John Willison

Dr John Willison

Senior Lecturer

School of Education

Faculty of Arts


Dr John Willison has twenty five years of experience in formal education, and throughout that time has been most enthralled in how to help students to engage in research-based learning, beginning with Year 8 classes, where he strived to make science laboratories hands-on and minds-on. Dr Willison found that this necessitated a raft of scaffolding and literacy strategies, and resulted in the development of resources called writE Science (writing and reading integrated with talking about experiments). As Dr Willison completed his PhD in Science Education he coordinated an Early Childhood and Primary Science course in a Teacher Education program, then subsequently found himself at the University of Adelaide as the Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. This shift to students who were academics from all disciplines caused Dr Willison to broaden his research agenda to search for something in common across disciplines: a framework representing how all educators may facilitate their students’ research skills.
In collaboration, Dr Willison developed early versions of the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework and colleagues in First Year Human Biology began to trial the RSD, followed by other courses in various contexts showing positive outcomes for students. This success inspired Dr Willison to lead two five-university ALTC Innovation and Development projects, one for course-level implementation of RSD (2007-2009) and the other for program-level implementation (2011-2013). These projects and new AQF 9 research requirements led to demand for RSD to inform coursework Masters programs and Dr Willison held a National Teaching Fellowship on this theme 2014-2015. As the use of the RSD escalates nationally and internationally, he is currently keen to bring the RSD ‘full-circle’ and begin to influence Faculties of Education through High Schools’ use of the RSD, as well as consolidate RSD use in undergraduate, Masters and PhD studies across all disciplines. This is the focus of the National Senior Teaching Fellowship he holds from the Australian Government's Department of Education and Training.

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 Principal Supervisor The Impact of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Organisation on Student Success and Study or Employment Pathways Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Allyson Kaye Dutschke
    2015 Co-Supervisor The relationship between assessment and autonomy is the Vietnamese Higher Education context Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Ha Thi Ngoc Tran
    2014 Principal Supervisor Accelerating Academic literacy Development: Issues, Possibilities and Challenges for Intergrating Scholary Writing Development into Mainstream Curriculum in Australian Higher Education Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Ursula McGowan
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2012 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Valid Measurement of Laboratory Learning Experience Quality from the Student Perspective Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Samuel James Priest
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83133219
  • Email: john.willison@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 3604
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Nexus 10 Tower, floor 8
  • Room: 8 08
  • Org Unit: School of Education

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