Nicola's research expertise lies in developmental psychology and education. She investigates how the cognitive processes that underpin scholastic progression develop over childhood. She works with specialist populations of children with acquired neurological disorders. Her clinical research centres on discovering how stroke, preterm birth, and brain tumour impact on scholastic and neuronal development and wellbeing.
Working at the interface of theory and practice, Nicola collaborates with academics from different disciplines (e.g. psychology, medicine, education) and works with practitioners and professionals from a diverse range of fields (e.g. neurologists, neonatologists, oncologists, nurses, educators, companies, charities, non-government organisations, and government officials) to ensure that her research secures maximum benefits for key users and stakeholders.
Her most recent research is exploring the use of innovative mobile technology to support the acquisition of basic skills (numeracy, literacy, English) by primary school children in Malawi, the UK, and several other countries. This international programme of work is being carried out in partnership with the charities onebillion (https://onebillion.org.uk/) and Voluntary Service Overseas. The evaluation studies she has designed and conducted formed the subject of a BBC Click documentary that was released on BBC Worldwide News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29063614).
Nicola is also an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Psychology: Educational Psychology.
onebillion: app-based maths learning trial
Nicola is currently leading a national trial of onebillion's maths apps with year 1 primary school children in England. This cluster RCT is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and is being evaluated by the University of Oxford. https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects-and-evaluation/projects/onebillion-app-based-maths-learning
Using digital technology to support early years learning for pupils with English as an Additional Language
Nicola collaborates with Anthea Gulliford, Senior Educational Psychologist and Co-Director of the D App Ed Psy professional training programme in Educational Psychology at the University of Nottingham. https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/psychology/people/anthea.gulliford
Together, they are supervising a new PhD studentship on using onebillion's maths apps to support the learning of early years pupils with English as an Additional Language. This collaborative PhD studentship is funded by the ESRC. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/mgsdtp/collaborativeandjoint/n_pitchford_collaborative_advert_-_nottingham.pdf
Research school partnerships
Nicola works in partnership with Marc Faulder, an early years specialist at Burton Joyce Primary School and Apple Distinguished Educator. https://enabling-environments.co.uk/ http://www.burtonjoyce.notts.sch.uk/
This bilateral partnership operates to support Nicola's research and Marc's teaching practice. They co-produce research and teacher training materials. This provides a psychological evidence-base for best teaching practice.
Nicola and Marc are partnering on the EEF trial to implement onebillion's maths apps into primary schools.