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Dr Xiaofei Qi

Assistant Professor


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Assistant Professor in the School of EducationED234A 
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing  


Dr Xiaofei QI is an Assistant Professor at the School of Education, Durham University. Her current work focuses on early childhood education and development, digital learning and assessment in education and includes studies of longitudinal and experimental designs. She teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate modules related to education generally and Early Years Education and Child Development as well as assessment in education in particular. She contributes to a range of academic, professional programmes and serves as the deputy director of Postgraduate Research (PGR) at the School of Education. She also supervises higher degree students. 

Xiaofei joined the School of Education in 2019 from the University of Cambridge where she was a Research Associate at the Education Reform and Innovation team within Faculty of Education. Prior to that, she worked at the Cambridge Psychometrics Centre heading up the centre’s project to develop a computerised adaptive entrance test for Eton College. Xiaofei obtained a PhD in Psychology from Birkbeck, University of London in 2015, with a thesis entitled "Does preschool experience matter?" Since then, Dr Qi's work has focussed on exploring the effects of preschool and home learning environment, particularly during the early years, on children's intellectual, emotional and behaviour development as well as well-being more generally.

In the latest round of EEF-DfE Stronger Practice Hubs collaboration initiatives, Dr Qi and colleagues from School of Education and Mathematics Department have been funded on two new evaluation trials-the Early Years Conversation Project (EYCP) Efficacy trial (as the principal investigator), and the Talk with Tales for Children (TWiTCH) pilot study (as the co-investigator), to explore the impacts of those two language and literacy development professional programmes (PD) in early years settings in England. Other ongoing research projects include an EEF-funded RCT trial (as the co-investigator) evaluating Maths Champions-a promising PD programme designed to develop maths teaching and children’s maths skills in nurseries (report to be publisehd in June/July 2023), and a longitudinal study exploring the digital features of home learning environment (HLE) and links to young children’s learning and development (social and emotional development in specific) in early years.

    Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions

    Xiaofei would welcome postgraduate research proposals broadly in areas of assessment and evaluation in education, early childhood education and child development, parenting and family studies, and digital technologies for EFL (English as a Foreign language) acquisition.

    2023/2024 PhD entry: no places are avaliable. 

    For 2024/25 academic year postgraduate research enquiry, Xiaofei would welcome applicants (1-2 places avaliable) who are specifically interested in the following research areas: 'formative assessment and learning in early years' and 'digital parenting and home learning environment in early childhood'. 

    Teaching and supervisions

    Undergraduate modules: Learning and Development in Childhood; Assessing Education 

    Postgraduate modules: Measurement in Education Research; Psychological Perspectives on Learning

    Undergraduate and Postgraduate programme dissertation supervisions: Yes (Not avaliable for the 2023/24 academic year)

    Research interests

    • Early childhood education and care (ECEC)
    • Parenting
    • Child ability assessment: verbal and non-verbal
    • Digital Home Learning Environment (HLE)
    • Educational assessment
    • Entrance test development
    • Computational modelling in second language acquisition (SLA)

    Esteem Indicators

    • 2020: Editor of Review of Education (BERA):


    Conference Proceeding

    • Yang, Juan, Qi, Xiaofei, Yan, Weiwei & Kuang, Xiaofang (2018). Attention allocation and transferring pattern mining in Chinese students invoking English. XIXth International CALL Research Conference, Bruges, University of Antwerpen.

    Doctoral Thesis

    • Qi, Xiaofei (2015). Does preschool experience matter? the relevance of preschool education and home activities for children's cognitive and social development at school entry in rural China. PhD.

    Journal Article


    • Robinson-Smith,Lyn, Whiteside, Katie, Torgerson, Carole, Qi, Xiaofei, Fairhurst, Caroline, Elliott, Louise Hewitt, Catherine, Joshi, Kalpita, Menzies, Victoria, Torgerson, David & Ainsworth, Hannah (2020). Independent evaluation of Maths Champions in nursery settings to develop children’s early numeracy: A two-armed cluster randomised controlled trial Evaluation Protocol. Education Endowment Foundation.
    • Tracey,Louise, Torgerson,Carole, Welch,Charlie, Fairhurst, Caroline, Gridley, Nicole & Qi, Xiaofei (2019). Efficacy of the ParentChild+ programme: trial evaluation protocol. Education Endowment Foundation.
    • Brownhill,S, Qi, X, McLaughlin,C, Warwick, J & Yardeni, A (2018). Kindergartens in China: a scoping study. Working report on the China Peking Early years Project. University of Cambridge.
    • Qi,Xiaofei & Stillwell, David (2017). New Eton List Test Psychometric Analyses. Working report on the Eton Project. University of Cambridge.

    Supervision students