Gee’s An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (Chapter 4)


                In the fourth chapter of James Paul Gee’s book, An Introduction to Discourse Analysis, the focus is on social languages, Conversations (with a capital C), and intertextuality. Gee begins by providing some insight into these three terms.

                Gee defines social languages as different varieties of languages that allow us to express socially significant Identities and enact socially meaningful practices and activities. Social language is how the whos and whats are communicated in language. Basically, we are looking at how people communicate who they are and what they are doing. Gee provides many examples, one of which is a warning label on medication. He notes that for this provided example, there are two “who-doing-whats”: a lawyerly voice and a voice of a caring yet authoritatively knowledgeable company. These two voices are used for different purposes and have different effects, and there is some tension between the two. Gee provides a term for this: “heteroglossic”, or double-voiced.

                Gee goes on to discuss how each “who-doing-whats” are linguistically expressed in different social languages. Each social language has its own distinct grammar. Another example is given; a woman has a two conversations about the same topic with two different audiences. Her social language changes based on the audience. Word choice, formal versus informal sentence structure, and level of directness are all effected.

                Conversations are discussed next. Gee defines Conversations (with a capital C) as debates in society or within specific social groups that a large number of people recognize. Gee notes that objects, values, and beliefs play a role in Conversations. And while people often know the themes and values of a Conversation, many do not know the historical events that create or sustain them.

                Intertextuality is the focus of the end of the chapter, and the term is defined as cases where one oral or written text directly or indirectly quotes another text or alludes to another text in more subtle ways. Gee notes that sometimes a text will switch between two or more varieties of language by borrowing words from another text that uses a different variety of language.

                There are a few ways in which a different language variety can be incorporated. Gee mentions direct quotes, indirect quotes, and the act of alluding to a different text. The choice to do one over the other is both meaningful and impactful. One can allude to research without ever quoting any research; this can, in certain instances, be manipulative.

                Gee writes about these three terms because they are tools of inquiry, “our way of talking about and, thus, constructing and construing the world”. They are “thinking devices”.  The chapter concludes with some examples of how one can use social languages, Conversations, and intertextuality as tools for inquiry.

                When reading a text, Gee encourages readers to think about:

“A. What social language(s) are involved? What sorts of grammatical patterns indicate this? Are different social languages mixed? How so?

B. What socially situated identities and activities do these social languages enact?

 C. What Discourse or Discourses are involved? How is “stuff” other than language (“mind stuff” and “emotional stuff” and “world stuff” and “interactional stuff” and non-language symbol systems, etc.) relevant in indicating socially situated identities and activities?

 D. In considering this language, what sorts of relationships among different Discourses are involved (institutionally, in society, or historically)? How are different Discourses aligned or in contention here?

E. What Conversations (public debates over issues or themes) are relevant to understanding this language and to what Conversations does it contribute (institutionally, in society, or historically), if any?

F. How does intertextuality work in the text, that is, in what ways does the text quote, allude to, or otherwise borrow words from other oral or written sources? What function does this serve in the text?”

Gee’s An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (Chapter 4)


                In the fourth chapter of James Paul Gee’s book, An Introduction to Discourse Analysis, the focus is on social languages, Conversations (with a capital C), and intertextuality. Gee begins by providing some insight into these three terms.

                Gee defines social languages as different varieties of languages that allow us to express socially significant Identities and enact socially meaningful practices and activities. Social language is how the whos and whats are communicated in language. Basically, we are looking at how people communicate who they are and what they are doing. Gee provides many examples, one of which is a warning label on medication. He notes that for this provided example, there are two “who-doing-whats”: a lawyerly voice and a voice of a caring yet authoritatively knowledgeable company. These two voices are used for different purposes and have different effects, and there is some tension between the two. Gee provides a term for this: “heteroglossic”, or double-voiced.

                Gee goes on to discuss how each “who-doing-whats” are linguistically expressed in different social languages. Each social language has its own distinct grammar. Another example is given; a woman has a two conversations about the same topic with two different audiences. Her social language changes based on the audience. Word choice, formal versus informal sentence structure, and level of directness are all effected.

                Conversations are discussed next. Gee defines Conversations (with a capital C) as debates in society or within specific social groups that a large number of people recognize. Gee notes that objects, values, and beliefs play a role in Conversations. And while people often know the themes and values of a Conversation, many do not know the historical events that create or sustain them.

                Intertextuality is the focus of the end of the chapter, and the term is defined as cases where one oral or written text directly or indirectly quotes another text or alludes to another text in more subtle ways. Gee notes that sometimes a text will switch between two or more varieties of language by borrowing words from another text that uses a different variety of language.

