Author Reflections

Book Reviews


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*The College of Education and Human Development magazine at George Mason describes my work*

Polyvocal Professional Learning through Self-Study Research (2015)

Polyvocal Professional Learning through Self-Study Research illustrates the power of “we” for innovative and authentic professional learning. The 33 contributors to this book include experienced and emerging self-study researchers, writing in collaboration, across multiple professions, academic disciplines, contexts, and continents. These authors have noted and reviewed each other’s chapters and adapted their contributions to generate a polyvocal conversation that significantly advances scholarship on professional learning through self-study research. Building on, and extending, the existing body of work on self-study research, the book offers an extensive and in-depth scholarly exploration of the how, why, and impact of professional learning through context-specific, practitioner-led inquiry. The chapters illustrate polyvocal professional learning as both phenomenon and method, with the original research that is presented in every chapter adding to the forms of methodological inventiveness that have been developed and documented within the self-study research community.

For a free preview containing the first two chapters of the book, please visit the book’s product page.

Self-Study Teacher Research: Improving Practice Through Collaborative Inquiry

Sage Publications writes: The first textbook to offer novice and experienced teachers guidelines for the “how” and “why” of self-study teacher research. Designed to help pre- and in-service teachers plan, implement, and assess a manageable self-study research project, this unique textbook covers the foundation, history, theoretical underpinnings, and methods of self-study research. Author Anastasia Samaras encourages readers to think deeply about both the “how” and the “why” of this essential professional development tool as they pose questions and formulate personal theories to improve professional practice. Written in a reader-friendly style and filled with interactive activities and examples, the book helps teachers every step of the way as they learn and refine research skills; conduct a literature review; design a research study; work in validation groups; collect and analyze data; interpret findings; develop skills in peer critique and review; and write, present, and publish their studies.

For the publisher's order form, click here.

Learning Communities In Practice

Self-Study Book CoverMost would agree that a learning community of practice cultivates social and intellectual development in educational settings but what are the other benefits and what does a learning community actually look like in practice? This book explores such questions as: "Are learning communities essential in education?" "How are they designed and developed?" "What difference do they make in learning?" The book contains contributions of educators who share their research and practice in designing and implementing learning communities in school, university, and professional network settings. It presents their experiences, and the "how to" of these educators who are passionate about building and sustaining learning communities to make a real difference for students, teachers, faculty, and communities. Combining scholarly and practitioner research, the book offers practical information to teachers, school and university administrators, teacher educators, and community educators.

For the publisher's order form, click here.

Self-study of Teaching Practices Primer

The Self-Study of Teaching Practices Primer introduces you to the field of self-study research and practice. This student and teacher friendly version provides a comprehensive review and synthesis of the self-study literature; complete with guidelines and examples of cutting-edge self-study methods. The primer addresses four central areas of self-study of teaching practices: purposes, foundations, nature, and guidelines for practice. School-based and university-based teachers interested in rethinking and reframing their teaching will benefit from reading this book. The primer is an excellent resource for undergraduate and graduate education students who are searching for guidelines to develop and improve their teaching practice. Includes glossaries and references.

For the publisher's order form, click here.


Self-Study for Teacher Educators: Crafting a Pedagogy for Educational Change

Self-Study Book CoverI am called a self-study teacher educator, a scholarship Ken Zechner viewed as “the single most significant research area in teacher education” (AERA, 1998). I employ a post-modern self-study methodology as a way to reinvent teacher education through my action research along with a continuous interrogation and reflection of my teaching practice and underlying assumptions that influence my teaching. An analysis of one's teaching has important implications for teacher education programs, especially as it becomes increasing shared, scrutinized, and enriched through conversation and critiqued by a self-study community of scholars.

I use the words self-study as a component of reflection where faculty are asked to critically examine their actions and the context of those actions for the purpose of a more consciously-driven mode of professional activity, as contrasted with action based on habit, tradition, or impulse. By researching their own practice, self-study teacher educators question problems of teacher education and how their actions contribute to those problems. This in turn, contributes to the knowledge base of teaching, the development of the person, the professional, and the teacher education program. The area of self-study entails making public my critical and active reflection about my teaching and insights gained through action research.

My research is centered on the study of my teaching practices in an effort to improve my teaching, teachers’ professional development, and consequently children’s learning. I developed and have been investigating a model for teacher education based in sociopolitical theory, which stems from my doctorate research (Samaras, 2002). The model includes: knowing students and the social and cultural forces that shape development, situating learning, structuring and mediating learning experiences, designing collaborative activities, and providing students opportunities to instructionally converse and develop common systems of understanding about teaching with peers. Much like in natural settings for learning in families, communities, and the workplace, teaching is based on the premise that learning takes place through joint and productive activity in authentic contexts (i.e., in schools) towards mutual tasks (e.g., action learning and research). According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, teachers need to be placed in collaborative learning environments and teacher educators need to recognize teaching as a public, not individual, act. This collaborative enterprise for teachers’ and faculty professional development alike, is central to my research and self-study of those teaching practices.


Making a Difference in Teacher Education Through Self-Study : Studies of Personal, Professional and Program Renewal

The challenges teacher educators are now facing are of a different nature from those of the past few decades. They have taken on an urgency and a magnitude not witnessed before. Strict government control of education is increasing, the social problems in the schools are more severe, the budget restrictions we face in the university are greater, and the public disillusionment with education, in general, is more than just a passing malaise. This period will be crucial to the future of teacher education; we need to rally together to examine our practice, renew our programs accordingly, collaborate with others, and offer examples of programs that do make a difference. Making a difference in Teacher Education through Self-Study: Studies of Personal, Professional, and Program Renewal describes the systematic efforts of committed and creative teacher educators to improve their teacher education programs. It describes the accomplishments of individuals (and in part the programs in which they work) who have overcome many of the hurdles teacher educators typically face. These individuals have made a difference in the lives of their students, their colleagues, and many classroom teachers. The book presents research on 15 different teacher education programs and describes individual renewal efforts. The stories -- including both the successes and challenges -- are inspiring and informative. In this age of accountability these teacher educators have used a range of research methods to gather data on their work and in turn used it to guide future decisions. The text includes examples of both large scale research and individual efforts. The common thread among the authors is a commitment to "walking the talk."