Dr Margaret Merga
PhD; MEd; GradDipEd; BA (Hons)

Senior Lecturer in Education

About me

I am a Senior Lecturer at Murdoch University. I am keenly interested in the social influences on literacy acquisition and the position of reading and books in the contemporary world. My research findings in literacy have led to a broader understanding of the role that teachers and parents can play in supporting children, teenagers and adults to become life-long readers. I have also published findings in a range of related areas, such as Sustained Silent Reading, preferred modes of reading, peer influences on reading, technological influences on reading, and a range of other areas.

I have also substantially contributed to educational initiatives in the area of health promotion through both publication of research and curriculum design, and I have worked with the Western Australian Department of Health to investigate graduate work readiness of early career health professionals. I also have ongoing research relationships in health professional workforce education.

At Murdoch I coordinate and lecture across a wide range of literacy units in both secondary and primary education. I have also taught curriculum construction, integrated curriculum and professional experience units.

Teaching area

In my current work role, I do/did:

  • Unit coordination (with unit revision or design) for English and the Curriculum (EDN313, 372 & 413), Teaching English in Secondary Schools (EDN553), Curriculum Development for Practitioners (EDN588), the Integrated Curriculum in Primary Schools (EDN613), MTeach Professional Internship A (EDN611), Transition to Teaching (EDN5501), English in the Primary Curriculum (EDN565), Language for Learning and Teaching (EDN111).

Research areas


I have published in peer-reviewed journals in literacy, education, health promotion, workforce education and higher education. The range of recent and current projects that I am involved in is listed under “Current Projects”.


Current projects

2012-2014 Australian Postgraduate Award, The West Australian Study in Adolescent Book Reading (WASABR), $23,728 per annum for 3 years

2014 Department of Health Western Australia, CIs Claire Langdon & Margaret Merga, Graduate Work Readiness Project (Phase One and Two).

2015-2016 Murdoch University School of Education Strategic Funding, CI Margaret Merga, International Study of Avid Book Readers, $4000 for 12 months

2015-2017 Ian Potter Foundation Grant, CI Margaret Merga, Social Influences on Recreational Book Reading in Primary School (also known as the Western Australian Study in Children’s Book Reading (WASCBR)), $10,000 for 2 years

2015-2017 Central Research Grants Scheme (CRGS) (Deakin University Internal Grant) and Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, CI’s Leonie Rutherford and Katya Johanson, External Investigator Margaret Merga, Teen Reading in the Digital Era: Platforms, Access and Diversity, $19,222 for 1 year.

2016-2017 Collier Foundation Grant, CI’s Margaret Merga & Susan Ledger, For the Love of Reading: Exploring Barriers to Allowing Time for Reading Aloud, $25,000 for 2 years.

2018-2019 Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, CI Margaret Merga, Teacher Librarians as Australian Literature Advocates in Schools, $20,299 for 2 years.

2018-2019 Western Australian Nurses’ Memorial Charitable Trust Grant, CI’s Tracey Coventry & Margaret Merga, Investigator Anne-Maree Hays, Nurse Managers’ Perceptions of Intergenerational Mentoring, $5,142 for 2 years.

Awards and grants

See “current projects”.

Events and speaking engagements


Merga, M.K. (2017). Encouraging your students to want to read for pleasure. Invited speaker at 2017 Abbotsleigh Teacher Librarians’ Conference, Betty Archdale Library, Abbotsleigh, 11th of August, 2017.

Merga, M.K. (2017). Challenges and opportunities in mixed-methods child-centered research: reflections from reading research with children and adolescents. Western Australian Institute for Education Research 2017 Research Seminar Program.  Wednesday 9th August, Murdoch University.

Merga, M.K. & Mat Roni, S. (2017). eBooks or paper books for girls and boys? Western Australian Institute for Education Research 32nd Annual Forum, Notre Dame University 5 August, 2017.

Merga, M.K. (2017). Encouraging your middle school and high school students to want to read for pleasure: The latest knowledge, skills and strategies. International Literacy Association Conference, Orlando, Florida, July 15-17, 2017.

Merga, M.K. & Ledger, S. (2017). Do parents read to their children? AATE/ALEA Joint National Conference, Hobart, 6-9 July, 2017.

Merga, M.K. & Mat Roni, S. (2017). Paper books or eBooks for children: What does the research suggest? AATE/ALEA Joint National Conference, Hobart, 6-9 July, 2017.

Merga, M.K. & Mat Roni, S. (2017). Myth-busting in the reading research space: implications for    teachers seeking to foster a love of reading. Storytellers: ETAWA State Conference, Trinity College, East Perth, 6th of May, 2017.

