Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1990). Teacher research and research on teaching: The issues that divide. Educational Researcher, 19 (2), 2-11.

Efforts to develop a knowledge base for teaching have relied primarily on university-based research, thus ignoring the significant contributions of classroom teachers. Cochran-Smith and Lytle propose that teacher research provides a unique perspective on teaching and learning. Traditions of university-based research on teaching include process-product research and interpretive or classroom ecology research. Those doing process-product research considered teacher behaviors as causes and student learning as effects. Those doing interpretive research presumed teaching to be complex and context-specific, and provided rich descriptions of school and classroom events. The authors believe that both of these paradigms tend to "make invisible" the teachers' role in knowledge generation. They contend that systematic and intentional inquiry carried out by teachersÑteacher researchÑprovides insight into the questions teachers ask and the interpretive frames they use to understand and improve their practices, and can be of value to both the teaching community and the academic community. Critical issues divide university research on teaching from teacher research and make it difficult for academics to accept the contributions teachers can make. These issues are institutionalization (ownership and supportive structures) and standards for methodological rigor (research questions, generalizability, theoretical frameworks, documentation, and analysis). The authors conclude with a discussion of strategies to encourage teachers to do teacher research.

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