Skip to main content
Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Dr Noella Mackenzie Dr Noella Mackenzie

Dip Teach(EC), BEd(Prim), MEd(Research), EdD

Dr Noella Mackenzie brought to Charles Sturt University a wealth of experience as a classroom teacher, special education coordinator and Reading Recovery Tutor. Dr Mackenzie's knowledge and experience of early literacy development and catering for the diverse literacy needs of young learners is founded in her experience in the application, interpretation and analysis of early literacy assessment and intervention at a district, region and state level. Her Reading Recovery Tutor role for the NSW Department of Education and Training (now Communities) saw her work intensively and extensively with hundreds of teachers between 1990 and 2004 in both Australia and the USA.

Since her arrival at the university in July 2004, Noella has focused her energies on teaching undergraduate and higher degree research students, research into literacy learning and teaching and ongoing work with teaching professionals in the field. Noella is a member of the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE). Noella's teaching is strengthened by her experience of teaching children, ongoing work with teachers, research, and strong understanding of contemporary literacy and associated technologies. She provides CSU students with current, authentic learning opportunities and assessment tasks which link contemporary literacy and relevant technologies with teaching and learning theories, practices and pedagogies.


  • 2013: RIPPLE Research Fellowship
  • 2012: Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) citation for outstanding contribution to student   learning and for sustained quality in effectively integrating on campus classes, field experiences and technologies to promote students' understandings and use of contemporary literacies.
  • 2012: RIPPLE/CRN Research Fellowship
  • 2011: Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2010: RIPPLE Research Fellowship
  • 2009: Faculty Award for Academic Excellence
  • 2007: Murray School of Education paper of the year
  • 2001: Australian College of Educators (ACE) and NSW Minister for Education Quality Teaching Award in recognition of demonstrated excellence in teaching.

Top of page

Noella's  research focuses on literacy teaching and learning and in particular writing  acquisition. Previous projects at the master and doctoral levels examined  issues relating to teacher professional learning, teacher morale, the status of  the teaching profession and the impact of extrinsic teaching awards on  recipients and their non-recipient colleagues. Current research projects are  focused on writing acquisition and the relationship between success with early  writing and ongoing literacy development with a particular focus on the  relationship between talking, drawing and writing.

Member of research centre: The Research Institute for  Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) is a multi-disciplinary research centre  that conducts high-quality applied research and consultation in the field of  professional practice and implications for professional learning and education.

Member of Collaborative Research Network (CRN): The Excellence in  Research in Early Years Education (EYE) Collaborative Research Network (CRN) between Charles Sturt University (CSU), Queensland University of Technology  (QUT) and Monash University (MU).

Current Projects

More detail about the projects is available on this document

Handwriting  and the 21st century curriculum

A two-part  process with multiple stages.  The central focus on understanding and  supporting young writers. The project builds on previous research focused on  early writing.

Part 1: Becoming a  Writer: the place of handwriting in early years classrooms – 2016 in Australia
Co-Investigators: Dr Noella Mackenzie, CSU; Ass  Prof Janet Scull, Monash University, Collaborator: Dr Terry Bowles  University of Melbourne.

Part 2:   weWrite: writing in early primary education [weWrite: Kirjoittaminen ja  näppäintaito alkuopetuksessa] – 2016 in Finland
Co-Investigators: Dr Noella Mackenzie, CSU, Dr  Tuija Turunen, University of Lapland, Finland.

Understanding  and supporting young writers: 2015 

Chief Investigator: Dr Noella Mackenzie (CSU)
Associate researchers: Ms C Phillips and Ms M Bishop (VCAA).

Understanding and supporting young writers examined approaches to the teaching of writing in the final year of preschool and the  first year of school; measured the impact of different approaches to teaching young writers and investigated the role of children's drawing in early writing  instruction. This project addressed an important concern for Australia in current times given that 'literacy under-achievement has high social and economic costs' (Department of Education, Science and Training, 2005, p. 7).

*Report, video for Early Childhood Professionals and Parents, and brochure for parents

Exploring  writing in year 1

Exploring writing in year 1 was launched with two separate  but connected projects in 2010. The first project involved an exploration of  writing in year 1 in Victoria and NSW. Samples of writing from 1700 year 1  children were gathered and analysed using an analysis tool developed for this  purpose. The second project involved writing and Reading Recovery which is the  highly regarded early literacy intervention which is implemented at year 1  level in many schools.
  Investigators: Dr Noella Mackenzie (CSU), Ass  Prof Janet Scull (Monash University), Dr Terry Bowles (University of Melbourne)  and Ms Lynne Munsie (NSW DEC)

In 2013  1000 samples were analysed to form base data for a number of publications.  Quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis are  applied to the studies outlined above.

