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Dr Kate Cowan
UCL Knowledge Lab
23-29 Emerald Street
Dr Kate Cowan profile picture
  • Honorary Senior Research Fellow
  • IOE - Culture, Communication & Media
  • UCL Institute of Education

Kate is an early years specialist researching children’s play and communication from a multimodal perspective. Based at UCL Knowledge Lab, her research covers areas including literacy, creativity and digital technologies. Kate’s work also involves developing multimodal methodologies, video-based methods and participatory approaches with children. 

Before joining the 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 is currently working on 'A National Observatory of Children's Play Experiences During Covid-19’ (funded by the ESRC).

Her previous research includes 'Playing the Archive: Memory, Community and Mixed Reality Play’ (funded by the EPSRC), 'Valuing Young Children’s Signs of Learning: Observation and Digital Documentation of Play in Early Years Classrooms’ (funded by the Froebel Trust), 'Encounters on the Shop Floor: Embodiment and the Knowledge of the Maker' (V&A Research Institute - funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), and a doctorate linked to the MODE Project (funded by the ESRC).


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 coordinates the London ReFocus Reggio Emilia network.

Teaching Summary

Kate currently guest lectures on MA modules including 'Multimodal Communication' and 'Understanding Research’, and on the Primary PGCE (English specialism). Kate previously led modules on the MA in Early Years Education (Online) and taught on 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, video-based methods and participatory research with children.

Academic Background
2018   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2010   Master of Education University of Cambridge
2008   Postgraduate Certificate in Education University of Cambridge
2007   Master of Philosophy University of Cambridge
2006   MA Cantab University of Cambridge
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