Mrs Helen Margaret Villers

MEd (Hons), DipTchg, DipEd, TTC


Helen Villers is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education.

Helen's teaching and research are both focused on sociocultural and pedagogical issues in language and literacy. This includes ‘new’ literacies, multimodal/multiliteracies, critical literacy, inquiry processes, children’s literature and integrated curriculum. She has developed and maintained strong cross faculty/cross curriculum research relationships and worked with several schools as sites for a range of research projects. She has a commitment to critical, place based action research with a view to supporting and inspiring confidence, independence and creativity for teachers and children in the classroom based literacy work they do. Teacher knowledge and school/university partnerships in the accreditation of beginning teachers and, more recently, research in the learning languages area of the New Zealand curriculum have extended the reach of her research and teaching. Her commitment is to a theorised, critical and collaborative approach to lecturing, thesis supervision and to the academic and professional contributions she is able to make within and beyond the Faculty.


Teaching | Current

  • Language and literacies: teaching and learning in the primary school
  • Critical literacy approaches
  • Multiliteracies
  • Bilingualism and biliteracy
  • Children’s Literature
  • Integrated inquiry approaches in literacy and mathematics
  • Teacher Education

Course Director:

  • EDPROFST 378: Critical Approaches to Language and Literacy
  • EDCURRIC 202: Languages and Literacy Education, Primary 2
  • EDCURRIC 621: Arts, Literacies and Languages 1
  • EDCURRIC 622: Arts, Literacies and Languages 2
  • EDPROFST 707: Children's literature in education.
  • EDPROFST 739: Differentiating learning for literacy and mathematics.

Postgraduate supervision


Mary Fursden (with Rebecca Jesson) 120pts. What factors do Year 5/6 teachers consider when designing literacy programmes within a 'Bring your own device (BYOD)' environment?

Karen McLeod (with Aaaron Wilson) 60pts. Adolescent reading motivation in a residential treatment programme.

Judy Aitken (with Professor Jan Gaffney) 120pts. Guided Reading in Year One: Factors that influence the development of a self-extending reading processing system.

Bernadine Russell (60 pts) Online reading programmes in the junior primary classroom: Implementation, integration and perceived benefits.

Ruth Round (with Trevor Thwaites) 120Pts : Music signifiers: Focussed listening to music as a stimulus to creative writing.
Katie Kai (with Martin East) 120Pts: The Effectiveness and Value of the Mandarin Language Assistant Program in Auckland - A Case Study

Geetha Naidoo (60pts) Accelerated learning in young adolescents: Can the 'Quick 60' deliver?

Holly Moore (with Rebecca Jesson) 120pts: Where did you get that? The ideas and influences that children bring to their writing.
Mark Terry 60pts: The evolution of social values as expressed within and across demographic groups in the NZ school journal from 1963 to 2013


Brian Davy: Bilingual Theories, critical realities: A critical discourse analysis of teachers' beliefs that guide action toward English Additional Language (EAL) students in the mainstream secondary school (Co-supervision with Dr Rebecca Jesson).

Dianne La Trobe: Beliefs of effective reading teachers working with six year old struggling readers in New Zealand Schools (Co-supervision with Dr Constanza Tolosa).

Fa'ana Campbell (with Meaola Toloa) 120pts
Tu'umuliga Wong Soon (with Meaola Toloa) 120pts


Annette Duxfield (with Ruth Williams) 120 pts


Daniel Lafaiali (with Libby Limbrick) 60pts


Committees/Professional groups/Services

Faculty committees:

  • Member: Faculty Teaching Learning Quality and Academic Programmes Committee
  • Member: Teacher Education Programmes Primary Sector Subcommittee
  • Member: Graduate Diploma in TESSOL Coordinators' Committee

Membership to professional committees/groups:

  • Elected Member of the Management Committee of Storylines, Children’s Literature Foundation
  • Member of New Zealand Reading Association
  • Member of NZARE; New Zealand Association of Research in Education
  • A Coordinator of the Auckland Literacy Network



Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Gaffney, J. S., Aitken, J., & Villers, H. (2017). Guided reading: In pursuit of early literacy processing. Paper presented at Literacy Research Association, Tampa, Florida. 29 November - 2 December 2017. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Janet Gaffney
  • Villers, H. (2016). We're going on a book hunt, we're going to catch some good ones. Paper presented at The 35th IBBY International Conference, Auckland, New Zealand. 18 August - 21 August 2016.
  • Villers, H. (2015). Time out or a critical literacy approach: Is reading aloud still a valued approach in New Zealand classrooms?. Paper presented at ISATT 2015: 17th Biennial Conference of Teachers and Teaching, Auckland, New Zealand. 13 July - 17 July 2015.
  • Villers, H. (2015). Time out or a critical literacy approach: Is reading aloud still a valued approach in New Zealand Classrooms?. In Garbett Dawn, Ovens Alan (Eds.) Teaching for Tomorrow Today (pp. 456-464). Auckland, New Zealand: Edify Ltd. Related URL.
  • Tolosa, C., Villers, H., & East, M. (2015). Intercultural possibilities of foreign language writing exchanges online. In M. B. Paradowski (Ed.) Productive foreign language skills for an intercultural world. A guide (not only) for teachers (pp. 133-146). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Peter Lang Edition.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Constanza Tolosa, Martin East
  • Bruce, T., Ladbrook, J., Villers, H., Gaerlan-Price, E., & Hoben, N. (2015). Media and information literacy: A 21st century human right?. In J. Morgan (Ed.) The 21st century curriculum? (pp. 122-137). Auckland, New Zealand: Edify Ltd. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Toni Bruce, Ngaire Hoben
  • Tolosa, C., East, M., & Villers, H. (2015). Motivating twenty-first-century learners: The impact of an online reciprocal peer-tutoring initiative for foreign language Learning. In C. Koh (Ed.) Motivation, leadership and curriculum design. Engaging the Net Generation and 21st century learners (pp. 137-149). Singapore: Springer. 10.1007/978-981-287-230-2_11
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Constanza Tolosa, Martin East
  • Tolosa, C., East, M., & Villers, H. (2013). Online peer feedback in beginners’ writing tasks: Lessons learned. IALLT Journal of Language Learning Technologies, 43 (1), 1-24. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Constanza Tolosa, Martin East

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 6, Room 602
New Zealand