Meet Ma Mercedes Rodrigo, PhD, Newton Fund Institutional Links Grant awardee.

Research topic: Jokes On-line to improve Literacy and Learning digital skills amongst Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Host institution / UK university: University College London

Home institution: Ateneo de Manila University

Describe your research collaboration in layman’s terms.

We are building software to assist disadvantaged children in public schools learn English. 

What activities have you undertaken that target the economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines?

In the Philippines specifically, English language proficiency has an impact on people’s ability to participate in high-value industries such as Business Process Outsourcing.  By helping children improve their English proficiency, we hope to improve their economic prospects.

How did your collaboration with the UK contribute to your institution in general or your career as a researcher?

So far, we have produced two Scopus-listed conference papers and have one more conference paper under consideration. We also have one working mobile phone-based educational app that give students rhyme/synonym/antonym drills.  We are continuing to work on more.  The UK partners were able to introduce me to a few new research methods. In like manner, I think we were able to introduce the UK partners to logistical preparations necessary for field work in our contexts.

What about the UK influenced your decision to collaborate with your partner institution?

Dr. Rose Luckin, Dr. Kaska Porayska-Pomsta, and I have known each other for many years and share similar research interests.  We had been hoping to engage in a collaboration for some time.