Measuring classroom literacy practice

Funding year: 
3 years
Auckland UniServices
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2005
Project end date: 
January 2008
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Judy Parr
Research team members: 
Eleanor Hawe and Claire Sinnema, University of Auckland
Research partners: 
Wendy Koefed and staff at Newmarket Primary School; Maria Heron and staff at Mängere Central School; Wendy Foster at Berkley Middle School

This project ran over 2005 and 2007 with a break taken in 2006.

Project Description

To date, much of the information we have about classroom practice has come from teacher self reporting with data gathered through surveys, logs, diaries, and/or interviews (Burstein, McDonnell, Van Winkle, Ormseth, Mirocha, & Guitton, 1995). There are in New Zealand few, if any, widely used and proven instruments for gathering information about teachers’ literacy practice, yet, in order to plan for and explain patterns of student achievement, we need systematic evidence of what is happening in classrooms.

The two-year study outlined in this summary was conducted in partnership with three schools. The first year involved developing and trialling an instrument (Observation Guide) that captured critical elements of teachers’ literacy practice. Part A of the full report Measuring Classroom Practice in Literacy ( Parr & Hawe, 2008), outlines and discusses the processes and challenges associated with this. It also addresses the challenges encountered during a prolonged period of implementation and outlines the subsequent changes made to the Guide.


Parr, J. & Hawe, E (2016): Facilitating real-time observation of, and peer discussion and feedback about, practice in writing classrooms, Professional Development in Education, DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2016.1241818

Hawe, E. & Parr, J. (2014) Assessment for Learning in the writing classroom: an incomplete realisation, The Curriculum Journal, 25:2, 210-237, DOI: 10.1080/09585176.2013.862172

Parr, J.M. ‘Peer observation in writing classrooms.’ Paper in Symposium “Writing and Teaching Writing”, United Kingdom Literacy Association 46th Annual Conference, Winchester, 9-11th July, 2010.

Parr, J.M., & Hawe, E. ‘Guided enquiry: Reciprocal peer observation of classroom literacy practice.’  Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, 13-17th April, 2009.