Research

MultiLit is a research initiative of Macquarie University, Sydney

Since 1990, a research team led by Professor Kevin Wheldall AM from Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC) has been researching how best to teach children who struggle to learn to read and more effective  ways of managing children’s behaviour in the classroom.

In 1995, Professor Wheldall launched the Making Up Lost Time In Literacy (or MultiLit) Initiative at MUSEC as a focus for a program of research and product development. The MultiLit Research Unit was established in 2006 within MultiLit as the focus for continuing research.

The early MultiLit research (1996 – 1998) is detailed in the report commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA, now DEEWR) entitled An Evaluation of MultiLit (Wheldall & Beaman, 2000).

An independent evaluation of MiniLit was undertaken the NSW Department of Education and Evidence for Learning, with the results published in 2019.

MultiLit has as its core belief the conviction that effective instruction is the key to growth in any area of the curriculum. Our aim is to bring about learning by whatever means scientific research has shown to be most effective. We subscribe to a continually evolving approach to literacy instruction, changing as more scientific evidence becomes available from either within the MultiLit research team or from the international scientific reading research community.

MultiLit Research Unit (MRU)

The MultiLit Research Unit (MRU) was established within MultiLit in 2006 to coordinate continuing research into effective instruction for low-progress readers. The MRU is directed by Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall AM and Dr Robyn Wheldall is the Deputy Director.

Other members of MRU include:

One of the main aims of the MRU is to research the efficacy of MultiLit instructional programs. In 2021, in-house trials were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of MiniLit Sage (see summary here) and MultiLit’s new program, LanguageLift. Research was also conducted to examine the validity of the Wheldall Sentence Comprehension Screener (WSCS) and a revised nonword reading assessment tool.

Members of the MRU contribute regularly to the publication Nomanis, and to the growing collection of Nomanis Notes, which are one-page summaries of evidence relating to instructional practices.
 

What’s New at MRU?

Recent news from MRU includes:

  • Two books edited or written by MRU members will be published in 2023. You can register interest here.
    Effective Instruction in Reading and Spelling, edited by Kevin Wheldall, Robyn Wheldall and Jennifer Buckingham, provides an accessible, up-to-date guide to evidence-informed practices in teaching reading and spelling.
    Developing Spelling Skills Across the Age Range: An Introduction by Peter Westwood, steps through the skills required to be an accurate speller and how teachers can impart these skills to students of all ages.
  • Dr Jennifer Buckingham from the MRU has been quoted in recent articles in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, and The West Australian.
  • In 2021, journal articles by MRU members were accepted for publication in the Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties and the Australian Journal of Education. See below for details.

Recent research publications

Journal articles

Bell, N., & Wheldall, K. (in press). Factors contributing to reading comprehension in children with varying degrees of word-level proficiency. Australian Journal of Education. Click to view accepted manuscript

Reynolds, M., Buckingham, J., Madelaine, A., Arakelian, S., Bell, N., Pogorzelski, S., Wheldall, R., & Wheldall, K. (2021). What we have learned: Implementing MiniLit as an intervention with young struggling readers. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/19404158.2021.1989605

Pogorzelski, S., Main, S., & Hill, S. (2021). A survey of Western Australian teachers’ use of texts in supporting beginning readers. Issues in Educational Research, 31(1), 204-223. http://www.iier.org.au/iier31/pogorzelski.pdf

Meeks, L., Madelaine, A., & Kemp, C. (2020). Research and theory into practice: Australian preservice teachers’ knowledge of evidence-based early literacy instruction. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 25(2), 215-233. https://doi.org/10.1080/19404158.2020.1832128   Click to view accepted manuscript

Buckingham, J. (2020). Direct instruction in very remote schools: A rejoinder to Guenther and Osborne (2020). Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 49(2), 171-172. https://doi.org/10.1017/jie.2020.18

Wheldall, K., & Bell, N. (2020). Recent advances in reading instruction. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 37(2), 95-96. https://doi.org/10.1017/edp.2020.22    Click to view accepted manuscript

Wheldall, K., Wheldall, R., Bell, N., & Buckingham, J. (2020). Researching the efficacy of a reading intervention: An object lesson. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 37(2), 147-151. https://doi.org/10.1017/edp.2020.17    Click to view accepted manuscript

Conference paper presentations

Buckingham, J. (2021, October 13). Need to know or nice to know: What is at the heart of the science of reading for teachers? [Video conference presentation]. The Reading League Annual Conference.

Buckingham, J. (2021, September 13). No time to lose: Effective reading instruction to work towards 100% literacy [Video conference presentation]. 100% Literacy Alliance.

