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Teachers as Researchers

I teach research courses to preservice teachers and practicing teachers in our graduate program. This semester I added a new assignment that requires students to critically reflect on how they view themselves as researchers. Statements like, “I don’t know how to do research,” “I’ve never seen myself as a researcher,” or “Research sounds scary,” were some of the statements I read. I decided to take on the challenge of changing the fixed mindset of many of my students who believe that they cannot do research in their classrooms. The “aha” moments came when I introduced action research.

Michael Ryan, Monica Taylor, Amanda Barone, Leslie Della Pesca, Sona Durgana, Kelly Ostrowski, Tonianne Piccirillo, and Kelly Pikaard (2016) examine the impact of action research in their own development as researchers, scholars, and leaders. These authors define teacher leaders as teachers who reflect on his/her practice, constantly engaged in inquiry related to their practice and those who are willing to spend time doing so; a true lifelong learner.

The research conducted by these researchers guides teachers on how to use action research to reflect on and improve their practices. Action research can lead to professional growth and development and a change of perspective on what it means to be a teacher researcher, scholar, and leader. School culture that promotes time for teachers to investigate their practices and view their classrooms as sites for inquiry where teachers reflect and analyze their practices are places that can have a profound impact on teaching and learning.


  • Do teachers get time during the school day to collaborate on action research projects?

  • What tools and resources do you provide to help teachers create a true collaborative culture so they are able to conduct action research?

  • How do you view the roles of teachers as researchers, scholars, and leaders? How do these roles manifest on your campus?

Ryan, M., Taylor, M., Barone, A., Pesca, L. D., Durgana, S., Ostrowski, K., & Piccirillo, T. (2017) Teacher as researcher, teacher as scholar, and teacher as leader. The New Educator, 13(2), 102-116, DOI: 10.1080/1547688X.2016.1144120

Sandra Guzman Foster is an assistant professor at the University of the Incarnate Word. Be sure to follow Sandra on Twitter, @guzman_foster.