Damon Thomas

UTAS Home Dr Damon Thomas

Damon Thomas

Lecturer in English Education

Room A225a, Building A, Newnham Campus

+61 3 6324 3588 (phone)

+61 3 6324 3048 (fax)

Dr Damon Thomas is a Lecturer in English Education. His notable career achievements include: completing a PhD in 2015 into the persuasive writing choices of high achieving primary and secondary school students in Tasmania; winning an Elite Scholarship to complete his PhD research at UTAS; being awarded an ARC Grant as part of a team in 2015; securing a UTAS Community Engagement Grant in 2015; completing a Bachelor of Education degree with First Class Honours; winning the Brian Pirkis Memorial Medal in 2011 for being the student with the highest GPA in their final year of study; being a recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's Leadership Award in 2012; winning various UTAS Teaching and Research Merit Awards in 2014 and 2015; and completing a Graduate Certificate in Research in 2015.

Career summary


PhD (2015) 'Writing for change: persuasion across the school years' University of Tasmania, Australia 

GradCert Res (2015) University of Tasmania, Australia

BEd (Hons) (2011) 'mLearning and the new digital divide' University of Tasmania, Australia


Before joining the University of Tasmania, Damon taught in various primary school classroom contexts after completing a Bachelor of Education degree with First Class Honours. Damon has also previously worked as a research assistant on several English-related research projects.

Research Themes

Damon's research aligns to the University's research themes of 'Better Health' (in the sense of literacy health) and 'Creativity, Culture and Society'. His research is concerned with young people's uses of interpersonal language as they adopt stances towards the ideas they write about and towards their readers. He draws on systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and classical and contemporary theories of rhetoric to explain how young writers use persuasive language choices to approve, disapprove, applaud and criticise a given topic, how they position readers to do the same, and how they align and disalign themselves with real or invented audiences. He seeks to compare and contrast the sorts of persuasive choices made by young writers in controlled contexts such as NAPLAN with those made in authentic contexts such as student activism.


Professional practice

Damon is a member of a number of professional organisations. He currently holds the position of Secretary for the Northern Tasmanian branch of the Australian Literacy Educators' Association (ALEA), and is the Tasmanian State Representative for the Australian Systemic Functional Linguistics Association (ASFLA).

Administrative expertise

  • Unit Coordinator (ESH110, EMT511)
  • Chief Investigator on a UTAS Community Engagement Grant


Literacy development, oral language, reading, writing, grammar, genre

Teaching responsibility

Foundations of English (ESH110)
Foundations of English (EMT511)

View more on Dr Damon Thomas in WARP


  • Drawing on systemic functional linguistics and theories of rhetoric to explore young people's persuasive language use
  • Improving primary and secondary school teachers' understandings of the language demands of the Australian Curriculum: English
  • Understanding and critiquing the annual NAPLAN testing program

Current projects

Damon is currently involved in three research projects that explore the following themes:

  • How the provision of children's literature to early childhood students in lower socio-economic areas impacts on parent/child reading in the home environment (UTAS Books in Homes Project)
  • How undergraduate students perceive the effectiveness and usefulness of embedding explicit persuasive writing principles in an advanced science unit for the authentic purpose of sustainability
  • How successful primary and secondary school writers use nominalisation for persuasive purposes.

Fields of Research

  • English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL) (130204)
  • Computer Gaming and Animation (190202)
  • Education (139999)
  • Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Economics, Business and Management) (130205)

Research Objectives

  • Pedagogy (930201)
  • Learner and Learning Achievement (930101)
  • Assessment and Evaluation of Curriculum (930301)
  • Teaching and Instruction Technologies (930203)
  • Education and Training Theory and Methodology (939902)
  • Teaching and Instruction (930299)
  • Learner Development (930103)


Total publications


Journal Article

(4 outputs)
2016Thomas D, To V, 'Nominalisation in high scoring primary and secondary school persuasive texts', Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 39, (2) pp. 135-148. ISSN 1038-1562 (2016) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: To V

2015Thomas DP, Thomas AA, Moltow DT, 'Evaluative stance in high achieving Year 3 persuasive texts', Linguistics and Education: An International Research Journal, 30 pp. 26-41. ISSN 0898-5898 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.linged.2015.03.003 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Thomas AA; Moltow DT


2014Brett P, Thomas D, 'Discovering argument: linking literacy, citizenship education, and persuasive advocacy', Journal of Social Science Education, 13, (4) pp. 61-72. ISSN 1618-5293 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.2390/jsse-v13-i4-1350 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1

Co-authors: Brett P


2013To V, Fan S, Thomas D, 'Lexical density and readability: A case study of English textbooks', Internet Journal of Language, Culture and Society, (37) pp. 61-71. ISSN 1327-774X (2013) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: To V; Fan S

