Dr Maria Cooper

PhD, MEd (1st class hons), PGDipEd, BCom, DipTchg (ECE)

Biography

Maria Cooper teaches and researches early childhood education in the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice. Her research/teaching interests include educational leadership, infant-toddler curriculum and pedagogy, Pasifka/diverse learners, and teacher-family collaboration. Her doctoral study explored collective leadership activity of teaching teams in the context of infant-toddler education and care. Maria is current co-editor of The First Years Ngā Tau Tuatahi NZ Journal of Infant and Toddler Education and co-director of the Early Childhood Seminar Series. She is a fully registered teacher and experienced teacher registration/certification mentor. Maria is of Samoan/Czech heritage, has three children and was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand.

Research | Current

Maria's research specialisations and interests are early childhood education, educational leadership, infant-toddler pedagogy and curriculum, and equity-driven practices in mainstream settings. Her research projects are largely based on qualitative methodologies and sociocultural/cultural-historical activity theoretical frameworks, inspired by the work of Lev Vygotsky, Yrjö Engestrom, and Anne Edwards.

2018 - current: FDRF research project "We can't lead where we won't (first) go" (with Dr. Esther Fitzpatrick [lead] and colleagues).

2018 - current: SEED grant for innovation in teaching: “Who are we as bicultural educators?: A module for CANVAS” (with Dr. Esther Fitzpatrick [lead] and colleagues).

2018 - current: Pedagogies of care in four countries - exploring the nature of pedagogical care for one-year old children in diverse early childhood settings through a Froebelian lens (with Professor Sacha Powell [lead, England], Professor Mary McMullen [America], Dr Tik Sze Carrey Siu [Hong Kong], and Honorary Academic Jean Rockel [NZ])

2018 - current: High expectations, remarkable outcomes (HERO) project - embedding high expectation principles in early childhood education (with Professor Christine Rubie-Davies and Dr Lyn McDonald)

Teaching | Current

Maria teaches within the Faculty's early childhood programmes at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. Current courses include:

  • Young Children and Early Learning Environments (undergraduate - co-lead/lecturer)
  • Infant Care and Education (undergraduate - course director)
  • Te Whāriki for Diverse Learners (undergraduate - course director)
  • Early Childhood Assessment (undergraduate - lecturer)
  • Early Years Curriculum (graduate - lecturer)
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy (graduate and undergraduate - lecturer/tutor)
  • Learning and Teaching in the First Years (postgraduate - course director)
  • Early Childhood Leadership (postgraduate - course director)

Postgraduate supervision

Masters and Doctoral supervision topics (current and past):

  • Teachers' professional knowledge growth in kindergarten settings (PhD)
  • Experiences of child anxiety in primary classrooms (PhD)
  • Infant Resilience in early ECE settings (PhD)
  • Sociocultural assessment and the use of ePortfolios in ECE (PhD)
  • Local curriculum: teacher provision of culturally relevant learning experiences for Year 7 and 8 Pasifika students in mainstream classrooms
  • Beginning school teachers' perspectives of culturally responsive practices with Pasifika students
  • Teacher leadership in ECE in Aotearoa
  • Teachers’ beliefs, perceptions and experiences of educational leadership and leadership identity in ECE
  • Kaiako understandings and views of leadership in teacher-led early childhod services in NZ
  • Early childhood teachers’ and parents’ recognition of, and responses to, toddlers` expressions of empathy
  • Exploring the transition from early childhood teacher to leader
  • Pedagogical strategies and curriculum implementation to support children's learning dispositions in ECE
  • The role of emotion for parents and teachers in ECE settings engaged in educational change
  • Children's anxiety in new entrant classrooms
  • Leadership and management in ECE
  • Quality education and care for children up to three
  • Leadership and emotional labour in ECE
  • Chinese immigrant families' aspirations in ECE
  • Teaching practice for Chinese immigrant children’s learning in NZ ECE
  • Children's transition anxiety in early childhood education
  • Happiness in the infant-toddler context
  • Infants and toddlers as capable and comptent contributors in a mixed-age setting
  • Nature pedagogy in early childhood education on Waiheke Island
  • Teacher expectations for Pasifika students learning NCEA Level 1 Science

