Rebecca Bull

Professor, Dr

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Personal profile


My research is inter-disciplinary in nature, drawing on methodology, theory, and practice in the fields of education, cognitive science, and psychology. In the area of early childhood development, I am interested how young children think about number and quantity, and how these basic skills (often referred to as number sense) support growth in mathematical skills. As part of this work I also examine how the development of cognitive skills, such as working memory or the ability to self-regulate behaviour, contribute to children’s typical (and atypical) development. I have also conducted research involving children and adults with hearing loss, and am keen to pursue studies examining how synchronous multi-sensory information (or a lack of) impacts on how we represent and activate numerical information.

My research also looks at the important environments in which children are learning and developing – the home environment and the classroom. This has included a focus on the informal numeracy interactions that may happen between children and parents, as well as the pedagogical approaches to numeracy that educators use in day care environments, and the quality of educator-child interactions.

Research findings from these studies have been used to examine early risk indicators of later mathematical difficulties, and have informed the development and implementation of classroom-based intervention.

Finally, and getting back to my initial roots as a cognitive psychologist, I am involved in a number of studies examining the conditions under which individuals activate semantic representations of magnitude. For example, when asked if two presented numbers are the same colour, do we still activate semantic information about those numbers, such as their magnitude or their position on a mental number line, even when we are not required to do so. 


EDUC8250 Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Science and Technology

EDST8000/EDUC7000 Educational Research

EDST1010 Learning and Development: An Introduction for Educators

Research student supervision

I would be happy to hear from students who are interested in undertaking research in any of the following areas:

1. Numerical cognition (experimental studies from a psychological/cognitive science perspective investigating how we represent and activate numerical information).

2. Numeracy in the preschool / early primary classroom (e.g., pedagogical approaches, instructional quality, intervention for low achievers). 

3. Assessment and development of working memory and executive functioning/self regulation in young children.

4. Impact of hearing loss on child development and learning

5. Informal opportunities for learning numeracy and mathematics in the home and classroom environment.

6. Assessment and intervention for children with mathematical learning difficulties.

7. Impact of teacher-child interaction quality (in preschool) on children's longer term learning and development.

External positions

Principal Research Scientist, National Institute of Education

1 Dec 20114 Nov 2018

Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Reader, University of Aberdeen


Teaching Fellow, University of St Andrews



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