Associate Professor Dee O’Connor

Associate Professor

Email: dee.oconnor@nd.edu.au
Phone: 9433 0151

  • Biography

    Dr. Dee O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Education at The University of Notre Dame, Australia.  Dee  has a professional background of pedagogical and leadership roles within Early Childhood Education policy and practice.  Dee’s research interests relate to holistic early learning and development, learning environments, outdoor learning and nature pedagogy, play pedagogies, the play to inquiry continuum and the development of higher order thinking skills, particularly critical and creative thinking. She leads a team called Researching Early Learning and Teacher Education (RELATE) which is currently engaged in local and international research projects relating to play, pedagogy and policy in Early Childhood Education. Dee teaches into child development, learning environments and play pedagogy courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Dee also teaches into postgraduate research methods courses and supervises HDR students completing masters and doctorate degrees by research.

  • Teaching areas

    Undergraduate

    • EDUC1000 Child Development
    • EDUC1001 Creating Learning Environments
    • EDUC2000 Play and Pedagogy

    Postgraduate

    • EDUC6003 Holistic Development
    • EDUC6243 Trends in Early Childhood Development and Education
    • EDUC6002  Applied Research Methods
  • Research expertise and supervision

    Dee’s research interests relate to holistic early learning and development, learning environments, outdoor learning and nature pedagogy, play pedagogies, the play to inquiry continuum and the development of higher order thinking skills, particularly critical and creative thinking. Dee's research expertise within these fields is both developmental and pedagogical. She is focused on developmentally aligned practice which supports children to reach their highest potential. Dee's framing within developmental education is holistic. She undertakes and supports research which concentrates on intellectual development via emotional, personal, social and physical wellbeing.

    • Dee's doctoral thesis focused on the development of creative and critical thinking skills for innovation.
    • Dee led The Irish Neighbourhood Play Study, which focused on the educational benefits of family and community based play.
    • Dee also leads The Beyond Compliance Project in partnership with The Association of Independent Schools, Western Australia (AISWA). The Beyond Compliance Project focuses on Early Years Leaders achieving levels of pedagogical quality beyond the levels set within The National Quality Standards.
    • Dee also leads the RELATE team at Fremantle’s School of Education which seeks to inspire early childhood students through passionate and motivated research which intersects with contemporary educational themes.  Currently, the RELATE team is engaged in research across six focus areas:  play pedagogy; teachers in childcare; early childhood education and care policy and practice; teachers’ status; and love and care in early childhood.

    Dee has supervised 4 HDR Students and 22 Honours students to completion. She has also examined 3 HDR and 48 Honours theses. Dee is currently supervising 5 HDR students.  Current HDR projects include: Brunarian theory within Reggio-Emilian inspired practice; The Guidance Approach to behaviour in classrooms; A whole school approach to fostering a love of reading for pleasure; Parental perceptions of Play-Based Learning; and The role of love within Early Childhood education.

  • Books

    • Robinson, C., Treasure, T., O’Connor, D., Neylon, G., Harrison, C. & Wynne, S. (2018). Learning  through play: creating a play-based approach within early childhood contexts. Australia:  Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190304829
    • O’Connor, D. (2014) Educational Tales of the Unexpected: Children and Creativity. Interdisciplinary Press: Oxford.  ISBN: 978-1-84888-294-2
    • O’Connor, D. (2006) Spraoí Le Cheile: An Anthology of Traditional Irish Games, Songs and Rhymes. The Department of Equality, Dublin. (With accompanying DVD)
    • O’Connor, D. (2005) Schools Out: The Development of the Out of School Childcare Sector in Ireland. The Department of Equality, Dublin.
  • Book chapters

