Margaret K. Merga

Margaret K. Merga
The University of Newcastle, Australia

PhD; MEd; GradDipEd; BA(Hons).
Merga Consulting. Delivers keynotes & PD. Consults with schools, professional associations and gov. departments.

About

123
Publications
84,976
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
1,390
Citations
Citations since 2016
107 Research Items
1326 Citations
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Introduction
Researcher in libraries, literacy, research communication and wellbeing. Author of books on reading, libraries and research methods. Uses qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. Committed to sharing research with the public: https://theconversation.com/profiles/margaret-kristin-merga-155099/articles Twitter: @MKMerga
Additional affiliations
June 2021 - present
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Position
  • Honorary adjunct
September 2018 - August 2021
Edith Cowan University
Position
  • Senior Researcher
February 2018 - September 2018
Curtin University
Position
  • Senior Lecturer

Publications

Publications (123)
Article
Full-text available
Libraries provide readers' advisory services to young people to foster reading for pleasure. The Booktok community on TikTok is a resource that can be drawn upon to support promotion of books with this demographic. A hybrid content analysis of 116 TikTok videos explores presence of hashtags, authors and books, and recurring themes promoted in Bookt...
Article
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While scholarly publishers have become increasingly interested in supporting the sharing of research beyond academia in recent times, there are few first-hand accounts from academics that illustrate the realities and complexities of this process. As such, scholarly publishers may be somewhat in the dark about what is actually involved in such knowl...
Article
Full-text available
Schools are increasingly concerned with the promotion of student wellbeing, and relatively little is known about school libraries as well- being supportive spaces in contemporary schools. This article draws on qualitative interview data from students and library managers to explore how students make use of the school library, and how this relates t...
Article
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There is increasing expectation that research be communicated broadly to share knowledge across industry, professional, governmental, and public spheres. Scholarly publishers can benefit from the sharing of research beyond academia since the potential for societal impact encourages fur- ther support from both industry and governmental funders. This...
Chapter
The value of the Prospective PhD by Publication lies in its pragmatic nature, especially to those who envision an academic career, because it aids the transformation of students into independent researchers. However, as a relatively new option for doctoral researchers, particularly in the social sciences, the ways in which the Prospective PhD by Pu...
Research
Full-text available
Copyright 2022 International Literacy Association | No. 9466 This literacy leadership brief is available in PDF form for free download through the International Literacy Association’s website: literacyworldwide.org/statements. Media Contact: For all media inquiries, please contact press@reading.org. Suggested APA Reference International Literacy...
Article
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A whole school (K-12) Reading for Pleasure program was implemented at an independent girls' school in Sydney, Australia. This paper reports on the results of a teacher survey conducted one year into the implementation of the program. Qualitative data were collected from 105 teachers on the perceived benefits and challenges of the program. Teachers...
Book
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Student literacy is a perennial concern in and across nations, with measurement and accountability continually ramped up at both individual student and school levels. Debates about literacy and how it can best be improved are never far from media headlines. However, relatively little consideration is given to the role that school libraries and thei...
Chapter
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Book
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Il libro, che nasce dall’esigenza di fare il punto sui risultati e sui metodi della ricerca empirica relativa alla lettura ad alta voce, riproduce cinque studi condotti in diverse parti del mondo, scelti in modo da essere rappresentativi di differenti orientamenti e metodi di indagine, oltre che di prestigiose riviste internazionali ad accesso lib...
Article
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Education interruption can influence educational outcomes for students, particularly those already experiencing disadvantage. Little is known about how education interruption caused by COVID-19 has influenced the literacy learning of Australian students. This article provides insights into the impact of COVID-19 related education interruption on wr...
Article
There is an increasing expectation that early career researchers (ECRs) be active in communicating their research to diverse audiences both within and beyond academia. However, with limited time and an academic environment that disproportionately values certain research outputs over others, ECRs may struggle to build their expertise and confidence...
Article
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Research has demonstrated that school librarians can make a mean- ingful contribution to student reading proficiency, learning and aca- demic achievement. This study examines the perspectives of school leaders and teachers in Singapore schools to better understand how they use their school library, their attitudes toward the library collec- tion an...
