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Ashton Brown


Andrew & Virginia Rudd Research Associate in Quantitative Methods & Education Practice

E-mail Address


+ 44 (0)1223


  • PhD in Education, University of Cambridge, 2015-2019
  • MPhil in Psychology and Education, University of Cambridge, 2014-2015
  • MA in Economics, University of Ottawa, Canada, 2012-2013
  • BA in Economics, Princeton University, USA, 2007-2011

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies
  • British Educational Research Association (BERA)

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Ashton’s research focuses on the central aim of identifying the pathways that lead to positive developmental outcomes in both education and mental health. Originally trained in economics, Ashton now pursues an interdisciplinary approach that uses quantitative methods to answer questions using secondary data. She is passionate about teaching robust quantitative methods to the next generation of researchers.

From 2018-2020, Ashton served as a research associated under a research group led by Faculty of Education Lecturer, Sonia Ilie, her research focused on programs designed to widen participation in higher education. In this role, Ashton was responsible for conducting literature reviews, and performing the quantitative analysis for several pre-existing projects. In her second year in this position, Ashton assisted with the design and administration of an impact evaluation of several widening participation programmes.

Now, as part of the research group under Professor Gordon Harold, Ashton’s research spans a variety of topics surrounding the role that childhood experiences and family processes play in perpetuating inequality. This work largely uses existing cohort studies to examine the factors that help improve developmental outcomes of children and adolescence. This research includes projects such as a cost-benefit analysis of how parenting interventions in the UK can provide long-term savings based on improved adolescent and youth mental health and educational outcomes.

Ashton teaches on several courses at the Faculty of Education as well as serves as an affiliated lecturer at SSRMP. Most recently, her main teaching contributions have been to the Psychology and Education (P&E) master's degree.

Academic Area/Links

  • Psychology and Education

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Research Topics

  • Identifying and measuring the interplay between cognitive skills; social and behavioural skills and parental inputs across childhood.
  • Measuring how interparental conflict impacts child development and well-being
  • Long-term cost-benefit analysis of interventions to improve mental health and educational outcomes
  • Quantitative analysis of large-scale survey data alongside bespoke randomised controlled trials

Prospective PhD Applications

Ashton is not currently accepting applications from PhD students.

Current Research Project(s)

  • Quantitative Methods and Education Practice – Andrew and Virginia Rudd Research and Professional Practice Programme

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  • Postgraduate
  • MPhil and MEd lecturing (P&E): Quantitative data analysis module, consisting of 20 hours of lectures and interactive sessions to introduce students to statistical methods and statistical software.
  • MPhil and MEd supervision (P&E)
  • MPhil and MEd project supervision (P&E)
  • University-wide lecturing as an Affiliated Lecturer for Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMP): previous and current courses include Evaluation Methods, Structural Equation Modelling and Confirmatory Factor Analysis.
  • Undergraduate
  • Supervision (Education Tripos) Designing Educational Research Paper
  • Supervision (Education Tripos) Undergraduate Dissertation

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Principal and Recent Publications

llie, S., Vermunt, J. D., & Brown, A. (2020). The role of reasoning ability in university students’ cognitive and metacognitive skill development. Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 99.

Brown, A. (working paper). Modelling the Impact of Parent-Child Interactions on the Skill Development of Primary School Children: Evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study.

Brown, A., & Ilie, S. (working paper). Applying behavioural nudging using text messaging in an existing widening participation framework: Evidence from three randomised control trials in England.

Brown, A. (in preparation). Parental investment in child development, separating the role of financial inputs from parental behaviours: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth.