Staff profile

Dr Kay Owen

Lecturer in Childhood Studies


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


Institute of Education




Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I trained as an Early Years teacher before spending many years teaching in inner-city Comprehensive schools. My MEd considered ways of working with young people who demonstrated particularly challenging behaviours and concentrated primarily on proactive strategies. Whilst my own children were young, I completed a BSc in Psychology and developed a particular interest in early cognitive development. This ultimately led to a PhD on the development of automaticity and semantic memory components. My research demonstrated that sex and socio-economic status both impact (amongst other things) the development of categorisation in early childhood.

I worked as an Associate Lecturer in the Psychology Department at the University of Derby before moving across to the College of Education where I now teach full-time. The majority of my teaching time is devoted to the Early Childhood Studies BA (Hons) but I also teach Foundation students in both Education and Psychology, and teach on the MA Childhood degree. I am qualified to supervise Doctoral candidates.

Teaching responsibilities



Research interests

I am interested in the development of Automaticity and Memory structures during the pre-school period and the impact of factors such as sex and socio-economic status. I am also involved in researching the role of play in cognitive development.

Membership of professional bodies

I am a British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


PhD "Automaticity and the development of categorisation in preschool children: Understanding the importance of play". (University of Derby)

PG Cert HE (University of Derby)

BSc (First Class Hons). Psychology. (Open University)

MEd Action Enquiry "Main stream strategies for working with young people who demonstrate the most challenging behaviours" (University of Nottingham)

BEd (Hons) Early Years Education / Religious and Moral Philosophy. (University of Nottingham)

Recent conferences

I recently presented my empirical research on Categorisation at the British Psychological Society (Developmental Section) Annual Conference.

In the media

Recent publications

Owen, K., & Barnes, C. (2019). The development of categorisation in early childhood: A review. Early Child Development and Care. DOI 10.1080/03004430.2019.1608193.