Dr Laura Jenkins

PhD (Loughborough University)

Pronouns: She/her
  • Doctoral Prize Fellow

Laura specialises in recording and analysing social interaction to better understand human interaction and relationships. She uses the analytic tools of conversation analysis to study interaction, and uses the findings to develop evidence-based communication skills training. 

Laura was awarded a Doctoral Prize Fellowship to lead research in youth justice, observing conversations in the Youth Justice System to identify effective verbal and non-verbal communicative practices for engaging children in child-centred discussions and decision-making. Her work seeks to better understand how a ‘Child First’ principle is operationalised in actual conversations between children and youth justice practitioners, and to create evidence-based training resources. 

This sits within her two broader academic interests. Firstly, researching social justice matters by understanding and improving interactions with groups that experience marginalised positions, including children, in both everyday family settings and institutional environments. Secondly, investigating and improving how to support people to describe complex and sensitive matters such as perspectives and feelings, like fear of death and dying, and physical sensations including pain or loss of consciousness. 

Laura’s background is Psychology (BSc) and Health Psychology (MSc). She obtained her PhD at Loughborough University in 2013, using Conversation Analysis to examine how children talk about pain at home with their families. She held post-doctoral positions at the University of Sheffield, the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University. 

Her teaching responsibilities have included leading undergraduate and postgraduate modules in: statistics; developmental psychology; and applied conversation analysis. 

Laura is a member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee.

Laura studies audio and video-recordings of real-life interactions using an approach called conversation analysis. Her work reveals new insights into how people interact in a range of everyday and institutional settings.

Her primary focus is youth justice, building on Loughborough’s leading work on the ‘Child First’ principle. Her research aims to identify effective practices for engaging children in discussions and decision-making within the Youth Justice System, by recording and analysing actual interactions. One benefit of producing detailed, empirical understandings of how people relate to one another is the opportunity to develop evidence-based communication resources. Her project involves developing and delivering interactive communication training for practitioners and children.

Laura has published work focusing on interactions across everyday situations and medical settings: neurology, paediatrics and palliative care. She highlights strategies for engaging patients and supporting them to describe complex sensations. She has studied how adults and children express bodily sensations and experiences like pain and seizures; how doctors can encourage patients to provide more details about their symptoms and feelings; and the ways that children contribute to healthcare encounters.

Laura has designed and delivered conversation analytic training for doctors in several specialties including neurology and palliative care, focusing on effective and careful ways to invite patients to describe their sensitive experiences and perspectives. The training modules Laura designed to deal with “Asking patients about pain” form part of the RealTalk training initiative, adopted by over 400 communication trainers teaching palliative and end-of-life care communication skills across the UK and Channel Islands. You can find the training materials here: https://www.realtalktraining.co.uk/ .

Current Supervision

  • Katie Jordin. Title: Learning To Be A Boy - How everyday conversation teaches and upholds heteronormative gender constraints to boys.

Key Publications