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 Pty Ltd 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 Pty Ltd 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. Currently, a trial is underway to evaluate the efficacy of the InitiaLit–2 program with Year 2 students. Research is also ongoing to develop and improve reading assessment tools for use alongside the WARP and WARL.

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:

  • 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 Robyn Cox, Susan Feez and Lorraine Beveridge, and published by the Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).
  • Dr Jennifer Buckingham has joined the MRU team as Director of Strategy and Senior Research Fellow.
  • Dr Meree Reynolds and Dr Jennifer Buckingham recently participated in a forum held by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for phonics experts to consult on ways to strengthen phonics and phonemic awareness in the Australian Curriculum: English.
  • To keep up with Professor Kevin Wheldall, see his blog, ‘Notes from Harefield: Reflections by Kevin Wheldall on reading, books, education, family, and life in general (www.kevinwheldall.com). You can also follow him on Twitter: @KevinWheldall.

Recent research publications

Journal articles

Buckingham, J. (2020). Six reasons to use the science of reading in schools. The Reading League Journal, 1(1), 13-17.

Buckingham, J. (in press). Systematic phonics instruction belongs in evidence-based reading programs: A response to Bowers. Educational and Developmental Psychologist.

Bell, N., Farrell-Whelan, M., & Wheldall, K. (in press). Use of early word-reading fluency measures to predict outcomes on the Phonics Screening Check. The Australian Journal of Education.

Conference paper presentations

Buckingham, J. (2019, September 30). From sounding out to sight words: The research base behind the teaching of synthetic phonics [Conference session]. Sharing Best Practice, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Buckingham, J. (2019, September 7). ‘Great results can be achieved with small forces’ (Sun Tzu): How the reading wars are being fought in Australia [Conference session]. researchED Conference, London, UK.

Wheldall, K., Wheldall, R., Bell, N., & Buckingham, J. (2019, August 24). The angel is in the detail [Conference session]. researchED Conference, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Publications by members of the MultiLit Research Unit since 2006:

Copies of most of the research articles are available on request from MultiLit Pty Ltd (multilit@multilit.com). For a list of publications by members of the MRU prior to 2006, click here.

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