Dr. Susan O'Neill

Professor, Faculty of Education

Associate Dean, Academic and Research

Director, MODAL Research in Education (Multimodal/Music Opportunities, Diversity and Learning)

Research Interests

My research is located within two related areas focused on multimodal and music learning and youth engagement and related aspects of young people’s perspectives, experiences, valuing, identities, wellbeing, learning relationships, and cultural understandings. An overlapping concern is to gain more inclusive, discriminating, and integrating perspectives on youth issues in relation to multimodal and musical learning, and how to initiate and sustain meaningful and equitable youth-adult and youth-peer creative collaborations that support youth engagement, empowerment, and social innovation in practice.

A key focus of my current scholarship involves mapping young people's learning ecologies and creative meaning making, particularly within learning contexts involving interactive digital media. This focus on learning ecologies provides an interface between multimodal activities, materiality, networks, human agency, connectedness, and the construction of learning identities within the contexts that render young people’s experiences purposeful and personally meaningful.

My research on transformative music engagement (TME) explores what is needed for young musicians to become deeply and purposefully engaged in the process of music learning. As an orientation to research, TME contributes to our understanding of young people’s perspectives on what initiates and sustains their involvement in music learning activities. As a learner-centered practice, TME seeks to provide educators with new approaches and more inclusive and expansive learning opportunities that help to deepen and enhance young people’s music engagement, empowerment, wellbeing, and musical flourishing. Within the TME perspective, research and practice inform and support each other.

I am also interested in creative collaborations and the potential of using interactive modes as resources for learning, communication, and expression. Current research projects focus on intergenerational multimodal learning, intercultural learning, and dialogical inquiry, drawing on theoretical ideas from critical youth studies, critical pedagogies, critical social psychology, multimodal literacies, communication and media studies.

Research Highlights