312B Miller

Deborah McCutchen

Emeritus Professor

My research focuses on cognitive processes underlying reading and writing ability. Shaping much of my research is a central question: How are complex systems of knowledge used during reading and writing? That question has played out in several ways as I have studied the influence of content knowledge and the constraints of working memory on writing. My reading research has ranged from basic research on the role of phonology and morphology in reading to more recent work on the knowledge that teachers of reading and writing bring to bear during instruction.

The ultimate goal of my research is two-fold -- to further theoretical understanding of reading and writing processes and to improve educational practice. It was my experience as a teacher of writing that sparked my interest in writing as a cognitive process.

My recent research has been funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, as well as by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. We have been examining foundational linguistic processes that enable children to expand their vocabulary, reading, and writing skills. Our current work examines the knowledge that skilled teachers of writing rely on as they teach and their enactment of that knowledge during their interactions with students.

Deborah McCutchen (University of Pittsburgh, 1985) teaches graduate courses in the psychology of reading and writing, as well as human learning.

Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1985



McCutchen, D., Northey, M., Herrera, B. L., & Clark, T. (2021 online) What’s in a word? Morphologically rich vocabulary instruction improves writing outcomes among elementary students. Reading & Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. DOI 10.1007/s11145-021-10184-z

McCutchen, D. (In press). A cognitive account of the development of writing skill: Cross-language evidence. In R. Horowitz (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of International Research on Writing. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

Joseph, G., Soderberg, J.S., Stull, S., Cummings, K., McCutchen, D., & Han, R. (2019). Inter-rater reliability of Washington State's kindergarten entry assessment. Early Education and Development. DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2019.1674589

De La Paz, S., & McCutchen, D. (2017). Learning to write. In R. E. Mayer and P. A. Alexander (Eds.) Handbook of research on learning and instruction, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge Press/Taylor & Francis.

Northey, M., McCutchen, D., & Sanders, E. A. (2016). Contributions of morphological skill to children’s essay writing. Reading & Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 29, 47-68.

McCutchen, D., & Stull, S. (2015). Morphological awareness and children’s writing: Accuracy, error, and invention.  Reading & Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 28, 271-289. 

McCutchen, D., Stull, S, Herrera, B. L., Lotas, S., & Evans, S. (2014). Putting words to work: Effects of morphological instruction on children’s writing. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47, 86-97.