    • O'Connor, D (2018) Creating outdoor environments for learning through play. In Robinson, C., Treasure, T., O’Connor, D., Neylon, G., Harrison, C. & Wynne, S. (Eds). Learning  through play: creating a play-based approach within early childhood contexts. Australia:  Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190304829
    • O'Connor, D (2018) The role of the educator within play based approaches. In Robinson, C., Treasure, T., O’Connor, D., Neylon, G., Harrison, C. & Wynne, S. (Eds). Learning  through play: creating a play-based approach within early childhood contexts. Australia:  Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190304829
    • O’Connor,D. (2017) Loving Learning: Play Pedagogy for the Primary School Years. In Lynch, S., Pike, D., & à Beckett, C. (Eds). Multidisciplinary perspectives on play from birth and beyond. Singapore: Springer.
    • O’Connor, D. (2014) The Development of Creativity in Early Childhood. The Role of Educators. In O’Connor, D. (Ed). Educational Tales of the Unexpected: Children and Creativity. Interdisciplinary Press: Oxford.  ISBN: 978-1-84888-294-2
    • O’Connor, D. (2012) Reggio Emilia. In Mhic Mhathuna, M. & Taylor,M. (Eds). Early Childhood Care and Education; An Introduction for Students in Ireland. Gill & MacMillan: Dublin. ISBN 9780717153244
    • O’Connor, D. (2011). Where there is a will, there is a way. The story of The Lifestart Foundation. In Hegarty, C. (Ed). Irish Case Studies in Entrepreneurship. Oak Tree Press: Cork. ISBN 978 1 904887 49 2
    • O’Connor, D. (2009) A Review of Early Childhood Care and Education 2008-2009. In Mitchell, P. (ed) Education Matters Yearbook. CJ Fallon, Dublin.
  • Journal Articles and Proceedings

