Dr Helen Harper

Senior research officer


PhD, University of Queensland, 2002; Graduate Diploma of Primary Education, Charles Darwin University, 2005; Diploma in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language, Royal Society of the Arts, 1988; Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III), 1986; Bachelor of Arts (Honours), University of Queensland, 1983.

Approved level of HDR supervision at Charles Darwin University:

Principal Supervisor for PhD


Darwin – Charles Darwin University, Casuarina campus


After completing doctoral studies in anthropological linguistics, Helen studied primary education and worked as a teacher educator, specialising in approaches to teaching language and literacy.

Helen’s main research interests relate to how classrooms operate and how children learn to read and use language, particularly in more challenging settings. She is also interested in education systems as a whole, the relationships between the structure of those systems and the ways that teaching and learning get carried out, and the potential of research to engender change in educational settings. Helen’s preference is to research collaboratively with teachers.


  • Science of learning
  • Strong start bright future evaluation
  • Artists in remote schools (AiRS) program evaluation.
  1. Wolgemuth, J. R., Harper, H., Hernandez, P., & Helmer, J. (2013). Cultural validity of the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation Level K phonological awareness scale for Indigenous Australians. The International Journal of Educational and Psychological Assessment. (In Press)
  2. Wolgemuth, J., Abrami, P., Helmer, J., Savage, R., Harper, H., & Lea, T. (2013). Examining the impact of ABRACADABRA on early literacy in Northern Australia: An implementation fidelity analysis.  The Journal of Educational Research. (In Press)
  3. Harper, H. & Silburn, S. (2013). The Artists in Remote Schools Project: A participatory evaluation. Darwin, NT: Menzies School of Health Research,
  4. Harper, H. (2013) AK’s writing lesson: Optimism and melancholy in school-based ethnography. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 12, 24-28.
  5. Wolgemuth, J., Savage, R., Helmer, J., Harper, H., Lea, T., Abrami, P., Kirby, A., Chalkiti, K. Morris, P., Carapetis, J., & Louden, W. (2013). ABRACADABRA aids Indigenous and non-Indigenous early literacy in Australia: Evidence from a multisite randomized controlled trial. Computers and Education, 67, 250-264.  
  6. Harper, H. (2012). Teachers’ emotional responses to new pedagogical tools in high challenge settings: Illustrations from the Northern Territory. The Australian Educational Researcher, 39(4), 447-461.
  7. Harper, H., Helmer, J., Lea, T., Chalkiti, K., Emmett, S., & Wolgemuth, J. R. (2012). ABRACADABRA for magic under which conditions? Case studies of a web-based literacy intervention in the Northern Territory. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 35(1), 33-50.
  8. Wolgemuth, J., Savage, R., Helmer, J., Lea, T., Harper, H., Chalkiti, K., et al. (2011). Using computer-based instruction to improve Indigenous early literacy in Northern Australia: A quasi-experimental study. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(4), 727-750.
  9. Harper, H., & Rennie, J. (2009). 'I Had to Go Out and Get Myself a Book on Grammar': A Study of Pre-service Teachers' Knowledge about Language. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 32(1), 22-37.
  10. Harper, H. (2007). "Try look that yellow book": The legacy of Terry Crowley's work in Cape York Peninsula. In J. Siegel, J. Lynch & D. Eades (Eds.), Language Description, History and Development: Linguistic indulgence in memory of Terry Crowley (pp. 9-12). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.