Writing  analysis tool

The analysis tool used  in the study and has proven useful to teachers in  classrooms is available here.

0-3  Literacy Project: 2015/2016

This  project addresses a gap in early literacy research by examining Early Childhood  Educators and parents understandings of how to support the literacy learning  and in particular the emergent writing, of children 3 years and younger.
  Co-investigators: Dr Noella Mackenzie, Dr Laura McFarland and Ms Natalie Thompson.

Becoming  a writer (2007- 2011)

Becoming a writer (in the first year of formal schooling) began in  2007 and has a particular focus on the relationship between talking, drawing  and early writing. An exciting professional outcome of the Becoming a Writer  Research has been the development of resources to be used by schools with  parents of children starting school.

Top of page

Undergraduate teaching: Bachelor of Education (K-12) and Bachelor of Education (EC/Prim). Undergraduate teaching is focused on literacy in the primary school classroom. Noella's teaching is strengthened by experience of teaching children, ongoing work with teachers, research, and strong understanding of contemporary literacy and associated technologies. Postgraduate teaching: Master of Education, Master of Teaching (Sec), Bachelor of Teaching (Sec), Graduate Certificate Indigenous Education.

Higher Degree Research Student Supervision




My role

Submission date

N. Thompson


Children's perspectives of their literacy experiences in and out of school in the 21st century.





T. Daffern


Spelling in the upper primary years





N. Masters


The transition to school of students identified as gifted




C. Venema


Developing an understanding of the value of reflection in supporting teachers while changing their practice.





J. Barnes


The impact of personal responses to texts on reading comprehension.





C. Harrington


What grows an avid reader?





K. Dalton


Parents experiences of parent involvement in their children's schooling




Top of page

Membership of professional associations

  • Australian Literacy Educators' Association (ALEA)
  • American Education Research Association (AERA)
  • Australian College of Educators (ACE)
  • Australia Teacher Educators Association (ATEA)
  • Primary English Teachers Association (PETA)

Scholarly and Professional Activities (beyond CSU): Past Five Years

  • DECRA application Review (2015)
  • OLT Assessor (2015)
  • PhD Examinations – Monash University (2014), Wollongong (2016)
  • Australian Curriculum Advisor: Invited to provide input to update to Phonics and Phonemic Awareness (2015)
  • Invited reviewer for: British Journal of Developmental Psychology, Issues in Educational Research, Psychology, Society, and Education, Alberta Journal of Educational Research and Teachers and Teacher Education (TATE), Psychology, Society, and Education.Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, International Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Asia Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Australasian Journal of Teacher Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood,
  • Guest Editor for Special Edition of Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood (2013)
  • Review of Book Proposals: 2011 – For SAGE Publishers
  • Member of Victorian ALEA planning committee for the ALEA National Conference held in Melbourne in 2011.

Invited Keynotes and Workshops (2013 - 2017).

  • Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE) and Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA) National Conference – National Conference, 'Margin to Mainstream: Cutting Edge', Hobart, July 6-9, 2017. (Keynote)
  • Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA), Hobart, February17and 18, 2016. (Keynote)
  • Australian Literacy Educators Association, (ALEA), Toowoomba, April, 16, 2016. (Keynote)
  • Victorian Reading Recovery Teacher Conference, Melbourne, April, 29, 2016. (Keynote)
  • Australian Literacy Educators Association Sydney and Sydney Sth, May 4 and 5, 2016.
  • Early Childhood Australia Conference, Melbourne, May, 27 and 28, 2016. (Keynote)
  • Victorian Reading Recovery Tutor Seminar, Melbourne, Nov 19-20, 2015. (Keynote)
  • Australian Literacy Educators Association, South Tasmania, Feb 26, 2015.
  • Corowa High School, School Development Day, Jan 27, 2015.
  • Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, VCAA, Twilight Seminar (simultaneous broadcast to 13 sites across Vic), Sept 17, 2014.
  • Australian Literacy Educators Association, State Conference, Melbourne, Sept 12, 2014. (Keynote)
  • Aboriginal Health NSW State Conference, Sydney, 28-29 May 2014. (Keynote)
  • Pearson Education National Conference, (3 presentations + Master Class) Brisbane Nov 5-7, 2014.
  • Oxford Assessment Forum: Exploring effective assessment for, as, and of learning, Melbourne, Nov 30, 2014 Title: 'Analysing writing in the early years of school'.
  • Pearson Education Kindergarten/Prep Conferences: Adventures in Early Childhood: Imagining and Creating Innovative Cultures of Learning, Sydney, March 20-21; Melbourne, May 1-2; Brisbane, March 27-28, 2014. Keynote: Emergent literacy and creativity belong together. Workshops: Do I still have to teach handwriting? Analysis of Writing; When Interactive Writing meets the interactive (smart) board.
  • Catholic Education Curriculum Conference / Early Years Conference, Rockhampton, 2014, Title of Keynote: 'The Reading, Writing Relationship: Understanding Developing Readers and Writers'.
  • Catholic Education Office Early Years and Reading Recovery Teacher Conference, Adelaide, 2014, Title of Keynote: 'Supporting writing in the first two years of school'.
  • Pearson Education Kindergarten/Prep Conferences: Inquisitive Young Minds, 2013, Title of Keynote: 'Supporting inquisitive young learners to become confident writers', Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Workshops focused on early writing.
  • Aboriginal Maternal Health Group, Wagga Wagga, 2013, Title: Supporting young literacy learners before they begin school.
  • DEC Instructional Leaders, Albury, 2013, Topic: Supporting writers in the first two years of school.
  • National Preschool Mobile Meet, Albury, 2013, Topic: 'Becoming a writer'.