    • O'Connor, D., Robinson, C., Cranley, L. & Johnson, G. (2019). Love in education: West Australian early childhood pre-service teachers’ perspectives on children’s right to be loved and its actualisation within their future practice.  Early Child Development and Care. Doi:10.1080/03004430.2019.1574778.
    • Robinson, C., O’Connor, D., Wildy, H., & Neylon, G. (2018). Contemporary perspectives of the child in action: An investigation into children’s connectedness with, and contribution to, the world around them. Education 3-13, 1-11. doi:10.1080/03004279.2018.1457704
    • Cranley, L., Johnson, G., Robinson, C., & O'Connor, D. (2018). Belonging, being and becoming  active citizens. Asia Pacific Journal of Advanced Business and Social Studies, 4 (1), 176- 182.
    • O'Connor, D. Robinson, C. McCormack, M., & O'Rourke, V. (2018). Playing outdoors:  Implications for creative development. A contextualised discussion of the findings from  the Irish neighbourhood play study. EDULEARN18 ISSN: 2340-1117.  DOI10.21125/edulearn.2018.2123.
    • Robinson, C., O’Connor, D., Wildy, H., & Neylon, G. (2018). Contemporary perspectives of the child in action: An investigation into children’s connectedness with, and contribution to, the world around them. Education 3-13, 1-11. doi:10.1080/03004279.2018.1457704
    • O'Connor, D. Treasure, T. Robinson, C. McCormack, M. O'Rourke, V. (2017). Is play  disappearing? Instances of no-play in children’s neighbourhoods: implications for  learning, development and curriculum. ICERI2017 ISSN: 2340-1095 doi:  10.21125/iceri.2017.1323
    • O'Connor, D. Treasure, T. Robinson, C. McCormack, M. O'Rourke, V. (2017). Child’s play the  developmental benefits of the play choices of modern children: implications for school  curricula. ICERI2017 ISSN: 2340-1095. doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.1328
    • O'Connor, D. Robinson, C. McCormack & M. O'Rourke, V. (2017) The age of imagination: imagining play and invention: implications for creative development. EDULEARN17 PP: 4720-4727 ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4. ISSN: 2340-1117. doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2042
    • O'Connor, D. Robinson, C. McCormack & M. O'Rourke, V. (2017) Boys and girls come out to play: Gender Differences in Children’s Play Patterns. EDULEARN17 PP 4713-4719. ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4. ISSN: 2340-1117. doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2042
    • O'Connor, D., Robinson, C., McCormack, M. & O'Rourke, V. (2017). The influences of opportunity. Differences in children's play choices across diverse communities in Ireland INTED17 pp. 6335-6341. ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2. ISSN: 2340-1079   doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.1469
    • O'Connor, D., Robinson, C., McCormack, M. & O'Rourke, V. (2017) Is it time for the risky  classroom? Dealing with risk and uncertainty is a natural part of adult life. Yet modern  children are shielded from risk at every opportunity. A pedagogical shift is required INTED17 pp. 6471-6477. ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2. ISSN: 2340-1079   doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.1490
    • O'Connor, D., Robinson, C., McCormack, M. & O'Rourke, V. (2016) Let's get real: are today's children playing with nature? Do the educational aspirations of the nature play movement emerge within children's neighbourhood play? EDULEARN16 pp. 3123-3129.  ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4. ISSN: 2340-1117. doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1680
    • O'Connor, D., Robinson, C., McCormack, M. & O'Rourke, V. (2016) Children's choices: the technology choices that children make within their free time. Influences and implications, EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 3037-3042. ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4. ISSN: 2340-1117 doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1662
    • O’Connor, D. (2015) The Golden Thread: Educator Connectivity as a Central Pillar in the Development of Creativity through Childhood Education. An Irish Life History Study. In Education 3-13, Vol.43, Issue 1, Routledge, Taylor and Francis. ISSN 0300-4279 (Print), ISSN 1475-7575 (Online) DOI 10.1080/03004279.2014.999343
    • O'Connor, D., McGunnigle, C., Davie, S., Waggoner, J., Treasure, T. & Cranley, L. (2015). Who am I in the eyes of the World? A comparative study of pre-service teachers’ perceptions of early childhood educators’ professional status in their community. Australian and American perspectives. ICERI: Seville. doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.0659.
    • O’Connor, D., McGunnigle, C., Treasure. T. & Davie. S. (2015). I teach because I care: Perspectives on the education-care dichotomy. Early Years: An International Research Journal. ISSN 0957-5146 (Print), 1472-4421 (Online).
    • O’Connor, D., McGunnigle, C., Treasure. T. & Davie. S. (2015) Educator identities. Emerging issues within personal and professional identities; changes experienced by Australian pre-service teachers following professional exposure to educational practice within childcare settings. Early Childhood Development and Care 185 (1). Routledge, Taylor and Francis. 0300-4430 (Print), 1476-8275 (Online) DOI 10.1080/03004430.2014.993626.
    • McGunnigle, C., O'Connor, D.,  Waggoner, J.,  Treasure, T.,  Cranley, L. &  Davie, S. (2015).  It’s okay, I’m a…teacher. Is professional status important to teachers? EduLearn 15: Barcelona. ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1. ISSN: 2340-1117.
    • O'Connor, D., McGunnigle, C., Wildy, H. & Neylon, G. (2015). Looking within to build strong foundations of personhood: The importance of early years’ teacher’s reflective practice in the formation of a positive sense of identity in the children they work with. EduLearn 15: Barcelona. ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1. ISSN: 2340-1117.
    • O'Connor, D., McGunnigle, C., Treasure, T. & Davie, S. (2014). We are all educators…or are we? Changes in perceptions of the Childcare sector by Australian Pre-Service teachers following professional exposure to educational practice within Childcare settings. EDULEARN14: Barcelona. ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3.
    • O’Connor, D., McGunnigle, C., Treasure. T. & Davie. S. (2014). Shall we play us and them or all together now? Leadership opportunities for cohesiveness and unity within a fractured Western Australian Early Childhood Education Sector. IATED: Valencia ISBN 978-84-616-0763-4.
    • O’Connor, D., McGunnigle, C., Treasure. T. & Davie. S. (2014). Teachers who care and carers who educate. Professional status issues and differences in pay and conditions are resulting in a tale of division within our Early Childhood Community. IATED: Valencia ISBN 978-84-616-0763-4.
    • O’Connor, D., McCormack, M., MacLaughlin, P., Angus, J. & O’Rourke, V. (2014) Playing for High Stakes; Findings from the Irish Neighbourhood Play Research Project and their Implications for Development. EduLearn: Barcelona ISBN 978-84-617-0557-3
    • O’Connor, D. & Angus, J. (2012) Give Them Time: An Analysis of School Readiness in Ireland. In Education 3-13, Vol.41, Issue 5, Routledge, Taylor and Francis. ISSN 0300-4279 print/ISSN 1475-7575 online DOI 10.1080/03004279.2012.723726
    • O’Connor, D. (2012) A pedagogy of freedom: why primary school teachers should embrace educational emancipation, 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, 19-21 November, 2012, Madrid, Spain. ISBN 978-84-616-0763-1
    • O’Connor, D. (2012) Pedagogies and policies of impediment: how a lack of connectivity is a barrier to learning, 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, 19-21 November, 2012, Madrid, Spain. ISBN 978-84-616-0763-1
    • O’Connor, D. (2012) Generation Yes. How Childhood Consumerism is Influencing Play; Implications for Creativity Development. In Bustreo M. – Russo V. (Eds) Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Child and Teen Consumption. Qanat Palermomore: Milan.
  • Conference papers