                There are a few ways in which a different language variety can be incorporated. Gee mentions direct quotes, indirect quotes, and the act of alluding to a different text. The choice to do one over the other is both meaningful and impactful. One can allude to research without ever quoting any research; this can, in certain instances, be manipulative.

                Gee writes about these three terms because they are tools of inquiry, “our way of talking about and, thus, constructing and construing the world”. They are “thinking devices”.  The chapter concludes with some examples of how one can use social languages, Conversations, and intertextuality as tools for inquiry.

                When reading a text, Gee encourages readers to think about:

“A. What social language(s) are involved? What sorts of grammatical patterns indicate this? Are different social languages mixed? How so?

B. What socially situated identities and activities do these social languages enact?

 C. What Discourse or Discourses are involved? How is “stuff” other than language (“mind stuff” and “emotional stuff” and “world stuff” and “interactional stuff” and non-language symbol systems, etc.) relevant in indicating socially situated identities and activities?

 D. In considering this language, what sorts of relationships among different Discourses are involved (institutionally, in society, or historically)? How are different Discourses aligned or in contention here?

E. What Conversations (public debates over issues or themes) are relevant to understanding this language and to what Conversations does it contribute (institutionally, in society, or historically), if any?

F. How does intertextuality work in the text, that is, in what ways does the text quote, allude to, or otherwise borrow words from other oral or written sources? What function does this serve in the text?”

Comp Studies Research & Methods 2016-04-04 19:17:00

In Developing a Definition of Teacher Research, I liked the quote used in the beginning by Marion MacLean. MacLean says, “Teacher researchers have faith in their students; they know too much to give up on them” (23). This statement automatically made me think of all the wonderful teachers that saw potential within me, and did not “give up” on me even when I sometimes wanted to “give up” on myself (23). Those are the teachers that make a difference and leave an impact.
In addition, I liked how The Teacher as Researcher by Marian M. Mohr started off as well. Right from the jump, it brought me back to a classroom discussion and it showed the benefits of keeping a journal. I liked the idea of a journal possibly being used as a tool for yourself and strangers if the author considers it to be research and publishes it.
Continuing, the article actually relieved some of my fears about becoming a teacher. Mohr says, “The humiliation of not knowing everything catches up with every teacher” (5). This further highlights the saying “we all make mistakes,” and the fact we can never know everything. In Mohr case, the mistake actually did more good than harm. Mohr found a way to make the students recall a word and taught through the mistake. As teachers, you have to sometimes teach creatively to help your students learn and be engaged. Although I am not a teacher, I am sure there are days when nothing goes as planned, and you engage in something out of the usual.

In conclusion, Developing a Definition of Teacher Research and The Teacher as Researcher were more interesting to me than A Teacher-Research Group in Action although I do like the idea of trying to demonstrate a “group in action” (2). I also like the fact the article incorporated different people’s perspectives of the experience and it incorporated techniques that I personally enjoy. The reading also made me think of The Future of Composition Research because it mentioned “the process [being] more important than the product” (5).Although I still focus on the product, what you learn and who you become are important. 

Comp Studies Research & Methods 2016-04-04 19:17:00

In Developing a Definition of Teacher Research, I liked the quote used in the beginning by Marion MacLean. MacLean says, “Teacher researchers have faith in their students; they know too much to give up on them” (23). This statement automatically made me think of all the wonderful teachers that saw potential within me, and did not “give up” on me even when I sometimes wanted to “give up” on myself (23). Those are the teachers that make a difference and leave an impact.
In addition, I liked how The Teacher as Researcher by Marian M. Mohr started off as well. Right from the jump, it brought me back to a classroom discussion and it showed the benefits of keeping a journal. I liked the idea of a journal possibly being used as a tool for yourself and strangers if the author considers it to be research and publishes it.
Continuing, the article actually relieved some of my fears about becoming a teacher. Mohr says, “The humiliation of not knowing everything catches up with every teacher” (5). This further highlights the saying “we all make mistakes,” and the fact we can never know everything. In Mohr case, the mistake actually did more good than harm. Mohr found a way to make the students recall a word and taught through the mistake. As teachers, you have to sometimes teach creatively to help your students learn and be engaged. Although I am not a teacher, I am sure there are days when nothing goes as planned, and you engage in something out of the usual.

