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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr John Adams

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My core research interest is in cognitive development and its relation to educational attainment. My work has included investigations on the cognitive aspects of behaviour problems in primary school children, the role of working memory in the development of reading and arithmetic, and the phonological skills children have when beginning to read. The common goal of these studies is to understand the relationship (from an individual differences perspective) between underlying cognitive skills and attainment in children with and without learning difficulties. The aim of such work is to facilitate the early identification of children at risk of developing problems in literacy and numeracy. I am also interested in how knowledge is represented in the brain. Current studies are investigating visuospatial cognition in adult's and children's numerical processing, the development of analogical reasoning, a modelling approach to solving anagrams, and developmental dyscalculia.

Research Groups

Department of Psychology

Research Interests

  • Aspects of children’s cognitive development including: working memory; mathematical thinking; problem solving; literacy skills; identification of SEN and classroom behaviour


Edited book

  • Adams, J.W, Barmby, P & Mesoudi, A (2017). The Nature and Development of Mathematics. Cross Disciplinary Perspectives on Cognition, Learning and Culture. Routledge.

Chapter in book

  • Adams J.W. & Hitch, G.J. (1998). Children's mental arithmetic and working memory. In The development of mathematical skills. Donlan, C. Psychology Press.

Journal Article

  • Sangawi, H.S., Adams, J. & Reissland, N. (2018). Individual Differences in Executive Function: The Role of Parental Monitoring as a Moderator. Journal of Attention Disorders
  • Sangawi, H.S, Adams, J.W & Reissland, N.N (2018). The Effects of a Parent Intervention on Behavioural and Psychological Outcomes for Kurdish Parents and their Children: A Randomised Control Pilot Trial. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 24(5): 459-468.
  • Sangawi, Hoshiar, Adams, John & Reissland, Nadja (2018). The Impact of Parenting Styles on Children Developmental Outcome: The Role of Academic Self-Concept as a Mediator. International Journal of Psychology 53(5): 379-387.
  • Sangawi, Sadiq, Adams, John & Reissland, Nadja (2015). The Effects of Parenting Styles on Behavioral Problems in Primary School Children: A Cross-Cultural Review. Asian Social Science 11(22): 171-186.
  • Muncer, SJ, Knight, D & Adams, JW (2014). Bigram Frequency, Number of Syllables and Morphemes and Their Effects on Lexical Decision and Word Naming. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research
  • Muncer, S. J. Knight, D. C. & Adams, J. W. (2013). Lexical decision and the number of morphemes and affixes. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 54(5): 349-352.
  • Adams, J.W., Stone, M., Vincent.R.D. & Muncer S.J. (2011). The Role of Syllables in Anagram Solution: A Rasch Analysis. Journal of General Psychology 138(2): 94-109.
  • Holmes, J., Adams, J.W. & Hamilton, C. (2008). The relationship between visuo-spatial sketchpad capacity and children’s mathematical skills. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 20(2): 272-289.
  • Adams, J.W. (2007). Individual Differences in Mathematical Ability: Genetic, Cognitive and Behavioural Factors. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 7(2): 97-103.
  • Hulme, C., Goetz, K., Gooch, D., Adams, J. W. & Snowling, M. J. (2007). Paired-associate learning, phoneme awareness and learning to read. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 96(2): 150-166.
  • Holmes, J. & Adams, J.W. (2006). Working memory and children's mathematical skills: Implications for mathematical development and mathematics curricula. Educational Psychology 26(3): 339-366.
  • Conlin, J.A., Gathercole, S.E. & Adams, J.W. (2005). Children’s working memory: Investigating performance limitations in complex span tasks. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 90(4): 303-317.
  • Conlin, J, Gathercole, S & Adams, J.W (2005). Stimulus similarity decrements in children's working memory span. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology A 58(8): 1434-1446.
  • Feeney, A. , Adams, J.W., Webber, L. & Ewbank, M. (2004). Individual differences in graphical reasoning. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2980: 271-285.
  • Muncer, S. & Adams J.W. (2004). Single-digit multiplication: Is there an age-of- acquisition effect? Perceptual and Motor Skills 99: 369-370.
  • Hulme, C., Hatcher, P. J., Nation, K., Brown, A., Adams, J. W. & Stuart, G. (2002). Phoneme awareness is a better predictor of early reading skill than onset-rime awareness. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 82(1): 2-28.
  • Snowling, M.J., Adams, J.W., Bishop, D.V.M. & Stothard, S.E. (2001). Educational attainments of school leavers with a pre-school history of speech-language impairments. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 36: 173-183.
  • Adams, J.W. & Snowling, M.J. (2001). Executive function and reading impairments in children reported by their teachers as hyperactive. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 19: 293-306.
  • Snowling, M.J., Adams, J.W. , Bowyer-Crane, C.A. & Tobin, V. (2000). Levels of literacy among juvenile offenders: The incidence of specific reading difficulties. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health 10 (4): 229-241.
  • Adams J.W., Snowling, M.J., Hennessy, S.M. & Kind, P. (1999). Problems of behaviour, reading and arithmetic: Assessments of comorbidity using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. British Journal of Educational Psychology 69 (4): 571-585.
  • Nation, K., Adams J.W., Bowyer-Crane, C.A. & Snowling, M.J. (1999). Working memory deficits in poor comprehenders reflect underlying language impairments. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 73 (2): 139-158.
  • Adams J.W. & Hitch, G.J. (1997). Working memory and children's mental addition. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 67 (1): 21-38.