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October 2007

Frances Vitali, Ph.D.


501 Midterm Summary

I have approached this inquiry research seminar course with participants and instructor equally engaged as colleagues in academic pursuit of extending our professional selves and learning through communication, research, technology, and collaboration. The emphasis is on how we communicate identified areas of interest through the work we do with our students in and outside of our classroom settings; what research (literary & people) informs our practice; how we are using technology to our benefit; and how we collaborate with others in a supportive network through writing groups, school support teams, and other nurturing venues?

I have expected you to be independent learners, self-motivated to read to garner the content and connections. The questions that emerge from recognizing and accepting yourself as practitioner researchers, will confirm your role and identity as indeed, a teacher practitioner - expert in your classroom with teaching talents, personal talents and interests, collector, analyzer and writer of what you observe and do in your learning setting. Above all, a questioner, extraordinaire, whose practice is based on the premise of questions.

In developing your questions, the syllabus is designed to gradually lead us through text and journal readings to understand the practitioner research framework guiding each colleague to owning a meaningful question to systematically research following a design, data collection, results, analysis, interpretation and reflection as a formal proposal. Journal Reflections help colleagues uncover the obvious direction of their thinking toward recognizing their research question. Response Papers is a research technique to help synthesize and reflect about pertinent information concerning a topic. What you read now informs your question and most likely will be applied to your research narrative next semester. As the culminating year of your masters level work, the learning roles are now returned to you, so to speak, for each of you will share as research practitioners what matters to you as an educator; what you know about your topic; how you will design a plan to carefully explore this window of discovery with your students; and articulate your proposal and eventually your research story to the research community. We are not there yet but the stage has been set, I believe, for each colleague to achieve the goal of writing the proposal and UNM IRB.

As the instructor of this course my role is a coach who is beginning to know her team players, and who can individually and effectively inspire them from the sidelines as they gain more confidence in their question, the research process and themselves. A Question Preview panel will be scheduled at the end of October as a stop along the way to share your research questions with a selected research community - to try it on for size to see where it needs to be tailored for the final fit-before committing yourselves to your question proceeding with the research process.

My goal is that each of you recognize your competence in each of the five dimensions of learning and to extend your own learning experience and expectations beyond what do you want me to do in this course to get a good grade to owning your own learning with confidence and ownership to this is what is important to me and I am exploring it in these ways. This deep level of inquiry will extend to continuing the quality and insight within your respective learning settings at school.

I honor, recognize and celebrate the five dimensions of learning:

  • confidence and independence
  • knowledge and understanding
  • skills and strategies
  • use of prior and emerging experience
  • reflectiveness (critical awareness)

that each colleague owns, shares and builds upon as their intellectual history. This is what you will draw from and upon in their practitioner research process.


Midterm evaluation

  • As a colleague, I will continue to pass on pertinent information I find about their respective topics.
  • I will be less visible in the process now as colleagues begin to rely on themselves and their writing groups, which will take on greater involvement now. It is not so important what I think but how they share and process with each other –support and collaboration becomes an integral part of practitioner research.
  • I will continue to take my leads from my colleagues in adjusting how we proceed and hope they will feel comfortable to communicate and articulate their needs in professional and caring dialogue and conversation.
  • Plan to have former UNM teacher practitioner graduates share their search for questions process with you.
  • Provide individual feedback and committee reviewed feedback to your proposal before submission deadline.


Midterm and final summary/evaluation form is based on the Learning Record Online (LRO) for college level developed by   M.A.  Syverson at the CWRL of the University of Texas at Austin available at