Article
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Libraries are valuable resources that schools can draw upon to enhance their students’ literacy outcomes. However, the role of libraries in supporting student literacy attainment and maintenance may be poorly understood in schools. To determine if libraries are a valued literacy resource within schools, investigation of their incorporation into sch...
Article
The Thesis by Publication is garnering increasing interest across nations and disciplines. However, more needs to be learned about institutional and supervisory support for this thesis mode to ensure that doctoral candidates pursuing this approach enjoy the best possible outcomes. This paper draws on data from 246 recent successful doctoral candida...
Article
With the trend toward internationalization of higher education systems across the world, international journals play an important role in disseminating research from a diverse range of national contexts. While studies have continued to show a persistent western hegemony in published scholarship, research has largely focused on the most prestigious...
Article
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Low literacy in adulthood can be a powerful barrier to opportunity. Our research explored how participation in a free adult literacy program that provides dyadic support can help participants to build confidence and meet their unique literacy goals. We conducted in-depth interviews with 15 randomly-selected adult literacy learners who participated...
Article
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Collaboration in school libraries can be viewed as a supportive and respectful working relationship between participants involved in developing, planning and creating learning opportunities and experiences, as well as to ensure optimal use of the school library resource. While strong collaboration between school library staff and teachers and leade...
Article
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Reading for pleasure is an undervalued but highly beneficial practice conferring a range of educative and socio-emotional advantages. School librarians may play a key role in supporting reading for pleasure and associated literature advocacy; however, relatively little is known about how reading for pleasure may be valued within the job description...
Article
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There is a growing expectation that doctoral candidates and early career academics publish research outputs such as journal articles and conference papers, and that they share their findings with key stakeholders beyond academia. However, it is not known if these expectations are being coupled with support from mentors and peers within institutions...
Article
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Objective: Government communications in a crisis can influence public health outcomes. This research aimed to investigate if written communications of the most commonly sought sources of COVID‐19 information available on the internet have readability levels commensurate with those of the general public. Methods: Online documents from the World Heal...
Article
Full-text available
Although teacher librarians play a role as literacy and literature educators in schools, little research attention is given to this role. In addition, the use of book discussion in school libraries to enhance reading engagement is not often closely considered as an educative practice. This paper draws on qualitative research findings from interview...
Article
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As struggling Australian students may not typically receive additional support beyond the mainstream English classroom, more needs to be understood about the staffing and resourcing challenges that may impede secondary English teachers seeking to support these stu- dents. Data from the 2019 Supporting Struggling Secondary Literacy Learners project...
Article
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Building students’ literacy skills is a key educative purpose of contemporary schooling. While libraries can play a key role in fostering literacy and related reading engagement in schools, more needs to be known about school librarians’ role in promoting these goals. To this end, this article seeks to identify the nature and scope of the literacy...
Article
The primary research output of a contemporary doctoral journey is no longer limited to a traditional thesis. Amongst other possibilities, current doctoral candidates may choose to produce a Thesis by Publication (TBP). However, very little is known about the factors shaping doctoral candidates’ decisions to adopt a TBP approach during their doctora...
Chapter
Full-text available
As we explore in this chapter, one of the numerous factors that influence student literacy attainment is parental support for reading at home. While there is relatively little research using a common and comparative methodology on the differences between Japan and Australia in this regard, this chapter begins to explore what we know and also what w...
Article
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Contemporary early career researchers (ECRs) must share their research findings with both academic and non-academic audiences in order to advance their careers. With university organisational factors potentially both demanding and inhibiting ECR research dissemination, more needs to be known about ECRs' perceptions and experiences of the benefits a...
Article
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Librarians in schools are expected to play an important role as liter- acy educators, and have a positive impact on young people’s literacy learning. However in the context of their diverse workload, relatively little is known about how this aspect of their role sits within its com- peting demands, and the exact scope of the literacy educator requi...
Article
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In the neoliberal environment of contemporary academia, an individual's research rankings and outputs can shape their career security and progression. When applying for ongoing employment and promotional opportunities, academics may benchmark their performance against that of superior colleagues to demonstrate their performance in relation to their...
