Ellen is an ESRC-funded PhD student in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University. For her doctoral project, Ellen has designed a vocabulary development programme, which explores whether explicit teaching of word parts, word history and vocabulary decoding skill could influence pupils’ ability to comprehend complex academic vocabulary at the transition from primary to secondary school. Her research also investigates the social factors which may influence pupil vocabulary development. Overall, her work aims to understand strategies that could be used to address the ‘word gap’—where children have a vocabulary below age-related expectations—and inform English language pedagogical practice in the future.
Alongside her research, Ellen works as tutor on Cardiff University’s English language degree programme and as a writing support tutor for the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. Ellen is committed to supporting young people from all backgrounds access new educational experiences and build confidence in their skillsets. She works as a tutor and mentor for four educational charities: the English Speaking Union, the Brilliant Club, Cardiff University’s ‘Step Up to University’, and Wales’ Seren Award. She supports these charities by delivering subject specific and skills-based masterclasses, offering one-to-one academic and career development support, and facilitating literacy and oracy workshops that aim to help young people develop the communication skills they need to thrive.
Ellen has also worked as an Education Policy Research Intern for the Welsh Government. She wrote two evidence-based reviews that informed the National Strategy for Education Research and Enquiry in Wales.