Buckingham, J. (2021, March 2). Reading instruction in Australia: What has been achieved and what remains to be done [Video conference presentation]. Eszterházy Károly University, Hungary, International Week.

Madelaine, A. (2021, January 23). Levelling up: Has the concept of instructional levels in reading stood the test of time? [Conference presentation]. Learning Difficulties Australia National Conference 2021: Science of Learning – Theory into Practice, Sydney, Australia.

Publications by members of the MultiLit Research Unit:

Copies of most of the research articles are available on request from MultiLit Pty Ltd.  Contact MultiLit.

Nomanis

Nomanis is a magazine targeted towards educationalists interested in reading instruction and development. Nomanis is published twice yearly.
All issues can be found here.

Nomanis Notes

Nomanis Notes are written for use by parents, educators and other professionals who work with children. They contain concise descriptions of the evidence pertaining to specific educational practices, some of which may be regarded as controversial. Many of the articles consist of revised and updated versions of the MUSEC Briefings, previously published by Macquarie University Special Education Centre. All Nomanis Notes can be found here.

MultiLit Evaluation Report

The early research on MultiLit (1996 – 1998) is detailed in the published research report commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA, now DEEWR) entitled ‘An Evaluation of MultiLit’ (Wheldall & Beaman, 2000).

The Evaluation Report contains the theoretical background to the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program in addition to providing detailed outcome studies for a number of MultiLit efficacy studies carried out between the years 1996-1998.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the Executive Summary of the Report.

Limited copies of the complete report are available from MultiLit Pty Ltd. Please contact us for a copy.

Wheldall, K., & Beaman, R. (2000). An evaluation of MultiLit: ‘Making Up Lost Time In Literacy’. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

MiniLit Evaluation

MultiLit partnered with the NSW Department of Education and Evidence for Learning to undertake an independent evaluation of our literacy intervention program for struggling Year 1 readers, MiniLit, in 2017.

The evaluation was conducted by researchers from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. The study found MiniLit had positive effects on foundational reading skills.

Read a summary of the research from the University of Melbourne and MCRI team: Click here

Read MultiLit’s two-page explainer, highlighting the key findings of the study: Click here

Read an extended analysis of the evaluation and its results from the MultiLit Research Unit: Click here

Watch a video on how MiniLit works and the research behind the program: Click here

In MultiLit Research

Academic Journal Articles

Return to Research Publications Acquiring Knowledge in Speech, Language and Hearing Sharma, M., Purdy, S. C., Wheldall, K., Newall, P., & Beaman, R. (2007). An auditory basis for reading disability in some children? ACQuiring Knowledge in Speech, Language and Hearing, 9(2), 56-59. Asia Pacific Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Lee, L. W., Wheldall, K.,…

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MultiLit Research Unit (MRU)

The MultiLit Research Unit (MRU) was established within Macquarie University Special Education Centre in 2006 to co-ordinate continuing research into effective instruction for low-progress readers.The MRU is directed by Professor Kevin Wheldall AM and Dr Robyn Wheldall is the Deputy Director. Other members of MRU include: Dr Alison MadelaineSenior Research Fellow and Clinical Director, MultiLit…

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What’s New at MRU?

Recent news from MRU includes: A book containing a chapter by Dr Jennifer Buckingham, Dr Robyn Wheldall and Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall was awarded the 2019 Australian Educational Publishing Award for Reference Resource. The chapter, ‘Systematic and explicit phonics instruction: A scientific, evidence-based approach to teaching the alphabetic principle’ was included in The Alphabetic Principle and Beyond: Surveying the Landscape, edited by…

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MultiLit Evaluation Report

The early research on MultiLit (1996 – 1998) is detailed in the published research report commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA, now DEEWR) entitled ‘An Evaluation of MultiLit’ (Wheldall & Beaman, 2000). The Evaluation Report contains the theoretical background to the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program in addition to providing…

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Research Publications

Recent publications by members of the MultiLit Research Unit since 2006: Academic journal articles Books, published reports and edited special issues of journals Chapters in edited books Conference papers Instructional materials Other public output Unpublished research reports Copies of most of the research articles are available on request from MultiLit Pty Ltd (multilit@multilit.com). For a…

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MUSEC Briefings

MUSEC Briefings are provided as a community service to inform educators and other professionals about the evidence base for a variety of educational practices, some of which may be regarded as controversial. They are published by Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC). These Briefings are available on the MUSEC web site: The following briefings were written…

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Kevin Wheldall Articles

Return to Research Publications  Classroom Seating Arrangements and Classroom BehaviorWheldall, K., & Bradd, L. (2010). Classroom seating arrangements and classroom behaviour- K. Wheldall (Ed.), Developments in educational psychology (second edition) (pp. 181 195). London: Routledge

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