Research on teaching led by UGA education professor Peter Smagorinsky receives second national award

Research on teaching led by UGA education professor Peter Smagorinsky receives second national award

Athens, Ga. – Research into the ways in which early-career teachers develop conceptions of how to teach English, led by University of Georgia education professor Peter Smagorinsky, has led to a second national award.

Smagorinsky, a professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education, and his team of co-investigators have received the 2008 Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Research Award. The award recognizes individuals in higher education or state departments of education who have advanced the profession of teacher education.

The award-winning article, published in the Journal of Teacher Education, is one of only a few examining why teachers teach grammar as they do. The study, titled “Student Engagement in the Teaching and Learning of Grammar: A Case Study of an Early Career Secondary English Teacher,” provides an account of how educators can use conceptual tools to overcome the limitations of a teaching environment.

“The teacher was adapting herself to the environment and the environment to her own notion of effective instruction. She used her notion of engagement as a conceptual tool through which she chipped away at the confines of the middle school curriculum to allow space for herself and her students to grow,” said Smagorinsky. “We therefore see the importance of emphasizing concepts in teacher education programs. Concepts provide teachers with critical tools to shape their decisions and provide them with agency as they move through the multiple settings of learning to teach.”

It is the second of a dozen articles published from the research to be nationally recognized. A previous article received the Janet Emig Award from the National Council of Teachers of English in 2003. That award recognizes articles published in English Education that contribute to thinking about English teacher education and most informs the field’s research.

Smagorinsky began the study as a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma two years before joining UGA’s faculty in 1998. It was funded as part of a five-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Educational Research and Improvement to the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement. Smagorinsky and his colleagues were awarded $550,000 to study the transition from pre-service teaching to in-service teaching.”

Collaborators in the study included former classroom teacher Laura Wright of Newcastle, Okla.; UGA doctoral alumna Sharon Murphy Augustine, now a faculty member at Mercer University; former University of Oklahoma doctoral student, Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, currently an associate professor at Colorado State University; and Bonnie Konopak, former chair of the Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum at the University of Oklahoma and now dean of the College of Education at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Smagorinsky taught English in Illinois high schools for 14 years before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1989.

The ATE award recipients will be honored at the 2008 annual meeting of the Association of Teacher Educators on Feb. 24-27 at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans.