Dr Alison Willis | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Alison Willis

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

  • Lecturer, Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • School of Education and Tertiary Access
+61 7 5456 5530
Office location
SD C.2.05
Sunshine Coast
Alison Willis

Dr Alison Willis is the founder of the Teachers of Australia project, a social media campaign that champions the great work and immense heart of teachers. Alison’s career has spanned multiple levels of education – primary, middle and secondary schools, and undergraduate and postgraduate courses at university.

Alison’s research is concerned with the effects of stress and trauma on learning. She is currently investigating the tensions between academic performance improvement agendas and student wellbeing concerns in Australian schools. 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. She is a part of the Transcultural and Indigenous Pedagogies Research Group at USC Australia 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.

Alison has experience in providing professional learning and development for teachers, educational leadership, working with teams of teachers in curriculum development, and as a coach in pedagogy. She has a range of short open access public lectures that have been specifically developed to support teachers and students while the negotiate the effects of COVID-19:

How Teachers Respond to Student Stress

Tips for Schooling at Home

How to Extend Storytime

Professional Social Media

Research areas

  • effects of stress and trauma on learning
  • the tensions between academic performance and student wellbeing
  • Educational development
  • Social media connectivity within the teaching profession
  • socio-cultural and psycho-social theories of learning
  • qualitative methodologies

Teaching areas

  • Pre-service teacher education
  • Curriculum and pedagogy
  • Quality teaching and learning practices
  • Senior English literature, language and literacy
  • Action research for teachers
  • Willis, A. (2020). Students won’t get through all school content while learning at home: here are 3 things to prioritise. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/students-wont-get-through-all-school-content-while-learning-at-home-here-are-3-things-to-prioritise-134539
  • Dwyer, R., Willis, A., & Call, K. (2020). Teacher educators speaking up: illuminating stories stifled by the iron-grip regulation of initial teacher education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 1-14. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1359866X.2020.1725809
  • Willis, A. (2019). A foot in both camps: lessons learned about without-prejudice teaching and learning from cross-cultural experience. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 32(4), 429-445. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/cCfHYhQdkzhfi5xiNtfK/full?target=10.1080/09518398.2019.1597212
  • Willis, A., Hyde, M., & Black, A. (2019). Juggling With Both Hands Tied Behind My Back: Teachers’ Views and Experiences of the Tensions Between Student Well-Being Concerns and Academic Performance Improvement Agendas. American Educational Research Journal, DOI: 0002831219849877. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.3102/0002831219849877
  • Langville, J. & Willis, A. (2019). The critical need for reciprocity between educational migrants and communities for continuing education and socio-cultural capital in Laos. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 16(1), 118-133. DOI: 10.1111/apv.12249 
  • 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.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, 18(1), 37-54.

Dr Alison Willis is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Education at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Having conducted research in developing and post-war contexts, and practiced in Western contexts, Alison has a strong interest in belief-centred learning and how beliefs manifest in educational experiences.

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