Article
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It is no longer sufficient for higher education providers to solely focus on fostering academic research communication skills in their doctoral candidates , as a broader skillset is needed to communicate research effectively to diverse audiences. Such knowledge mobilisation facilitates research impact beyond academia and is linked to funding opport...
Article
Full-text available
In the current field of doctoral education, there is a range of possible approaches presented to doctoral candidates. The Thesis by Publication (TBP) is an option increasingly offered by universities around the world and adopted by candidates in diverse fields. As the approach gains in popularity in response to the demands of modern academia, there...
Article
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Concern about student wellbeing and related mental health is a global issue, and schools are increasingly expected to support student wellbeing. While the focus on libraries and wellbeing in research is more commonly on public libraries, school libraries can also play an important supportive role in this regard. Robust research evidence is needed f...
Article
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The initial and ongoing professional education of teachers to prepare them to support students’ literacy development warrants research attention. The importance of meeting the needs of struggling literacy learners in secondary school does not diminish as students move through the years of schooling. This paper reports on data from the 2019 Supporti...
Article
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The needs of struggling literacy learners beyond the early years of schooling warrant greater attention. For struggling literacy learners to attain their academic, vocational, and social goals, schools should position literacy as a whole school priority and enhance opportunities for student literacy learning across all learning areas. However, it i...
Article
Mentoring is a unique educative workplace relationship which holds the potential to support the skill, knowledge, social and emotional needs of both new and experienced staff members. As promotion of mentoring in the nursing workplace can improve workforce retention and cohesion, understanding of nurse managers' perceptions of the barriers to the m...
Article
Full-text available
Quality scholarly research outputs, such as peer reviewed journal articles published in reputable journals, are essential for early career researchers' (ECRs) vocational success while also offering benefits for their institutions. Research outputs destined for audiences beyond academia are also increasingly valued by funders, end users, and tertiar...
Article
The Thesis by Publication (TBP) is an approach to doctoral education that offers the advantage of achievement of a doctoral degree while at the same time facilitating development of transferable knowledge and skills necessary to enter and sustain a career in contemporary academia. There is a need to build deeper understanding of the demands of the...
Chapter
When we set about conducting research with young people, we need to put aside our assumption that they will perceive the experience as we might in their place. As we know that “both respondent and question characteristics affect the reliability of responses in surveys” (Borgers et al. 2004, p. 17), conducting any research with children and students...
Chapter
We set out to write this book for like-minded people – those who were interested in using statistics in educational research and who needed a helping hand in doing so. In many educational sub-fields there is a tendency to preference qualitative methods (well, speaking as a visual arts education researcher Julia knows most of the studies she reads a...
Chapter
Correlation indicates how two variables move together, and how strongly one variable moves in relation to other variable. For instance, a store owner observes that sales of soccer balls and sunglasses over a given period tend to increase and decrease together. When a correlation test is run and it is found that the correlation is statistically sign...
Chapter
It is important to consider the many shades of grey when planning for research in the educational setting. In education there are many factors that impact on research outcomes: the classroom setting, teacher, students, past educational experiences, family experiences and values, and school culture (to name a few). All of these variables need to be...
Chapter
Now you know how to run and report statistical analyses, you will be keen to share your findings with the world at large. Very few researchers in contemporary research environments conduct research with the sole aim of producing a thesis; most of us want our findings to get out into schools, homes and communities and lead to change. An academic the...
Chapter
A test of differences between groups is one of the most commonly used statistical procedures. For instance, we observe that student academic performance at one school may be better than at another. We can confirm whether this observation is true by using Mann-Whitney U to test if there is a significant difference in the student performance at these...
Chapter
Full-text available
Now that you have an overview of quantitative methods and their benefits in education research, you are ready to look at the types of data you are collecting (or want to collect) and the tests that may be appropriate to apply to them. In this chapter we will be discussing four types of data which are normally referred to in statistics: ratio, inter...
Chapter
Once you have decided which test best suits your data and your analytic needs, it’s time to open up SPSS and prepare the data for testing. We will now give some advice about how to read your data in SPSS.
Chapter
Regression is used to explain variations in an outcome variable, y, accounted by an explanatory (predictor) variable, x. In other words, how much can one phenomenon be explained by a given variable or a set of variables. Say for example, we hypothesise that access to reading materials (x) can increase reading frequency (y) among young people. Using...
