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PEDAL: Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development & Learning

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The Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development & Learning (PEDAL) is a new research centre within the Faculty of Education and launched on Thursday 22 October 2015 with a Seminar live streamed from St Catharine's College, Cambridge.

The guiding focus of the centre’s work is to develop substantial and compelling research concerned with the role of play and playfulness in young children’s learning and development, and the potential of play-based approaches within educational contexts. The kinds of skills and accomplishments that are widely recognised as being vital components of 21st century educational provision, including critical thinking, problem-solving, interpersonal abilities, emotional resilience and creativity, have all been linked theoretically and empirically to playfulness and playful learning.

Nevertheless, the play opportunities for children living in modern urban environments (now the majority of children world-wide) are increasingly curtailed, both within their homes and communities and within their schooling. At the same time, play remains a relatively under-researched area within developmental science, with many fundamental questions still unanswered.

It is the aim of the PEDAL research centre to contribute to the process of addressing these questions, and to work with educators and policy makers to inform practice and policy in relation to this evidence.


PEDAL Launch - Thursday 22 October 2015

View the edited livestream from the launch.


Building children's writing skills through learning through play

Below is a video shown at the launch, which is about the Play, Learning and Narrative Skills (PLaNS) project conducted at the Faculty of Education by Dr David Whitebread (Principal Investigator) and Dr Marisol Basilio (Research Associate). In the PLaNS project, we developed and evaluated an innovative approach to teaching narrative and writing skills in primary education through guided play. This approach gives children control over their learning process in a fun, hands-on and engaging way, while providing the necessary instructional support through the design of activities and explicit learning objectives. The project was funded by the LEGO foundation.