Donald Leu

Professor Emeritus


John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology
Professor Emeritus of Education
Director, The New Literacies Research Lab

Academic Degrees:

Ph.D. Language, Literacy, and Culture, University of California, Berkeley
Ed.M. Reading and Human Development, Harvard University
B.A. Political Science/History/Russian, Michigan State University

Areas of Expertise:

Literacy and Technology
Reading Education
Cognition and Instruction


Donald J. Leu is the John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology at the University of Connecticut. He holds a joint appointment in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education. A graduate of Michigan State, Harvard, and Berkeley, he is an international authority on literacy education, especially the new skills and strategies required to read, write, and learn with Internet technologies and the best instructional practices that prepare students for these new literacies. Don directs the New Literacies Research Lab in the Neag School of Education. He is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame, Past President of the Literacy Research Association, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association. Don was recently featured in the documentary “Out of Print,” directed by Vivienne Roumani and narrated by Meryl Streep. He edited the Handbook of Research on New Literacies (Erlbaum, 2008) and has more than 100 research publications and seventeen books on topics that range from the new literacies of online research and comprehension to teacher education and phonemic awareness. He is a frequent speaker at major conferences and has given keynote addresses in Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, and North America and he delivered the Jeanne S. Chall Annual Lecture in Reading at Harvard University in 2016. His work has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the North Central Educational Research Lab, the Carnegie Corporation, the Institute for Educational Sciences, PBS, the Annenberg Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Australian Council of Educational Research, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Funded Research (Selected):

Leu, D. J., Rhoads, Christopher, McCoach, D. (Betsy). (2017-2019). The FACTORS Project: Factors Affecting Comprehension by Teens During Online Reading In Science. U. S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. $599,870.

Leu, D. J. & Kulikowich, J., Sedransk, N., Coiro, J. (2009-2015). Assessing Online Reading Comprehension: The ORCA Project. U. S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. 2010-2015. $2,813,127.00.

Leu, Donald J. & Reinking, David. (2005-2008).  Teaching Internet Comprehension to Adolescents:  The TICA Project. U. S. Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences. $1,795,477.00.

Hartman, D., Leu, D.J., Olson, M.R., Truxam, M.P. (2006). Reading and writing to learn with the “new literacies”: Preparing a new generation of teachers and researchers to develop literate American adolescents. Carnegie Corporation of New York. $100,000.

Leu, Donald J., Jr., Douglas Hartman, and the New Literacies Research Team at the University of Connecticut. (2005). Evaluating the Development of Scientific Knowledge and New Forms of Reading Comprehension During Online Reading. North Central Educational Research Lab. $77,622

Leu, Donald J, Jr. (Co-PI with Charles Kinzer, Vanderbilt University; Linda Labbo, University of Georgia; William Teale, University of Illinois, Chicago Circle).  (2000-2006). Best Practices – Teacher Preparation- Technology: Connections that Enhance Children’s Literacy Acquisition and Reading Achievement.  National Science Foundation (Grant No. REC-0089221). $5,500,000.

Publications/Presentations (Selected):

Kiili, C, Leu, D.J., Marttunen, M., Hautala, J., & Leppänen, P. (2017). Exploring early adolescents’ evaluation of academic and commercial online resources related to health. Reading and Writing. Early online publication:

Leu, D. J. (September 29, 2016). Twelfth Annual Jeanne S. Chall Lecture on Reading: Reading in New Ways for New Times.  Harvard University.  Video available at:

Kennedy, C., Rhoads, C., Leu, D.J. (2016). Online research and learning in science: A one-to-one laptop comparison in two states using performance based assessments. Computers and Education. 100, 1-21. Elsevier: London.

Leu, D.J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2015).  The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1), 37-59. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. doi: 10.1002/rrq.85

Leu, D.J., Zawilinski, L., Forzani, E., & Timbrell, N. (2014). Best practices in new literacies and the new literacies of online research and comprehension.  In Morrow, L.M. & Gambrell, L. B. (Eds.) Best practices in literacy instruction.  5th Edition. New York: Guilford Press.

Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J., Castek, J., Henry, L. A. (2013). New literacies: A dual level theory of the changing nature of literacy, instruction, and assessment. In Alvermann, D.E., Unrau, N.J., & Ruddell, R.B. (Eds.). (2013). Theoretical models and processes of reading (6th ed.). (pp. 1150-1181). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Leu, D.J., Everett-Cacopardo, H., Zawilinski, L., McVerry, J.G., O’Byrne, W. I. (2012). The new literacies of online reading comprehension. C.A. Chapelle, (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. (4239-4247). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kiili, C., Laurinen, L., Marttunen, M., & Leu, D. J. (2012). Working on understanding during collaborative online reading. Journal of Literacy Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. doi: 10.1177/1086296X12457166

Leu, D. J., O’Byrne, W. I., Zawilinski, L., McVerry, J. G., & Everett-Cocapardo, H. (2009). Expanding the new literacies conversation. Educational Researcher, 38, 264-269.

Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., & Leu, D.J. (Eds). (2008). Handbook of research on new literacies.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Download overview for personal use only.

Leu, D. J., Coiro, J., Castek, J., Hartman, D., Henry, L.A., & Reinking, D. (2008). Research on instruction and assessment in the new literacies of online reading comprehension. In Cathy Collins Block, Sherri Parris, & Peter Afflerbach (Eds.). Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices. New York: Guilford Press.

Leu, D.J., Jr., Kinzer, C.K., Coiro, J., Cammack, D. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the Internet and other information and communication technologies. In R.B. Ruddell & N. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading, Fifth Edition (1568-1611). International Reading Association: Newark, DE.

Schrader, P. G., Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Ataya, R., Teale, W. H., Labbo, L. D., & Cammack, D. (2003). Using Internet delivered video cases, to support pre-service teachers’ understanding of effective early literacy instruction: An exploratory study. Instructional Science: An International Journal of Learning and Cognition. 31: 317–340,

Leu, D. J., Jr. & Kinzer, C. K. (2000). The convergence of literacy instruction and networked technologies for information and communication. Reading Research Quarterly, 35, 108-127.

Leu, D. J., Jr. (2000). Literacy and technology: Deictic consequences for literacy education in an information age. In M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, and R. Barr (Eds.) Handbook of Reading Research, Volume III (pp. 743-770). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum

Honors/Awards (Selected):

A.B. Herr Award from the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers for distinguished service in reading.

Green Honors Chair, Texas Christian University

Maryann Manning Medal from the University of Alabama, Birmingham for Exemplary Leadership in Reading Research and Practice

Friday Medal for Innovation and Leadership in Education from North Carolina State University

Elected to the Reading Hall of Fame of the International Reading Association, 2007.

Associations/Committees/Outreach (Selected):

Member, Board of Directors (2007-2010), International Reading Association

Former Vice President, President Elect, President, and Past President, National Reading Conference

In the Media:

Education Week: ‘Fake News,’ Bogus Tweets Raise Stake of Media Literacy.

Education Week:  What is Digital Literacy?

Miami Herald Article – “Your kids can tweet, but are they digitally literate?”

Education Week article on our research – “Growth of Online Reading Fuels New Achievement Gap,” Researchers Say”

New York Times article on one of our studies – “Academic Skills on Web Are Tied to Income Level”

CNN Interview about our research on students’  failure to critically evaluate online information.

Featured in the documentary, OUT OF PRINT, directed by Vivienne Roumani and narrated by Meryl Streep.

UConn Foundation Report: A Story of Achievement

Cover story in District Administration on the work of the New Literacies Research Team

E-School News: Study Aims To Improve Internet Literacy

Researchers find kids need better online academic skills

Recent Grant Award Announcement

The New Literacies Research Team

Contact Information