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Maria Tsapali

Position/Status

Affiliated Lecturer in Education and Psychology

E-mail Address

mt637@cam.ac.uk

Qualifications

  • PhD in Psychology and Education, University of Cambridge 
  • MPhil in Educational Research, University of Cambridge
  • MA in Science Education, University of Athens
  • BA (Hons) in Pedagogy of Primary Education, University of Athens
  • MBPsS - Graduate member of the British Psychological Society 

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • Association for Psychological Science
  • Psychonomic Society
  • European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI)
  • British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • European Science Education Research Association (ESERA)

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Profile

Maria’s research interests include designing learning environments to promote conceptual and procedural understanding of science concepts, phenomena and skills and utilising cognitive science and neuroscience to improve educational practice, especially in the primary school years. She is the Deputy Director of INSTRUCT group, which is a multi-disciplinary research laboratory, incorporating cognitive developmental science with various educational disciplines, including science, mathematics, and literacy lead by Dr Michelle Ellefson. Maria is currently acting as a consultant for the World Bank and a Research Associate for the Ed Tech Hub.

Maria has completed her doctoral studies in Psychology and Education at the Faculty of Education University of Cambridge exploring the effects of different learning environments on primary school children's decision-making skills in socio-scientific issues. She has previously pursued an MPhil in Educational Research (Cantab) and an MA in Science Education (University of Athens) and is particularly interested in utilising cognitive psychology findings and methods to improve science education. She is a primary school teacher by training and her research has a strong focus on teaching practice with a keen interest in conducting classroom-based experiments. Maria is an open science advocate and strives to incorporate its principles and practices in her research. 

Maria is acting as a journal reviewer for Learning and Instruction, Cognitive ScienceChemistry Education Research and Practice and the Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching.  

Academic Area/Links

  • Psychology, Education and Learning Studies
  • Science, Technology and Mathematics Education

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Research Topics

  • Instructional design
  • Learner-led pedagogies
  • Learning sciences
  • Applications of cognitive science/neuroscience to improved educational practice
  • Scientific reasoning
  • Science education
  • Socio-scientific decision-making
  • Conceptual understanding of science concepts/phenomena
  • Classroom-based experiments
  • Executive functions

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Teaching

  • Postgraduate
    • MPhil route coordinator (Psychology and Education) 
    • MPhil/MEd (Psychology and Education): Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Ethics, BPS Quantitative data analysis practicals (2019-2020), Developmental Psychology (2019-2020), Supervisor of master theses 
    • PGCE (Primary): Understanding Learning (2020-2021)
    • MEd (Research Methods): Experimental Design (2019-2020)

  • Undergraduate
    • Member of the Tripos Leadership team representing the Education, Psychology and Learning track
    • Education, Psychology and Learning track coordinator
    • Coordinator of the Formal and Informal Contexts of Learning paper (2020-2021)
    • Coordinator of the Education, Neuroscience and Society paper (2019-2021)
    • Coordinator of the Learning and Human Development paper (2019-2020; 2021-2022)
    • Acting Director of Studies for Gonville and Caius College (Lent and Easter term 2019)
    • Lectures on conceptual change, socio-scientific decision-making, online learning, psychological research design, think-aloud methods and interviews, ethics and open science, cognitive bias and reasoning, knowledge, brain development, science of learning, learner-led learning, bullying, research design, statistical models
    • Play, Creativities and Imagination coursework supervisor

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Principal and Recent Publications

Papers

Patel, J., Aldercotte, A., Tsapali, M., Serpell, Z. N., Parr, T., & Ellefson, M. R. (2021). The Zoo Task: A novel metacognitive problem-solving task developed with a sample of African American children from schools in high poverty communities. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0001033
Media coverage: https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/facultyweb_content/news/zoo-task-metacognition

Tsapali, M., Major, L, Damani, K., Mitchell, J., & Taddese, A. (2021). Country-Level Research Review: EdTech in Ghana [Working Paper]. EdTech Hub. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4613150. Available at: https://docs.edtechhub.org/lib/YMAME8E6. Available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Major, L., Francis, G., & Tsapali, M. (2021). The effectiveness of technology-supported personalised learning in low- and middle-income countries: A meta-analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology, 00, 1-30. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.13116

Tsapali, M., Paes, T.M., & Ellefson, M.R. (2020). Researching cognitive development in primary schools: methods and practical considerations. Impact, Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, 8, 52-55.

Tsapali, M., & Ellefson, M.R. (2019). Utilising direct instruction to train primary school children in decision-making skills in the science classroom. Impact, Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, 5, 8-11.

