Dr. Douglas Willms of Fredericton, New Brunswick, an internationally renowned researcher on systems to evaluate and improve classroom learning, has been elected President of the Brussels-based International Academy of Education.

The combination of Dr. Willms and the Academy of Education seems a perfect fit. The Academy is dedicated to strengthening the contributions of education research, solving critical educational problems throughout the world, and providing better communication among policy makers, researchers and practitioners. Dr. Willms through The Learning Bar, a company he co-founded in Fredericton, New Brunswick, has been in the forefront of much of this research. He plans to further the work of the Academy by leading a team of scholars in advancing his research on educational issues, disseminating knowledge about best teaching practices and evaluation, and strengthening communications among educational researchers and school administrators and teachers.


Specifically, Dr. Willms and the Academy will be working with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, on assessment tools for several low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Dr. Willms is looking forward to the challenge. “An educated population is the key to a prosperous and thriving society. As these countries strive to overcome the effects of extreme poverty, they are also trying to develop the foundations of a successful education system. I feel honoured to be able to contribute by helping teachers and administrators use the instructional models and evaluation tools our researchers have developed.”

Aside from his position as President of The Learning Bar, Dr. Willms is Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy at the University of New Brunswick, and holds the Canada Research Chair in Literacy and Human Development.

In his capacity with The Learning Bar, Dr. Willms has led a multidisciplinary team of researchers in developing systems for improving education methods and evaluation. His work encompasses the healthy development of early learners and strengthening childhood education to reduce segregation and the effects of poverty. The Learning Bar’s products include the Early Years Evaluation, an assessment framework evaluating children’s developmental skills at ages 3 to 6, and the OurSCHOOL Improvement System, an evaluation system for the continuous monitoring of student engagement and well-being. These tools are currently being used in over 3500 schools across Canada and nearly 1400 in Australia.

Dr. Willms’s research is driven by a passion to address a question facing educators worldwide: “How can we improve the learning, behaviour, and health outcomes of our children and youth, while reducing inequalities associated with their socio-economic background?”

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