    • O'Connor, D. & Wynne, S. (2019) Leading beyond compliance: Striving for best practice in Early Childhood Education. Early Childhood Australia (ECA) National Conference From Vision to Action. Hobart
    • O'Connor, D. & Wynne, S. (2019) Beyond compliance: Leading Pedagogical Change in School-Based Early Years Teams. Child Australia (CA) Early Childhood Learning and Development Conference. Perth
    • O’Connor, D. (2018). Symbiosis in learning and teaching: The relationship between pedagogy and children’s creative thinking capacity. 12th ICLEI 2018 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    • O'Connor, D., Robinson, C., Cranley, L. (2017). Love in the classroom. Pre-Service Teachers perspective on their role within children’s right and need to be loved. AULLA, The University of Victoria, Melbourne
    • Wildy, H., Neylon, G., O’Connor, D. & McGunnigle, C. (2016). Juggling Philosophy, Policy and  Practice: Tensions in Early Childhood Education and Care. European Educational  Research Association, Conference paper Dublin.
    • O’Connor, D. (2014) The Development of Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. At The Catholic Education Office Early Childhood Education Symposium, Perth
    • O’Connor, D. & Fleer, M. (2013) The Heart of Play: Children playing, Children Learning. KEYNOTE At The Play Symposium, The  University of Notre Dame, Sydney
    • O’Connor, D. (2013) A Broader Bolder Education. KEYNOTE At the 6th Educational Leadership International Roundtable, Lucknow, India
    • O'Connor, D., McCormack, M., Angus, J. & MacLaughlin, P. (2012) Neighbourhood Play: parental perceptions and children’s experiences. Preliminary Findings. At Streets Ahead: Activating Child Friendly Spaces. Dublin Castle.
    • O’Dywer, M., O'Connor, D., McCormack, M., Angus, J. & MacLaughlin, P. (2012) The Irish Neighbourhood Play Project: popping the bubble wrap - Unleashing the power of outdoor play. At Researching Children's Outcomes: An All-Island Approach. Dublin
    • O’Connor, D. (2012) Creativity in Childhood: The Role of Education. At Creative Engagements, Oxford University.
    • O’Connor, D. (2012) What is Going on in Ireland’s Higher Education Sector: Are We Educating for Innovation? At InterTrade, National University of Ireland, Galway.
    • O’Connor, D. & Angus, J. (2012) The Decline of Free Play in Ireland’s Early Childhood Care and Education Sector and the Potential Implications for Innovation. At Play and the Creation of the Modern World, Waterford Institute of Technology.
    • O’Connor, D. (2011) Emerging Quality: Policy in Practice within Ireland’s Early Childhood Care and Education Sector. At Our Children, Our Future, Institute of Technology, Sligo.
    • O’Connor, D. & Angus, J. (2011) Ready for School: A Steiner Waldorf Perspective. At Our Children, Our Future, Institute of Technology, Sligo.
    • O’Connor, D. (2004) Working in Partnership with Parents. KEYNOTE At the Northern Area Partnership Conference, Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
    • O’Connor, D. (2003) Parent Power – The Role of Parents in Early Childhood Policy and Service Development. KEYNOTE At Working in Partnership with Parents, Sligo County Childcare Committee.
    • O’Connor, D. (2002) Child-Minders – Also Educators. KEYNOTE At Reaching Child-Minders, Sligo County Childcare Committee.
    • O’Connor, D. & Branley, P.J. (2000) Community Development Innovation in Ireland: A Case Study of Tirhugh Resources. At the Colleque European Conference, Lille, France.
  • Recorded or rendered works

