PhD Studentship: Preschool Children’s Understanding of Number: Connecting Number Symbols and Quantity Information

Loughborough University

Start date of studentship: 1st October 2018


Primary supervisor: Dr Sophie Batchelor               

Secondary supervisor: Dr Camilla Gilmore

An exciting and unique opportunity has arisen to join world-leading experts in mathematical cognition at Loughborough University’s Mathematics Education Centre. Applications are invited for a PhD studentship funded by the School of Science at Loughborough University to start in October 2018. The project will investigate preschool children’s understanding of number and will be based in the Mathematics Education Centre, supervised by Dr Sophie Batchelor and Dr Camilla Gilmore.

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more:

Full Project Detail:

For many children, the development of symbolic number knowledge (i.e. knowledge of number words and Arabic numerals) can be a long and difficult process. Learning to recite the number sequence by rote may happen quite early, but it can take years to grasp the meanings of the words in the count list. Importantly, children need to make connections between number symbols (e.g. “three” and “3”) and underlying quantity information (e.g. •••).

Researchers in numerical cognition have shown that the fluency with which children can map between number symbols and quantities is positively associated with their mathematical skills. But it is not yet clear whether this association is a causal one. If we train children to get better at making the connections between number words, digits and quantities, does their mapping ability improve? And does this lead to improvements in arithmetic skills? The goal of this project is to design and develop an experimental intervention to test the causal relations between mapping ability and mathematical skills in preschool aged children.

The project would be well-suited to a candidate with interest and experience in cognitive and developmental psychology.

Find out more:

General information about the Mathematics Education Centre can be found at:

For informal enquiries about the project, please contact Dr Sophie Batchelor at

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Psychology. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in cognitive psychology or developmental psychology would be an advantage.

Funding information:

The 3-year studentship provides a tax-free stipend of £14,553 (2017 rate) per annum (in line with the standard research council rates) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. International (non-EU) students may apply however the total value of the studentship will be used towards the cost of the International tuition fee in the first instance.

Contact details:

Name: Dr Sophie Batchelor

Email address:

Telephone number: +44(0)1509 228348

How to apply:

All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select ‘Mathematics’.

Please quote reference number: SB/MEC/2018

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Midlands of England