In conclusion, Developing a Definition of Teacher Research and The Teacher as Researcher were more interesting to me than A Teacher-Research Group in Action although I do like the idea of trying to demonstrate a “group in action” (2). I also like the fact the article incorporated different people’s perspectives of the experience and it incorporated techniques that I personally enjoy. The reading also made me think of The Future of Composition Research because it mentioned “the process [being] more important than the product” (5).Although I still focus on the product, what you learn and who you become are important. 

blog 6

“A Teacher-Research Group in Action”

The idea that a teacher needs “structure” seems kind of silly to me, since there really isn’t anything orderly about teaching. From what I understand, it’s really a very hectic profession. But maybe that’s why these teachers craved structure within the seminar?

“debates they seemed to be carrying on internally” very relatable

I was kind of surprised that the “findings” section spent as much time discussing structure and deadlines as it did. I’m also surprised that the experimenters were surprised. The findings, I thought, were fairly obvious.

 “Until teachers start reading research, doing research, they won’t be a profession. If they’re grounded on lesson plans, that’s where they’re going to stay.” The idea that research enhances the ability to teach makes sense; research (as displayed in this experiment) helps us not only improve our knowledge through the ideas of others, but also helps us learn to think independently about something. Self-reflection, source analysis, critical thinking skills, idea generation—all benefits of research that can (and have been) applied to the classroom, like a guide book.  Meanwhile, non-researchers seem to simply be following a step-by-step instruction manual.

It makes me kind of sad to think these teachers did not feel very confident about the significance of their work, and that it did not count as research. This, I think, says a lot about how we view and value research. That research has a very “prestigious” and “elite” reputation in academia.

“The Teacher as Researcher”

“too tired to plow through jargon, charts and statistics…” It’s nice to know that teachers too often find scholarly/ research works hard (and boring) to navigate. But really, I think the best way to research (and learn in general) is by practicing, by doing. Hands-on experience is always better.

“teachers do not stand back and look…without also suggesting solutions…”

On the section describing the misspelling of “aggressive,” I can’t believe a child would be so trusting of their teacher that they would assume the dictionary was wrong and the teacher was correct. Can you imagine someone believing you to be that all-knowing? I can’t even get my co-workers to believe me when I tell them we’ve run out of something. And then the students tease her about it! I personally think this is hysterical, and it kind of makes me regret not getting my k – 8 teaching cert. But ultimately, I like that her mistake resulted in her letting the students take control and “teach” her some things. This is a really great approach to (1) making/ correcting a mistake, (2) teaching/ encouraging self-reflection within your students and (3) challenging the traditional “student/teacher” roles. I think letting your students take the wheel once in a while is really enlightening for everyone involved—especially when they are younger. It is so important that children retain their autonomy and creativity in classroom settings, lest they lose those qualities in lieu for blind obedience of the instructor (which is honestly my biggest fear for younger generations).

And supporting each other’s annoying habits for the sake of writing? Precious.

I thought this article was super cute and seemed a bit more though provoking than the previous one I read. I also liked how the students were taken into consideration here, although the focus is supposed to be the teacher. I liked that the “research method” was the same between the two.

“Developing a Definition of Teacher Research”

“teacher research is a public endeavor” in that their products benefit the greater good?

I like the idea that teacher researchers bounce ideas off of students as well as co-workers; the idea that we’re all learning from each other seems like what academia was supposedto be.

The versatility of a teacher’s “research context” is so interesting to me, as every student is unique, and every class will be unique because of that and because of thatthe work produced will always be original and cannot ever be replicated. 

blog 6

“A Teacher-Research Group in Action”

The idea that a teacher needs “structure” seems kind of silly to me, since there really isn’t anything orderly about teaching. From what I understand, it’s really a very hectic profession. But maybe that’s why these teachers craved structure within the seminar?

“debates they seemed to be carrying on internally” very relatable

I was kind of surprised that the “findings” section spent as much time discussing structure and deadlines as it did. I’m also surprised that the experimenters were surprised. The findings, I thought, were fairly obvious.

 “Until teachers start reading research, doing research, they won’t be a profession. If they’re grounded on lesson plans, that’s where they’re going to stay.” The idea that research enhances the ability to teach makes sense; research (as displayed in this experiment) helps us not only improve our knowledge through the ideas of others, but also helps us learn to think independently about something. Self-reflection, source analysis, critical thinking skills, idea generation—all benefits of research that can (and have been) applied to the classroom, like a guide book.  Meanwhile, non-researchers seem to simply be following a step-by-step instruction manual.

It makes me kind of sad to think these teachers did not feel very confident about the significance of their work, and that it did not count as research. This, I think, says a lot about how we view and value research. That research has a very “prestigious” and “elite” reputation in academia.

“The Teacher as Researcher”

“too tired to plow through jargon, charts and statistics…” It’s nice to know that teachers too often find scholarly/ research works hard (and boring) to navigate. But really, I think the best way to research (and learn in general) is by practicing, by doing. Hands-on experience is always better.

“teachers do not stand back and look…without also suggesting solutions…”

On the section describing the misspelling of “aggressive,” I can’t believe a child would be so trusting of their teacher that they would assume the dictionary was wrong and the teacher was correct. Can you imagine someone believing you to be that all-knowing? I can’t even get my co-workers to believe me when I tell them we’ve run out of something. And then the students tease her about it! I personally think this is hysterical, and it kind of makes me regret not getting my k – 8 teaching cert. But ultimately, I like that her mistake resulted in her letting the students take control and “teach” her some things. This is a really great approach to (1) making/ correcting a mistake, (2) teaching/ encouraging self-reflection within your students and (3) challenging the traditional “student/teacher” roles. I think letting your students take the wheel once in a while is really enlightening for everyone involved—especially when they are younger. It is so important that children retain their autonomy and creativity in classroom settings, lest they lose those qualities in lieu for blind obedience of the instructor (which is honestly my biggest fear for younger generations).

And supporting each other’s annoying habits for the sake of writing? Precious.

I thought this article was super cute and seemed a bit more though provoking than the previous one I read. I also liked how the students were taken into consideration here, although the focus is supposed to be the teacher. I liked that the “research method” was the same between the two.

“Developing a Definition of Teacher Research”

“teacher research is a public endeavor” in that their products benefit the greater good?

I like the idea that teacher researchers bounce ideas off of students as well as co-workers; the idea that we’re all learning from each other seems like what academia was supposedto be.

The versatility of a teacher’s “research context” is so interesting to me, as every student is unique, and every class will be unique because of that and because of thatthe work produced will always be original and cannot ever be replicated. 

The Role of Teacher as Researcher

The idea of the teacher acting as a researcher strikes me in an "of course!" sort of way. Of course the teacher should be a researcher! Who else knows the classroom better? Unfortunately, this is not necessarily an "of course!" kind of thing. In class we have discussed that, often, the people in charge don't know what they're in charge of, and the people doing the research are not the people in the classrooms. That being said, I think of teachers as being somewhat like scientists in their respective fields. Scientists do research and publish their findings for the betterment of their community, and I don't think teachers should be seen differently. After all, their "field of study" is the developing human mind. Is there anything more important?

The first article I will be exploring, regarding the role of teacher as researcher, is "Developing a Definition of Teacher Research." This article begins with a beautiful quote from Marion MacLean, "Teacher researchers have faith in their students; they know too much to give up on them." This is so important, and students know the difference when a teacher is caring and engaged, vs. when they are doing the job for a paycheck. I can attest to this from the perspective of a student-- the best teachers I have ever had are the ones who are willing to be open, vulnerable, and walk alongside me.

This article defines teacher research as "inquiry that is intentional, systematic, public, voluntary, ethical, and contextual" (1). This is a bit of a wordy definition and, as Martha and Debra also noted via Hypothesis, doesn't seem to differentiate "teacher research" from any other kind of research. However, further into the article, the author (forgive my lack of noting a name, I will come back to this later, but I'm not sure who wrote this??) further unpacks this definition, as beginning with a commitment to the examination of teaching and learning, followed up with enacting change in the classroom, based on the findings. The teacher researcher studies what is important to them because, likely, it's an issue that they've noticed in their own classrooms. Further, it is, as noted in this article, "a public endeavor" (2). When teachers work together. they "intentionally shift from a private perspective to a more open, public perspective in order to encourage challenges to their understanding" (2). This is always an intelligent way to conduct research, especially in a field in which collaboration can be so helpful to so many.

Next, I looked to "The Teacher as Researcher," by Marian M. Mohr. Mohr makes a strong case against the traditional researcher as someone who isn't generally involved in the classroom for the long term, and I thought it was funny when she spoke, rather wryly, of her own ventures into her role as researcher.  Mohr's article made me consider the idea of thoughtful and intentional teaching, going into the classroom with the goal of learning alongside the students. I thought the example of the misspelling of "aggressive" was an interesting case study, and effective, considering that all of the students got that word right when tested. When students realize a teacher doesn't know everything, I think it may make the teacher more relatable. The last line summed it up well, "I am convinced that the model of a student that I provide for my students to observe will help them to become better students themselves." This is something I think that all teachers should keep in mind, and I certainly shall when my time comes.

Finally, I looked at "A Teacher-Research Group in Action," by Sandra R. Schecter and Rafael Ramirez. Off the bat, I saw that this article was published in June of 1991. so going in I know that the statistics are going to be over two decades old. This may prove to have nothing to do with the research, but it's something I like to take note of.

From the introduction, I am inclined to feel that this study went the distance to include a wide age range, which certainly works in it's advantage. Additionally, it appears to be highly comprehensive-- the participants in this study needed to passionate about being involved:


This is quite a bit of work! Continuing through the paper, I liked the description of the five segment seminar, it seemed engaging and purposeful. The only thing I wasn't completely on-board with was the concept of no syllabus whatsoever. I think that too much structure can be detrimental especially when it's used to the point of superfluity, however I think some structure is necessary and helpful.

Having read Marian Mohr's approach, I understand what the group facilitator meant by using her approach as the format for the seminar that he led. Schector and Ramirez cite the facilitator, Mike, as saying that he wanted to "experiment...to see what works and what doesn't" (4). This certainly does seem to be done in the spirit of Marian Mohr's approach, in terms of experimenting to see how the participants were to respond to a more down to earth model (i.e., Mohr broke the traditional "all-knowing teacher" model to come before her students as a student, in a comparable way this seminar broke the traditional structured model in order to try something new), but I do also think that this comparison is a bit of a stretch.

 The overall vibe that I gathered from the findings of this article was that "process is more important than the product" (5) and that open-ended questions, thinking, and time were key. I wasn't surprised that some of the participants weren't happy with the structure (or lack thereof) of the seminar, but I did find find it interesting that one participant noted that he appreciated the relaxed atmosphere for the ability to work on something that was truly his to be proud of, but admitted that "I wasn't as productive as I had been" (6). I wonder if I would have felt any differently, because I do value a degree of structure. When there are deadlines, you have something to work towards, and this is instilled in us from a young age. I think this would be a hard habit to break.

Regardless of the lack of structure, it appears that this did, in fact, have an overall positive effect on students. As I read through, I felt that I was getting a sense of excitement and invigoration from the teachers' responses, as if they were "visibly" encouraged by the community and ready to go out and share with their peers and students. The third section: "Teacher-researcher knowledge" reintroduced an unfortunate point that we have discussed in the past-- the teacher not feeling up to par with the researcher (traditionally, a university scholar). One interviewee "doubted she had the 'expertise' to undertake the indicated analyses...[and] several participants flt that their studies lacked sufficient rigor because they did not use sophisticated quantitative methods as did, they believed, university-based scholars" (8). I may be misunderstanding this, but what I read here is that teachers who are, effectively, in the trenches with their students, do not feel that their contributions are as valid as those of "scholars." This is a perception that must be broken and, as Schector and Ramirez note later on, "articles found in academic journals have little relationship to mastery of elaborate experimental methodology" (9). Teachers have a lot to offer as researchers in the learning community, and I'd be interested to read a more updated version of this study to see how things have progressed since it was published.

If a teacher loves his students, he wants to help them. He wants to put as much as he possibly can out there, in order to give them the best of himself. A teacher researcher is primarily responsible to these students and that, in my eyes, makes the role of teacher researcher a labor of love. Teachers have a lot against them, and it takes a special person to want to take on that role.

The Role of Teacher as Researcher

The idea of the teacher acting as a researcher strikes me in an "of course!" sort of way. Of course the teacher should be a researcher! Who else knows the classroom better? Unfortunately, this is not necessarily an "of course!" kind of thing. In class we have discussed that, often, the people in charge don't know what they're in charge of, and the people doing the research are not the people in the classrooms. That being said, I think of teachers as being somewhat like scientists in their respective fields. Scientists do research and publish their findings for the betterment of their community, and I don't think teachers should be seen differently. After all, their "field of study" is the developing human mind. Is there anything more important?

The first article I will be exploring, regarding the role of teacher as researcher, is "Developing a Definition of Teacher Research." This article begins with a beautiful quote from Marion MacLean, "Teacher researchers have faith in their students; they know too much to give up on them." This is so important, and students know the difference when a teacher is caring and engaged, vs. when they are doing the job for a paycheck. I can attest to this from the perspective of a student-- the best teachers I have ever had are the ones who are willing to be open, vulnerable, and walk alongside me.

