Carla O'Connor

Professor, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

Carla  O'Connor, School of Education

Carla O’Connor's disciplinary emphasis is sociology of education and she has expertise in the areas of African-American achievement, urban education, and ethnographic methods.  Her work includes examinations of how black identity is differentially constructed across multiple contexts and informs achievement outcomes, how black people’s perceptions of opportunity vary within space and influence academic orientation, and how black educational resilience and vulnerability is structured by social, institutional, and historical forces.

O’Connor’s work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Sociology of 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.  She is a founding member of the NSF-sponsored Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context. 

O’Connor was named an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, an honor given to tenured faculty with “exceptional commitment” to undergraduate teaching. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago.

Administrative Responsibilities

O’Connor's administrative responsibilities include overseeing the Office of Student Affairs, chairing the Graduate Affairs Committee, serving as the liaison between the school and Rackham Graduate School in matters of education and financial aid, and coordinating relationships with College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and other university administrative units concerned with undergraduate programs and student affairs. In addition, she is the dean's office liaison with the Graduate Student Community Organization of the school. She works with program chairs, faculty, staff, and students to develop and implement academic program procedures and policies and to ensure efficient and equitable use of resources in the school's academic programs.

O'Connor teaches courses in the following program(s):
Educational Foundations and Policy
Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation
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 - ongoing 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