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The Practitioner Inquiry Movement

The systematic, intentional study by practitioners’ of their own practice has proved its staying power amidst a revolving door of educational innovations.  The practitioner inquiry movement has roots in the work of John Dewey.  Popularized by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s, Stephen Corey applied the process to the field of education shortly after in 1953. The well-established process has proven to be a powerful tool for educator professional development, an important vehicle to raise teachers’ voices in educational reform, and a mechanism for expanding the knowledge base for teaching.

This timeline, developed by Rachel Wolkenhauer of the University of Florida, depicts some of the important events in the history of practitioner inquiry.  It is not a comprehensive overview of the practitioner inquiry movement, but provides some background about the history of inquiry in order to better inform our work moving forward.  The practitioner inquiry movement continues to thrive, thus this timeline is intended to be a living representation of the continuous work of inquiring professionals.

Dig Deeper Into the Practitioner Inquiry Movement:

If you would like to read more about the practitioner inquiry movement, the following list of books, articles, and conference presentations will help you get started.

  • Brown, P. (1976). Educational research and practice: a literature review. Journal of Teacher Education, 27, 77-9.
  • Choi, J. (2011). A self-study of the teaching of action research in a university context. Studying Teacher Education, 7, 35-49.
  • Cochran-Smith, M., Barnatt, J., Friedman, A., & Pine, G. (2009). Inquiry on Inquiry: Practitioner Research and Student Learning. Action in Teacher Education, 31.
  • Cochran-Smith, M. & Lytle, S. (1993). Inside-Outside: Teacher research and knowledge. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S.L. (1999).  Relationships of knowledge and practice: teacher learning in communities. Review of Research in Education, 24, 249-305.
  • Cochran-Smith, M. & Lytle, S. (1999). The teacher research movement: A decade later. Educational Researcher, 28(7), 15-25.
  • Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. (2009). Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
  • Cochran-Smith, M., & Powers, C. (2010). New Directions for Teacher Preparation. Educational Leadership, 67, 6-13.
  • Corey, S.M. (1954). Action research in education. Journal of Educational Research, 47, 375 – 380.
  • Dana, N. F. & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2008). The reflective educator’s guide to mentoring: Strengthening Practice Through Knowledge, Story, and Metaphor. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Dana, N. F. & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2008). The reflective educator’s guide to professional development: Coaching inquiry-oriented learning communities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Dana, N. F. & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2009). The reflective educator’s guide to classroom research: Learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Dana, N. F. & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2009). The facilitator’s guide to the reflective educator’s guide to classroom research, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Dewey, John. (December 1929).  My pedagogic creed. Journal of the National Education Association, 18(9), 291-295.
  • Dewey, John (1938).  Experience and education. Touchstone, New York, New York. Research Center for Group Dynamics website.
  • Goswami, D. & Stillman, P. R. (1987). Reclaiming the classroom: Teacher research as an agency for change. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook Publishing.
  • Hinely, R., & Ponder, G. (1979). Theory, practice, and classroom Research. Theory into Practice, 18(3), 135-7.
  • Kemmis, S. (1980). Action research in retrospect and prospect. Annual Meeting of the Australian Association for Research in Education.
  • Lewin, K. (1947). Frontiers in group dynamics: II. Channels of group life; Social planning and action research. Human Relations, 1, 143-153.
  • Lewin, K. (1945). The research center for group dynamics at Massachusetts institute of technology. Sociometry, 8(2), 126-136.
  • Lytle, S. L. & Cochran-Smith, M. (1989). Teacher research: Toward clarifying the concept. National Writing Project Quarterly, 11(2), 1–22.
  • Miller, G. (1966). Teacher and Inquiry. Educational Leadership, 23, 550 – 555.
  • Reese, W. (2001) The origins of progressive education. History of Education Quarterly. V.41.
  • Rust, F. & Meyers, E. (2006). The bright side: Teacher research in the context of educational reform and policy-making. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 12, 69-86.
  • Somekh, B., & Zeichner, K. (2009). Action research for educational reform: Remodeling action research theories and practices in local contexts. Educational Action Research, 17, 5-21.
  • Zeichner, K. (1998, April). The new scholarship in teacher education. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.