Conny Gollek

Accepting PhD Students


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

I am a developmental psychologist and interested in how children learn throughout their preschool years and beyond. I am investigating the influence of metacognition and socio-economic status on language development in general and word learning in specific. I am interested how children acquire new words they have never heard before and which strategies they use to determine meaning. Children have to be able to understand a basic level of perspective-taking to reason from someone else’s point of view. They also need to be able to understand perspective to use multiple labels (e.g., dog-animal) interchangeably in one conversation. Throughout my PhD research I was able to connect this line of research to novel words and show that children can only accept a new label for a familiar object once they understand perspective. Throughout my Postdoc I followed a cohort of children longitudinally from the start of nursery to the transition to primary school, observing their language development and metacognitive skills under the influence of socio-economic status.

As a former early years practitioner, I am very interested in communicating research findings to practitioners and producing research with impact. Together with colleagues at the University of Dundee and many practitioners in the sector, I developed an observational language assessment for preschool, which utilizes practitioner’s knowledge about children to identify language delay and monitor progress. I closely worked with practitioners on the development of the tool in order to produce an assessment which they feel comfortable using on a day-to-day basis in their setting, formalising their very specific knowledge abut the individual child. 

Current research activities

I continue my work with a local local council in Scotland and colleagues at the University of Dundee, as memenber of a steering group further developing e-LIPS. The assessment offers an alternative to formal testing of young children while enabling practitioners to measure progress and evaluate effectiveness of interventions. We are currently workig on testing the eletronic version of e-LIPS in practice. 

I am also investigating metacognitive development strategies for the early years. Metacognition is a crucial cognitive and social skill developing thought preschool age. Effects of socio-economic status have been studied, as well as a relationship between early metacognitive skills and later educational attainment. Although early identification of metacognitive delays would be highly beneficial and intervention studies aiming at raising metacognitive skills in preschool have delivered promising results, this topic has not been translated well into practice yet. 

I am interested in how early metacognition develops especially in children growing up in disadvantaged circustances and how this interacts with language development. 

Desired research direction

My current focus is on collaborative research with EY practitioners and children. I am interested in how we can develop better tools to support children's voice and how we can support all children in the early years to take part in collaborative research projects. 

I am continuing my research into theories of word learning and metacognition, especially investigating the differences in development between children from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Target collaborative organisations

  • National early learning and childcare providers
  • International childcare providers
  • Education and Learning institutions

Current teaching activities and interests

My teaching interest focuses on research methods, language development and cognition in childhood. I am also interested in children's engagement with science and mathematics.

I am module coordinator for:

Level 11: Early Years Pedagogy; Early Language and Cognition

Level 10: Honours Dissertation

Level 9: Practitioner Research: Early Years; Graduate Apprenticeship Practitioner Research and Enquiry

Level 8: Science, Numeracy and Mathematics in Early Years; GA Leading Learning in Science & Mathematics


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

External examiner, Teesside University

1 Dec 202131 Dec 2026


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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