Dr Rebecca Ngaire Jesson

PhD, MEd (First Class Hons), BA, DipTchg


Dr Rebecca Jesson is the Associate Head of School: Research, School of Curriculum and Pedagogy and Associate Director, Woolf Fisher Research Centre, Faculty of Education. Rebecca's research is situated in schools and their communities in New Zealand and the Pacific. Her focus is on designing with teachers innovations that will improve the literacy outcomes for students.

Rebecca is an experienced primary school teacher across a number of schools and year levels, including Reading Recovery. Her Masters of Education (2001) research focussed on implementing critical thinking in the English curriculum. Her PhD (2010) research was situated in a schooling intervention, and explored differing models of professional development in writing.


Research | Current

Rebecca works with teachers, facilitators and leaders to raise student achievement in literacy. Her research interests involve applying theories learning and teaching to achieve acceleration in literacy learning. Rebecca leads Design Based Research projects with groups of schools, developing shared hypotheses to drive the development of literacy instruction that is contextually appropriate and draws on the expertise of the learners and their teachers.  In her work in schools, Rebecca is committed to excellence of instruction and achievement for all communities. She works closely with teachers and schools to examine pedagogy and overcome constraints. Rebecca's current research programmes include:

Leadership and Education Authorities Programme - Solomon Islands (Principal Investigator)

Manaiakalani and Manaiakalani Outreach Research and Development Programme (Principal Investigator)

Pasifika Literacy and School Leadership Programme (Literacy leader)

Developing in Digital Worlds (Co-investigator)


Teaching | Current

Rebecca is the academic leader of the Postgraduate Diploma in Education Literacy Specialisation.

She teaches on the following courses this year:

Edprofst 702: The Challenges of Literacy Difficulties

Edcurric 202: Language and Literacy Years 4-8 (B.Ed.Tch)

Edcurric 622: Language and Literacy Years 4-8 (Grad.Dip.Tch)


Postgraduate supervision

  • Enhancing learning using Digital Learning Objects
  • Whanau engagement in a digital learning environment
  • Inquiry-based professional development in writing
  • Effective dialogic teaching for Pasifika students
  • Found in translation: the process of teacher learning in two languages
  • The role of metalinguistic awareness in students' writing development
  • Children's development of revision skills in writing
  • The development of a genre based pedagogy for use with Chinese non-English majors
  • Leadership within communities of learning
  • Case studies of disciplinary literacy instruction in Secondary Schools
  • Teachers' approaches to teaching of writing in Years 7-8
  • Concept development through story book reading in Early Childhood settings


Group Research Excellence Award, 2015


  • Associate Head of School: Research: School of Curriculum and Pedagogy 
  • Associate Director: Woolf Fisher Research Centre
  • Curriculum Leader: Postgraduate Diploma of Education (Literacy Specialisation)

Areas of expertise

Literacy teaching and learning, teaching and learning of writing, interventions in schools, Design Based Research

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Faculty of Education Research Committee

School of Curriculum and Pedagogy Research Committee (Chair)

Woolf Fisher Research Centre Senior Management Team

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • McNaughton, S., Rosedale, N., Jesson, R., Hoda, R., & Teng, L. (2018). How digital environments in schools might be used to boost social skills: Developing a conditional augmentation hypothesis. Computers and Education, 126, 311-323. 10.1016/j.compedu.2018.07.018
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44961
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Naomi Rosedale, Stuart McNaughton, Rashina Hoda
  • Jesson, R., McNaughton, S., Wilson, A., Zhu, T., & Cockle, V. (2018). Improving Achievement Using Digital Pedagogy: Impact of a Research Practice Partnership in New Zealand. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 50 (3), 183-199. 10.1080/15391523.2018.1436012
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/42378
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tong Zhu, Stuart McNaughton, Aaron Wilson
  • Jesson, R., McNaughton, S., Rosedale, N., Zhu, T., & Cockle, V. (2018). A mixed-methods study to identify effective practices in the teaching of writing in a digital learning environment in low income schools. Computers and Education, 119, 14-30. 10.1016/j.compedu.2017.12.005
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/42570
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Naomi Rosedale, Stuart McNaughton, Tong Zhu
  • Jesson, R., & Parr, J. (2017). Teachers' selection of texts for Pasifika students in New Zealand primary schools. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 40 (2), 109-123.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/35946
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Judy Parr
  • Williamson, R., & Jesson, R. (2017). Log on and blog: An exploratory study assessing the impact of holiday blogging on student literacy achievement. English Teaching: Practice & Critique, 16 (2), 222-237. 10.1108/ETPC-03-2017-0036
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39729
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rachel Williamson
  • Jesson, R., Wilson, A., McNaughton, S., & Lai, M. (Eds.) (2017). Teachers leading inquiry for school problem solving. Wellington, N.Z.: NZCER Press. Pages: 102.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Aaron Wilson, Stuart McNaughton, Mei Kuin Lai
  • Jesson, R. N., & Spratt, R. (2017). An intervention in literacy in three Pacific nations: Implications of a context specific approach to co-design. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives, 16 (1), 36-49. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/35122
  • Mcnaughton, S., & Jesson, R. (2017). The provision, policies and practices of early literacy in New Zealand. In N. Kucirkova, C. E. Snow, Grøver V, C. McBride-Chang (Eds.) The Routledge international handbook of early literacy education (pp. 71-82). New York, USA: Routledge.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stuart McNaughton

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 6, Room 609A
New Zealand

Social links