Marilyn Cochran-Smith

MARILYN COCHRAN-SMITH is the Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education for Urban Schools and the Director of the Doctoral Program in Curriculum and Instruction at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. As a scholar and practitioner for 30 years, she is widely recognized around the world for her research and scholarship related to teaching, teacher education, and social justice. Elected to the National Academy of Education in 2009 and as past President of the American Educational Research Association, Cochran-Smith has also served as co-editor (with Susan Lytle) of the Teachers College Press series on Practitioner Inquiry.

Reflecting her long-term research agenda related to theorizing and implementing in practice the notion of inquiry as a life-long stance on educational practice, including teaching, school leadership, and teacher education, the series, notably the only one of its kind in the world, now includes more than 45 books by practitioners and/or about practitioner research, including Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009). Cochran-Smith and Lytle’s previous book on practitioner inquiry, Inside/Outside: Teacher Research and Knowledge, has been a Teachers College Press best-seller since it was first published in 1994. Both books are widely used as texts for graduate courses and professional development projects and programs in the U.S. and internationally. Her work at Boston College, one of eleven sites of the national teacher education reform initiative, “Teachers for a New Era,” including her service as Chair of the Evidence Team, has also produced numerous quantitative and qualitative assessments of the teacher education program and publications, which followed teachers longitudinally. As the recipient of many national awards including the American Association for Teacher Education’s David Imig Award for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in Teacher Education (2010) and the American Educational Research Association’s Research to Practice Award (2007), Cochran-Smith has authored nine books as well as more than 175 articles, chapters, and editorials including the most recently published Policy and Politics in Teacher Education: International Perspectives (2009) and Handbook of Research on Teacher Education: Enduring Questions in Changing Contexts (3rd Edition, 2009).

For more information, visit Marilyn Cochran-Smith’s Website. To learn more about Marilyn Cochran-Smith from her family and friends, visit her Reflections. To view photographs from Marilyn Cochran-Smith’s personal collection, visit her Photo Gallery.

Visit the video below to watch a short overview of the interview with Marilyn Cochran-Smith. Otherwise, see all four of the full interviews with Marilyn Cochran-Smith below.

Video Interviews with Marilyn Cochran-Smith:

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Growing up with her two sisters in Pennsylvania and later New Jersey, Dr. Marilyn Cochran-Smith enjoyed the loving support of her parents both of whom highly valued education and encouraged their daughters to attend college. While she was the first in her family to earn a post-secondary degree, Cochran-Smith had always loved reading, a passion that would guide and shape her career as a teacher and scholar. Also influenced by the social and political turbulence of the 1960s, she has focused much of her research on issues of equality and social justice. Watch this clip to learn more about Dr. Cochran-Smith’s experiences in the classroom and what she values most in teacher education.

Beginning her career in academia at her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Marilyn Cochran-Smith cites her commitment to research on social justice issues among the reasons she later accepted a faculty position at Boston College. Also crediting her early interest in children’s literacy as a prelude to research and scholarship on teaching and teacher education, Cochran-Smith describes her dedication to developing and evaluating education programs that prepare teachers for the complexities and challenges of teaching in the highest-needs schools. Characterizing “teaching as a political activity,” she also advocates for the empowerment of new educators who she argues should challenge the status quo. In this clip, enjoy stories about Dr. Cochran-Smith from some of those who know her best—her colleagues and students.

Responding to common critiques of teacher education, Dr. Marilyn Cochran-Smith emphasizes the importance of recruiting the best teacher candidates, especially for placement in the highest-needs schools, and of placing pre-service teachers in classrooms with strong mentors. Also recognizing that teacher beliefs are an impetus to action, she explains that both should be studied as preparation for the teaching profession, noting that “practice isn’t just what teachers do in class…, it’s about how they think about what they do.” Citing the professionalization of teaching in conjunction with higher student academic performance in countries such as Korea, Singapore, and Finland, Cochran-Smith challenges the media efforts to blame and ultimately discredit teachers for the problems in education, especially those attributable in large part to other non-school factors. Watch this clip to hear more from Dr. Cochran-Smith about the “revolving door of new teachers” as well as the important role of inquiry as a worldview in education practice, policy, and research.

Valuing “clear writing about complicated things,” Dr. Marilyn Cochran-Smith reminds graduate students and others who aspire to contribute to educational research and scholarship that dense, jargon-laden writing is not necessary in order to communicate about complex issues. Citing her work on teacher research and inquiry, social justice, and current education policies among her most impactful, Cochran-Smith describes the need to raise public awareness by “writing something so powerful that people would finally see the insanity” in current policies that equate test scores to student learning and to the effectiveness of teachers and teacher education programs. Watch this clip to learn more from Dr. Cochran-Smith about her decision to pursue tenure in teacher education, against the advice of early colleagues, and the research needed most in the future.

Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2013, March 14). Inside the Academy video interviews with Dr. Marilyn Cochran-Smith [Video files]. Retrieved from http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/marilyn-cochran-smith