Dr Leesa Clarke
Research Staff



After completing a business degree and working for 8 years in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, Leesa embarked upon a change of career and started as a psychology undergraduate at The University of York.  In 2003 she graduated with BSc (Hons) in Psychology from York and went on to complete her MSc in Reading, Language & Cognition in 2004.  She completed her PhD research looking at Inference Generation and Reading Disability in 2010, and achieved Chartered Psychologist status in 2011.  Leesa has worked for two spells as a Temporary Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at The University of York.

Currently, Leesa works part-time as a Psychology Tutor for Dyslexia Action, providing training for teachers wishing to specialise in teaching dyslexic students and conducts educational assessments in the Centre for Reading and Language.  


  • BSc in Psychology
  • MSc in Reading, Language and Cognition
  • PhD Psychology



For her PhD, Leesa investigated children’s ability to generate inferences as they read and listen, and looked at the impact of reading disability on this important skill.  In her thesis she carried out three studies looking at emotion-state and spatial inferences in both the written and aural domains.  Following on from that she examined whether inference generation was affected by how recently prerequisite background knowledge had been acquired, and in her final study she examined whether there was evidence that poor comprehenders’ adopted a lower standard for coherence during reading, which might explain why they make fewer inferences as they read. 

Leesa has a broad interest in typical and atypical development of reading and language skills.  She is particularly interested in how reading and language difficulties affect psychosocial adjustment and emotional development; design of reading and language assessment and intervention, late talkers and preschool language development, and development of reading and language in children with advanced skills for their age. 



Selected publications

  • Wright, B, Clarke, N, Jordan, J, Young, A, Clarke, P, Miles, J, Nation, K, Clarke, L, & Williams, C. (2008) Emotion recognition in faces and the use of visual context information in young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism, 12, 607-627
  • Clarke, L.J. & Snowling, M.J. (2006). Reading Difficulty and Automatic Processing of Emotion State Inferences. Poster presented at the BPS Developmental Section Annual Conference, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, 7-9 September 2006
  • Clarke, L.J. & Snowling M.J. (2005). Do children make inferences about fictional characters emotional states during reading? Paper presented at the 4th European Graduate School on Reading Research, Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands, 2005

Contact details

Dr Leesa Clarke
Department of Psychology
The University of York
YO10 5DD