This article defines teacher research as "inquiry that is intentional, systematic, public, voluntary, ethical, and contextual" (1). This is a bit of a wordy definition and, as Martha and Debra also noted via Hypothesis, doesn't seem to differentiate "teacher research" from any other kind of research. However, further into the article, the author (forgive my lack of noting a name, I will come back to this later, but I'm not sure who wrote this??) further unpacks this definition, as beginning with a commitment to the examination of teaching and learning, followed up with enacting change in the classroom, based on the findings. The teacher researcher studies what is important to them because, likely, it's an issue that they've noticed in their own classrooms. Further, it is, as noted in this article, "a public endeavor" (2). When teachers work together. they "intentionally shift from a private perspective to a more open, public perspective in order to encourage challenges to their understanding" (2). This is always an intelligent way to conduct research, especially in a field in which collaboration can be so helpful to so many.

Next, I looked to "The Teacher as Researcher," by Marian M. Mohr. Mohr makes a strong case against the traditional researcher as someone who isn't generally involved in the classroom for the long term, and I thought it was funny when she spoke, rather wryly, of her own ventures into her role as researcher.  Mohr's article made me consider the idea of thoughtful and intentional teaching, going into the classroom with the goal of learning alongside the students. I thought the example of the misspelling of "aggressive" was an interesting case study, and effective, considering that all of the students got that word right when tested. When students realize a teacher doesn't know everything, I think it may make the teacher more relatable. The last line summed it up well, "I am convinced that the model of a student that I provide for my students to observe will help them to become better students themselves." This is something I think that all teachers should keep in mind, and I certainly shall when my time comes.

Finally, I looked at "A Teacher-Research Group in Action," by Sandra R. Schecter and Rafael Ramirez. Off the bat, I saw that this article was published in June of 1991. so going in I know that the statistics are going to be over two decades old. This may prove to have nothing to do with the research, but it's something I like to take note of.

From the introduction, I am inclined to feel that this study went the distance to include a wide age range, which certainly works in it's advantage. Additionally, it appears to be highly comprehensive-- the participants in this study needed to passionate about being involved:


This is quite a bit of work! Continuing through the paper, I liked the description of the five segment seminar, it seemed engaging and purposeful. The only thing I wasn't completely on-board with was the concept of no syllabus whatsoever. I think that too much structure can be detrimental especially when it's used to the point of superfluity, however I think some structure is necessary and helpful.

Having read Marian Mohr's approach, I understand what the group facilitator meant by using her approach as the format for the seminar that he led. Schector and Ramirez cite the facilitator, Mike, as saying that he wanted to "experiment...to see what works and what doesn't" (4). This certainly does seem to be done in the spirit of Marian Mohr's approach, in terms of experimenting to see how the participants were to respond to a more down to earth model (i.e., Mohr broke the traditional "all-knowing teacher" model to come before her students as a student, in a comparable way this seminar broke the traditional structured model in order to try something new), but I do also think that this comparison is a bit of a stretch.

 The overall vibe that I gathered from the findings of this article was that "process is more important than the product" (5) and that open-ended questions, thinking, and time were key. I wasn't surprised that some of the participants weren't happy with the structure (or lack thereof) of the seminar, but I did find find it interesting that one participant noted that he appreciated the relaxed atmosphere for the ability to work on something that was truly his to be proud of, but admitted that "I wasn't as productive as I had been" (6). I wonder if I would have felt any differently, because I do value a degree of structure. When there are deadlines, you have something to work towards, and this is instilled in us from a young age. I think this would be a hard habit to break.

Regardless of the lack of structure, it appears that this did, in fact, have an overall positive effect on students. As I read through, I felt that I was getting a sense of excitement and invigoration from the teachers' responses, as if they were "visibly" encouraged by the community and ready to go out and share with their peers and students. The third section: "Teacher-researcher knowledge" reintroduced an unfortunate point that we have discussed in the past-- the teacher not feeling up to par with the researcher (traditionally, a university scholar). One interviewee "doubted she had the 'expertise' to undertake the indicated analyses...[and] several participants flt that their studies lacked sufficient rigor because they did not use sophisticated quantitative methods as did, they believed, university-based scholars" (8). I may be misunderstanding this, but what I read here is that teachers who are, effectively, in the trenches with their students, do not feel that their contributions are as valid as those of "scholars." This is a perception that must be broken and, as Schector and Ramirez note later on, "articles found in academic journals have little relationship to mastery of elaborate experimental methodology" (9). Teachers have a lot to offer as researchers in the learning community, and I'd be interested to read a more updated version of this study to see how things have progressed since it was published.

