For Students, Faculty, and Staff: MyU One Stop


David O'Brien

Ph.D., University of Georgia
Literacy Education

Curriculum and Instruction
Room 358 Peik Hall

159 Pillsbury Dr S E
Tel: 612-625-5337

Office hours:
by appointment

Areas of Interest

Adolescent literacy, literacy across disciplines, digital literacies: construction of supportive programs for adolescents and struggling adolescent readers, using literacy across the curriculum; using digital literacies to engage adolescents; bridging traditional print literacies with multimodal literacies and new media

Research Interests

My scholarship and teaching focus on the literacy practices of adolescents. I study how adolescents engage in literacy practices in support of learning with both traditonal print texts as multimodal texts and also how teachers learn to engage students in literacy practices with various text genres in middle and high school instruction.   Working from both socicultural and sociocognitive frameworks, I also explore how to motivate and engage “struggling” adolescent learners using various  technologies and multimodal texts.   I am currently collaborating with colleague Rick Beach in exploring how apps and other digital environments can be used to support the literacy learning of students in various disciplines.  Some of this work is highlighted in our blog,  Apps for Learning with Literacy  A forthcoming Routledge book on this topic, Using Apps for Learning Across the Curriculum:  A Literacy-Based Framework, will be available October 2014.  I am also embarking on a new project to implement and study a model, Strategic Engagement in Literacy, with colleague Deborah Dillon focusing on the systematic integration of motivation and engagement components into strategy instruction in literacy with middle school students who struggle in reading.  

Selected Publications

  1. O'Brien, D., & Rogers, T. (in press). Sociocultural perspectives on literacy and learning.  In L. Corno & E. Anderman (Eds).   Handbook of Educational Psychology (Ch. 23) (3rd. ed.).  American Psychological Association, Division 15 and Routledge. 

  2. Beach, R., & O'Brien (2015).  Using apps for learning across the curriculum:  A literacy-based framework.  New York: Routledge

  3. Beach, R., & O'Brien, D.  (in press).  Fostering students science inquiry through app affordances of multimodality, collaboration, interactivity, and connectivity.  Reading and Writing Quarterly

  4. O’Brien, D. G., & Dillon, D. R. (2014).  The role of motivation in engaged reading of adolescents.  In K. A. Hinchman & H. S. Thomas (Eds.), Best practices in adolescent literacy instruction (2nd. Ed).  New York:  Guilford Press

  5. Dillon, D. R., O'Brien, D. G., & Heilman, E.  (2013).  Literacy research in the next millennium: From paradigms to pragmatism and practicality.  In D. Alvermann & K. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading, 6th edition, pp. 1104-1132. . Newark, DE:  International Reading Association

  6. Beach, R. & O’Brien, D. (2013).  Fostering Student Writing-to-Learn through App Affordances.  In  K. E. Pytash, R. E. Ferdig, & Timothy V. Rasinski (Eds.), Exploring technology for writing and writing instruction .  Pittsburg, PA:  ETC Press. 

  7. Bean, T., & O'Brien, D. (2012).  Past and future directions in content area literacies.  Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 56(4), 275-278. 

  8. O’Brien, D. G., (2012).  “Struggling adolescents’ engagement in multimediating:  Countering the institutional construction of incompetence.  In D. E. Alvermann & K. A. Hinchman (Eds.), Reconceptualizing the literacies in adolescents’ lives (3rd ed.) (pp. 71-91). New York:  Routledge

  9. Beach, R., Hull, G. & O’Brien, D. (2011).   Transforming English language arts in a Web 2.0 world.  Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts (3rd. Ed).  New York:  Routledge

  10. O’Brien, D., & Voss, S. (2011).  Reading multimodally:  What is afforded.  Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55 (1), 75-78.

  11. O'Brien, D., & Scharber, C. (2010, April). Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks: The Luxury of Digital Abundance. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(7), 600–603. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.53.7.7

  12. Dillon, D. R., O’Brien, D. G., Sato, M., & Kelly, C. M. (November 2010). Professional development and teacher education for reading instruction.  In    M.L Kamil, P.D. Pearson, E. B. Moje, & P Afflerbach (Eds.), Handbook of reading research( Vol. 4, pp. 629-659.   Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.