Dr Alison Willis

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Dr Alison Willis


Lecturer, Curriculum and Pedagogy

PhD Sunshine Coast, MEd Sunshine Coast, BEd(Primary) (with Distinction) C.Qld.

+61 7 5456 5530
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Dr Alison Willis


Dr Alison Willis’s career has spanned multiple levels of education – primary, middle and secondary schools, and undergraduate and postgraduate courses at a tertiary level. She has experience in educational leadership, working with teams of teachers on curriculum, and as a coach in pedagogy.

Alison is currently investigating the tensions between academic performance improvement agendas and student wellbeing concerns in Australian schools in the Through the Eyes of Teachers project. This work is opening up new fields of study as teachers experiences and voices are heard, and the vital role that they play in children's lives and learning is better understood.

Alison’s experience also encompasses an international dimension as she has had input into DFAT programs for teachers from Indonesia, West Papua Indonesia, Uganda, and Vanuatu.

Alison has a strong research interest in cross-cultural educational studies and is a ACER Associate in Education and Development. She conducted her doctoral research in Northern Uganda, and her Master’s research was a comparative study of Australian and Finnish students’ learning dispositions. Her experience in Northern Uganda led to the development of a suite of research interests, including the effects of stress and trauma on students’ learning, the roles that teachers play in helping student overcome the effects of stress and trauma, learning in conflict and post-conflict environments, the effects of culture on learning, and teachers’ conceptions of learning in developing contexts. Her study of human experience has given her a strong foundation in qualitative research methods.

Research and practice have both had strong influences on Alison’s interest in socio-cultural and psychological learning theories. Alison is an engaging presenter, and has had numerous opportunities to share her research findings and insights into the human trait of learning in professional and community forums.

Recent publications

Willis, A. S. & Nagel, M. C. (2018). The Function of Specialized Vocabulary Development in Psychosocial Rehabilitation in Traumatized Populations. Journal of Human Rights and Social Work, 1-6.

Willis, A.S. (2017). An education for peace model that centres on belief systems: the theory behind the model. Journal of Peace Education, 1-15. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17400201.2017.1365697

Willis, A.S. (2017). The efficacy of phenomenography as a cross-cultural methodology for educational research. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 1-17. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1743727X.2017.1283398

Willis, A.S. (2016). Organic and institutional views of learning in Northern Uganda: Toward a theory of dichotomous education in postwar contexts. International Journal of Educational Development, 49, 324-329.

Willis, A. (2016). A dichotomous model of education for practitioners in conflict-affected contexts: Schools as new villages. Conference paper accepted for presentation at Tomorrow People Organization’s 12th Annual Education and Development Conference, March 2017.

Willis, A.S. & Nagel, M.C. (2015). The role that teachers play in overcoming the effects of stress and trauma on children’s social psychological development: evidence from Northern Uganda. Social Psychology of Education, Volume 18, Issue 1, 37-54.


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