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Pablo Torres


British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

E-mail Address


  • PhD, Psychology and Education, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
  • BSc in Psychology, School of Psychology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • European Association of Research on Learning and Instruction, EARLI (Metacognition SIG /  Social Interaction in Learning and Instruction SIG)

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Pablo Torres is an educational and developmental psychologist specialising in school years. His research has focused on the relationship between social interactions (pedagogy, collaboration, play), educational technology, and human development as well as motivation for learning. He has a particular interest in the development of self-regulation, social skills, and motivational mind-sets.

Pablo is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow working on the project titled ‘Does the development of self-regulation require culturally effective teaching? An international and experimental study’ with the support of Prof. Sara Baker. He is also a Co-convenor, with Prof. Rupert Wegerif, of The University of Cambridge DEFI Network, a network focusing on the study and theorization of Educational Technology for Learning.

Before becoming a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Pablo held an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2019-2021), where he worked as Principal Investigator in ‘The future of teacher talk: culturally sensitive, impactful & IT smart’ project, together with Prof. Sara Hennessy and Prof. Neil Mercer at Cambridge. He worked as a Research Associate at the UCL Knowledge Lab in the Playing-out with the Internet of Things project (2018-2019), where he studied the link between new types of play technologies (e.g., smart toys and spaces) and child development, with Dr. Mutlu Cukurova. At the PEDAL Centre, Pablo collaborated in the Children's Relationships with Peers through Play project (2016-2017) with Dr. Jenny Gibson and Dr. Elian Fink. There he developed and applied a new comprehensive observational measure of social play looking at how children pretend, negotiate, engage pro-social behaviours, and express positive emotions during social play. Additionally, he studied children’s collaboration, co-regulation, social-playfulness, metacognition, creativity and engagement in socially playful learning as a researcher within the PLaNS project (2014-2015), at Cambridge, with Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Marisol Basilio, a project that would then lead to the creation of the PEDAL Centre. As part of his PhD – supervised by Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Ros McLellan –, Pablo studied the relationship between culture, teacher-student interaction, and children's learning mind-sets as well as self-regulation development (see a portion of the work presented here).

Pablo teaches and supervises both undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Academic Area/Links

  • PEDAL Centre
  • Digital Education Futures Initiative (DEFI) Cambridge
  • Psychology, Education and Learning Studies (PELS) research group
  • Cambridge Education Dialogue Research (CEDiR) research group

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Research Topics

  • Teaching strategies and their role for the development of self-regulation and motivation mindsets for learning
  • Play and children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development
  • Links between the culture of schooling and human cognition
  • Collaboration, learning and development
  • Technology use and human development 

Current Research Project

  • Does the development of self-regulation require culturally effective teaching? An international and experimental study: Through a large-scale international quantitative study and a quasi-experiment, this project will test the cost/benefit of appropriating foreign versus perfecting local teaching strategies for self-regulation development. It will thereby determine the extent to which self-regulation requires culturally-specific teaching. – As Principal Investigator; This is a 3-year long British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship project. PI: Pablo Torres; with Prof. Sara Baker.

Recent Research Projects

  • The future of teacher talk: culturally sensitive, impactful & IT smart : A project of dissemination and extension of PhD work (see last listed project) focus on generating networks, publishing and giving talks about the importance of teacher talk for child self-regulation. It also includes the exploration of the use of Natural Language Processing techniques to automate the identification of features of teacher talk that could be conducive of higher self-regulation strategies in children. This was an ESRC funded fellowship project. PI: Pablo Torres; with Prof. Neil Mercer and Prof. Sara Hennessy.  
  • Playing-Out with the Internet of things: A study looking into the way in which screen free interactive physical-digital play technology can promote outdoor social play as well as social development in children. This was a two year EPSRC funded project, working in collaboration with UCL Knowledge Lab, Canterbury Christchurch University and Northumbria University. 
  • Children’s relationships with peers through play (CHIRPP): A longitudinal study of the antecedents and consequences of play in first years of schooling. The project specifically looks at links between social pretend play and social competence in young children. It applies observational methods to examine play interactions and report measures of playfulness and social competence, as well as direct measures of children emotion understanding, theory-of-mind understanding and language development. This was a three-year project sponsored by the LEGO Foundation. 
  • Play, Learning and Narrative Skills (PLaNS): 'The role of constructional and socio-dramatic play in the development of metacognition and narrative skills in primary-aged children'. The project will be examining the potential contribution of playful approaches to supporting 5-10 year old children's fictional and non-fictional narrative skills, and the mediating role of metacognitive abilities in this domain. This was a two-year project sponsored by the LEGO Foundation. 
  • The culturally adaptive functionality of self-regulation: Explorations of children's behavioural strategies and motivational attitudes: A PhD study looking at the relationship between culture and self-regulation, as mediated through teacher-student interaction in Chile and England. This project analyzed how what makes and gives origin to children’s self-regulation can differ according to both macro (national) and micro (classroom) cultures of education. It provides very practical outputs for teachers regarding how to communicate at a cognitive and motivational levels with their students to develop self-regulation. This was a four-year project sponsored by an ANID (ex-CONICYT) scholarship and research funding from the University of Cambridge. See part of the work presented here.

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Pablo is open to invitations to work as a PhD co-supervisor and advisor when there is already another main PhD supervisor in place.

Examples of previous research projects supervised:

  • Conflict and conflict resolution in children playing with digital devices and IoT outdoors (Maria Clara Fercovic De la Presa) .
  • Creation and validation of an automatized quantitative measure of adolescent students’ socio-emotional skills through the analysis of online writing (Zhilin Wang).

  • The role of social regulation of emotions in collaborative play across 5 to 10 year olds (Emily Ranken).
  • Discovering the power of students’ sense of transformative agency for school engagement and achievement (Ben Spurgeon).
  • Relationships between teachers’ justifications of taught ideas (epistemic talk) and students’ autonomy for learning across England, Chile and Malaysia (Yen Ping Chan).

Pablo lectures in the ‘Play Creativities and Imagination’ course at the Faculty of Education

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Principal and Recent Publications

Under revision following peer review:

  • Torres, P. E., McLellan, R., & Whitebread, D. Encouraging and discouraging students’ sense of competence through teacher feedback: Relationships with children’s persistence and help-seeking across cultures.
  • Wang, Z. & Torres P. E. Empathy and social skills underlying people's helpfulness in online forums.

In preparation:

  • Ranken, E. & Torres, P. E. Social emotion regulation strategies for collaboration in a play situation across age.