If a teacher loves his students, he wants to help them. He wants to put as much as he possibly can out there, in order to give them the best of himself. A teacher researcher is primarily responsible to these students and that, in my eyes, makes the role of teacher researcher a labor of love. Teachers have a lot against them, and it takes a special person to want to take on that role.

Teacher Researcher

Colin Worthley
ENG 5002
4/4/16

            The UC Davis School of Education defines teacher research as “systematic investigations of how teaching influences student learning over time in a single classroom or learning community.” The teacher in his/her own classroom using his/her own students carries out these investigations. By understanding how certain practices impact student achievement, educators can increase efficiency. From how lessons are prepped out to how they are delivered, students can reap tremendous benefits when teachers turn a researcher’s eye toward themselves.
            In “Developing a Definition of Teacher Research”, Marian M. Mohr outlines six pillars important to understanding what teacher research really is. It must be intentional in that is begins with a focus on a particular aspect of teaching, but can always change depending on the findings. It must be systematic by employing methods and strategies to collect data. It must be publicby being open to students and co-workers in an effort to “add to the body of knowledge about teaching and learning.” It must be voluntary on the part of the teacher due to the vulnerability of public examination. It must be ethicalsince the responsibility is to ensure the students benefit from the work. And it must be contextual by providing the context in which the research was conducted.
            Mohr goes on to relate an experience that led to her being a teacher researcher in “The Teacher as Researcher.” She expressed concern that keeping up with research journals was too difficult and stood in the way of research. However, her daily journaling of her interactions with her students enabled her to make adjustments that she would not have found in a scholarly journal. Reflecting on how her students responded when she misspelled a word, or why they drummed on the desk while writing provided her with the chance to adjust instruction and classroom management to allow for a better chance of success for her students.
            In “A Teacher-Research Group in Action” Sandra R. Schecter and Rafael Ramirez reveal how some teachers turned researchers viewed a two year long seminar. Schecter and Ramirez extoll the benefits of teacher research by indicating “that teachers involved in research become interested in and read the professional research literature, take leadership roles in their schools and influence decisions about school policy, contribute to professional knowledge on their own accord, become better classroom teachers.” They are also quick to point out that little exists in terms of data, so it’s possible one does not cause the other.
The seminar met biweekly for a two-year period, three hours each time. Meetings were broken into five segments with activities and plenty of time for discussion. Those taking part on the seminar represented all walks of life: “The group comprised nineteen kindergarten through college teachers representing a broad spectrum with many working in multi-ethnic classrooms and districts.” The variety of levels and backgrounds allowed for many different viewpoints and feedback on the research.
Response groups during the meetings were teacher-led and assigned, rather than allowing the participants to select on their own. Mike, the group facilitator stated his primary business as “guiding participants to an appreciation of the value of engaging in informed classroom observation and developing their thinking about their teaching practices by sharing their reflections with colleagues both orally and in writing.” It was clear that Mike wanted the participants to guide the meetings based on their interests and reflections, not to have it dictated to them. The sharing out of experiences was the important part. As Mike would remind the group “the process is more important than the product.”
The study found that providing open-ended type questions and not providing a syllabus had an unforeseen outcome: many participants expressed dislike for the “informal” nature of the meetings. They seemed to require more direction than what was provided. One participant even stated, “I have lots of questions and need some direction.” The facilitator’s intent to allow the participants’ experiences guide the discussion was not well received.
Overall, the participants reported positive outcomes of how the research affected both their views of classroom practice and themselves as professionals. One participant reported, “collecting data makes me ask good questions of kids who give me good answers, answers that help me improve as a teacher.” There is no data to support whether or not the participant improved at all based on how he/she altered questioning techniques, but a change did occur. It would be interesting to see a sampling of the questioning technique before and after the seminar.
Participants were unsure as to whether or not they were using rigorous methods to collect data as compared to university-based researchers. The authors point out that both groups conduct research using vastly different methods. University-based researchers must cite literature to prove they are contributing to a body of knowledge. The teacher researchers, on the other hand, use personal experiences to assert their claims. As such, reports generally took the form of a double narrative; one told the story of the research findings while the other told of the participant’s experience.
The three articles reviewed this week provided a clear definition of teacher research and provided examples of it in action. The investigations are important since the primary goal of teacher research is to help the teacher improve so that the needs of the students can be met. Who better to conduct such investigations than the teachers in the room?
Discussion Questions

2.     If the research points to teacher research being effective due to its voluntary nature, why do some districts require it as part of a teacher’s professional obligations?


