UF teacher inquiry ‘ambassadors’ create buzz in Netherlands, Belgium

The buzz created by UF education Professor Nancy Dana’s passionate advocacy and best-selling books on “practitioner inquiry”—or action research, a burgeoning strategy in teacher professional development and school reform—is crossing international borders.

Dana revs up the crowd of school leaders attending her teacher-inquiry presentation in Oostende, Belgium.

Dana and Rachel Wolkenhauer, a UF doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, recently presented three workshops on teacher inquiry for 130 students, education faculty and practicing teachers at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the southern Netherlands.  Their presentations were featured recently in the university’s primary magazine in an article titled “Inquiry Inspiration Day.”

The article mentions discussions they had with Dutch officials about forming an exchange between faculty and students at UF and the Fontys School of Teacher Training for Secondary Education.

“Our time at Fontys included an exchange between Rachel and two doctoral students at Fontys where they shared their dissertation work with one another resulting in powerful conversation about teacher education.  These are the types of interactions that we imagine will enrich and enhance students’ experiences at both institutions” Dana said.

The College of Education duo also conducted workshops in Oostende, Belgium on their trip, where Dana presented three keynote addresses about the inquiry process at a conference for over 200 school leaders.

Dana is one of America’s top scholars in the field of action research, a self-reflecting process in which teachers and principals assess their own practices and then share what they learned with their peers to improve student learning.

Dana has coached the action research of thousands of educators from school districts across the state and nation—and globe—and has published nine books and more than 50 journal articles and book chapters on teacher and principal professional development and practitioner inquiry.

Two of her books—guides to classroom research and coaching inquiry-based learning communities in schools, respectively—were best sellers. The latter guide was chosen 2008 Book of the Year by the National Staff Development Council.  She recently published an electronic version of her 2010 book, “Powerful Professional Development: Building Expertise Within the Four Walls of Your School.”

Dana has a new book, Digging Deeper Into Action Research: A Teacher Inquirer’s Field Guide, due out in February and is writing another one with Wolkenhauer and COE adjunct lecturer Jamey Burns on using teacher inquiry as a mechanism to translate the common core state standards into practice.

Dana’s publisher, Corwin Press, has an author’s website for her at: http://www.corwin.com/authors/522546.

Dana holds the prestigious designation of UF Research Foundation Professor and works with the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning, helping to redesign professional development programs for several Florida school districts with practitioner inquiry at the core.

Wolkenhauer also works with the Lastinger Center as a trained Master Teacher while pursuing her doctorate.

   SOURCE: Nancy Fichtman Dana, UF College of Education, ndana@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4204
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137