Patel, J., Aldercotte, A., Tsapali, M., Serpell, Z., Parr, T. & Ellefson, M.R. (2019). The Zoo Task: Metacognition in Problem-Solving for Older Children. Pre-print available

Irvan, R. and Tsapali, M. (2020) The Role of Inhibitory Control in Achievement in Early Childhood Education, Cambridge Educational Research e-Journal, Volume 7, pp. 168-190. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.58319

Tsapali, M., & Paes, T. M. (2018). Social media for Academics and Early Career Researchers: An Interview with Dr Mark Carrigan. Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal, 5, 104-110.

Books and Book chapters

Tsapali, M. (2019). Effects of different learning environments on late primary school students’ Decision-making Competence in Socio-Scientific Issues (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.54222

Paes, T., Tsapali, M., & Ellefson, M.R. (2019). Studying cognitive development in school-aged children. In G. Westerman (Ed)., The encyclopaedia of child and adolescent development, 1-12. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Conference Proceedings

Tsapali M., Quinn C., Ellefson M.R., Schlottmann A., & Taber K. S. (2018). Progress in primary school children’s understandings of materials and their composition: A cross-age qualitative study. In Finlayson, O., McLoughlin, E., Erduran, S., & Childs, P. (Eds.), Electronic Proceedings of the ESERA 2017 Conference. Research, Practice and Collaboration in Science Education, Part 16 (co-ed. Kariotoglou, P., & Russel, T.), (pp. 2167-2180). Dublin, Ireland: Dublin City University. ISBN 978-1-873769-84-3

Conference Papers and Posters 

Jussli, H., Tsapali, M. (2021, September). The impact of adversities and resilience factors in adolescence on adolescent depressive symptoms. Poster presented at the 7th international symposium on Resilience Research, online.


Tsapali, M., Ellefson, M.R. (2020, November). Can instruction improve decision-making skills?. Poster presented at the 61st annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Virtual Psychonomics.

Tsapali, M., & Ellefson. (2021, September). The effects of a socio-scientific decision-making intervention on Greek students’ knowledge and attitudes towards vegetarianism. Paper presented at the 14th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association, Braga, Portugal.


Major, L., Francis, G. A., Tsapali, M. (2021, April). The role of digital technology in supporting personalised learning in low- and middle-income countries: A meta-analysis. Paper presented as a panel roundtable paper at the panel titled Equalising the playing field: Exploring the potential of digital technology to adapt learning in low-resource contexts at CIES conference (Comparative and International Education Society). Virtual location.

Tsapali, M., Ellefson, M.R. (2020, November). Can instruction improve decision-making skills?. Poster presented at the 61st annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Virtual Psychonomics.

Tsapali, M., Ellefson, M.R. (2020, September). Challenges in utilising think-aloud tasks with primary school children. Paper presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) SIG17 Conference on Methods in Learning Research, Vienna, Austria.

Tsapali, M., Ellefson, M.R. (2019, August). Effects of different learning environments on students’ decision-making competence. Paper presented at the 18th Biennial European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) Conference, Aachen, Germany.


Patel, J., Aldercotte, A., Tsapali, M., Serpell, Z., Parr, T. & Ellefson, M.R. (2018, November). The Zoo Task: Metacognition in Problem-Solving for Older Children. Paper presented at the 59th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, New Orleans, LA, USA


Tsapali, M., Ellefson, M.R. (2018, September). Designing valid, reliable and rich classroom-based experiments: empirical insight from a study exploring the effects of different learning environments on primary school students’ decision-making skills. Paper resented at the Annual Conference of the British Education Research Association, Newcastle, UK.

Tsapali, M., Ellefson, M.R. (2018, June). Constructivist against direct instruction approaches to teaching. Poster presented at the fifth biennial SIG22 Neuroscience and Education Conference, London, UK. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/3PQDJ


Tsapali, M., Quinn, C., Ellefson, M., Schlottmann, A. & Taber, K. S. (2017, August). Progress in primary school children's understandings of Materials and their composition: A Cross-Age Qualitative Survey. Paper presented at the 12th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association, Dublin.


Ellefson, M.R., Quinn, C., Tsapali, M., Schlottmann, A., & Taber, K. S. (2016, November). Property induction about mixing. Paper presented at the 57th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Boston, MA, USA.

Tsapali, M., Quinn, C., Ellefson, M., Schlottmann, A. & Taber, K. S. (2016, November). Progression in Primary School Children’s Reasoning about Everyday Chemistry. Poster presented at the 57th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Boston, MA, USA.


Tsapali, M., Quinn, C., Ellefson, M.R., Schlottmann, A., & Taber, K.S. (2016, September). Progress in primary school children’s understandings of dissolving: A cross-age qualitative survey. Paper presented at the 13th annual meeting of the European Conference on Research in Chemical Education, Barcelona, Spain.