Book
Full-text available
This book provides a clear and straightforward guide for all those seeking to conduct quantitative research in the field of education, using primary research data samples. While positioned as less powerful and somehow inferior, non-parametric tests can be very useful where the research can only be designed to accommodate data structure which is ord...
Article
Full-text available
Struggling literacy learners are typically low achievers with poor engagement in literacy learning, and the gap between struggling and capable students widens as children move through the years of schooling. Literacy research and interventions for struggling literacy learners typically focus on the primary school years. The 2019 Supporting Struggli...
Article
Full-text available
Children’s attitudes towards, and frequency of recreational reading influence their reading skill level. The aim of this study was to determine the relative influence of research-supported intrinsic and extrinsic variables that can shape this attitude and practice, and to investigate the use of artificial neural network as an adjunct approach in su...
Book
Full-text available
This book explores the role that librarians play within schools as literacy leaders. While librarians working in schools are generally perceived as peripheral to the educational experience, they can in fact provide significant support in encouraging children’s literacy and literature learning. As the need for strong functional literacy becomes ever...
Chapter
Full-text available
With a UK, US and Australian focus, this chapter will explore the role of librarians as educators in schools, investigating the various names they are known by, and the benefits associated with their presence in schools. With the fostering of reading engagement positioned as a broadly accepted facet of their role, the educative significance of stud...
Chapter
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Educators, authors, members of the literary community and the publishing industry will have an interest in how teacher librarians act as advocates of national literature in their schools.
Chapter
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This chapter makes visible barriers to fostering children’s literacy and literature learning in school libraries with a view to encouraging schools to mitigate them. It also examines the competing demands faced by teacher librarians, investigating whether these are felt to detract from meeting literacy and literature learning requirements in the li...
Chapter
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The key points for academic readers and educators (school librarians, teachers, educational leaders) are briefly revisited in a critical and reflective manner in the conclusion, with directions for future research and school-based action research identified and explored.
Chapter
Full-text available
For teacher librarians to be able to enhance the learning opportunities of their students, they need regular access to these students. While many Australian primary and secondary schools have access to onsite school libraries, qualitative data in this chapter provide insights into previous quantitative findings which suggest that as young people mo...
Chapter
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Strong collaborations between teacher librarians and the classroom teachers in their schools can enhance students’ learning opportunities. However, relatively little is known about how these individuals can collaborate effectively for student benefit in literacy and literature learning. This chapter identifies barriers to collaboration that limit i...
Chapter
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This chapter explores teacher librarians’ perceptions of how their profession is valued both in their school and in society more broadly.
Chapter
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The educative role of the teacher librarian within a school includes fostering the literacy and literature capabilities of its students. As contended by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the leading international body representing library and information services staff, school libraries should emphasize t...
Article
Full-text available
The thesis by publication (TBP) is an increasingly popular approach to doctoral education that sees candidates publishing their research during their candidature, and including these outputs in their final thesis submission. Responsive to the realities of modern academia, a TBP provides doctoral candidates with opportunities to engage in the schola...
Article
Full-text available
A supportive school reading culture is an educative context in which there is availability, opportunity, encouragement and support for reading. Little is known about whether Australian schools actively foster reading cultures that are supportive of reading for pleasure. In their role as reading advocates, teacher librarians may be uniquely situated...
Article
Full-text available
While qualified school librarians can have a positive influence on children's literacy attainment, very little consideration is given to the educative role of librarians in schools. Lack of attention on these librarians' educative capacity may be due to a devaluing of the educational contribution of school librarians, and it can be argued that scho...
Article
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The Australian Curriculum positions literacy as a general capability to be taught across all subject areas. While schools may design agreements and policies to formalise the position of literacy as a whole-school priority, there is relatively limited research guiding the structure and content of these planning documents. We contend that reading eng...
Article
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The author explores teacher librarians’ ideas about teacher collaborations around literacy and literature learning, roles in collaborations, and the characteristics of good collaborations. Productive and strong collaborations between librarians in schools and their teacher colleagues can enhance students’ learning experiences and outcomes. Semistru...