    O’Connor, D. (2012) Creating Our Future Together: Educating for Creativity and Innovation. At TedxTalk, Cork Institute of Technology. View at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozNo1tSARh8

  • Professional affiliations

    Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Préscolaire (OMEP). (World Organisation for Early Childhood Education and Care): Committee Member for Western Australia

  • Community engagement

    Engagement within The Profession

    • 2013-19 Consultant to Schools and Childcare services on Quality Improvement and Pedagogical Development.
    • 2018 Year-long project developing an evidenced based approach with 19 Early Childhood Leaders implementing The National Quality Standards within Independent schools. In partnership with The Independent Schools Association, Western Australia (AISWA).
    • 2017 -2024 Co-initiator and committee member for The GRACE Project. An international research collaboration on Catholic Education involving Australia, Ireland and The USA
    • 2017-21 Initiator and coordinator of the Lance Holt Full School Research Project. Partnership is in place with 5 HDR student projects attached.
    • 2014  Affiliated contributor to the Centre for Early Childhood Research (CREC at Edith Cowan University) Response to the Productivity Commission’s Childcare and Early Learning Report.
    • 2014  Affiliated contributor to the Australian College of Educators (ACE) Response to the Productivity Commission’s Childcare and Early Learning Report.
    • 2001-2013 Extensive Engagement with Educational and Community Services throughout Ireland.

    Engagement within The Academic Community

    • Peer Reviewer: Journal of Studies in Higher Education; Education 3-13; Journal of Early Care and Development; Journal of Childhood; International Journal of Play
    • International Advisory Board Member: International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED)
    • UNDA previous committee service on: The Teaching and Learning Committee; The Program and Course Approvals Committee; and Academic Council
    • ITS previous discipline coordination service: Early Child Education and Care
  • Awards

    The University of Notre Dame Australia Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching 2017.
    Category: For an outstanding contribution to Student Learning
    Sub Category: Innovation, leadership and scholarship that has influenced and enhanced learning, teaching and the student experience.

  • Other

    Funding

    • 2019 Category 2 funding. Early Childhood School Leaders implementing The National Quality Standards within a context of excellence beyond compliance. In partnership with The Independent Schools Association, Western Australia (AISWA).
    • 2012 Category 2 funding. Chief Investigator of The Irish Neighbourhood Play Study. Funded by Early Childhood Ireland and IT Sligo.
    • 2008/12 Innovation category funding. IT Sligo lead on the national Accelerating Campus Entrepreneurship (ACE) project in higher education. (800,000 euro grant awarded through the Strategic Innovation fund)
    • 2008/09 Category 2 funding. The Local Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy Feasibility Study. Sligo County Council.
    • 2005/07 Category 2 funding. The Finding a Balance Project - Studying the Work Life Balance of Parents Who Are Employees in Large Statutory Organisations. Donegal County Council.
    • 2006 Category 2 funding. Evaluator of Parenting Programmes in Loughan House Prison. Cavan County Childcare Committee.
    • 2006 Category 2 funding. Development of the Child-Minding Sector in Ireland’s Border Counties. Department of Equality, Dublin.
    • 2006 Category 2 funding. A needs analysis of the Sligo North Ward Community. Sligo County Council.
    • 2005/6 Category 2 funding. Evaluator of the Cavan Family Outreach Service. Cavan County Childcare Committee.
    • 2005 Category 2 funding. Community Profile of Sligo’s West Ward. Sligo RAPID Programme.
    • 2005 Category 2 funding. Service Audit of Investment in the Cranmore Community. Cranmore Regeneration Programme, Sligo County Council.
    • 2005 Category 3 funding. Consultant grant writer for five successful capital grants for community Childcare facilities (Grants totalling over 2 million euro)
    • 2004 Category 2 funding. South Sligo Childcare Development Plan (Multi-Agency). Sligo County Childcare Committee.
    • 2004 Category 2 funding. Strategic Plan for Integrated Education in Co. Sligo. Sligo Vocational Educational Committee (VEC).
    • 2004 Category 2 funding. Feasibility study for the development of a Family Resource Centre in Sligo’s West Ward, Sligo RAPID Programme.