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Sue McDowall

Job Title: 
Kairangahau Matua | Senior Researcher

Sue McDowall is a senior researcher at NZCER. She has over 20 years of research experience in the areas of teaching, learning, and curriculum across the primary and secondary school sectors. Sue has led projects on a wide range of topics, most recently including informal learning at home during covid-19, curriculum integration, key competencies, disciplinary literacies, and community involvement in curriculum, teaching, and learning.

Sue has an interest in the English learning area and the language arts. She is leading the analysis of feedback on the draft curriculum content for the English learning area in 2022 and the arts in 2023. She has led research projects on teachers as readers, reading for pleasure, key competencies and reading in English, use of technologies in English and the arts, and community artists involved in school learning.

Sue has a deep understanding of the importance of curriculum support and the impact that design-based curriculum materials can have on teacher practice through leading evaluations of the 2010-2011 School Journals and Teacher Support Materials, the post 2010 Teacher Support Material for Ready to Read, and the CD-ROM: The Game and other stories. She is a co-author of the book Key competencies for the future; the resource Curriculum for the future: The game; and the article How the key competencies evolved over time: Insights from the research.

Sue has also co-led the development of survey and assessment tools, including: the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement, English; the Teaching and School Practices Survey tool; the PACT Reading scale descriptors; the PAT: Reading tool; and items for the Assessment Resource Banks for classroom teachers in the English learning area.

Previously a primary school teacher, Sue is drawn to the interface between theory and practice. Her roles as a critical friend to the leaders of thirteen Teaching Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) projects, a critical friend for Teacher Led Innovation Fund (TLIF) projects and as an Expert Partner for Kāhui Ako has kept her in touch with the lived curriculum in schools and classrooms.

Sue is currently a member of a range of advisory and working groups including the:

  • National ESOL Advisory Committee for the Ministry
  • Curriculum Voices group for the Ministry
  • Te Ruruhau Advisory Group for Lift Education

Interview: How teachers who read create readers, National Library, August 2022

Articles:

  • McDowall, S. (2022). National monitoring of English. Where have we come from and where are we going? Literacy Forum 37 (1), 6-15.
  • McDowall, S. (2022). Reading deeply: Interpreting literary texts in primary and intermediate school classrooms. set: Research Information for Teachers, 1, 38-45.
  • McDowall, S. (2022). Teachers as readers: Listening to, reading, and talking about stories – for pleasure. set: Research Information for Teachers, 2.
  • McDowall, S. (2021). Knowledge, agency, and curriculum integration. set: Research Information for Teachers, 1, 20-27.
  • McDowall, S. (2014). Re-thinking subject English for the knowledge age. set: Research Information for Teachers, 1, 42-50.
  • McDowall, S. (2013). Using ICTs to support knowledge building communities in subject English and the arts. set: Research Information for Teachers, 1, 29-36.
  • Hipkins, R. & McDowall, S. (2013). Teaching for present and future competency: A productive focus for professional learning. Teachers and curriculum, 13, 2-10.
  • McDowall, S. (2012). On teaching reading and being a reader. set: Research Information for Teachers, 3, 8-14.
  • Hipkins, R. & McDowall, S. (2013). Teaching for present and future competency: A productive focus for professional learning. Teachers and curriculum, 13, 2-10.
  • McDowall, S., Davey, R. Hatherly, A., Ham, V. (2012). Literacy learning in e-learning contexts. Curriculum leadership 10 (13).
  • McDowall, S. (2011). Using multimodal texts to build engagement and achievement in literacy. set: Research Information for Teachers, 2, 32-37.
  • McDowall, S. (2011). Literacy teaching and learning for the 21st century: Bridging the theory to practice gap. Practical research for education 44, pp. 47-56.

Book chapters:

Research reports:

  • McDowall, S. (2021). Teachers as Readers in New Zealand primary and intermediate schools. NZCER.
  • McDowall, S. (2021). Insights for Teachers 2. NMSSA English 2019 – Making Meaning Educational Assessment Research Unit, University of Otago, and New Zealand Council for Educational Research (under contract to the Ministry of Education, New Zealand)
  • McDowall, S. (2021). Insights for Teachers 2. NMSSA English 2019 – Multimodal texts and critical literacy. Educational Assessment Research Unit, University of Otago, and New Zealand Council for Educational Research (under contract to the Ministry of Education, New Zealand)
  • Hipkins, R., Bolstad, R., Edge, K., McKinley, S., & McDowall, S. (2021). Where next for key competencies. Unpublished paper for the Ministry of Education.
  • Bourke, R., O’Neill, J., McDowall, S., Dacre, M., Mincher, N., Narayanan, V., Overbye, S., & Tuifagalele, R. (2021). Children’s informal learning at home during COVID-19 lockdown. NZCER Press.
  • McDowall, S., & Hipkins, R. (2019). Curriculum integration: What is happening in New Zealand schools? Wellington: NZCER.
  • Bolstad, R. & McDowall, S. (2019). Games, gamification, and game design for learning: Innovative practice and possibility in New Zealand schools. Wellington: NZCER.
  • Wylie, C., McDowall, S., & Ferral, H. (2019). Teaching, school, and principal leadership practices survey. Wellington: NZCER.
  • McDowall, S., & Berg, M. (2018). Teaching and learning resources in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand. A national survey of schools for the Increasingly Digital project. Retrieved from DIA website: https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/ our-work/increasingly-digital-project
  • McDowall, S., & Hipkins, R. (2018). How the key competencies evolved over time: Insights from the research. Wellington: NZCER.
  • Hipkins, R., & McDowall, S. (2018). How the key competencies are treated in the OECD ‘2030’ framework. Unpublished paper for the Ministry of Education.
  • Hipkins, R., & McDowall, S., Darr, C., & Bolstad, R. (2018). Next steps for key competencies in New Zealand’s curriculum. Unpublished paper for the Ministry of Education.
  • Wylie, C., McDowall, S., Ferral, H., Felgate, R., and Visser, H. (2018). Teaching Practices, School Practices, and Principal Leadership: the first national picture 2017. Wellington: NZCER.
  • McDowall, S. (2017). Critical literacy and games in New Zealand classrooms. Wellington: NZCER. Retrieved from https://www.nzcer.org.nz/research/publications/critical-literacy-and-gam...
  • McDowall, S., Ferral, H., & Beresford, S. (2017). Disciplinary meaning-making of static visual images in English. Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • McDowall, S. (2017). PACT Reading scale descriptors. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  • Hipkins, R., Darr, C. & McDowall, S. (2017). Disciplinary meaning-making: Synthesis of findings from a retrospective analysis. Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • McDowall, S. (2016). Implementing a teacher-led inquiry: What matters? Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • McDowall, S. (2016). Implementing inquiry: What can be learned from the Round One Teacher-led Innovation Fund projects? Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • McDowall, S. (2015). Literacy research that matters: A review of the school sector and ECE literacy projects. Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • McDowall, S. & Whatman, J. (2015). All the school’s a stage. Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • McDowall, S., Stevens, L., & Twist, J. (2015). Ready to Read teacher support material and text trialling processes: a research report (Unpublished research report produced for the Ministry of Education).
  • McDowall, S., Dingle, R., Barnes, A., & Whatman, J. (2014). Facilitator smart tools and their impact on Te Toi Tupu – a learning organisation. (Unpublished research report produced for the Ministry of Education).
  • Dingle, R., McDowall, S., & Whatman, J. (2014). Evaluation of Te Toi Tupu professional learning and development. Unpublished research report for Te Toi Tupu.
  • McDowall, S., Meluish-Spencer, K., Sturgess, A., McDiarmid, F. (2013). Blended facilitation: Unpublished research report for Te Toi Tupu.
  • McDowall, S. & Parr, J. (2012). Deliberate design: An analysis of the 2010-2011 School Journals and Teacher Support Materials. (Unpublished research report produced for Learning Media Limited).
  • McDowall, S. & Parr, J. (2012). Deliberate design: An analysis of the 2010-2011 School Journals and Teacher Support Materials: A summary report. Wellington: Learning Media Limited.
  • McDowall, S., Davey, R. Hatherly, A., Ham, V. (2012). Literacy and e-learning: Mining the action research data
  • Bolstad, R. & Gilbert, J. with McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching: A New Zealand perspective. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  • Potter, H., Taupo, T., Hutchings, J., McDowall, S. & Isaacs, P. (2011). He whänau matua, he whänau ora: Mäori adult literacy and whänau transformation. Wellington: NZCER.
  • McDowall, S. (2010). Literacy teaching and learning in e-learning contexts. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  • Twist, J. & McDowall, S. (2010). Life long literacy. Wellington: Cognition Institute.
  • Bolstad, R., Roberts, J., and McDowall, S. (2010). Education and enterprise: Learning at the interface. Final report from the regional education for enterprise clusters evaluation. Wellington: Ministry of Education and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

 