Article
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While librarians in schools often face significant budgetary cuts, they can play an important role in supporting learning in literacy and literature. However, little is known about the practices that they may employ to this end. Of particular interest is the role of librarians in schools in supporting struggling readers, as these students may be in...
Article
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Teacher librarians are qualified educators, however their educational contribution many not be well known or acknowledged, and they receive scant consideration in the educational research literature. As perception of the valuing of one’s profession can influence job satisfaction and morale, this study explores teacher librarians’ perceptions of the...
Book
Full-text available
Identifies evidence-backed and easy-to-implement strategies for encouraging young people to read, and helps you to position your library as an indispensable resource for supporting reading. While most reading research focuses on young children, this book looks at how to support reading beyond the early years and into adulthood. Reporting on strong...
Article
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Despite the competing roles that contemporary public and school librarians juggle, advocating for youth literacy remains a priority. Both school and public librarians can support parents by providing the most current research insights to inform their approach to supporting reading in the home. Quantitative survey data from the 997 young participant...
Article
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While children benefit from exposure to reading aloud at home, relatively little is known about parents' perceptions of the practice. Reading aloud supports development of a range of reading and cognitive skills, provides a valuable opportunity for focused interaction between parents and children, and enhances children's attitudes toward reading. T...
Article
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Reading aloud to children is considered one of the most highly effective strategies for fostering a range of literacy skills, both at home and within contemporary classrooms. However, little is known about teachers' attitudes toward reading aloud, their self-reported frequency of engagement in the practice and what may pose as contemporary barriers...
Article
Digital platforms have become central to twenty-first century education, culture, and government, and libraries devote an increasing proportion of budgets to acquisitions of e-resources. This research reports on a recent project that investigated Australian teenagers’ use of traditional print and digital platforms for long-form recreational reading...
Article
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The successful publication of peer reviewed academic journal articles is an essential achievement for early career researchers (ECRs) seeking to establish themselves in their profession. However, this journey can pose several significant challenges for ECRs. We use an autoethnographic approach that draws deeply on our lived experience as ECRs to ca...
Article
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While still more common in the sciences, the Thesis by Publication (TBP) is gaining increasing popularity in the social sciences. However, we argue that norms and possibilities around accepted possible structures for this thesis form are still very much emergent, with a paucity of research concentrating on this area. As a consequence, doctoral stud...
Article
Full-text available
Silent reading and book discussion about books read for pleasure can increase reading frequency and support the strengthening of student engagement in the beneficial practice of recreational reading. However, little is known about children's attitudes toward and experiences of these pedagogical activities. Qualitative findings from 47 children aged...
Article
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Fostering children's engagement in regular recreational reading beyond independent skill acquisition is beneficial to promote continued literacy engagement. Regular recreational reading is associated with both literacy skill acquisition and maintenance across the life span. Children's perceptions of the importance and value of reading can influence...
Article
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Abstract: Whilst there exists a plethora of research about the benefits of reading aloud on children’s literacy development and a range of government reports highlighting the positive investment return on early intervention strategies such as reading aloud, most literature is presented from an adult perspective. Limited research exists on children’...
Article
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Enjoyment of reading books is related to reading proficiency, and fostering students' enjoyment of reading is imperative to support continued reading engagement. However, not all students understand that reading is important, and not all students are regularly engaged in recreational reading. Children typically read for pleasure less often as they...
Article
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Background: Recent times have seen an increasing pressure for publication during candidature in Australian universities for a range of strategic goals that are responsive to the current academic environment. Completing a thesis by publication (TBP) can further these goals, and, while this approach is no longer new, relatively little is known about...
Article
Competence in literacy skills has long been associated with educational (Moore, Bean, Birdyshaw and Rycik, 1999; Sullivan and Brown, 2015), vocational (Kirsch et al., 2002; Zasacka, 2014) and social achievement (Wilhelm, 2016). Since research indicates that reading as a recreational pursuit improves students' outcomes on a range of literacy measure...
Article
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Full paper via open access at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/eprint/PQSRPVJPA52D6XD9KDKJ/full - Purpose: This paper seeks to provide insights into the characteristics of avid non-fiction book readers, exploring their typical demographic characteristics in relation to reading volume and frequency. It also investigates their comparative library usa...
