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School of Education

Dr Annabel Watson

Dr Annabel Watson

Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education


 +44 (0) 1392 722899

 Baring Court BC117


Baring Court, University of Exeter St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK


I am an Associate Professor researching writing development, and teaching across MA and initial teacher education programmes.  I also supervise several doctoral students. I have been shortlisted several times for the Exeter Students' Guild Teaching Awards: for Research-Inspired Teaching in 2015, for Best Feedback Provider in 2016, for Best Supervisor in 2020, and in 2017 I was awarded Most Supportive Staff Member.

My research interests focus primarily on the teaching of writing. I am a member of the Graduate School of Education's Centre for Research in Writing, and I have been part of a team conducting research which investigates the potential that a contextualised and rhetorical approach to teaching grammar might have for improving students' writing ability and metalinguistic understanding. As well as informing seminars for students at Exeter, this research has also resulted in the publication of teaching resources through NATE and Pearson, an OUP grammar book, and a number of popular CPD courses and workshops for teachers. I have also worked on projects considering teacher agency, particularly in relation to selecting literary texts and to the teaching of English online during the Covid lockdowns. My PhD examined Teacher's Beliefs and Practices in Grammar Teaching.

Prior to working at Exeter, I taught English and Media Studies in schools in Greater London and the South West.


My doctorate was awarded in 2013. Other qualifications include MSc (Exeter), DipEd (Exeter), PGCE (Roehampton), MA (Cantab).


Research group links

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Research interests

My research interests lie within language and literacy, and particularly students' writing development. I've worked on a number of projects related to the teaching of grammar for writing, the teaching of English online, and teacher agency and cognition. I also have a particular interest in the use of technology to teach writing. My PhD research examined teachers' beliefs about teaching grammar.

Research projects

2008-10 (ESRC) Grammar for Writing? A three year study of the effectiveness of contextualised grammar teaching. (PhD studentship)

2011 (ESRC) Grammar for Writing Impact Project. Follow-on study working with schools to embed the pedagogy developed in the earlier ESRC study.

2013 (Pearson Education) Grammar at GCSE. A study of the impact of contextualised grammar teaching on reading and writing.

2016-17 (EEF) Choice and Control in Writing.

2019-20 (UKLA) What literature texts are being taught in Years 7 to 9?

2020-21 (BERA) Teaching English when Schools are Closed: experiences and lessons learnt for the future

Research grants

  • 2020 British Educational Research Association (BERA)
    Covid-19 rapid response project
  • 2014 Pearson Education
    Grammar at GCSE
  • 2008 ESRC
    Studentship funding to investigate the beliefs about grammar and grammar teaching held by secondary English teachers in the UK. Part of the Exeter 'Grammar for Writing?' project, a large-scale randomised control trail investigating the impact of contextualised grammar teaching on the writing development of students at Key Stage 3.

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Myhill D, Watson A, Newman R, Dowdall C (2022). Understanding Literacy Disadvantage., Learning Matters Limited. Abstract.
Watson A, Newman R (2021). A Practical Guide to Teaching English in the Secondary School., Routledge. Abstract.
Myhill D, Jones, Watson, Line (2016). Essential Primary Grammar. Abstract.

Journal articles

Watson A, Kelly L, Foley J, Kneen J, Chapman S, Smith L, Thomas H (2022). Teacher agency in the selection of literary texts. English in Education, 56(4), 340-356. Abstract.
Kneen J, Chapman S, Foley J, Kelly L, Smith L, Thomas H, Watson A (2022). Teaching Key Stage 3 literature: the challenges of accountability, gender and diversity. Literacy, 56(4), 371-385. Abstract.
Watson A, Newman R, Morgan S (2021). Metatalk and Metalinguistic knowledge: the interplay of procedural and declarative knowledge in the classroom discourse of first-language grammar teaching. Language Awareness
Smith L, Thomas H, Chapman S, Foley J, Kelly L, Kneen J, Watson A (2021). The Dance and the Tune: a Storied Exploration of the Teaching of Stories. Changing English, 29(1), 40-52.
Newman R, Watson A (2020). Shaping Spaces: Teachers’ Orchestration of Metatalk about Written Text. Linguistics and Education, 60 Abstract.
Myhill D, Watson A, Newman R (2020). Thinking differently about grammar and metalinguistic understanding in writing. Bellaterra Journal of Teaching & Learning Language & Literature, 13(2), e870-e870. Abstract.
Watson AM, Newman RMC (2017). Talking grammatically: L1 adolescent metalinguistic reflection on writing. Language Awareness, 26(4), 381-398. Abstract.
Watson AM (2015). Conceptualisations of ‘grammar teaching’: L1 English teachers’ beliefs about teaching grammar for writing. Language Awareness, 24(1), 1-14. Abstract.
Watson AM (2015). The Problem of Grammar Teaching: a case study of the relationship between a teacher’s beliefs and pedagogical practice. Language and Education, 29, 332-346. Abstract.
Myhill D, Watson A (2014). The role of grammar in the writing curriculum: a review of the literature. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 30(1), 41-62. Abstract.
Myhill D, Jones S, Watson A (2013). Grammar matters: How teachers' grammatical knowledge impacts on the teaching of writing. Teaching and Teacher Education, 36, 77-91. Abstract.
Myhill D, Jones S, Watson A, Lines H (2013). Playful explicitness with grammar: a pedagogy for writing. Literacy, 47(2), 103-111. Abstract.
Myhill DM, Jones SM, Lines HE, Watson AM (2012). Knowledge about Language Revisited: the Impact of Teachers’ Linguistic Subject Knowledge on the Teaching of Writing. English Drama Media(23), 43-48.
Myhill D, Lines H, Watson A (2012). Making meaning with grammar: a repertoire of possibilities. English in Australia, 47(3), 29-38.
Watson A (2012). Navigating 'the pit of doom': Affective responses to teaching 'grammar'. English in Education, 46(1), 22-37. Abstract.
Jones SM, Myhill DA, Watson A, Lines HE (2012). Playful Explicitness with Grammar:. A Pedagogy for Writing. Literacy Abstract.
Myhill DA, Jones SM, Lines H, Watson A (2012). Re-thinking grammar: the impact of embedded grammar teaching on students' writing and students' metalinguistic understanding. Research Papers in Education, 27(2), 139-166. Abstract.
Myhill DM, Jones SM, Lines HE, Watson A (2011). Explaining how Language Works: is there a place for terminology?. Literacy Today(67), 25-27.
Myhill DA, Lines HE, Watson A (2011). Making Meaning with Grammar: a Repertoire of Possibilities. mETAphor. mETAphor(2), 1-10.


Watson A, Newman R, Myhill D (2022). Creating a language-rich classroom. In  (Ed) Learning to Teach in the Secondary School a Companion to School Experience, Learning to Teach Subjects in the Secondary School Series, 394-404. Abstract.
Watson A, Myhill D (2018). The Dartmouth Conference revisited: Changing views of grammar–or not?. In  (Ed) The Future of English Teaching Worldwide Celebrating 50 Years from the Dartmouth Conference, Routledge, 241-253. Abstract.
Myhill D, Watson A, Newman R (2017). Re-thinking grammar in the curriculum. In Egeland B, Olin-Scheller C, Tanner M, Tengberg M (Eds.) Tolfte nationella konferensen I svenska med didaktisk inriktning Textkulturer, 25-44-25-44.
Watson A, Myhill D (2016). Creating a Language Rich Classroom. In  (Ed) Learning to Teach in the Secondary School a Companion to School Experience, Routledge. Abstract.
Watson AM, Myhill DA (2012). Creating a language-rich classroom. In Capel S, Leask M (Eds.) Learning to Teach in the Secondary School, Abingdon: Routledge, 403-414. Abstract.
Myhill DA, Watson AM (2011). Teaching writing. In Green A (Ed) Becoming a reflective English teacher, Open University Press, 58-73. Abstract.

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Supervision / Group

Postgraduate researchers

  • Sultan Saleh O Albalawi
  • Amal Saad S Alfraim
  • Sami Aljilani
  • Shatha Alshawi
  • Rebecca Hamer
  • Siying Huang
  • Ala'a Salagoor
  • Halime Tosun

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