J. Douglas Willms

J. Douglas Willms
President, The Learning Bar

Research Interest

Dr. J. Douglas Willms is a member of the US National Academy of Education, Past-President of the International Academy of Education Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. From 1995 to 2018, Dr. Willms was Professor of Education at the University of New Brunswick, where for eight years he held the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Chair in Human Development and for fourteen years held the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Literacy and Human Development. He is the President of The Learning Bar, an international company that provides research-based tools and training for enhancing the life chances of children and youth.

Dr. Willms has published over two hundred research articles and monographs pertaining to youth literacy, children’s health, the accountability of schooling systems, and the assessment of national reforms. He played lead roles in developing Canada’s National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) and the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). He and his colleagues designed the Early Years Evaluation (EYE), an instrument for the direct assessment of children’s developmental skills at ages 3 to 6, and OurSchool, an evaluation system for the continuous monitoring of student engagement and well-being. Dr. Willms is the lead researcher in designing the contextual questionnaires for PISA for Development, an initiative for low- and middle-income countries aimed at tracking international educational targets in the post-2015 UN framework. His research team is also working with school leaders in 30 First Nations schools in the design and implementation of Confident Learners, a whole-school and whole-community literacy program based on the science of literacy and instructional practice.

Recent Positions and honors

Elected Member, U.S. National Academy of Education (NAEd)

Fellow, Royal Society of Canada: Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada

Canadian Policy Research Secretariat Award - Outstanding Research Contribution

CEA-Whitworth Award for Educational Research

Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Award


Stanford, 1983


Willms, J. D. (Ed.). (2002). Vulnerable Children: Findings from Canada’s National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth.  Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta Press.

Willms, J. D. (2003).  Student engagement at school: A sense of belonging and participation.  Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Willms, J. D. (2006). Learning Divides: Ten Policy Questions about the Performance and Equity of Schools and Schooling Systems. Report prepared for UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Willms, J. D. (2010). School Composition and Contextual Effects on Student Outcomes. Teachers College Record, 112(4), 1008-1037.

Tramonte, L. & Willms, J. D. (2010). Cultural capital and its effects on education outcomes. Economics of Education Review, 29(2), 200-213.

Contact Information

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