Merga, M.K. (2017). Increasing Children’s Engagement in Recreational Reading. AERA 2017 Annual Meeting, Knowledge to Action: Achieving the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity, Henry B Gonzales Conference Center, San Antonio, Texas, 27th of April-May 1, 2017.

Merga, M.K. (2016). Teachers as readers: Do teachers model keen recreational book reading?  3rd Baltic Sea / 17th Nordic Literacy Conference, FinRA Turku/Åbo, Finland on 14th-16th   August, 2016.

Merga, M.K. (2016). Do males prefer non-fiction and why does this matter? Western Australian Institute for Education Research 30th Annual Research Forum, Notre Dame University, Fremantle, 6th of August, 2016.

Merga, M.K. (2016). Encouraging your students to read more books: Insights from the      International Study of Avid Book Readers. Weaving Worlds with Words and Wonder:          AATE/ALEA Joint National Conference, Adelaide Convention Centre 7-10 July 2016.

Merga, M.K. (2015). What is our role in mitigating health risk from increasing screen time in  schools and at home? Keynote presentation. The Australian Council for Health, Physical  Education and Recreation, 2015 State Conference, Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley, Western Australia 24th November, 2015.

Merga, M.K. (2015). Supporting recreational book reading in adolescents: What you can do. Thirteenth International Conference on Book, Publishing and Libraries, University of      British Columbia, Vancouver 19-20th October, 2015.

Merga, M.K. (2015). Thesis by publication in education: Joining the conversation early.     Education Research: Past, Present and Future, Western Australian Institute for             Education Research 30th Annual Research Forum, Notre Dame University 8 August             2015.

Merga, M.K. (2015). What schools can do to support adolescent recreational book reading. Blurring Boundaries: ETAWA State Conference, Trinity College, East Perth 9th May,  2015.

Merga, M.K. (2013). “She knows what I like”: Student-generated best-practice statements from the West Australian Study in Adolescent Recreational Book Reading. Brave New World: AATE/ALEA Joint National Conference, QUT Brisbane 4-7 July 2013.

Merga, M.K. (2013). Can we influence teens to read more books? Research Journeys in   Education: Postgraduate Research Colloquium 2012, Edith Cowan University, Mt             Lawley, 20th September 2013.

Merga, M.K. (2012). Social influences on West Australian adolescents’ recreational book  reading. Research Journeys in Education: Postgraduate Research Colloqiuim 2012,           Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley, 21st September 2012.


Merga, M.K. & Campbell-Hicks, R. (2017). 2017 CBCA Book of the Year Awards  Judges’ Short List Talk. School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE), Leederville, 20th of June, 2017, and A.H. Bracks Public Library, Melville, 27th of June, 2017.

Merga, M.K., Kealley, A & Betts, A.J. (2017). Invited speaker on Plenary Panel- Reading,   Storytellers: ETAWA State Conference, Trinity College, East Perth, 6th of May, 2017.

Merga, M.K. (2017). Encouraging recreational reading to improve school-wide literacy. Presented by invitation at the Mondays @ Murdoch Seminar Series, Murdoch University, Perth, March 27, 2017.

Merga, M.K. (2016) Teachers as readers: Do teachers model reading for pleasure? Presented by invitation at the School of Education Seminar Series, Murdoch University, Perth, September 2, 2016.

Merga M.K. Thesis by Publication in Education. Presented by invitation at the PhD by       Publication Think Tank, Deakin University Waterfront Campus, Geelong 2 December,          2015.

Merga M.K. How can schools and parents support adolescent recreational book reading? Presented by invitation to the joint research centres (Media and Publics, Literature and Performance and the Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation). Melbourne Corporate Centre, Deakin University, Melbourne 4 December, 2015.

SELECTED MEDIA COVERAGE (Contact Margaret for a more fulsome list)

2SER. (2015. August 18). Should children bring their own devices to school? Radio interview produced by Simone O’Halloran on The Daily.  Retrieved from             http://www.2ser.com/component/k2/item/17442-should-children-bring-their-own-            devices-to-school

6PR. (2015. June 23). Why the pleasure of reading is being forgotten. Radio interview with Peter Bell on 6PR Afternoons with Peter Bell. Retrieved from             http://www.6pr.com.au/news/why-the-pleasure-of-reading-is-being-forgotten-20150623-  ghvh0f.html

ABC Radio National (2017, September 15). Australian Reading Hour: Writers Mem Fox and Tom Keneally, Neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf, Academics Margaret Merga and Jan Zwar. Radio interview with Kate Evans on Books and Art.

