Interesting facts

Literacy Teacher Educators: Their Backgrounds, Visions, and Practices

Our study of 28 literacy/English teacher educators has participants from four countries: Canada, US, UK, and Australia. Their backgrounds are:

Experience as a classroom teacher  0 years = 11-5 years = 3

6-10 years = 12

11-20 years= 6

21+ years = 6

Rank at the University  Assistant Professor (Lecturer in UK and AU) = 6Associate Professor =5

Senior Lecturer = 7

Full Professor = 5

Other =1

Contract = 4

Educational Background

In terms of their own educational backgrounds a minority had completed undergraduate degrees in English. A number had studied science in undergraduate, one had studied law, and many did teacher education in their undergraduate degree. By contrast, all five of our participants from the UK had undergraduate degrees in English. For many their educational journey could be described as serendipitous and in particular a node/theme that emerged was: “Fell into doing a PhD.”

When you were doing your undergraduate degree did you plan to do a PhD? Yes – 6No – 22

Doctoral Research

While all have a doctorate, participants were drawn from both research-intensive (Tier 1) and teaching-focused (Tier 2) universities.  Interestingly, a significant number continue to build on their doctoral research regardless of how long ago they completed it. When the research topics for their doctorate degrees were categorized there were four areas:

  • 17 conducted it on children;
  • five on student teachers (in preservice);
  • three at the inservice level (on teachers);
  • and three on something rather different (e.g., breaking the cycle of intergenerational women dropping out of school).

Interestingly, eight did their doctoral research in their own classroom (e.g., an action research project), which led to them identifying themselves as teacher-researchers. Although all participants’ current research is broader in scope, for most there was a direct link with their doctoral research; for example, doctoral research on adolescent writing, current research on use of technology for adolescent writing.

Continuing research done for their thesis  A great extent -15To some extent – 7

Have moved to a new area of research – 6


Most of the participants continue to have a heavy investment in schools through both their research and service activities. As a result, all have adopted dual identities: school-based and university-based. When asked which terms they would use to describe themselves, the breakdown was:

Terms participants used to describe self (could select more than one) Literacy professor – 15Teacher Educator – 17

Teacher – 14

Professor – 3

Other – Learn with kids – 1; Lecturer – 2; Teacher trainer – 1; Associate Dean – 1; Researcher -1

Academic Home

Most identified their academic home as being with literacy/English teacher educators, usually at another university or in an organization.

Academic communities with which you identify Own university – 15Teacher research group or network -4

Classroom teachers – 8

Literacy conference (Literacy Research Association) – 22

American Educational Research Association (AERA) — 6

Other – 12 e.g., BERA,  minority faculty group

Cannot find a home – 2