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Dr. Allison W. Parsons
PhD, University of Virginia
Associate Professor
Director, Elizabeth G. Sturtevant, PhD, Center for Literacy

Contact Information

Send email to Dr. Parsons

Phone: (703) 993-5257
Fax: (703) 993-5300
Email: award12 (

George Mason University
Fairfax Campus
Thompson Hall 1603
4400 University Dr.
MS 4B3
Fairfax, VA 22030


My key interests include effective literacy teacher practices and professional development. This includes literacy coaching, adaptive teaching, culturally relevant teaching, and classroom practices that support students’ reading motivation and engagement. Classroom culture and language/discourse can aid or inhibit student learning, particularly in the early grades when students are learning vocabulary and content through teacher talk. Effective instructional practices, supported by knowledgeable literacy coaches and specialists can improve students’ literacy outcomes. My recent work has focused on design-based research and qualitative methodologies involving video analysis, as well as survey research.

Research Interests

Drawing from my background as a kindergarten teacher in a Title I urban school, I am interested in improving the literacy outcomes for all students, particularly in the areas of early literacy development, vocabulary, and academic language development through interactive reading and related activities. Students need excellent teachers who are supported with effective professional development and ongoing support from literacy specialists and instructional coaches, and so my research also explores aspects of teaching and leadership. I enjoy collaborating with others to advance my research agenda. I currently have multiple projects in various stages of data collection and analysis:

1. I'm investigating literacy coaching development, examining the processes through which teachers learn to become literacy leaders.

2. I'm exploring the types and amounts of early childhood literacy and elementary reading instruction in schools with Mason colleagues Leslie LaCroix, Holly Klee, as well as Kristin Conradi Smith at the College of William and Mary and Margaret Vaughn at Washington State University.

3. I'm exploring elementary students' engagement to read fiction and nonfiction with a diverse team of researchers across the United States.

4. I'm investigating the effects of longitudinal literacy professional development with a diverse team of Mason colleagues and recent Mason graduates.

5. I'm exploring adaptability in teachers' instruction as a way to build their awareness of effective teaching that meets students' identified needs. This work is part of a larger research agenda led by Mason colleague Seth Parsons.

In order to be a more effective professor, I find it important to study my own teaching and learning through self-study. Much of my research employs design-based research methods, surveys, and qualitative methods.

Recent Publications

Parsons, A. W., Samaras, A. P., *Dalbec, B., Constantine, L. S., & Evmenova, A., (in press). Facilitators’ self-study of a virtual adjunct faculty self-study collaborative. Studying Teacher Education. 

Parsons, A. W. & Irish, C (2021). Print and text-rich classrooms. In S.A. Parsons & M. Vaughn (Eds). Principles of effective literacy instruction, K-5. Guilford

Hjalmarson, M., Parsons, & A. W. (2021). Conjectures, cycles, and contexts: A systematic review of design-based research in engineering education. Studies in Engineering Education on Theory and Methods in Engineering Education, 1(2). pp. 142-155.

Hjalmarson, M., Parsons, A. W., Parsons, S. A., & Hutchison, A. C. (2021). Design-based research and publication challenges. In Z. Philippakos, A. Pellegrino, & E. Howell (Eds.), Design-based research in education: Theory and applications. Guilford

Irish, C. & Parsons, A. W. (2021). Educational reform policies. In R. Rycroft & K. Kinsley (Eds). Inequality in America: Causes and Consequences. ABC-CLIO 

*Ives, S. T., Parsons, S. A., Parsons, A. W., Robertson, D. A., Young, C., Polk, L., & Daoud, N. (2020). Students’ reading motivation and genre preferences: Validating two scales. Reading Psychology.

Coogle, C. G., Parsons, A. W., Ott, J. R., & LaCroix, L. (2020). A comparison of dialogic reading, modeling, and dialogic reading plus modeling. Infants and Young Children, 33(2), pp. 119-131. doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000162

Ankrum, J. W., Morewood, A., Parsons, S. A., Vaughn, M. A., Parsons, A. W., Hawkins, P. (2020). Documenting adaptive literacy instruction: The adaptive teaching observation protocol. Reading Psychology, 41, 71-86.

Parsons, A. W., Parsons, S. A., Dodman, S. L., Ramirez, E.* Nuland, L. R*., Pierczynski, M.*, & Caufman, R.* (2019). A literacy professional development initiative in an urban elementary school: Year 2 of a longitudinal design-based study. Journal of Educational Research, 112, 447-462.

Parsons, A. W. & Hathaway, J. I. (2019). Video based coding tools to guide reflection. In R. Karchmer-Klein & K. Pytash (Eds.). Effective practices in online teacher preparation for literacy educators. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.


Parsons, S. A., Hutchison, A., Hall, L. C., Parsons, A. W., Samantha T. Ives, & Alicia Bruyning Leggett (2019). Teachers’ perceptions of online professional development: A national survey. Teaching and Teacher Education, 82, 33-42. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2019.03.006

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