ABC (2015. October 3). “The Vertical Schools of the Future”. Australia Wide. Provided expert  opinion. Retrieved from http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/australiawide/NC1579H027S00#playing

ABC Radio Darwin. (2015. June 24) Interview with Dr Margaret Merga. Radio interview with Lorna Perry on Afternoons with Lorna Perry.

ABC720. (2017. August 28). Interview with Dr Margaret Merga. Radio interview with Gillian O’Shaughnessy on Perth Afternoons.

ABC720 (2015. December 17) Interview with Dr Margaret Merga. Radio interview with Jamie Burnett on Drive with Jamie Burnett.

ABC News Radio Sydney (2017. August 29). Interview with Dr Margaret Merga. Radio interview with Tracey Holmes on ABC News Radio.

Lietz, P. (Ed). (2015) Australian Journal of Education Video Interview- Dr Margaret Merga.   Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/122481634

McDonald, H. (2015, December 9). “Brain Drain”—effects of not reading over summer.      Segment on Today Tonight, Channel 7 (provided expert opinion).


Professional and community service


American Educational Research Association

English Teacher’s Association of Western Australia

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

International Literacy Association

International Board on Books for Young People

Primary English Teaching Association Australia

Society for the Scientific Study of Reading

The Western Australian School Library Association


Current editor for The Library Workforce column, International Information & Library Review.

Editorial Review Board member for the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (Volumes 59 & 60)

Reviewer for The International Journal of the Book, the Journal of Research in Reading, High Ability Studies, Computers and Education and the Journal of Research in Childhood Education.


  • Judge for the 2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Children’s Book of the Year Awards
  • Member of the Murdoch University Student Appeals Committee from 2015
  • Member of the School of Education research committee from 2017
  • Member of the Task and Finish group for the Seed-ED initiative, working party of the Research Committee, from 2017.
  • Member of the Engagement and School Partnerships Committee from 2017.
  • Current research student supervision: MEd (2); EdD (2); PhD (1)

Doctoral and masters supervisions

See “professional and community service”.



In Reading and English Teaching Research

Merga, M.K. (2013). Should Silent Reading feature in a secondary school English programme? West Australian students’ perspectives on Silent Reading. English in Education, 47(3), 229-244.

Merga, M.K. (2014). Peer Group and Friend Influences on the Social Acceptability of Adolescent Book Reading. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 57(6), 472-482.

Merga, M.K. (2014). Exploring the role of parents in supporting recreational book reading  beyond primary school. English in Education, 48(2), 149-163.

Merga, M.K. (2014). Western Australian adolescents’ reasons for infrequent engagement in recreational book reading. Literacy Learning: the Middle Years. 22(2), 60-66.

Merga, M.K. (2014) Are teenagers really keen digital readers? Adolescent engagement in  eBook reading and the relevance of paper books today. English in Australia. 49(1), 27-37.

Merga, M.K. (2014). Are Western Australian adolescents keen book readers? Australian   Journal of Language and Literacy. 37(3), 161-170.

Merga, M.K. (2014). What would make them read more? Insights from Western Australian adolescent readers. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. E-Published ahead of print.

Merga, M.K. (2015). ‘She knows what I like’: Student-generated best-practice statements  for encouraging recreational reading in adolescents. Australian Journal of Education 59(1), 35-50.

Merga, M.K. (2015). Are avid adolescent readers social networking about books? New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship. 21(1), 1-16.

Merga, M.K. (2015). Access to books in the home and adolescent engagement in recreational book reading: Considerations for secondary school educators. English in Education.  E-Published ahead of print.

Merga, M.K. (2015). Do adolescents prefer electronic books to paper books? Publications. 2015, 3, 237-247

Merga, M.K. (2015). Supporting recreational book reading in adolescents. The International Journal of the Book. 14(1), 1-14.

Merga, M.K. & Moon, B. (2016). The impact of social influences on high school students’  recreational reading. The High School Journal, 99(2), 122-140.

Merga, M. K. (2016). Meeting the Needs of Avid Book Readers: Access, Space, Concentration Support and Barrier Mitigation. Journal of Library Administration, 1-20.

Merga, M.K. (2016). ““I don’t know if she likes reading”: Are teachers perceived to be keen readers, and how is this determined?” English in Education. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eie.12126/abstract

Merga, M.K. & Booth, S. (2017). Investigating debates around racism in sport to facilitate perspective transformation in the secondary English classroom. Journal of Transformative Education, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1541344617692773

Merga, M.K. (2017). Do males really prefer non-fiction, and why does it matter? English in  Australia, 52(1), 27-37.

