Carla O'Connor

Professor, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

Carla  O'Connor, School of Education

Carla O’Connor is the Director of University of Michigan Wolverine Pathways, a free year-round program that partners with the families, schools, and communities of Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Southfield to support academic success, college admission, and career exploration.  She is also Professor of Education and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan.  She received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University.  A sociologist of education, Carla O’Connor has expertise in the areas of African American achievement, cultural studies, urban education, and ethnographic methods.  Her work includes examinations of how Black identity is differentially constructed across multiple contexts and influences educational outcomes; how Black people’s perceptions of opportunity vary within and across social space and shape academic orientation; how Black educational resilience and vulnerability is structured by social, institutional, and historical forces; and how the organization and culture of schools influence students’ social and academic identities and outcomes.  She is currently conducting a study on race and the co-construction of family-school relations in one demographically diverse elementary school. Her work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Sociology of Education, Review of Research in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Ethnic and Racial Studies. She co-edited (with Erin McNamara Horvat) the book, Beyond Acting White: Reframing the Debate on Black Student Achievement and has contributed to multiple handbooks and edited volumes that contend with issues of educational inequality and access. She is a founding member of the NSF sponsored Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context.

O'Connor teaches courses in the following program(s):
Educational Foundations and Policy
Combined Program in Education and Psychology
Secondary Teacher Education
Elementary Teacher Education
Elementary Teacher Education (ELMAC)




Research Affiliations


8/6/2010 - 2/6/2000 Adolescent Mothers: Academic Skepticism and Motivational (Dis)engagement
Granting Agency: University of Michigan

2/1/1997 - 1/1/1999 Through the Fire: Exploring the Educational Resilience of Black Women of Low-Income and Working Class Origins
Granting Agency: Spencer Foundation Small Grants Program

8/6/2010 - 2/6/1998 Through the Fire: Exploring the Educational Resilience of Black Women of Low-Income and Working Class Origins
Granting Agency: American Sociological Association & National Science Foundation Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline

9/1/2017 - 8/31/2019 Race, Sense-Making, and Practice in the Co-Construction of Family-School Relations
Granting Agency: Spencer Foundation

9/15/2013 - 9/15/2015 The Family Centered Education Experience: Preparing New Teachers for Understanding and Teaching in Diverse Communities.
Granting Agency: U-M Office of the Provost - Transforming Learning for a Third Century Discovery

10/1/2008 - 9/30/2013 IRADS: Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context
Granting Agency: National Science Foundation

4/15/2012 - 12/31/2012 Workshop at ICP 2012 Conference
Granting Agency: National Science Foundation

9/1/2010 - 8/31/2011 Contextual Research-Large Empirical: Racial & Gender Identity in Context: A Multi-Method Study of Risk and Resilience Processes among African American College Students in STEM Areas
Granting Agency: National Science Foundation

8/6/2010 - 8/6/2010 Socialization in the Academy: Experiences of Women Students and Students of Color in Graduate Education
Granting Agency: University of Michigan Gender-Based Censorship Project

2/1/2002 - 1/1/2006 Black Identity, School Performance and the Transition to Adulthood: A Longitudinal Analysis
Granting Agency: William T. Grant Foundation

2/5/2003 - 2/9/2003 Beyond Acting White: Reassessments and New Directions in Research on Black Students and School Success
Granting Agency: Ford Foundation

2/1/2000 - 1/1/2003 Black Identity and the Variation in Adaptations that Facilitate School Success: Privileging an Ecological Analysis
Granting Agency: National Academy of Education/Spencer Post Doctoral Fellowship

Courses & Syllabi

Term Catalogue Course Description Syllabus


Room 4001
Mailbox 4107