John O’neill Massey University

In 2013 I was made an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Association of Normal School Principals, and in 2017 an Honorary Life Member of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education.

In 2012 I received the Teacher Education Forum of Aotearoa New Zealand career excellence award and a Massey University Research Excellence medal. 

For several years I was an elected Council member of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education (2009-2013).

I serve on the editorial advisory boards of several international scholarly journals: Irish Educational Studies; Educational Management, Administration and Leadership; International Journal of Research and Method in Education; Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy

My research interests are: the relationships between education policy and teachers’ work and learning, educational privatisations, informal teaching and learning in everyday settings, children’s rights and capabilities, and applied professional ethics.

Contact details

  • Ph: +64 6 356 9099 x84384
    Location: 2.21, Institute of Education
    Campus: Turitea

Prizes and Awards

  • Awarded Honorary Life Membership, New Zealand Association for Research in Education, November 2017 – New Zealand Association for Research in Education (2017)
  • Appointed by Minister of Education to the Independent Taskforce to Review Tomorrow’s Schools – Office of the Minister of Education (2018)

Research Interests

A major strand of my research for over twenty five years has been the relationships between education policy and teachers’ work and learning. There are two key questions here.

  • First, how do politicians and officials attempt to persuade teachers of the value of new policies, and support them to change their practices?
  • Second, how do teachers mediate, or respond to official policy mandates?

The first requires examination of policy trajectories: how do particular aspects of education get framed as ‘problems’ or ‘crises’ that government needs to address, what language and processes are used to frame policy options and on what basis does the preferred policy option get selected? Then, how does the machinery of government, the polity, gear up to persuade teachers that it is in their interests to change their customary ways of teaching and interacting with students?

The second looks at the extent to which, and how, teachers and their representatives respond to policy. Do they change? On what basis do they accept new education policy as valuable, or not? How long does it take for policy to change teaching and learning practices? Whcih policies are beneficial, and which harmful?

Papers on these questions have been published in Teaching and Teacher EducationJournal of Educational Administration and HistoryJournal of Education PolicyCambridge Journal of EducationEducational Research and Learning Culture and Social Interaction.

For many years I had a leadership role in research ethics at Massey, nationally, and in the New Zealand Association for Research in Education; and now the Association for Visual Pedagogies . The issues that interest me here concern:

  • the place of ethics in the modern enterprise university;
  • the relationship between institutional ethics committees, researchers and their disciplinary norms; and
  • applied professional ethics in education (researchers and practitioners).

Papers on these issues have been published in the International Journal of Research and Method in EducationEducational Action Research, Ethics and Education, Education Policty Futures and Educational Philosophy and Theory.

In addition to ongoing scholarly work in education policy and governance, I have recently been undertaking third party funded research programmes in three main areas:

  1. Teaching and learning in everyday activities and settings (TLRI)
  2. Educational charities and privatisations ((i) NZEI, NZPPTA, NZPF; (ii) Academy of Finland)
  3. Children’s rights and capabilities (Massey University Strategic Initiative Fund)

Research Opportunities

  • Teaching and Learning in Everyday Activities and Settings  (Ongoing) This research project explores how people learn in their everyday lives and the relationships between individual learning and family, neighbourhood and local community resources.
  • Educational Charities and Privatisations  (01/01/2015) This research project examines the extent to which educational charities fulfil their objectives and provide a public benefit, and to document their networks of influence.


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes 
Education (130000): Education Systems (130100): Educational Administration, Management and Leadership (130304): Specialist Studies in Education (130300): Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators (130313)


education policy, applied professional ethics

Summary of Research Projects

Not Specified11
Project Leader38

Current Projects

Project Title: TLRI: The impact of Children’s everyday learning on teaching and learning in classrooms and across schoolsRead Project Description

Date Range: 2014 – 2019

Funding Body: New Zealand Council For Educational Research

Project Team:

  • Prof Roseanna Bourke – Project Leader
  • Prof John O’Neill – Project Leader

Completed Projects

Project Title: Research Medal 2012 – Supervisor – Teaching and Learning in community newspapersRead Project Description

Date Range: 2013 – 2014

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

  • Prof John O’Neill – Project Leader