PL Hub

School of Education and Professional Studies

Professional Learning Hub



Positive people flourish.  Teaching, learning and leadership are all wonderful examples of human endeavours that are energised more effectively by positivity and resourcefulness. My role is to enable others to teach, learn, lead and live in more positive, meaningful (and evidence-based) ways

Mia O'Brien is a Teacher Educator and Educational Researcher within the School of Education and Professional Studies. As Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery Project, and the lead investigator in several related/previous projects, she partners closely with teachers in schools and classrooms to research: i) pedagogical practices that build positive learning identities and experiences for students; ii) new ways of understanding and theorising student learning and engagement; iii) teachers' pedagogical knowledge and learning. Mia lectures and offers professional development workshops in pedagogical innovation and professional learning, action research, practice as research, engaging students in learning, developing positive learning environments, creative and critical thinking, learning in and through the Arts, inquiry and growth mindsets.


Dr Mia O'Brien

School of Education and Professional Studies

Coordinator of Initial Teacher Education

Fields of Expertise

  • Action Research
  • Pedagogy
  • Professional Learning
  • Initial Teacher Education

Speeches, Seminars and Presentations

Mia is an experienced presenter and confident facilitator. She has delivered a range of topics at various seminars to clients which include:

  • Positive psychology and education: what’s the connection, what’s the potential?
  • Rethinking student engagement: why teaching practices matter
  • How do we foster growth mindsets in classrooms?
  • Positivity and strengths-based leading for learning: a seminar for leaders.

Industry Experience

Mia is developing a state and national profile in positive education and innovative pedagogies within the academic and professional development spheres. She currently leads a whole-school pedagogical renewal project funded by one of the largest independent schools in Southeast Queensland, a multi-school
pedagogical renewal project funded by the Australian Research Council; and is an invited professional learning facilitator for the ‘Teachers-as-Researchers’ (action research consultant) initiative that runs across several dozen schools under the auspices of the Independent Schools of Queensland (ISQ) Association.

  • Professional Memberships: Australian Teacher Education Association, Australian Association for Research in Education, Educational Praxis, Practice Theory & Action Research (Special Interest Group)

Research Expertise

Mia has developed her skills as a researcher and facilitator of pedagogical renewal through leadership of several national, competitively funded research projects, all of which are focused on pedagogical renewal and student engagement through action research. She has particular strengths in the facilitation of professional learning and classroom-based action research with a strong track record in professional development. Her enthusiasm for working with teachers in classrooms remains central to her research and professional development activities.

Research highlights include:

  • · (2017). Exploring the classroom practices that may enable a compassionate approach to financial literacy education. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 1–22.
  • · (2017). Using expectancy-value theory to explore aspects of motivation and engagement in inquiry-based learning in primary mathematics. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 29(2), 237–254.
  • · (2017). Positive behaviour management. In Teaching Middle Years: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment - 3rd edition (pp. 243–264).
  • · (2017). Towards a positive pedagogy: Designing pedagogical practices that facilitate positivity within the classroom. Educational Action Research, 1–20.
  • · (2015). How Inquiry Pedagogy Enables Teachers to Facilitate Growth Mindsets in Mathematics Classrooms. Presented at the MERGA38, Sunshine Coast, Australia (2015).

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