Faculty of Education

Kerry Howells

Kerry Howells

Dr Kerry Howells

Lecturer - Foundation & Professional Studies

BA Philosophy, Honours (Macquarie U); Dip Ed, with merit (USyd); PhD (USyd); Graduate Certificate University Learning and Teaching (UNSW)

Contact Details

Contact Campus Sandy Bay Campus
Building Hytten Hall, Sandy Bay campus
Room Reference 516
Telephone +61 3 6226 2567
Fax +61 3 6226 2569
Email Kerry.Howells@utas.edu.au

Teaching at UTAS

Master of Teaching:

  • EMT502 Foundations of Teaching
  • EMT698 Implementing Practitioner Inquiry
  • EMT606 Preparing for the Profession
  • EMT602 Ethics, Education, and Teacher Identity

Bachelor of Education:

  • ESH398 Implementing Practitioner Inquiry

Career summary

Dr Kerry Howells is a teacher educator in the UTAS Faculty of Education, teaching in the areas of educational philosophy, professional studies and practitioner research. She is supervising several students at PhD, Masters and Honors levels. Kerry is currently coordinating and teaching in the Department of Education Partnerships in Teaching Excellence program (PiTE).

Kerry has been teaching in various university contexts for the last two decades. Before taking up her position at the University of Tasmania in 2006, she was Director of Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Commerce and Economics at the University of New South Wales and lecturer in the UNSW Graduate Certificate of University Learning and Teaching. From 1991 to 2001 Kerry was a lecturer in philosophy and learning strategies at Bond University. Kerry completed her PhD in Philosophy of Education at the University of Sydney.

In order to fully realise her passion to teach to the ‘awake’ or truly present learner, no matter what the subject matter, Kerry developed ‘A State of Preparedness’, a unique approach to teaching and learning which addresses student disengagement. Her approach advocates for students to take greater responsibility for the state of being they bring to their learning, and what they can give back out of gratitude. Over the past fifteen years she has demonstrated that traditional teaching and learning practices are enhanced by greater attention to practices of gratitude, and that students’ gratitude is more fully realised when teachers and school leaders first attend to their practice of gratitude.

Dr Howells has applied this approach to 12 teaching and leadership roles and in invited presentations at eight different universities and seven schools, many of which have participated in her research on the role of gratitude in education.  Since her commencement at UTAS in 2006, Kerry has been the recipient of eleven teaching awards – including three national awards, and the 2009 UTAS Teaching Excellence Award.

Kerry's book - (2012) Gratitude in Education: A Radical View

Teachers at all levels of education will find this book practical and inspiring as they read how other educators have engaged with challenges that reveal different dimensions of gratitude, and how some have discovered its relevance in gaining greater resilience, improved relationships and increased student engagement.

Selected publications

  • Howells, K. (2014 in print). Exploring cultural diversity through the lens of the practice of gratitude in education. The International Journal of Diversity in Education.

  • Howells, K. (2013). The role of gratitude in helping school leaders strengthen relationships. Perspectives on educational leadership. Vol. 6.

  • Howells, K. (2013). Enhancing teacher relationships and effectiveness through the practice of gratitude. Teachers Matter. Vol. 23, pp. 58-59.

  • Allen, J.M., Howells, K., & Radford, R. (2013). A ‘Partnership in Teaching Excellence’: Ways in which one school-university partnership has fostered teacher development. Asia Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. 13(1) pp 99-110.

  • Howells, K. (2012) Gratitude in Education: A Radical View. Rotterdam, Sense Publishers

  • Howells, K. & Cumming, J. (2012), Exploring the role of gratitude in the professional experience of pre-service teachers. Teaching Education, 23(1), 71-88.

  • Walker, S., Brownlee, J., Lennox, S., Exley, B., Howells, K., Cocker, F. (2009) What do first year students think about knowing and learning? Using epistemology to understand transitions to university. Teaching Education. Vol. 20 (3), pp. 243-256.

  • Howells, K. (2009) Strengthening relationships and resilience through practices of gratitude. Principal Matters, Vol. 80. Spring, pp 2-6.

  • Howells, K. (2007) PowerPoint: Friend or Foe? in Green, V.A. & Sigafoos, J. (eds) Technology and teaching: A casebook for educators. Hauppauge NY: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Howells, K. (2007) Practising gratitude to enhance learning and teaching. Education Connect. Issue 5.

  • Howells, K. (2004) Facilitating a smoother transition to university by asking students the right questions. In Whitton, D., Perry, B., & Dockett, S. Continuity and Change: Transitions in Education, Richmond: University of Western Sydney.

  • Howells, K. (2004) The role of gratitude in higher education. Research and Development in Higher Education, Vol. 27 pp. 164-173.

Research interests

Kerry’s research focus is the role of gratitude in education, and its application for school leaders, teachers, parents and university and high school students (years 11 and 12). She facilitates several action research projects with teachers and principals in primary and high schools, and conducts seminars on the role of gratitude to promote greater student engagement, teacher resilience and enhanced relationships.

Current projects

Book Club for Principals
At the invitation of the Tasmanian Principals’ Association, Kerry’s book, Gratitude in Education: A Radical View is being discussed as part of a newly initiated “Principals’ Book Club”. The book club is co-facilitated by Twelve principals from Southern Tasmania primary and secondary schools participated over three sessions. They read chapters from the book in between the sessions and then came together to discuss areas that resonated and challenged. Most of these principals have signed up for an action research project based on applying the pedagogy of the book. A second book club with twelve more principals is due to start on September 19th.  As one of the principals commented on their participation in book club said about reading the book: “Your book was a lifeboat, ladder and lamp”.

Action research project at St Marys District School
School leaders at St Marys have embarked on an action research project where they are practising gratitude and applying this to their leadership and teaching roles. Teachers at this school will be doing some sessions on gratitude in October.

Working with Geelong Grammar’s Positive Education program
In November, 2013, Kerry will be working with teachers, parents and students at Geelong Grammar, introducing Gratitude in Education to the current programs.

Exploring cultural diversity through the lens of expressions of gratitude in education
Kerry is currently researching this topic in the context of indigenous education.



Award for Programs that Enhance Learning
OLT Australian Awards for University Teaching
Vice Chancellor's Award for Programs that Enhance Learning
2013  University of Tasmania
Research Merit Certificate
University of Tasmania
Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence
University of Tasmania
Lecturer of the Year
Australian University Unijobs
Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC)
Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
University of Tasmania
Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning (Team award)
Carrick National Award
Teaching Merit Certificate 2009
 University of Tasmania