Just another onMason weblog

How can art help you understand your research?


See this work by Kavita Mittapalli who used the arts to think deeply about her identity as a mixed methods researcher.


Mittapalli, K., & Samaras, A. P. (2008). Madhubani Art: A journey of an education researcher seeking self-development answers through art and self-study. The Qualitative Report, 13(2), 244-261.

and here’s her work in program evaluation in schools


Collective Self-Study with Faculty and Doc Students

Here’s an example of how self-study methodology is useful for studying how to improve teacher education programs  and with a focus on improving the quality of students’ clinical experiences.

Samaras, A. P., Frank, T., Apollon Williams, M., Christopher, E., Rodick, W. H. (In Press). A collective self-study to improve program coherence of clinical experiences. Studying Teacher Education.

FREE Copy available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/hY9ehgiBdFJV2h64zJ5S/full

A Collective Self-Study to Improve Program Coherence of Clinical ExperiencesUn self-study colectivo para la mejora en la coherencia de un programa en sus experiencias clínicas

Multidisciplinary Self-Study of Teaching

Multidisciplinary Self-Study of Teaching Goes to Korea

What happens when you gather a group of faculty from various disciplines to study their teaching practice? That’s exactly what Anastasia Samaras, a pedagogical scholar and self-study research methodologist from the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, did at the Mason Korea campus and also at four other universities in Korea during her awarded spring study leave.

Regardless of discipline, instructors have the common goal of advancing their teaching to improve student learning and students are the center of George Mason University. Since Mason Korea is a relatively new campus, faculty are as some noted, “a program of one” so many instructors were eager to collect around their common goal of improving their teaching. Professor Samaras’ visit, sponsored by Mason Korea, included interactive workshops and individual consultations over a week long period. The initiative holds the potential to seed possibilities for a professional learning community with faculty reciprocal learning as “critical friends”.

IMG_2548Samaras’ work at Mason Korea builds on earlier transdisciplinary self-study teaching/research projects which she has led and co-facilitated at George Mason Fairfax since 2010 spearheaded by the Center for Faculty and Teaching Excellence. She currently serves as a co-facilitator of a third faculty development cohort, Self-Study Scholars’ Collaborative (S3C) on the Visually Rich Digital Learning Environment with Lynne Scott Constantine, School of Art, and Lesley Smith in Higher Education and College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Samaras is also serving as Co-PI on two NSF sponsored grants as educational researcher and leading a faculty self-study Teacher Inquiry Group of STEM faculty.

These transdisciplinary projects not only demonstrate the pedagogic and academic value of self-study of teaching within communities of learning, but offer a unique avenue for faculty development and innovative productivity across numerous programs and Colleges and with a multiplier effect as the research and new pedagogies are presented and published in multiple and diverse venues. The projects highlight the importance of Mason campuses supporting and rewarding innovation and initiatives as a nexus of grassroots change and institutional renewal.

While in Korea, Samaras was also invited to give a series of keynote talks and workshops at universities. She spoke at Jeonnam National University, March 23; at Cheongju National University, March 24; at Seoul National University, March 25, and at Ewha Womans University, April 2.

IMG_2609There has been a keen interest in the self-study methodology by faculty at numerous universities in Korea with two of Samaras’ books (2006 & 2011) translated into Korean. In 2013, she was interviewed by a team of six Korean scholars; two were visiting scholars to GMU translating her 2011 book, Self-Study of Teacher Research. Their goal was to make available innovate teaching practices in a society moving towards more sociocultural pedagogical practices.

The translation team included: Dr. Chilseong Im, Korean Language Education, Jeonnam National University; Dr. Hyuk Suh, Department of Korean Language Education, Ehwa Womans University; Dr. Hee-Ok Jun, Social Studies Education, Education Research Institute, Cheongju National University; Dr. Young Jung, Coordinator of the GMU Korean Studies Program and Department of Modern and Classical Languages; Dr. Jin Choi, English Education Department, Jeonnam National University; and Dr. Hye Young Shin, GMU, Korean Language. They enthusiastically invited Samaras to speak at their universities and work with faculty, students, and teachers in self-study projects. Additionally, one of her earlier books, co-authored with Anne Freese (2006), Self-study of teaching practices primer, was also translated into Korean in 2013 by JeongAe You from Seoul National University and Suhak Oh from Inha University, Incheon, Korea.

