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About Practitioner Inquiry

Practitioner inquiry, also referred to as teacher research or action research, is defined as systematic, intentional study by teachers of their own classroom practice (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 2009). Inquiring professionals seek out change by reflecting on their practice. They do this by engaging in a cyclical process of posing questions or “wonderings,” collecting data to gain insights into their wonderings, analyzing the data along with reading relevant literature, taking action to make changes in practice based on new understandings developed during inquiry, and sharing findings with others (Dana & Yendol-Hoppey, 2009).

The ultimate goal of engagement in teacher research is to create an inquiry stance toward teaching. An inquiry stance actually becomes a “professional positioning,” that is owned by the teacher, where, because of the inherent complexity of teaching, questioning one’s own practice becomes part of the teacher’s work and eventually a part of the teaching culture.  By cultivating this inquiry stance toward teaching, teachers can play a critical role in school improvement efforts, and continually enhance their own professional growth and ultimately the experience of schooling for children (Dana & Yendol-Silva, 2009).  According to Cochran-Smith and Lytle (2001):

a legitimate and essential purpose of professional development is the development of an inquiry stance on teaching that is critical and transformative, a stance linked not only to high standards for the learning of all students but also to social change and social justice and to the individual and collective professional growth of teachers (p. 46).