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Emeritus Professor of Literacy Education, Massey University

Tom Nicholson, Emeritus Professor of Literacy Education at Massey University in Auckland New Zealand, is a specialist in reading and writing and in learning difficulties related to these areas. He started his career as a schoolteacher in Sydney, Australia. His research has been supported mostly by funding from private foundations and focuses on interventions that prevent reading failure. He conducts scientific research on literacy in particular that enables individuals and groups to succeed in their goals. He recently co-researched a randomized controlled trial to improve year 5-6 student reading and writing. Other work has included a study designed to combat the summer slide in reading achievement for year 3 disadvantaged children by providing them with books to read. Another study aimed to give extra learning benefit in reading by using a combined Big Book/phonics approach for disadvantaged year 2 indigenous and minority pupils. Another study followed the progress of lower SES pupils in their first 15 months of school. Some of these data have been reported in Frontiers in Psychology and (in press) Journal of Educational Research. He is on the editorial board of Reading and Writing. He is an elected member of the International Literacy Association Hall of Fame. He has more than 170 publications including 23 books many of which are aimed at improving teaching practice. He has been a visiting scholar at University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, University of Thessaloniki, University of Tasmania, and Edge Hill University. Current and past teaching includes human development, applied behaviour analysis, research methods, language, literacy, and cognition, teaching writing in the classroom, and social justice in relation to literacy. He directed a sponsored after-school reading centre for 10 years to help children with literacy difficulties. He is married, lives in Auckland, likes walking, cafes, contemporary art, and movies. Latest co-authored book is Writing with impact: How to teach students to write and spell for success (NZCER Press, 2018).


  • 2019–present
    Emeritus Professor, Literacy Education
  • 2000–2018
    Professor, Literacy Education


  • 1978 
    University of Minnesota, Education


Personal chair in Education, Reading Hall of Fame