Julie Kirkby

Dr Julie Kirkby

  • Principal Academic In Psychology
  • Poole House P104d, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB
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I came to Bournemouth University in November 2010 as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology. My research interests fall within the field of cognitive psychology, in particular eye movements, reading and visual cognition. I use eye movement recording techniques to investigate a variety of aspects of visual and linguistic processing. Eye movements are the primary behavioural means by which visual information is taken in; therefore, these recordings provide an excellent on-line behavioural measure of the underlying cognitive and visual processing that occurs. The primary goal of my research is to increase our understanding of the causes and outcomes of developmental dyslexia. Reading skills remain critical in today’s literate and technological society. There are approximately 1.2 million dyslexic children in the UK, which means that at least three children in every classroom are struggling to process language. To date my work has investigated the key impairments that impact the educational outcomes of this population...



A recent programme of research tests the possibility of using Assistive Technology in educational settings for children with reading difficulties. In collaboration with Dr Tim Slattery we are currently working with Microsoft’s Advanced Reading Technologies team and their Learning Tools team, to explore the benefit of using assistive technology for those struggling to read. Poor readers struggle to visually encoding letters and words; the suggestion is that this effect might be alleviated by increasing the space between letters in words and words in sentences, thereby increasing reading efficiency and decreasing overall reading times. Our preliminary research in local schools has yielded compelling findings demonstrating that increased inter-letter and intra-word spacing improves accessibility of words for poorer readers, by significantly reducing reading times. The advantage of Microsoft’s Learning Tools is that it can be implemented by the child, parent or teacher on an individual bases and therefore, it has implications that can be applied to reading interventions to increase reading efficiency and eBooks generally, which would improve the accessibility of text for young dyslexic/ poor readers. Collaboration with Microsoft puts us on the cutting edge of assistive educational technology.

In current research we are investigating the influence of working memory capacity on children’s eye movements during encoding and reproducing written information presented on a classroom whiteboard. The British Dyslexia Association states that tasks like copying present serious difficulties to learners with dyslexia. We know little about language processing during copying, let alone in dyslexic readers who may employ less efficient strategies. In this programme of research we examine task performance and strategies in ecologically valid classroom tasks using eye-tracking to investigate moment-to-moment cognitive processing during copying.

Recently, we have compared eye movements of skilled to dyslexic readers in order to better understand the nature of dyslexia. We found that eye movement patterns provide in-depth evidence of a specific reading deficit for children with dyslexia compared to children who read at the same level (i.e. were 2-3 years younger than the dyslexic readers). It appears that although the fixation durations were similar between these groups, dyslexic readers require additional fixations on a word, which resulted in increased reading times. We suggest that these additional fixations are a function of difficulties storing high-quality mental representations, which then prevents quick access from orthographic to phonological representations and as such dyslexic readers, use a serial sublexical method of reading, relying on effortful decoding of graphemes to phonemes which requires accurate mapping of letter position.


Journal Articles



  • Bradley, D., McDougall, S. and Kirkby, J., 2016. Does brand information change users’ initial and later evaluations of website appeal? In: Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (Europe Chapter) Conference 24-26 October 2016 Prague.
  • Godwin, H.J., Liversedge, S.P., Kirkby, J.A., Boardman, M., Cornes, K. and Donnelly, N., 2015. The influence of experience upon information-sampling and decision-making behaviour during risk assessment in military personnel. Visual Cognition Routledge.

Internet Publications


PhD Students

  • Dr Abby Laishley, 2017. Using eye tracking to examine a single word copying paradigm
  • Dr Shujie Deng, 2017. Multimodel interactions using eye tracking and gesture control
  • Dr Daniel Bradley, 2018. User judgement of the online world: factors influencing website appeal and user decision-making
  • Dr Martin Vasilev, 2018. The determinants of auditory distraction during reading: An eye-movement investigation
  • Dr Adam Parker, 2019. The Return-sweep in Reading
  • Dr Rhiannon Barrington, 2019. Understanding dyslexia through measuring eye movements during reading
  • Victoria Adedeji. Eye movements and children's reading

Public Engagement & Outreach Activities

  • Bournemouth University Active Vision Workshop (June 2016) (19 Jul 2016-20 Jul 2016)
  • Typography and Eyemovements (14 Jun 2016)


  • PhD in Binocular coordination and dyslexia (2009)


  • Experimental Psychology Society, Member,

Social Media Links

External Media and Press