Other Professional Contributions

  • Writing Assessment Tool (2015) this tool is an outcome of the Year 1 Writing Research Project and is now available for teachers to access via:
  • Becoming a Writer Parent Resources – video and brochure (2013). These are being accessed by schools from all over Australia and the US. In Victoria the VCAA are using with preschool teachers.  (see my website:
  • CSU Marketing Presentations, Wagga, Albury and Bathurst, Dec 25-27, 2015.
  • CSU Port Macquarie launch, Guest presentation, March 23, 2015.
  • Corowa High School School Development Days January and July, 2015
  • Professional development support for classroom teachers:1998-2016 - Topics included 'The reading and Writing Processes', 'Effective literacy strategies for K-6 classrooms', 'Becoming a Writer'. 'Writing Transitions', 'Writing analysis'.
  • Presentations for parents - 'Play and literacy', 'How to help your child with reading and writing'– 1998-2014

CSU committee contributions

  • School of Education Scholarships Committee, (2013-2015), Chair (2015)
  • School of Education Board (2014-2015)
  • Faculty of Education Board (2007-2009)
  • Faculty Exclusions and Appeals Committee, Chair (2009), Deputy Presiding Officer (07-08)
  • Murray School of Education Staffing Committee (2007-2012)

Top of page

About the Writing Analysis Tool

Writing is a complex process, and this complexity poses particular challenges when researchers and teachers approach the task of analysing young students' writing samples. This tool is designed to map shifts over time in the range of skills and competencies young writers use to communicate intended meanings and messages using standard writing conventions. Writing samples (N=3193) were collected from 1799 students, in the two most populous states of Australia in 2010. The close analysis of 210 samples by four members of the research team supported the development of the tool. The tool and its application revealed key areas of learning and the current range of Year One students' writing in these areas. While designed for the purpose of research, the tool has the potential to help classroom teachers capture shifts in students' writing, assist teachers to provide feedback to students, and support teaching decisions.

Technical information

This web app is designed for desktop/laptop devices and tablet devices. It has not been optimised for mobile phones.

The recommended browsers are listed on the main application page. Though this tool is built with HTML5 and CSS3 it has only been optimised for the recommended Firefox, Safari and Chrome browsers. It is also recommended that you use the latest versions of these browsers for the best experience.

Get the latest versions of these browsers:

Top of page

Becoming a Writer project

Becoming a Writer logo Becoming a writer began in 2007 and has a particular focus on the relationship between talking, drawing and early writing. Each year since 2007 Noella has worked closely with preschool and early years teachers and gathered extensive data from young children. An exciting professional outcome of the Becoming a Writer Research has been the development of a short video presentation View the video[ 12 minutes long, opens in new window]. to be used by schools with parents of children starting school. The presentation is supported by a take home brochure for parents. These resources were funded and supported by the NSW Department of Education and Communities, Riverina Equity programs. In 2015, Becoming a Writer expanded into a project titles; Understanding and supporting Young Writers which was run with the Victorian Curriculum and assessment Authority with Kindergarten and Prep teachers from the Marysville Cluster and Darebin Early Years Network. A second video and brochure are two of the outcomes of this project. You can find out more about Noella's work with the VCAA by going to their website.

VCAA – new (2016) video for Early Childhood Professional and Parents and brochure for parents.

Top of page

Recent and most requested print publications:

Book Chapters

  • Mackenzie, N.M. (accepted for publication in 2016). Becoming a Writer, In B., Raban, & J., Scull (Eds), Literacy Research for Practice: Building an Australian evidence-base for teaching in the early years. Eleanor Curtain Pub: Sth Yarra, Australia.
  • Mackenzie, N.M. & Scull, J.A. (2015). Literacy: Writing, In S McLeod & J McCormack (Eds), Introduction to speech, language and literacy, (pp. 398-445). Oxford: Melbourne.
  • Mackenzie, N. M. (2014). Transitions to school and emergent writers. In B. Perry, S. Dockett, & A. Petriwskyj (Eds.) Transitions to school: International research, policy and practice, (pp. 89-102): Springer.
  • Mackenzie, N. M. (2010). Motivating young writers. In G. Gillon, J. Fletcher & F. Parkhill (Eds.), Motivating young learners in today's world (pp. 23-32). Auckland: New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER).

