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Dr Katharine Cowan
UCL Knowledge Lab
23-29 Emerald Street
  • Research Associate -Playing the Archive
  • IOE - Culture, Communication & Media
  • UCL Institute of Education

Kate is an early years specialist interested in young children’s multimodal communication. Based at UCL Knowledge Lab, her research covers areas including play, creativity, literacies and digital technologies. Kate’s work also involves developing multimodal methodologies and considers the ethics of video-based research with young children. 

Before joining UCL IOE, Kate worked as a nursery teacher and she remains committed to connecting research and practice. In addition to academic publication in books and papers, Kate has written for early years teachers, students and the general public.

Research Summary

Kate’s current research includes 'Playing the Archive: Memory, Community and Mixed Reality Play'. This interdisciplinary project explores archives, spaces and technologies of play. Kate works on the ethnography strand of the project, observing children’s playground play and feeding these insights into the design of experimental mixed-reality playspaces. 

Kate’s previous research includes 'Encounters on the Shop Floor: Embodiment and the Knowledge of the Maker' (V&A Research Institute), 'Recognising Young Children’s Signs of Learning: Observation and Digital Documentation of Play in Early Years Classrooms' (UCL Institute of Education), and a doctorate linked to the MODE Project (UCL Knowledge Lab).

Kate is also interested in the connections between the Reggio Emilia approach and multimodal perspectives on learning. She is a trustee for the Sightlines Initiative charitable trust, an organisation promoting reflective and creative practice in the UK influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, and acts on the steering group for London ReFocus Reggio Emilia network.

Kate is an Associate Editor for the journal 'Visual Communication' published by SAGE.

Teaching Summary

Kate currently guest lectures on MA modules including 'Multimodal Communication' and 'Understanding Research'. Kate previously taught and supervised on the MA in Early Years Education and was co-leader of modules on the MA in Early Years Education (Online). She has contributed to the BEd and Foundation Degree in the areas of teacher-research, multimodality and digital technologies in education. Kate has also delivered research methods training as short courses, day seminars and summer school sessions specialising in multimodal methodologies, transcription and video-based research.

Academic Background
2018 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Education University College London
2010 MEd Master of Education – Education University of Cambridge
2008 PGCE Postgraduate Certificate in Education – Early Childhood Studies University of Cambridge
2007 M.Phil Master of Philosophy – Children's Literature University of Cambridge
2006 MA Cantab MA Cantab – English University of Cambridge
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