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Personal profile

Biography

Belonging is strongly associated with depression in adolescence yet one in three young people do not feel like they belong to school. This startling and troubling fact explains why belonging research is Dr Kelly-Ann Allen’s core interest. Dr Allen is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, Monash University, and an Honorary Senior Fellow at the Centre for Positive Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. 

With 20 years’ experience working in educational contexts, Dr Allen is committed to translating her research, knowledge, and expertise from academic to educational contexts. This commitment prompted her to establish and lead the Global Belonging Collaborative, a large transdisciplinary team dedicated to developing the field of belonging through the dissemination of research, engagement in translational projects, and the pooling of international expertise. 

Awarded the Australian Psychological Society’s 2016 ‘Award for Excellent PhD Thesis in Psychology’ and the 2016 Psychology of Relationships Interest Group’s ‘Psychology of Relationships Thesis Award’, Dr Allen’s doctoral research examined how school belonging could be enhanced among secondary school students. The quality of her research has been acknowledged through the Dean’s Award for Research for research enterprise (2021), the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence by an Early Career Researcher (2019) and the Advancing Women's Success Award (2020). Dr Allen has been recognised by the Australian as one of Australia's top 40 early career researchers, listed within the top 5 for her discipline (2020 and 2021). In 2021 she was independently ranked by the Australian's data-science partner, The League of Scholars, as Best In Field for research contributions over the past four years. 

Her contribution to the profession is evident in her service to the Australian Psychological Society (APS) as current Treasurer of the Positive Psychology Interest Group and a past 8-year term as National Treasurer of the College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists. Kelly is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Educational and Developmental Psychologist and has previously served as Associate Editor for the Australian Journal of Psychology and the Australian Community Psychologist. She has also co-edited four special journal issues on belonging school belonging for Educational and Child Psychology, the Educational and Developmental Psychologist, and the Australian Journal of Psychology.

Integral to Dr Allen’s numerous publications – books, chapters and peer-reviewed papers - is her commitment to transdisciplinary and international collaborations. Dr Allen’s work is also characterised by accessible applications of her research into everyday practice, especially as it relates to the core beneficiaries of the work. As much of the research on school belonging has concentrated on the benefits of school belonging and the problems associated with not belonging, her contribution has been instrumental in altering the discourse from “school belonging is beneficial” to “what can we do about it?” This shift is evident in her single authored book The Psychology of Belonging (Routledge), her two books co-authored with Margaret Kern, School Belonging in Adolescents: Theory, research, and practice (Springer), Boosting School Belonging in Adolescents: Interventions for teachers and mental health professionals (Routledge). She has also published a co-authored book with Erica Frydenberg and Jan Deans,  Developing Children’s Coping in the Early Years: Strategies for dealing with stress, change and anxiety (Bloomsbury) and published a co-edited volume Pathways to Belonging: Contemporary research in school belonging (Brill) with Chris Boyle which profiles international school belonging research.

Dr Allen’s most recent volume, co-edited with Andrea Reupert and Lindsay Oades, Building Better Schools with Evidence-based Policy: Adaptable Policy Guidelines for Teachers and School Leaders (2021, Routledge) addresses the perennial gap between research and practice, providing a practical resource for educators and school leaders. Dr Allen also regularly contributes to discussions of psychological issues in the media and gives invited lectures in the area of belonging (see her personal website for more details).

Research interests

A sense of belonging in school has far-reaching consequences for psychological and physical outcomes in adulthood. With strong links to school dropout, substance use, truancy, even suicide, it is critical that school belonging receives attention in national and international policy debates. 

With belonging, as Dr Allen’s core research priority, her projects have built a conceptual and empirical understanding of what it means to belong. Using the Australian Temperament Project, Australia’s oldest epidemiological data set, in collaboration with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, her current projects involve building a comprehensive understanding of the long-term outcomes of school belonging. Further, in an international school belonging study, Dr Allen is working across international contexts to examine how school belonging is conceptualised by young people. 

In addition, Dr Allen represents psychology as a profession in other research areas and fields. As such, she is a member of six international transdisciplinary research teams based in the U.K., the U.S., Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, and Australia. 

Dr Allen’s work is highly respected, as evidenced by her international collaborators including Michael Furlong, University of California, Dennis McInerney, Hong Kong Institute of Education and Lea Waters, University of Melbourne. Her research has been cited in important international publications: Wikipedia page for School Belonging and Belongingness, 2020; PISA 2018 Results (Volume III): OECD, 2019; and the Global Happiness Policy Report, 2018). It has also been cited by eminent scholars: Martin Seligman and Douglas A. Bernstein. 

Monash teaching commitment

Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology

EDF4604 - Research project

EDF4599 - Positive psychology in professional practice

Master of Educational and Developmental Psychology

EDF5572- Professional experience: Schools, families and groups

EDF5741- Psychology thesis part 1

EDF5742- Psychology thesis part 2

Community service

Dr Allen serves as a Board Director for two not-for-profit organisations: the Homeless Project and Early Childhood Intervention Australia VIC TAS, a peak body for early intervention in Australia. She has served as co-director and co-founder of the Change Cycle, a community engagement partnership with Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in Coober Pedy. In acknowledgement of her community engagement activities, she has won awards including the University of Melbourne's Peter McPhee Award for student engagement and the Leaders in Community Award.

Consulting

Dr Allen has partnered with Berry Street Education to develop a Master Class on School Belonging. In this innovative masterclass, the Berry Street Education Model introduces the topic of school belonging, demonstrating how fostering belonging in students has widespread benefits with positive outcomes that extend well into adulthood. As schools are ideal places to build lasting connections, the masterclass opens doors for creating connected and inclusive classrooms and schools.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Educational Psychology, PhD

20112015

Educational Psychology, Masters

20052008

External positions

Treasurer, Positive Psychology Interest Group, Australian Psychological Society

2022 → …

Board Director, Early Childhood Intervention Australia (Vic/Tas)

20182021

Board Director, The Homeless Project

2018 → …

Treasurer, The College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists

20122020

Senior Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne

2012 → …

Research area keywords

  • Belonging
  • School belonging
  • Positive Psychology
  • Social and emotional learning
  • social inclusion
  • relationships
  • Enhancing health and wellbeing
  • Educating for diversity and inclusion
  • Transforming teaching and learning

Network

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or