Thomas Nicholson (Inducted 2010)

Biographical Statement


Tom Nicholson started his academic career at The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand and from there moved to The University of Auckland where he held a personal research chair and was co-head of the School of Education before coming to Massey University's Auckland campus in 2006 as a Professor of Literacy Education in the Institute of Education. He is married and lives in Auckland. He has authored more than 170 publications including 24 books. Recent co-authored books include Teaching Reading Vocabulary (2010), Teaching Reading Comprehension (2012), Dyslexia Decoded (2013), Literacy in Early Childhood and Primary Education (2014), and the New Zealand Dyslexia Handbook (2015 – dedicated to the late Prof Robert Calfee). He has served on editorial boards of many journals including Q1 journals such as Reading and Writing, American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Literacy Research, and Reading Research Quarterly. He can teach in a range of areas including literacy difficulties, psychology of reading, language and literacy, human development, and research methods. He has supervised more than two dozen theses and dissertations. He has served ILA in the past as President of the Waikato Reading Association, as member of the ILA publications committee, and as reviewer for The Reading Teacher and Reading Research Quarterly. He directed an after-school University reading project with private sponsorship for ten years attended by many hundreds of pupils needing help with learning to read and spell. After completion of NSW high school examinations, he won a Commonwealth Scholarship and a Teachers College Scholarship to University.  He completed a Teacher's Certificate at Sydney Teachers College and later, a Bachelor of Arts in History and English at Sydney University. He taught English and History at at Bonnyrigg and Campbelltown High Schools in Sydney. During these teaching years he completed a Master of Arts in History at Sydney University. After five years of teaching he was appointed a Research Officer in the Research and Planning section of the Department of Education of South Australia where he began his research interests in literacy education and wrote a book, An Anatomy of Reading. After three years in Adelaide he left to complete a Ph.D. in Reading and Language at The University of Minnesota.  His supervisors were Profs David Pearson and Robert Dykstra. His dissertation won the International Literacy Association Outstanding Dissertation Award.


Research grants


Major grants include research interventions for “at risk” children totalling over $700,000, mostly from private foundations, to improve literacy for Maori and Pacific children in low-SES areas. Other grants were for summer books programs to combat the summer slide. He shared a grant from the NZ Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to write an online book on dyslexia for the adult workplace.


 Appointments, Keynote invitations, and Awards


He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Cognitive Science at University of Texas, Austin under the mentorship of Prof Philip Gough and in the School of Education at Stanford with the late Prof Calfee. In 1999 he was appointed by the government to a Literacy Experts Group. Personal appointment in 2010 by New Zealand Minister of Education to a small, Independent Advisory Group (IAG) to advise the Minister on National Standards. In 2010 he was inducted to Reading Hall of Fame. He has held an Onassis Foreigners Fellowship to study in Greece at the University of Thessaloniki. In 2012 he was awarded a Visiting Fellowship by the University of Tasmania. In 2016 he was a visiting professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology in Education at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney and gave an invited keynote talk on phonemic awareness research to the British Dyslexia Association in Oxford, England. In 2017 he will be a keynote speaker at the Learning Differences Convention in Melbourne and Sydney.