Merga, M.K. & Mat Roni, S. (2017). The influence of access to eReaders, computers and mobile phones on children’s book reading frequency. Computers and Education, 109, pp. 187-196.

Rutherford, L., Waller, L., Merga, M., McRae, M., Bullen, E., Johanson, K. (2017). The    Contours of Teenagers’ Reading in the Digital Era: Scoping the Research. New Review      of Children’s Literature and Librarianship.

Healey, B. & Merga, M.K. (2017). A phenomenological perspective of children’s writing.    Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 40(3), 199-209.

Merga, M.K. (2017). Interactive reading opportunities beyond the early years: What educators need to consider. Australian Journal of Education. Retrieved from             http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/Wm6JKfkqU9FfTNhgRQ7z/full

Mat Roni, S. & Merga, M.K. (2017). The influence of device access and gender on children’s reading frequency. Public Library Quarterly. Retrieved from             http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/XABHBfp5Wb2hkJH99DdS/full

Merga, M.K. (2017). What would make children read for pleasure more frequently? English in Education, 51(2), 207-223.

Merga, M.K., McRae, M., & Rutherford, L. (2017). Adolescents’ attitudes toward talking about books: Implications for educators. English in Education. Available in early view from       http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eie.12144/full

Merga, M.K. & Mat Roni, S. (2017). Choosing strategies of children and the impact of age and gender on library use: Insights for librarians. Journal of Library        Administration, 57(6). Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01930826.2017.1340774

Merga, M.K. (2017). What motivates avid readers to maintain a regular reading habit in     adulthood? Australian Journal of Language and Literacy. 40(2), 146-156.

Merga, M.K. (2017). Becoming a reader: Significant social influences on avid book        readers. School Library Research. 20, 1-21. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/vol20/SLR_BecomingaReader_V20.pdf

Merga, M.K. & Mat Roni, S. (in press). Characteristics, preferences and motivation of avid non-fiction readers. Collection Building.

Rutherford, L. Merga, M.K., & Singleton, A. (in press).  Influences on Australian adolescents’ recreational reading. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy.

Ledger, S. & Merga, M.K. (in press). Reading aloud: Children’s attitudes toward being read to at home and at school. Australian Journal of Teacher Education.

In Health Promotion

McManus A, Merga M.K., Newton W, Trzsenski A. (2010). Seafood: nutritional gold for     seniors. Australasian Medical Journal, 3(13), 855-859.

McManus A., Merga M.K., Newton W. (2011). What consumers need to know about omega 3 fatty acids. Appetite, 57(1), 80-83.

Merga, M.K. (2015). ‘Bring Your Own Device’: Considering potential risks to student health. Health Education Journal. E-Published ahead of print.

Merga, M.K. & Hu, Q.M. (2016) Health education beyond school boundaries: Use of school newsletters to communicate health messages to parents. Australian Journal of Education.E-Published ahead of print.

Merga, M.K. & Williams, R. (2016). The role of health educators in mitigating health risk    from increasing screen time in schools and at home. Asia-Pacific Journal of Health,        Sport & Physical Education. 7(2), 157-172.

In Higher Education

Merga, M.K. (2015). Thesis by publication in education: An autoethnographic perspective for educational researchers. Issues in Educational Research. 25(2), 291-308.

Booth, S., Merga, M.K., & Mat Roni, S. (2016). Peer-mentors reflect on the benefits of mentoring: An autoethography. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 11, 383-402. Retrieved from  http://www.informingscience.org/Publications/3603

In Health Workforce Reform and Education

Merga, M.K. (2016). Gaps in the graduate work readiness of health professionals and their impact on early practice: Possibilities for future interprofessional learning. Focus on     Health Professional Education, 17(3), 14-29.


Merga, M.K. (2014). Seven Findings from the West Australian Study in Adolescent Book    Reading. ETANotes, Term 4, 2014, 4-6.

Merga, M.K. (2015). How to get teenagers to read. The Conversation.  Retrieved from      https://theconversation.com/how-to-get-teenagers-to-read-42757

Merga, M.K. (2015). Devices in schools and at home means too much screen time for kids. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/devices-in-schools-and-at-home-means-too- much-screen-time-for-kids-45709

Merga, M.K. & Mat Roni, S. (2017). Children prefer to read books on paper rather than screens. The  Conversation. Retrieved from  https://theconversation.com/children-prefer-to-read-books-on-paper-rather-than-screens-74171#comment_1234533

Merga, M.K. (2017). Research shows the importance of parents reading with children – even after    children can read. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/research-shows-the-importance-of-parents-reading-with-children-even-after-children-can-read-82756