Hélène Deacon


Email: Helene.Deacon@dal.ca
Phone: (902) 494-2538
Fax: (902) 494-6585
Mailing Address: 
Dalhousie University Life Sciences Centre 1355 Oxford Street PO Box 15000 Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Reading Development
  • Oral Language Skills
  • Spelling Development
  • Reading Difficulties
  • Bilingualism

Cross Appointments

Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University
Developmental Pediatrics, IWK Health Centre
Graduate Faculty. Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto


BSc Honours (University of Prince Edward Island)
DPhil (University of Oxford)
PDF (University of British Columbia)

Research Interests

Dr. Hélène Deacon is a Killam Professor in the Faculty of Science, where she directs the Language and Literacy Lab. Her research explores how children learn to read and write, BOTH for children learning to read in English, as well as for bilinguals. Our research is conducted with our amazing partner schools and collaborators around the world. 

Selected Publications

Deacon, S. H., Benere, J., & Castles, A. (2012). Chicken or egg? Untangling the relationship between orthographic processing and reading. Cognition, 122(1), 110-117. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.09.003

, S. H., Benere, J., & Pasquerella, A. (2013). Reciprocal relationship: Children’s morphological awareness and their reading accuracy across grade 2 to 3. Developmental Psychology, 49(6), 1113-1126. doi: 10.1037/a0029474

Tucker, R., Castles, A., Laroche, A., & Deacon, S. H. (2016). The nature of orthographic learning in self teaching: Testing the extent of transfer. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 145, 79-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.12.007

Deacon, S. H., Commissaire, E., Chen, X., & Pasquerella, A. (2013). Learning about print: Orthographic processing and its relationship to word reading in first grade children in French immersion. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26, 1087-1109. doi: 10.1007/s11145-012-9407-2

Roman, A., Kirby, J. R., Parrila, R., Wade-Woolley, L., & Deacon, S. H. (2009). Towards a comprehensive view of the skills involved in word reading in Grades 4, 6, and 8. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102(1), 96-113. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2008.01.004

Bowers, P., Kirby, J. R., & Deacon, S. H. (2010). The effects of morphological instruction on literacy skills: A systematic review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 144-172. doi: 10.3102/0034654309359353

Selected Awards and Honours


Killam Professor, Faculty of Science


Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Editor’s award


Voted 3rd Best Professor in 2012 for “Best of Halifax” in local newspaper “The Coast”


IWK Auxiliary Award for top grant submitted to competition


UKLA/Wiley-Blackwell Research in Literacy Education Award


March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Award


National Academy of Education Spencer Fellowship


Visiting Professor, European Doctoral College


Associate Member: Graduate Faculty, Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, University of Toronto.

Member of Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading


PSYO 1012 - Introduction to Psychology II: From Social Interaction to Psychopathology
PSYO 3093 - Development of Language and Literacy
PSYO 4092 - Special Topics in Child Development

Service and Activity

Member, External Advisory Board of the Multidisciplinary Learning Disabilities Center at the University of Washington

Editorial Advisory Board Member for: Journal of Research in Reading (since 2008), Reading Psychology (since 2008), Applied Psycholinguistics (2012-2018), Reading Research Quarterly and also Scientific Studies of Reading