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Catherine O’Connor


Dr. Catherine O’Connor is professor of education and linguistics at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Her work in education explores the teacher’s role in creating inclusive, equitable, and conceptually fruitful classroom discussion. She has focused on the role of discussion in support of student reasoning in literacy and mathematics learning in a variety of school settings, leading to funded research projects, research publications, and materials for teachers.

Dr. O’Connor’s work in linguistics centers on language documentation of endangered languages, including work on Northern Pomo, a dormant language of Northern California, and Medumba, a language of Cameroon. Her ongoing work in Northern Pomo supports recent advances in the revitalization of the language among descendants of the original speakers. She is currently working with members of Northern Pomo tribal communities to create curriculum for tribal revitalization efforts, including a sequence of high school courses being taught in Ukiah, CA.  She also recently created a course in the Linguistics Department titled “Language Documentation.”

Dr. O’Connor has authored or co-authored four books and over 75 refereed journal articles and book chapters. She has given over 80 invited presentations and over 75 refereed presentations at conferences. Since 2010, she has taken on a variety of administrative roles, including department chair, associate dean for faculty, and associate dean for doctoral studies. From 2017 to 2018, Dr. O’Connor served as Dean ad interim of the BU School of Education and played a role in the merger that created the BU Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

PhD, Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley

MA, Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley

AB, Human Language, Stanford University

SED RS 750 Advanced Research Seminar

SED LS 726 Discourse Analysis: Theory and Methods

SED LS 725 Discourse, Narrative and Literacy

CAS LX 390-690 Topics in Linguistics: Language Revitalization

CAS LX 391-691 Linguistic Field Methods

Al-Adeimi, S. & O'Connor, C. (2020). Exploring the relationship between dialogic teacher talk and students’ persuasive writing. Learning and Instruction 71.101388

O’Connor, C., Michaels, S., Chapin, S., & Harbaugh, A.G. (2017). The silent and the vocal: Participation and learning in whole class discussion. Learning and Instruction. 48. April, 2017. Pp. 5-13.

Mayer, S., O’Connor, C., & Lefstein, A. (2019). Distinctively democratic discourse in classrooms. In Mercer, N., Wegerif, R., and Major, L. (Eds.) International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education. Routledge.

O'Connor, C., Schmidt, B., Dailey, B., Batchelder-Schwab, A. (March, 2023) Creating and teaching a high school language class in a dormant language: challenges and opportunities. The 7th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation. University of Hawai'i/online. March 4, 2023.

*Rimdzius, E., *Dailey, B. A.¸ Carson Jr., E., *Ko, E., Nee., J., *Sbordone, J., and O’Connor, C. (January, 2020) What is the role of web-based stories and texts in promoting learning engagement in language revitalization? Paper presented at Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 5, 2020

O’Connor, C., and Bien, A. (August, 2019) Invited Keynote. Planning, Enacting, and Reflecting Together: A Close Look at Classroom Discussions that Support All Learners. Boston Public Schools Office of English Learners Summer Symposium. August 23, 2019.

O’Connor, C. (May 2016). Invited presentation. The silent and the vocal: Participation in classroom discussion and learning outcomes. Center for Research on Mathematics and Science Education. San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. May 25, 2016.

O'Connor, M.C. (May, 2002). "Can any fraction be represented as a decimal?" A case study of position-driven discussion. Invited presentation, International Conference on Qualitative Research in Classrooms, sponsored by the Spencer Foundation and the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados, Mexico City, DF.