Dr Rachel Williamson is an educational researcher working in the Faculty of Education & Social Work at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She is currently based at the Woolf Fisher Research Centre on campus and, in her role at the centre, is the principal investigator and project lead on a multi-year, national study exploring the impact of participation in a digital literacy programme, the Summer Learning Journey, on the learning and achievement of students in low-income school settings. The project is currently entering its sixth phase and is a joint initiative between the University of Auckland, the Woolf Fisher Research Centre, the Manaiakalani Community of schools, NEXT Foundation and the MSA Charitable Trust.
Dr Williamson is passionate about improving student health outcomes and has dedicated her career to the design, implementation, and evaluation of school-based programmes on student health and achievement-related outcomes. She strongly favours a pragmatic, applied approach to her research, commonly utilising multi-modal, mixed method, and/or design-based research (DBR) methods in her studies. Much of Dr Williamson’s scholarly work is underpinned by positive psychological theorising, most notably, Positive Youth Development theory.
Dr Williamson completed her PhD in Health Education programme design and evaluation at the University of Auckland in 2015. Prior to this, she received a Master of Public Health degree from Simon Fraser University, Canada (2011), a Bachelor of Education in Secondary School Science/Physical and Health Education from The University of Ottawa, Canada (2007), a Bachelor of Arts in Health/Psychology and a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education – Honours from Queen’s University, Canada (2005). Rachel has spent many years living and working as a teacher in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia before moving to New Zealand with her family in 2011. She is the mother of one young son, Aronui.