Blog Posts

Research outputs

Year published Title Publication type Category
2021 Learning during lockdown Research report
2021 Teachers as readers in New Zealand primary and intermediate schools Research report Student engagement
2019 Curriculum integration: What is happening in New Zealand schools? Research report Curriculum and assessment Implementing New Zealand Curriculum
2019 Games, gamification, and game design for learning: Innovative practice and possibilities in New Zealand schools Research report Schooling for the future Curriculum and assessment Games for learning
2019 Teaching, School, and Principal Leadership Practices Survey 2018: Summary report Research summary Policy School governance and management Education leadership practices
2018 2 How the key competencies evolved over time: Insights from the research Research report Key Competencies
2018 Teaching Practices, School Practices, and Principal Leadership: The first national picture 2017 Research report
2018 TSP: The first national picture 2017—report summary Research summary School governance and management
2017 Critical literacy and games in New Zealand classrooms Working paper Literacy Student engagement Games for learning
2016 All the school's a stage. Schools collaborating with experts in the community Research report PLD for facilitators Schooling for the future Curriculum and assessment
2016 Creating a belonging place Research report Schooling for the future Families and communities
2016 Implementing inquiry: What can be learned from the Round One Teacher-led Innovation Fund (TLIF) projects? Research report
2015 Literacy research that matters. A review of the school sector and ECE literacy projects Research report Literacy
2014 Curriculum for the Future Professional learning resource PLD for facilitators Professional learning Schooling for the future Curriculum and assessment
2014 Key Competencies for the Future Book Implementing New Zealand Curriculum Key Competencies
2014 Rethinking subject English for the knowledge age Journal article Schooling for the future
2013 Teaching for present and future competency: A productive focus for professional learning Journal article Implementing New Zealand Curriculum Key Competencies
2013 Using ICT to develop knowledge-building communities in subject English and the arts Journal article ICT
2012 Deliberate design: An analysis of the 2010–11 School Journals and Teacher Support Materials Research report Literacy
2012 On teaching reading and being a reader Journal article Literacy
2012 Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching - a New Zealand perspective Research report Public understanding of education Schooling for the future
2011 He whānau mātau, he whānau ora: Māori adult literacy and whānau transformation Research report Adult literacy and numeracy Te Wāhanga Māori and education
2011 Using multimodal texts to build engagement and achievement in literacy Journal article ICT Literacy Student engagement
2010 Lifelong Literacy: The integration of key competencies and reading Research report
2010 Literacy and eLearning: Possibilities for transformation Book chapter ICT Literacy
2010 Literacy teaching and learning for the 21st century - Bridging the theory to practice gap Journal article Literacy
2010 Literacy teaching and learning for the 21st century: Bridging the theory to practice gap Journal article Literacy
2010 Literacy teaching and learning in e-Learning contexts Research report ICT Literacy Schooling for the future Curriculum and assessment
2009 Education and enterprise: Learning at the interface Research report Schooling for the future Student engagement Families and communities
2009 NZCER evaluation of the Regional Education for Enterprise (E4E) Clusters Research report
2009 The Research: Reading Recovery in New Zealand and Australia Book chapter Literacy
2008 Education for Enterprise (E4E) 2007 surveys Research report Schooling for the future
2008 Enterprising and future-focused? The first report from the Regional Education for Enterprise Clusters Evaluation Research report
2008 How Well is Reading Recovery Really Working in New Zealand? Reply to Chapman, Greaney and Tunmer Commentary Literacy
2008 Standardised testing: Dilemmas and possibilities Conference paper
2007 Education for enterprise (E4E) research summaries Research summary Schooling for the future
2007 Evaluation of the Literacy Professional Development Project Research report Literacy Student engagement
2007 The case for reading recovery Journal article
2006 Effective use of Reading Recovery in low-decile schools Journal article Literacy
2006 How students interpret poetry: findings from Assessment Resource Banks trials Journal article Literacy Curriculum and assessment
2006 Innovative pathways from school: Taking the first step: Final report Research report
2005 Messages about reading Research report
2005 Planning and managing change: Messages from the Curriculum Innovation Projects Research report Curriculum and assessment
2005 Reading Recovery in New Zealand: Uptake, implementation, and outcomes, especially in relation to Maori and Pasifika students Research report
2004 Innovative pathways from secondary school: Where are the young people now? Conference paper
2004 OPENING UP A NEW WORLD: Reluctant readers' use of The Game and other stories Journal article ICT Literacy Student engagement
2003 Innovative pathways from secondary school: Gaining a sense of direction Conference paper
2003 Playing the game - The impact of classroom use of the CD-ROM 'The Game and other stories' on eleven reluctant readers Research report
2002 Innovative pathways from school: The case studies: Phase 1 report, 2002 Research report
2002 Innovative pathways: The Phase 1 Case Studies Conference paper
2002 Levels-based assessment of writing: Scoring guides from the Assessment Resource Banks Journal article Literacy Curriculum and assessment
2001 Techno magic - whizz or fizz?: The relationship between writing mode, editing process, and writing product Research report
2001 Word processors: drafting, crafting, or presentation tools? Students’ use of computers for writing in two primary schools Journal article Literacy
2000 Techno magic - whizz or fizz?: Students' use of editing tools Conference paper