Journal Articles

  • Mackenzie, N. M., Scull J., & Bowles, T. (2015). Change over time: – An analysis of texts created by Year One students, Australian Educational Researcher DOI 10.1007/s13384-015-0189-9 [one of 5 finalists in the Springer/AER Best Paper Award for 2015]
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2015). Interactive writing: A powerful teaching strategy, Practical Primary, Australian Literacy Educators Association: Brisbane.
  • Ling, L. M., & Mackenzie, N. M. (2015). Una perspectiva australiana sobre el desarrollo profesional docente en tiempos supercomplejos (trad. al castellano de A. González Royo). Psicología, Sociedad y Educación, 7(3), 370-386.
  • Ling, L. & Mackenzie, N.M (2015), An Australian perspective on teacher professional development in supercomplex times,Successful Approaches to Teacher Professional Development: International Perspectives, Psychology, Society, and Education, Special Edition, 7(3), 264-278.
  • Daffern,T., Mackenzie, N. & Hemmings, B. (2015). The development of a spelling assessment informed by Triple Word Form Theory, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 38(2), 72-82. 
  • Guo, K & Mackenzie, N.M., (2015). Signs and codes in early childhood settings: an investigation of children's drawing and second language learning, Australiasian Journal of Early Childhood, 40 (2), 78-86.
  • Daffern, T., & Mackenzie, N. (2015). Building strong writers: Creating a balance between the authorial and secretarial elements of writing. Literacy Learning: the Middle Years, 23(1), 23-32.
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2014) Teaching early writers: Teachers' responses to a young child's writing sample, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37(3), 182-191.
  • Mackenzie, N.M., & Hemmings, B. (2014). Predictors of success with writing in the first year of school? Issues in Educational Research 24(12), 41- 54.
  • Mackenzie, N.M., Scull, J & Munsie, L. (2013). Analysing writing: the development of a tool for use in the early years of schooling, Issues in Educational Research, 23(3), 375-391.
  • Mackenzie, N.M. & Knipe, S. (2006) Research Dilemmas: paradigms, methods and methodology, Issues in Educational Research, Vol 16, No 2.

Full print publication list available here.

Selected recent presentations

  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2015). What Do Preschool Teachers Understand About Children's Writing Transitions? European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Budapest, (September, 7th-11th)
  • Daffern, T., & Mackenzie, N.M. (2015). Does Triple Word Form Theory provide a useful framework from which to assess proficiency in spelling? European Conference on Educational Research, Budapest (September,7th-11th)
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2015). Powerful partnerships in Australia: university, public institution, primary schools and pre-schools, Association of Teacher Education in Europe, Glasgow 22-26th August).
  • Ling, L. & Mackenzie, N.M. (2015). Partnerships and professional learning: navigating the unknown, Association of Teacher Education in Europe, Glasgow (22-26th    August).
  • Daffern, T.,& Mackenzie, N.M. (2015) Does proficiency in spelling, grammar and punctuation predict success in writing? European Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction, Cyprus (August, 2015)
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2015) Nurturing future wordsmiths: A focus on vocabulary, ALEA/AATE National Conference Canberra (July, 3rd-6th)
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2015) Nurturing young writers: creating multimodal texts from the beginning, ALEA/AATE National Conference Canberra (July,3rd-6th )
  • Daffern, T., & Mackenzie, N.M.(2015) Explicitly teaching spelling strategies: Does it lead to compliance or curiosity? ALEA/AATE National Conference Canberra (July,3rd-6th)
  • Mackenzie, N.M. & Edwards-Groves, C. (2014). Learning to teach contemporary literacies: Pre-service Teachers' and school students co-construct multimodal texts, American Education Research Association (AERA), Philadelphia
  • Edwards-Groves, C & Mackenzie, N.M. (2014). "I didn't realise they knew so much": What pre-service teachers learn through interacting with students in classrooms, American Education Research Association (AERA), Philadelphia
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2014). Nurturing vocabulary development: How does vocabulary impact learning? The National Learning and Teaching Conference, Brisbane.
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2014). Interactive writing meets the interactive whiteboard: How does this process impact the learner? The National Learning and Teaching Conference, Brisbane.
  • Mackenzie, N.M. (2014). Understanding and supporting emergent writing.  How does our understanding impact children's learning? The National Learning and Teaching Conference, Brisbane.

Full presentation list available here.

Top of page