Stuart Gray

PhD: Investigating the effectiveness of an active smart-phone game as a tool for improving executive function in children


Tel: +447887492399

Location: SJL 1.14

Supervisor: Prof Judy Robertson


Outline Biography

Name: Stuart Iain Gray

Studying: PhD - Investigating the effectiveness of an active smart-phone game as a tool for improving executive function in children

Areas of Interest: Computing, Psychology, Education, Physical Activity

Degree History: Computer Science BSc

My Story: My name is Stuart Iain Gray and I have very recently transferred to Edinburgh University in order to undertake my second year of PhD study.

Previous to my current position, I studied at Heriot-Watt University from 2009-2013, completing my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Later in 2013, I embarked upon a PhD at Heriot-Watt University in a niche topic area, encompassing Computer Science, Education, and Psychology. A year into my PhD, in the summer of 2014, my mentor transferred to Edinburgh University, to take up a position in Digital Education and I decided to join her here, due to the increasing prominence of Education in my Research.


Research interests

Computer Science: My academic background is in Computer Science, with a particular emphasis on interaction design with children, motivation in video games, and Android programming. My work aims to create a fun, with a serious purpose, Android application for children, designed in partnership with children. With my involvement in previous studies and ventures using exergames, I am naturally interested by any technology which encourages physical activity and promotes health.

Psychology: My research in psychology has primarily focused on methods for benchmarking and improving cognition, in particular executive function. The main purpose of my Android application is to try and help train executive function with greater effectiveness than previous endeavours.

Education: Education is the environment in which my research is based. The user-centred design process has taken place with children within the classroom and the gym hall. Furthermore, the classroom will also be the venue for future studies and experimentation, and if successful, for future integration into curricula.

Physical Activity: This area is of interest to me as it is a key component in the creation and evolution of exergames as a useful tool. My current research has a less intense reliance on physical activity. However, previous exergame projects which I have been involved in, and wish to be in the future, have required a depth in understanding physical activity.

Research activity

BrainQuest: BrainQuest is an active smart-phone game as a tool for improving executive function in children - the main project which I am concentrating on currently.

Professional/teaching experience

My Teaching Experience:

  • Completed 35 hours teaching at a Edinburgh High School for the 'Computing in the Classroom' module for the Honours Year of my BSc.
  • Completed 20 hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in my free time.
  • Created materials and taught a two day (2 x 3 hour) workshop for Heriot-Watt University's 'Summer School' in Computing.
  • Completed one Semmester as a Lab Helper for an 'Android Programming' class at Heriot-Watt University.

Related news

So-called digital natives can’t solve problems with technology

21 Sep 2015
Tablet use


Remember the “digital native” hype from the early 2000s? There was a lot of discussion about how there was a new generation of children growing up were born with access to technology, and that their technological prowess  would be such that traditional education would need to reform to accommodate it. Research evidence is now growing to confirm that the superior skills of digital natives are in fact not a reality.  So you can feel quite smug if you rolled your eyes every time someone mentioned “digital natives” since 2001.

A Victory for EF Exergames

19 Sep 2015


Doing a PhD within a niche, interdisciplinary field can be filled with both euphoric highs and confusing lows. Am I doing something so ground-breaking that it will make simultaneous waves within several fields? Or is my work so niche it will fail to even register a ripple on any of its founding disciplines? As a result, hearing of success within your niche can help calm these choppy waters.