3.     What is your knowledge of professional development for teachers? If you had to provide an in service for a group of educators that will leave them “professionally developed”, would teacher research be a topic you would choose? Why or why not?

Teacher Researcher

Colin Worthley
ENG 5002
4/4/16

            The UC Davis School of Education defines teacher research as “systematic investigations of how teaching influences student learning over time in a single classroom or learning community.” The teacher in his/her own classroom using his/her own students carries out these investigations. By understanding how certain practices impact student achievement, educators can increase efficiency. From how lessons are prepped out to how they are delivered, students can reap tremendous benefits when teachers turn a researcher’s eye toward themselves.
            In “Developing a Definition of Teacher Research”, Marian M. Mohr outlines six pillars important to understanding what teacher research really is. It must be intentional in that is begins with a focus on a particular aspect of teaching, but can always change depending on the findings. It must be systematic by employing methods and strategies to collect data. It must be publicby being open to students and co-workers in an effort to “add to the body of knowledge about teaching and learning.” It must be voluntary on the part of the teacher due to the vulnerability of public examination. It must be ethicalsince the responsibility is to ensure the students benefit from the work. And it must be contextual by providing the context in which the research was conducted.
            Mohr goes on to relate an experience that led to her being a teacher researcher in “The Teacher as Researcher.” She expressed concern that keeping up with research journals was too difficult and stood in the way of research. However, her daily journaling of her interactions with her students enabled her to make adjustments that she would not have found in a scholarly journal. Reflecting on how her students responded when she misspelled a word, or why they drummed on the desk while writing provided her with the chance to adjust instruction and classroom management to allow for a better chance of success for her students.
            In “A Teacher-Research Group in Action” Sandra R. Schecter and Rafael Ramirez reveal how some teachers turned researchers viewed a two year long seminar. Schecter and Ramirez extoll the benefits of teacher research by indicating “that teachers involved in research become interested in and read the professional research literature, take leadership roles in their schools and influence decisions about school policy, contribute to professional knowledge on their own accord, become better classroom teachers.” They are also quick to point out that little exists in terms of data, so it’s possible one does not cause the other.
The seminar met biweekly for a two-year period, three hours each time. Meetings were broken into five segments with activities and plenty of time for discussion. Those taking part on the seminar represented all walks of life: “The group comprised nineteen kindergarten through college teachers representing a broad spectrum with many working in multi-ethnic classrooms and districts.” The variety of levels and backgrounds allowed for many different viewpoints and feedback on the research.
Response groups during the meetings were teacher-led and assigned, rather than allowing the participants to select on their own. Mike, the group facilitator stated his primary business as “guiding participants to an appreciation of the value of engaging in informed classroom observation and developing their thinking about their teaching practices by sharing their reflections with colleagues both orally and in writing.” It was clear that Mike wanted the participants to guide the meetings based on their interests and reflections, not to have it dictated to them. The sharing out of experiences was the important part. As Mike would remind the group “the process is more important than the product.”
The study found that providing open-ended type questions and not providing a syllabus had an unforeseen outcome: many participants expressed dislike for the “informal” nature of the meetings. They seemed to require more direction than what was provided. One participant even stated, “I have lots of questions and need some direction.” The facilitator’s intent to allow the participants’ experiences guide the discussion was not well received.
Overall, the participants reported positive outcomes of how the research affected both their views of classroom practice and themselves as professionals. One participant reported, “collecting data makes me ask good questions of kids who give me good answers, answers that help me improve as a teacher.” There is no data to support whether or not the participant improved at all based on how he/she altered questioning techniques, but a change did occur. It would be interesting to see a sampling of the questioning technique before and after the seminar.
Participants were unsure as to whether or not they were using rigorous methods to collect data as compared to university-based researchers. The authors point out that both groups conduct research using vastly different methods. University-based researchers must cite literature to prove they are contributing to a body of knowledge. The teacher researchers, on the other hand, use personal experiences to assert their claims. As such, reports generally took the form of a double narrative; one told the story of the research findings while the other told of the participant’s experience.
The three articles reviewed this week provided a clear definition of teacher research and provided examples of it in action. The investigations are important since the primary goal of teacher research is to help the teacher improve so that the needs of the students can be met. Who better to conduct such investigations than the teachers in the room?
Discussion Questions

2.     If the research points to teacher research being effective due to its voluntary nature, why do some districts require it as part of a teacher’s professional obligations?


3.     What is your knowledge of professional development for teachers? If you had to provide an in service for a group of educators that will leave them “professionally developed”, would teacher research be a topic you would choose? Why or why not?