Article
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Understanding how social influences can foster avid book reader identification is a key research goal that warrants further investigation beyond a limited early-years lens. The author’s 2015 International Study of Avid Book Readers (ISABR) explored, as one of its key research questions, the influence positive social agents can have on avid book rea...
Article
Classroom teachers would recognise the struggle of engaging all students in producing quality writing assignments. This might be the view from the outside, but the world experienced by the child during the act of writing may be comprised of potentially rich and significant meaning that is waiting to be uncovered. This paper explores writing researc...
Article
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While the benefits of interactive reading opportunities, such as reading aloud and being read to, are well established, little is known about children’s attitudes toward, and perceptions of these practices beyond the early years. Research in this area can inform literacy instruction aimed at encouraging enjoyment and continuance of this practice. T...
Article
We explore the role that devices currently play in children’s book reading, finding that while children have relatively high access to devices with eReading capability, these devices are underutilised for reading purposes. While ownership of devices was negatively associated with reading frequency for both genders, its negative impact was more sign...
Article
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Young people's frequency of engagement in reading books for pleasure markedly decreases as they move through the schooling years, reducing their exposure to this beneficial literacy practice. Young people's perceptions of the value of reading can be socially mediated, and positive perception of the value of reading is associated with frequency of e...
Article
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Libraries continue to be an important source of books for young people, though relatively little is known about how gender and age influence visitation frequency for this purpose. In addition, while supporting children to choose books is part of the role of both school and public librarians, little is known about the strategies and processes childr...
Article
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Regular recreational reading offers benefits across a range of literacy outcomes, as well as supporting learning in other subject areas, offering cognitive benefits, and potentially fostering empathy. Therefore, increasing frequency of engagement in recreational reading can play an important role in addressing inequity in literacy outcomes once ind...
Article
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Regular engagement in recreational book reading remains beneficial beyond early childhood. While most of the research in reading motivation focuses on the early schooling years, regular recreational book reading remains a highly beneficial practice beyond childhood, as it continues to enhance literacy skills and may help to maintain cognitive stami...
Article
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Regular recreational book reading is a practice that confers substantial educative benefit. However, not all book types may be equally beneficial, with paper book reading more strongly associated with literacy benefit than screen-based reading at this stage, and a paucity of research in this area. While children in developed countries are gaining e...
Article
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Abstract: International findings indicate that there is a gap in the literacy performance of schoolaged males and females, which has led to a focus on how to address this issue. Research suggests that an individual’s literacy outcomes can be improved by regular recreational book reading, and therefore increasing frequency of engagement in this prac...
Article
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The English classroom is a space in which issues of social justice can be explored through texts, using a critical literacy approach. Indigenous Australians have been subject to racist policies throughout postcolonial Australian history, and racist attitudes toward Australia’s original inhabitants prevail. This article suggests that racism in the A...
Article
The study of teenagers’ reading practices is a dynamic and rapidly changing field, and one in which digital innovation continues to reformulate old concepts and generate new practices. This scoping review aims to capture the extent and range of international research on the topic. It explores what is known about teenagers’ reading practices; identi...

Questions

Questions (2)
Question
Good morning,
I'm trying to find four Japan-based academics who are less than 5 years post-PhD to interview for my current study "Exploring ECRs research output production in Australia and Japan". Does anyone have advice on how I can identify additional participants? We are looking for 4 more for our sample. We can interview them in English or Japanese.
Best wishes
Margaret
Question
I'm planning a study with students in Year 4 in Australia and I need a good pre-post test that can be administered to a group; unfortunately most of the tests previously used in Australia research are now defunct, so I'm looking for other options. Thanks in advance!

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Projects

Projects (18)
Project
Explore various lines of critical inquiry in relation to adults with low literacy, and implications for academic, vocational and social participation as well as health outcomes.
Project
This project will involve analysis of the complex and diverse facets of the school librarian/teacher librarian role in Australia and other nations, with particular attention to their literacy educator role.
Project
To explore how school libraries can be safe spaces that foster wellbeing through a variety of mechanisms.