Chapter in Book

(5 outputs)
2016Thomas DP, Brett P, 'Putting on the Style: Enhancing Citizenship Education with a Persuasive Writing Framework', What is Next in Educational Research?, Sense Publishers, S Fan, J Fielding-Wells (ed), The Netherlands, pp. 285-295. ISBN 9789463005227 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Brett P

2015Nailon D, Emery S, Stephenson E, Thomas D, 'Challenges facing early childhood teachers in literacy education', Linguistics and language education in new horizons: The link between theory, research and pedagogy, Nova Publishers, S Fan, T Le & Q Le (ed), New York, pp. 401-416. ISBN 978-1-63482-800-0 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Nailon D; Emery S; Stephenson E

2015Nailon DL, Thomas DP, Emery SG, Stephenson EA, 'Using attitude analysis to explore focused conversations for professional learning and development in early childhood', Linguistics and language education in new horizons: The link between theory, research and pedagogy, Nova Publishers, S Fan, T Le & Q Le (ed), New York, pp. 43-59. ISBN 978-1-63482-800-0 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Nailon DL; Emery SG; Stephenson EA

2014Thomas DP, Thomas Angela, Moltow DT, 'Engaged young writers: Dialogic choices beyond NAPLAN', The Future of Educational Research, Sense Publishers, N. Fitzallen, S. Fan & R. Reaburn (ed), Netherlands, pp. 301-315. ISBN 978-94-6209-512-0 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Thomas Angela; Moltow DT

2012Thomas D, Thomas A, Fluck A, 'Enhancing pedagogy with mLearning', Technologies for enhancing pedagogy, engagement and empowerment in education: Creating learning-friendly environments, IGI Global, T Le and Q Le (ed), Hershey, PA, pp. 1-11. ISBN 978-1-61350-074-3 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-074-3 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Thomas A; Fluck A


Conference Publication

(3 outputs)
2016To V, Thomas D, 'Nominalisation in high scoring primary and secondary persuasive texts', Handbook of the Australian Systemic Functional Linguistics Association (ASFLA) Conference, 27 - 29 September 2016, Sydney, Australia, pp. 42. (2016) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: To V

2013Nailon D, Thomas D, Emery S, Stephenson E, Kinnear V, 'Examining focused conversation for leading professional learning and development in early childhood: highlighting the role of evaluative stance', Proceedings of the 2013 Australian Association of Research in Education Conference, 1-5 December 2013, Adelaide, South Australia, pp. 1-16. ISSN 1324-9320 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Nailon D; Emery S; Stephenson E; Kinnear V

2012Thomas D, Thomas A, ''I rest my case': Linguistic resources used by successful young writers of persuasive texts', To Boldly Proceed: Proceedings of the 39th International Systemic Functional Congress, 16-20 July 2012, Sydney, Australia, pp. 69-74. ISBN 978-0-646-58257-3 (2012) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Thomas A

Grants & Funding

In 2015, Damon received $7,500 for a UTAS Community Engagement Grant that seeks to provide free books of choice to early childhood students in schools around Tasmania (UTAS Books in Homes Project).

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Improving Regional Low SES Students' Learning and Wellbeing (2015 - 2018)$571,174
This study aims to address the learning and wellbeing needs of over 8000 predominantly low SES students in regional Australia through researching the conditions that enable refinement and extension of a successful curricular and wellbeing program. This student cohorts current low educational performance has significant negative effects on individual employment prospects and broader national productivity. Their under-achievement and disengagement from schooling also contribute to many antisocial, harmful short- and long-term outcomes for individuals, with significant health and other costs to the broader community. The research has the potential to impact positively on these current outcomes and be applicable to other like settings.
Australian Research Council ($424,174)
Anglicare Tasmania ($70,000); Bendigo South East College ($3,500); Crusoe Secondary 7-10 College ($3,500); Department of Education and Training Victoria ($56,000); Eaglehawk Secondary College ($3,500); Northern Bay P-12 College ($7,000); Weeroona College Bendigo ($3,500)
Grant-Linkage Projects Round 1
Administered By
Deakin University
Research Team
Prain V; Swabey KJ; Tytler R; Deed C; Meyers Noel; Blake D; Muir T; Farrelly C; Mooney A; Thomas DP
2015 - 2018
Grant Reference

Research Supervision

Damon has supervised a number of honours projects and would be interested in supervising any future honours or PhD projects that explore issues around young people's persuasive text creation, or that employ systemic functional linguistics (SFL) or theories of rhetoric to unpack or teach language in different contexts.




PhDThe Knowledge Quartet and English Teaching: Applicability, realisation and potential2016
PhDIs a Multi-Sensory Synthetic Phonics Teaching Approach of any Benefit to Improving the Standard of Literacy Development in Children who are Significantly Behind in their Learning, and, who have Experienced Emotional Trauma in the First Five Years of Brain Development?2016
PhDExploring the Civic and Political Education Curriculum in Nepal: Shaping a democratic culture of youth2017