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Pablo Torres


ESRC 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 (Metacognition SIG / Argumentation, Dialogue and Reasoning SIG)
  • American Educational Research Association

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Pablo Torres is an educational and developmental psychologist specialised in school years. His research has focused on the relationship between social interactions (pedagogy, collaboration, play) 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. He is currently an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow working as Principal Investigator in ‘The future of teacher talk: culturally sensitive, impactful & IT smart’ project.

Before becoming an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Cambridge he was a Research Associate at the UCL Knowledge Lab where he studied the link between new types of play technologies (e.g., smart toys and spaces) and child development in the Playing-out with the Internet of Things project (2018-2019). Pablo has also worked as a researcher for the PEDAL Centre, University of Cambridge, in the Children's Relationships with Peers through Play project (2016-2017). 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. He has also 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), Faculty of Education University of Cambridge. As part of his PhD, Pablo studied the relationship between culture, teacher-student interaction, and children's learning mind-sets as well as self-regulation development.

Pablo also teaches and supervises University students. He was a Temporary Lecturer at Cambridge from 2016 to 2019, designing and teaching the ‘Culture, motivation and learning’ module within the Psychology and Education paper (course) for final year undergraduates. He has also lectured about the nature of intelligence, and on research methods for Social Psychology and Analysis of Talk for Masters and PhD students at Cambridge. He is a research supervisor of final year undergraduate projects in Educational Psychology at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Academic Area/Links

  • Cambridge Education Dialogue Research (CEDiR) research group
  • Psychology, Education and Learning Studies (PELS) research group

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Research Topics

  • Culture(context)-specific relationships between social interactions (pedagogy, collaboration, social play) and child development (cognitive, social, and emotional) - across group, institutional or national cultures.
  • The role of adult (teachers) talk and feedback in the promotion of children’s productive motivational mindsets (or beliefs) for learning and self-improvement (e.g., self-regulation).
  • Automation of the identification of features of adult talk that are productive for human development.

Current and Recent Research Project(s)

  • 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 is an ESRC funded fellowship project. PI: Pablo Torres; Co-Is Prof. Neil Mercer and Dr. 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 is 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 is 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 is a two-year project sponsored by the LEGO Foundation.
  • Culture of schooling, teacher-student communication, and children self-regulation: 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 is a four-year project sponsored by a CONICYT scholarship and research funding from the University of Cambridge. See part of the work presented here:; and the full thesis in here:

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  • Undergraduate
    • Research and Investigation (final year undergraduate thesis), Supervisor. A sample of current and past projects:
      • 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 Tanken).
      • 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).

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Principal and Recent Publications

Gibson, J., Fink, E., Torres, P.E., et al. (in press). Making sense of social pretense: The effect of the dyad, sex and language ability in a large observational study of children’s behaviors in a social pretend play context.. Social Development DOI: 10.1111/sode.12420

Dylan, T.,...Torres P.E. et al. (in press). Designing IoT Resources to Support Outdoor Play for Children. Proceedings of CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2020

Wood, G., … Torres, P.E., et al. (2019) Designing for Digital Playing Out. Proceedings of CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2019

Torres P. E., Whitebread, D., McLellan, R. (2018). The role of teacher regulatory talk in students' self-regulation development across cultures. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 162, 89-114.

Torres, P. & Torres. R. (2017). Hacia un giro en las reformas educativas para una calidad equitativa. [Towards a change in educational policies for equitable quality in education.] In G. Cottin et al. Ideas desde el Reino Unido: Críticas y propuestas para el desarrollo de Chile pp. 226-242. London: Red Chilena de Estudiantes en el Reino Unido.

García, M., Torres, P.E., Leyton, C. (2013). Cognitive representations involved in the assessment of teachers’ portfolios. Pensamiento Educativo, 50 (1), 21-39.

Sun, Y., Calderón, P., Valerio, N., & Torres, P. (2011). [Implementation of Teaching Assessment] La Implementación de la Evaluación Docente. In J. Manzi, R, González, & Y. Sun (Eds.) La Evaluación Docente en Chile, p. 63-90. Santiago: Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, UC.

In preparation:
Torres, P.E. , Ulrich, P., Cukurova, M., Carr, A., … Luckin, R. As systematic review on non-virtual digital play and child development.

Torres, P.E., McLellan, R., & Whitebread, D. Teacher socio-motivational talk and its culture-specific predictive effects on children’s effort and helps-seeking.

Jadue, D., Torres, P.E., Ponce, T., & Whitebread, D. Changes in teacher-student interactions, children’s involvement, and social agency for learning in the transition between pre-school and primary school.