Tony Perone, Ph.D.

Office hours
Please contact me by e-mail to confirm office hours or make an appointment.
Educational Psychology (Human Development and Learning)
University of Illinois, Chicago
Instructional Leadership/Self-Designed Program
University of Illinois, Chicago
Applied Language Studies
Cornell University

I received my doctorate in Educational Psychology with a focus on Human Development and Learning at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 2013.

I teach courses in introductory psychology and human development. My research interests include the life-span presence, development, and benefits of imaginative play as a cultural, community-informed activity and the role of improvisational theater activities in formal learning environments, in teacher education, and in community organizations.

Prior to my academic career, I had worked as an adult educator and teacher educator of English as a Second Language for more than 20 years and had served as a program coordinator with youth development programs and community/family literacy programs in New York and Illinois.

Current Research

I am passionate about co-creating new opportunities for learning, development, community building, and social change. One of the main ways I explore this passion is through my research and teaching on life-span imaginative play. In particular, I’m interested in creating new ways of relating, new means of exploring, and new possibilities for experiencing joy. Imaginative play, broadly defined, can be a revolutionary activity for people to transform themselves and transform the communities of which they are a part. Imaginative play is not only an activity of young children; it’s an activity with transformative potential across the lifespan and I’m particularly excited about the presence and significance of imaginative play by, with, and for adults.

I am a part of a larger international performance movement that draws upon and creates scholarship in psychology and the arts to support the presence and importance of play and performance across the lifespan. Members of this movement include urban, suburban, and rural youth, academics and practitioners such as teaching artists, therapists, and community organizers. We believe in the presence and power of play and performance, broadly construed, and create practical-critical performance opportunities for development across the lifespan to co-create more humane, just and inclusive communities.

Students and colleagues alike who are interested in new approaches to psychology, education, and community building/engagement would be welcome contributors to the work/play in which I engage.

Scholarly Interests

• Imaginative play and improvisational theater
• Adult education and development
• Teacher education
• Community engagement and development
• Life-span human development
• Sociocultural theory
• Qualitative research


At UW Tacoma, I teach undergraduate courses in introductory psychology and human development.

TPSYCH 101 – Introduction to Psychology
TPSYCH 220 – Lifespan Development
TPSYCH 222 – Infant/Child Development
TPSYCH 322 – Adult Development
TPSYCH 407 – The Cultural Context of Developmental Psychology
TPSYCH 418 – Lifespan Imaginative Play
TPSYCH 496 – Psychology Internship
TPSYCH 498 – Directed Readings in Psychology
TPSYCH 499 – Undergraduate Psychology Research

My teaching interests are integrally linked to my research interests, as I not only am interested in theory and research on the intersections of play, learning, and development, but I also apply a playful and collaborative approach to the learning environments of which I am a part. Topically, I am interested in facilitating experiences related to imaginative play, education (e.g., teacher education or adult education), psychology (e.g., cultural, life-span developmental, educational or writing in the discipline) and collaborations with youth, community and families.

Over the course of my teaching career, I have consistently witnessed the importance of play, performance, development, and community building as the cornerstone of not only what I teach, but also how I teach; this marriage and integration of content, theory and method is essential to me, one of the most important lessons of my life, and one that I aim to share and build contextually with others.


• The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) -
• East Side Institute (ESI) -
• Performing the World (PTW) -

Academic Service

Service to the University of Washington Tacoma:
Education Program Undergraduate Education Committee member and SIAS faculty liaison
We coordinate and develop the minor in education, the minor in education and community engagement, and additional initiatives for undergraduate students to explore coursework and fieldwork in the field of education.

Art Building Community – co-organizer
Inspired by the October 2016 event, Art Building Community, this is a three-year community arts project funded by the University of Washington Tacoma Strategic Initiative Fund. The main focus of the project is a free, annual arts event where community members (both on campus and off) share their art, make art together, and participate in free arts-based workshops. Another dimension of the project features a series of interactive art workshops called “We Almost Didn’t Make It” where participants create artifacts that reflect their contributions to a sustainable future. Finally, the organizers are planning a symposium that focuses on climate change issues as they relate to art & social ecology.

Center for Equity and Inclusion - Safer Zone trainer

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

Service beyond the University of Washington Tacoma:

I am a member of the international organizing committee for a biennial event, Performing the World, a scholarly, critical-practical and performatory conference attended by hundreds of researchers and practitioners from more than 30 countries who explore improvisation, play and performance and its role in learning, development, and community building across contexts and throughout the lifespan.

I am a board member of The Association for the Study of Play (TASP). I also served as a peer reviewer for its 11th volume, Play and Performance, and was on the organizing committee for its 2016 annual conference.

I have been an ad-hoc reviewer for the International Journal of Play.

I have conducted workshops on the use of play, improvisation, and performance in schools and community organizations on the local, national, and international levels.

Honors and Awards

• School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Scholarship and Teaching Fund recipient –University of Washington Tacoma, 2015 and 2016
• President’s Research in Diversity Travel Award – The University of Illinois, 2012
• Graduate Student Award Cultural Historical Special Interest Group – American Educational Research Association, 2011
• Volunteer Spirit Award - All Starts Project of Chicago, 2010
• Graduate Student Fellow Division E Counseling and Human Development - American Educational Research Association, 2009

CV or Resume
PDF icon Tony Perone CV84.58 KB
Publication Date Bibliographic Citation

Fortier, K. (Producer). (2017, February 15). Performing your world: How imaginative
play helps grownups get unstuck [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from


Vadeboncoeur. J.A., Perone, A. & Panina-Beard, N. (2016). Creativity as a practice of freedom: Through imaginative play to moral imagination and the production of culture. In V.P. Glaveanu (Ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Creativity and Culture Research (pp. 285-305). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.


Perone, A. (2014, Summer). Healing with(in) imaginative play. Child Life Council Bulletin 32(3), 8. 


Perone, A., & Göncü, A. (2014). Life-span imaginative play in two communities. Mind, Culture, and Activity 21(3), 200-220.   


Perone, A. (2013). The presence and significance of imaginative play in the lives of Mexican-American adults. (Dissertation) 


Göncü, A., Perone, T, & Ryan, S. “Play.” In L Meyer (Ed), Oxford Bibliographies in Education. New York: Oxford University Press. Launch Date August 26, 2013. 


Perone, A. (2011). Improvising with adult language learners. In R. Keith Sawyer (Ed.),
Structure and improvisation in creative teaching, (pp. 162-183). New York: Cambridge University Press.    


Göncü, A., & Perone, A. (2009). Inquiries into the role of adults in children’s play. Play
and Culture Studies: Vol. 9. Transactions at Play (pp. 125-128). 


Göncü, A., & Perone, A. (2005, September). Pretend play as a life-span activity. Topoi.
“Play, Games and Philosophy.” [Special Issue] 24(2), 137-147.