Dr Maria Nicholas



Lecturer In Education (Language And Literacy Education)


Faculty of Arts and Education


SoE Arts & Education


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus


+61 3 522 71472

Career highlights

2017 - Vice-Chancellor's Prizes and Awards for Outstanding Contributions: Deakin University Award for Teaching Excellence. For providing highly supportive Cloud learning through strategic partnerships and premium digital resources, effectively preparing students for placement. Recipients: Maria Nicholas, Denise Simons, Rebecca Claire, Lisa Bell, Rosemarie Garner, Stephen Newnham & Glenn Mcnolty

2016 - Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

2013 - Faculty Teaching Excellence Award for Early Career Teaching, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

Knowledge areas

Maria has an interest in literacy development in the pre-school years and early years of schooling - specialising in the learning, teaching and development of reading. Maria's interests also include digital literacies, teaching approaches, school curriculum design/planning, assessment, feedback, and the role of mediation in child development/learning.

Maria’s work largely draws from Vygotsky and socio-cultural theory, with a strong focus on how adults guide children towards various phases of concept development through various means of mediation (verbal, non-verbal, instrumental-tool, social, anatomical). She also uses the work of Merleau-Ponty, particularly the emphasis on ways of seeing/understanding our world, and perspectives/multiple perspectives, which complements Vygotsky’s work on mediation; and the work of Hegel, which complements Vygotsky's theory of concept development.

Professional activities

Winch, G. & Holliday, M., with Nicholas, M. (2020). Chapter 10: Learning to Read: The Child before School. In Winch et al. (Eds.), Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children's Literature (6th ed.) (pp. 153–170). Docklands, Australia: Oxford University Press.

"Teaching Approaches and the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework" - Instructional video: Nicholas, M., 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=974dcaZdjLs>

"New app turns learning ABCs into child's play" - Media Release: http://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/media-releases/articles/new-app-turns-learning-abcs-into-childs-play


  • Doctoral project: "Mothers' interactions with two-year-olds when reading printed and electronic texts"
  • "Transition: A Positive Start to School" - Early Childhood and Primary School cross-sector State-wide Professional Learning: Dr Liz Rouse, Prof Christine Ure, Prof Andrea Nolan, Mrs Rosemarie Garner, Mrs Maria Nicholas
  • Deakin's Imaginarium: using 360 degree videos of classroom practice to facilitate immersive teaching/learning experiences, in partnership with local primary schools.


Filter by


School readiness - what does this mean? Educators' perceptions using a cross sector comparison

E Rouse, M Nicholas, R Garner

(2020), pp. 1-15, International Journal of Early Years Education, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Learning to read: where should early childhood educators begin?

Maria Nicholas, Elizabeth Rouse

(2020), pp. 1-11, Literacy, Chichester, Eng., C1

journal article

The red dot game

Shaun Bangay, Sophie Mckenzie, Maria Nicholas, Aaron Spence

(2019), Vol. 3, pp. 420-425, Learning, education & games, volume 3: 100 games to use in the classroom and beyond, Pittsburgh, Pa., B1

book chapter

A to Z safari

Aaron Spence, Sophie Mckenzie, Maria Nicholas

(2019), Vol. 3, pp. 16-20, Learning, education & games, volume 3: 100 games to use in the classroom and beyond, Pittsburgh, Pa., B1

book chapter

Using video-stimulated interviews to foster reflection, agency and knowledge-building in research

Maria Nicholas, Louise Paatsch, A Nolan

(2018), pp. 213-226, Video-based research in education : cross disciplinary perspectives, Abingdon, Eng., B1

book chapter

Affordances of using multiple videoed events to construct a rich understanding of adult-child book readings

M Nicholas

(2018), Vol. 41, pp. 125-141, International journal of research and method in education, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Digital literacies in middle years classrooms: teachers' perspectives and self-reported practices

K Hankins, M Nicholas

(2018), Vol. 24, pp. 13-33, The international journal of learning, Champaign, Ill., C1

journal article

Going on safari: the design and development of an early years literacy iPad application to support letter?sound learning

S Mckenzie, A Spence, M Nicholas

(2018), Vol. 16, pp. 16-29, The electronic journal of e-learning, Reading, Eng., C1

journal article

Mothers' views on shared reading with their two-year olds using printed and electronic texts: Purpose, confidence and practice

M Nicholas, L Paatsch

(2018), Journal of early childhood literacy, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Insights into casual relief teaching: casual relief teachers' perceptions of their knowledge and skills

M Nicholas, M Wells

(2017), Vol. 45, pp. 229-249, Asia-pacific journal of teacher education, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Using digital devices in a first year classroom : a focus on the design and use of phonics software applications

M Nicholas, S Mckenzie, M Wells

(2017), Vol. 6, pp. 267-282, Journal of education and learning, Toronto, Canada, C1

journal article

Transition: a positive start to school: statewide professional learning delivery final report

E Rouse, Rosemarie Garner, Maria Nicholas, Christopher Speldewinde

(2017), [Melbourne, Vic.], A6

research report/technical paper

Student knowledge: curriculum, assessment and reporting

M Nicholas

(2015), Vol. 14, pp. 1-16, Journal of educational enquiry, Adelaide, S. A., C1

journal article

Planning for teaching / planning for learning

G Hope-Rowe, M Nicholas

(2014), pp. 133-156, Becoming a teacher of language and literacy, Melbourne, Vic., B1

book chapter

Teacher practice: a spotlight on the use of feedback and conferencing in the first year of schooling

M Nicholas, L Paatsch

(2014), Vol. 39, pp. 130-152, Australian journal of teacher education, Perth, WA, C1

journal article

Funded Projects at Deakin

Other Public Sector Funding

Transition: A Positive Start to School ¿ State-wide PL Delivery

Dr Liz Rouse, Prof Christine Ure, Prof Andrea Nolan, Mrs Rosemarie Garner, Dr Maria Nicholas

  • 2018: $99,619
  • 2017: $967,012
  • 2016: $199,239

Industry and Other Funding

Paid Non-local Study Leave Scheme (Australia) in the 2017/18 School Year

A/Prof Tim Corcoran, Prof Julianne Moss, A/Prof Louise Paatsch, A/Prof Dianne Toe, Dr Ben Whitburn, Dr Maria Nicholas, Dr Kim Davies, Dr Claire Spicer, Prof Christine Ure, Dr Joanne Quick

  • 2018: $160,522


No completed student supervisions to report