Dr Rachel Allyson Williamson

BPHE (Hons), BA (health/psychology), BEd (Secondary), MPH, PhD


Kia ora, I am a postdoctoral research fellow currently working in the field of literacy education. I am passionate about improving student health outcomes and, over the past five years, I have designed, implemented and evaluated the impact of participation in a number of school-based programmes on student health and achievement-related outcomes. I favour an applied, pragmatic approach to my work and tend towards a multi-modal, mixed methods design-based research (DBR) design. Most of my work is underpinned by positive psychological theorising, most notably, Positive Youth Development theory.

Research | Current

My current research project, the Summer Learning Journey, is a multi-year national study focussing on primary school student literacy learning over the holiday period. It is currently entering its sixth phase and has received considerable financial support from NEXT Foundation and the MSA Charitable Trust. The Summer Learning Journey is one of many offered by research staff as part of a reciprocal relationship between the University of Auckland, the Woolf Fisher Research Centre and the Manaiakalani Community of Learning across New Zealand.


Teaching | Current

At present I guest lecture on papers in the Faculty of Education & Social Work at the University of Auckland.

Prior to working for The University of Auckland I lived and worked as a teacher in England, Switzerland, Japan and Canada.

Postgraduate supervision

I have previously supervised students completing Bachelor of Education (Hons) and Master of Education degrees as part of their work with the Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy.


Doctoral Scholarship Recipient, The University of Auckland, 2011-2015

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Postgraduate Student Committee, School of Curriculum and Pedagogy

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Williams, R., Brown, G. T. L., & Bullen, P. (2017). Presenting a model for the design of an empirically driven implementation evaluation of a school-based health education program. Proceedings: 7th Annual International Conference on Education and e-Learning (EeL 2017), 30-37. Singapore.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gavin Brown, Pat Bullen
  • Williamson, R., & Jesson, R. (2017). Log on and blog: An exploratory study assessing the impact of holiday blogging on student literacy achievement. English Teaching: Practice & Critique, 16 (2), 222-237. 10.1108/ETPC-03-2017-0036
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39729
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Jesson
  • Vandevijvere, S., Williams, R., Tawfiq, E., & Swinburn, B. (2017). A food environments feedback system (FoodBack) for empowering citizens and change agents to create healthier community food places. Health Promotion International10.1093/heapro/dax079
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44462
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stefanie Vandevijvere, Boyd Swinburn
  • Williams, R. A. (2015). Investigating the implementation and impact of participation in a health promotion programme on the social attitudes and behaviours of children in New Zealand schools The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/27425
  • Williams, R., Brown, G., & Bullen, P. (3/12/2012). Building health competencies: A new framework for health education in primary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand. Poster presented at Australian Association of Research In Education and the Asia Pacific Educational Research Association (AARE-APERA) 2012 Conference, Sydney, Australia.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 101
New Zealand

Web links