Meet Our Team: Tessa Barnett

Tessa Barnett | MultiLit Product Developer & member MRU

Speech pathologist Tessa Barnett joined MultiLit in September 2022, bringing extensive experience in literacy intervention to the MultiLit Research Unit (MRU) and product development team.

Get to know more about Tessa and the latest products in development at MultiLit.

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What inspired you to get into education?

I’m a speech pathologist and I’ve worked with school-aged children my whole career. I really embraced working in education when I was developing an early literacy intervention program for school entry students as part of my PhD. I spent a lot of time at schools, developing and then evaluating the program in consultation with teachers over several years. I learned a lot during that time and read a lot of research articles about early literacy development. I came to appreciate how important it is for children to receive high-quality instruction in literacy.

Tell us a bit about your background and experience.

I graduated as a speech pathologist in the early 90s and I’ve practiced in many areas, including the Queensland Department of Education and in community health and hospitals. More recently, I was involved in several projects at the University of Queensland, looking at how speech pathologists and teachers collaborate in a whole-school approach, and other projects examining interprofessional collaborative approaches to support clients.

My most treasured work, so far, has been in a private clinic working with students, their parents, and teachers to help with significant literacy and language disorders. I loved getting to know those kids, finding out what makes intervention more motivating and, of course, seeing them learn to read and spell with greater success.

What are some of the key responsibilities of your role at MultiLit?

I’m currently working between the MultiLit Research Unit (MRU) and the product development team. With the MRU, I’m coordinating research activities around our new oral language intervention program, LanguageLift, which is very exciting. I’ve been so interested to read all the previous trial data and look forward to starting our phase four research trial – a randomised control trial (RCT), which is the gold standard in education research.

As part of the product development team, I’m collaborating with my colleagues here in Brisbane, and in Perth and Sydney, on developing new products that will complement InitiaLit. It’s been a fascinating journey so far and it’s been a joy to work with a range of professionals who bring their own knowledge to the project.

What’s one thing you wish more people knew about literacy?

I wish more parents knew that there is an evidence base for instructing students in early literacy, and that they can seek help earlier for their young children with literacy delays. As a speech pathologist, I often meet children in the middle grades of school with severely delayed literacy skills. I feel frustrated that those children missed out on quality instruction as well as early detection and the opportunity for timely intervention. It takes much longer to help a child when they’ve experienced years of difficulty in class, but it’s also such a joy to watch them learn to read and appreciate literature.

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