. New York Times, 16.05.2015, Let the kids play
  3. The Sydney Morning Herald, 11.05.2014, Political pressure takes the fun out of kindy, say academics
  4. Radio New Zealand, 02.12.2013, Is formal education starting too young?
  5. Der Spiegel, 26.05.2012, Studie aus Neuseeland: Waldorfschüler lesen besser
  6. The Telegraph, 05.01.2010, Reading at five ‘fails to boost skills’
  7. TV3 News, 21.12.2009, Late starters just as good at reading research shows

Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD