Teachers: The missing voice in educational research

Year: 1993

Author: Patterson, Catherine, Thomas, Dawn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is growing concern that the voices of classroom teachers are absent from published accounts of educational research. Currently, most educational research is generated by university-based researchers, and as a result, classroom teachers are viewed as the researched, rather than the researcher. As subjects of research, teachers are also expected to be the eventual recipients of knowledge generated by professional researchers. Consequently, teachers are expected to learn about their profession not by studying their own experiences, but by studying the findings of those who are not directly connected with their professional lives (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1993).

This paper questions the conventional relationship of teachers and research, and argues for the acknowledgement of the significant contribution of classroom teachers as the primary source of knowledge and understanding about teaching and learning. In their daily professional experiences, teachers generate their own personally constructed, pedagogical knowledge base.

Teachers who are researchers within their own classroom contexts, can ask their own questions and reach a personal understanding of their professional knowledge and practice. ‘There is little disagreement that teachers who engage in self-directed inquiry about their own work in classroom find the process intellectually satisfying, and they testify to the power of their own research to help them understand and transform their teaching’ (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1990:6). Teacher research has the potential to present the voices of the teachers by exploring the ways teachers use writing and intentional talk in their professional lives to improve their own classroom practices.