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College of Education

Faculty and Staff

Lucy K. Spence, Ph.D.

Title: Professor, Language and Literacy
Department: Instruction & Teacher Education
College of Education
Phone: 803-777-0501
Fax: 803-777-3193

Wardlaw 229

Lucy Spence, Ph.D.


Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction and Masters of Education, Arizona State University
Bachelor of Science, Education, Grand Canyon University


Literacy, Linguistic Diversity


Lucy K. Spence is a Professor in the College of Education, Department of Teacher Education at the University of South Carolina.

Spence has published qualitative and mixed-methods research in Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Teaching & Teacher Education, and other peer reviewed journals. One of her recent interests is the neuroscience of reading. She carries out this work through collaboration with the USC Psychology Department.

She has served as a co-editor of the IAFOR Journal of Education and has consistently reviewed manuscripts and conference proposals for AERA, Literacy Research Association, and Springer Publications.

Spence was a visiting researcher at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan and has collaborated with Japanese educators and researchers leading to several publications.

Selected Publications

Spence, L. & Mitra, A. (2023). Educational neuroscience for literacy teachers: Research-backed methods and practices for effective reading instruction. Routledge.

Spence, L. K., Costa, P. J. B. M., & Cullars, A. (2022). “They’re killing our imaginations”: Dialogue and reflexive writing development in historically marginalized students. Reading Research Quarterly, 57(3), 847–862.

Spence, L.K. & Walker, R. (2021). Grappling with ideas: Adolescent writers in a rural African American community. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 64(8), 543-551. DOI:10.1002/jaal.1122

Spence, L.K. (2021). Deconstructing generous reading: Revising a writing assessment. Critical Questions in Education, 12(2) 100-113.

Compton-Lilly, C., Mitra, A. Guay, M. & Spence, L.K. (2020). A Confluence of Complexity: Taking Stock of Reading Scholarship. Reading Research Quarterly, 55, S185–S195.  DOI 10.1002/rrq.348

Spence, L.K., & Hashimoto, E. (2020). An exploration of the affordances of mentor texts: Everyday texts and Japanese sixth grade writing curriculum. Writing & Pedagogy. 12(1) 23-46.

Spence, L.K., & Kite, Y. (2018). Beliefs and practices of writing instruction in Japanese elementary schools. Language, Culture, and Curriculum, 31(1), 56-69.

Spence, L.K., Fan, X., Speece, L., & Bushaala, S. (2017). Generous reading expands teachers’ perceptions on student writing. Teaching and Teacher Education, 66, 96–106.

Selected Presentations

Spence, L.K. & Mitra, A. (2021). Spelling features used during interactive writing. Presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Virtual.

Spence, L.K., Bastos, P. & Cullars, A. (2021). Meaningful classroom literacy experiences for rural African American secondary students. Presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference. Virtual.

Mitra, A. & Spence, L.K. (2021). An integrative and systematic review of phonology and word processing in the brain. Presented at the American Educational Research Association annual conference. Virtual.

Spence, L.K., Bastos, P. & Cullars, A. (2020). Locating student engagement. Presented at the Literacy Research Association Annual Conference, Virtual.

Mitra, A. & Spence, L.K. (2020). Lessons from the mind: Neuroimaging and reading. Presented at the Literacy Research Association Annual Conference. Virtual.

Howard, A., Spence, L.K., & Mitra, A. (2020). Reading assessment: A Trifecta approach. Presented at the Literacy Research Association Annual conference. Virtual.

Selected Awards

2013 Visiting Researcher, Kansai University, Osaka, Japan

2011 Provost's Social Science Grant Program, Awardee University of South Carolina

2011 National Conversations on English Learner Education, Participant United States Department of Education

2010 Whole Language Umbrella, Executive Board, elected National Council of Teachers of English

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.