Distinctions/Honours

  • 2019 NZARE Sutton-Smith Award for an excellent Doctoral thesis, with implications for practice, policy and teacher leadership (citation)
  • 2018 NZARE Judith Duncan Award for Early Childhood Research for notable contributions to the field of early childhood education and care through the conduct of high-quality research.
  • 2018 Awarded a place on the Dean's List for excellence achieved with PhD
  • 2015 Faculty of Education and Social Work Teaching Excellence Award (Innovation in Teaching)
  • 2013 NZARE Rae Munro Award for an excellent Masters' level thesis, with implications for teaching practice and teacher education (citation)
  • 2013 Faculty of Education Outstanding Teaching Award (Early Career)

Responsibilities

Teaching, research, and service

Areas of expertise

  • Qualitative, interpretivist methodology/methods
  • Case study research
  • Cultural-historical activity theory
  • Early childhood education (ECE)
  • Educational leadership (ECE) and related theory
  • A strengths-based focus on Pasifika learners in ECE
  • Infant-toddler pedagogies and curriculum
  • Sociocultural assessment in ECE
  • Early years curriculum

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Current:

  • Faculty Pacific Success Strategy Governance Group (since 2019)
  • Chair: School of LDPP Teaching and Learning Quality Committee (since 2018)
  • School of LDPP Senior Leadership team (since 2018)
  • Industry rep: Early Childhood Education Programme ICL Graduate Business School Advisory board (since 2017)
  • Associate Dean Pasifika nominee: Faculty Teaching Learning and Quality Committee (since 2015)
  • Editorial board member: Early Childhood Folio Journal (since 2016)
  • Executive co-editor: The First Years: Nga Tau Tuatahi/NZ Journal of Infant and Toddler Education (since 2015, with Dr Marek Tesar)
  • Faculty Kainga Pasifika Committee member (previously Komiti Pasifika, since 2013)
  • Co-founder/director: Early Childhood Seminar Series (since 2013, with Dr Marek Tesar)
  • Member: Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (PECERA, since 2020)
  • Member: Early Childhood Australia (ECA, since 2020)
  • Member: American Educational Research Association (AERA, since 2019)
  • Member: NZ Educational Leadership Society (NZEALS, since 2014)
  • Member: Te Tari Puna o Aotearoa/NZ Childcare Association (since 2013)
  • Member: NZ Association for Research in Education (NZARE, since 2011)
  • Full teacher registration/certification with Teaching Council of Aotearoa NZ (since 2005)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Cooper, M. (2020). Management, leadership, and governance of early childhood education (New Zealand). Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies10.5040/9781350996496.0009
  • Cooper, M. (2020). Teachers grappling with a teacher-leader identity: Complexities and tensions in early childhood education. International Journal of Leadership in Education10.1080/13603124.2020.1744733
  • Cooper, M., Hedges, H., & Williamson, J. (2019). Reconceptualising professional learning as knotworking: Actualising the transformative potential of Te Whāriki. In A. C. Gunn, J. Nuttall (Eds.) Weaving Te Whāriki: Aotearoa New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum document in theory and practice (pp. 57-70). Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Helen Hedges
  • Hedges, H. D., Cooper, M., & Weisz-Koves, T. (2019). Recognising and responding to family funds of knowledge. In S. Alcock, N. Stobbs (Eds.) Rethinking play as pedagogy. Oxon, UK: Routledge. Related URL.
  • Cooper, M. (2019). Sooner, rather than later: Addressing leadership development in ECE-- A response to the 2019–29 Strategic Plan for Early Learning. Early Childhood Folio, 23 (1), 1-4. 10.18296/ecf.0061
  • Hedges, H., & Cooper, M. (2018). Relational play-based pedagogy: theorising a core practice in early childhood education. Teachers and Teaching, 24 (4), 369-383. 10.1080/13540602.2018.1430564
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Helen Hedges
  • Cooper, M. (2018). Commentary on ERO’s evaluation indicators for early childhood services with a focus on infants and toddlers. Related URL.
  • Cooper, M. R. (2018). Shifting the Lens: Everyday Collective Leadership Activity in Education The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/41753

Contact details

Alternative contact

Office H311

Primary office location

H - BLOCK. EPSOM - Bldg 6EH
Level 3, Room 311
EPSOM CAMPUS, 74 EPSOM AVE
EPSOM
AUCKLAND 1023
New Zealand

Web links