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. Deacon is a world-leading researcher into reading development whose research focuses on understanding how children learn to read and write, both for children learning to read in English, as well as for bilinguals. She is also the co-Director of a new 2.5 million dollar Partnership Grant: Ensuring Full Literacy in a Multicultural and Digital World. Deacon’s research is conducted with amazing partner schools and collaborators around the world. 

Selected Publications

  • Bergey, B. W., Parrila, R. K., Laroche, A., & Deacon, S. H. (2019). Effects of peer-led training on academic self-efficacy, study skills, and academic performance for first-year university students with and without reading difficulties. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 56, 25-39. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2018.11.001
  • Lam, K., Chen, X., & Deacon, S. H. (2019). The role of awareness of cross‐language suffix correspondences in second‐language reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 55, 29-43. doi:10.1002/rrq.257
  • Levesque, K., Kieffer, M. J., & Deacon, S. H. (2019). Inferring meaning from meaningful parts: The contributions of morphological skills to the development of children’s reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 54, 63–80. doi:10.1002/rrq.219
  • Deacon, S. H., & Kieffer, M. (2018). Understanding how syntactic awareness contributes to reading comprehension: Evidence from mediation and longitudinal models. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110, 72-86. doi:10.1037/edu0000198
  • 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
  • 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, 96-113. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2008.01.004

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


Affiliate Member, Language Sciences Initiative, University of British Columbia

Member of Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading


PSYO 1012 - Introduction to Psychology II: Learning and Development
PSYO 3093 - Development of Language and Literacy
PSYO 4092 - Special Topics in Developmental Psychology
PSYO 4501/4502 - Honours Thesis Seminar

Service and Activity

Member, Partnership Engage Grants Committee, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Editorial Advisory Board Member for: Journal of Research in Reading (since 2008), Reading Psychology (since 2008), Applied Psycholinguistics (since 2012), Scientific Studies of Reading (since 2012), Reading Research Quarterly (since 2017), The Reading League (since 2019), and Journal of Educational Psychology (since 2020).

At Dalhousie: Member, Faculty of Science Human Ethics Committee (Social); Member, Ad Hoc Probationary Review Committee (Department of Psychology and Neuroscience); and Honours Advisor (Department of Psychology and Neuroscience).