Samaras’ work in self-study scholarship on an international has also included: a Fulbright Scholarship in 2012, where she worked with faculty at the University of Ioannina, Greece to explore self-study research for co-teachers, or special education teachers working with general education teachers. She also gave keynote addresses at Beijing Normal University in 2012, at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban in 2012 and 2014, and will speak at Hibernia College, Dublin in November.

IMG_0974For Samaras, her work in Korea provided an opportunity to enact, assess, and research her design of teaching and facilitating self-study which she has been conducting with self-study colleagues (Lunenberg & Samaras, 2014; Pithouse-Morgan & Samaras, 2014; Samaras 2013; Samaras, et al, 2015). As she remarks, “I’m still learning about my practice and am grateful for these professional opportunities with colleagues around the globe.”


Lunenberg, M., & Samaras, A. P. (2011). Developing a pedagogy for teaching self-study  research: Lessons learned across the Atlantic. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, (5), 841-850.

Pithouse-Morgan, K., & Samaras, A. P. (2014). Thinking in space: Learning about dialogue as method from a trans-continental conversation about trans-disciplinary self-study. In D. Garbett & A. Ovens (Eds.). Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices, East Sussex, England (167-170). Auckland, Australia: University of Auckland.

Samaras, A. P. (2013). Twelve Shells: Learning by leading cross-disciplinary faculty self-study of professional practice Reflective Practice, 14 (4), 519-535.

Samaras, A. P. (2011). Self-study teacher research: Improving your practice through collaborative inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.   [Translated into Korean]

Samaras, A. P., & Freese, A. R. (2006).  Self-study of teaching practices primer. NY: Peter Lang.  [Translated into Korean]

Samaras, A. P., Karczmarczyk, D, Smith, L, Woodville, L, Harmon, L, Nasser, I., Parsons, S., Smith, T., Borne, K., Constantine, L., Roman Mendoza, E., Suh, J., & Swanson, R. (2014). The shark in the vitrine: Experiencing our practice from the inside out with transdisciplinary lenses. Journal of Transformative Education, 12(4), 368-388.

Samaras, A. P., Pithouse-Moragn, K., Chisange,T., Conllney, J., Constantine, L. S., Meyiwa, T, Smith, L., Meyiwa, T., & Timm, D. (2015). Breathing under water: A transcontinental conversation about co-facilitating self-study learning communities. In Pithouse-Morgan, K., & Samaras, A. P. (Eds.). Polyvocal professional learning through self-study research. (pp. 231-252). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.







Our new book on professional learning!

Polyvocal Professional Learning through Self-Study Research
Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Anastasia P. Samaras (Eds.)
George Mason University, USA

Sense Publishers, 2015

Polyvocal Professional Learning through Self-Study Research illustrates the power of “we” for innovative and authentic professional learning. The 33 contributors to this book include experienced and emerging self-study researchers, writing in collaboration, across multiple professions, academic disciplines, contexts, and continents. These authors have noted and reviewed each other’s chapters and adapted their contributions to generate a polyvocal conversation that significantly advances scholarship on professional learning through self-study research. Building on, and extending, the existing body of work on self-study research, the book offers an extensive and in-depth scholarly exploration of the how, why, and impact of professional learning through context-specific, practitioner-led inquiry. The chapters illustrate polyvocal professional learning as both phenomenon and method, with the original research that is presented in every chapter adding to the forms of methodological inventiveness that have been developed and documented within the self-study research community.

Please visit the book’s product page, which offers a free preview containing the first two chapters of the book: http://tinyurl.com/okaqlaq.

Latest research posted on LinkedIn and Research Gate

Summer greetings! If you are interested in my latest research, please visit me on LinkedIn and Research Gate.

Teacher Stayers and Teacher Leavers

Have you ever wondered why some teachers stay and others leave?

I heard this NPR show yesterday about teachers who left teaching and it appeared to be largely related to the fact that teaching is not viewed as a high status job. Teachers and their students notice this.

You can find the radio show at:


What might we do to change this? Does higher income equal higher status or is there another way? If you’re a teacher, why do you stay?


You might be interested in this dissertation:Sell, C. (2014). Teacher retention: A phenomenological investigation into the lived experience of three elementary teacher stayers. George Mason University, Virginia, Conferred, December, 2012.


Reflections of Self-Study Journeys 2012…We are each doing what we can because we so strongly believe in the work of teachers. That is my life-work. I strive to teach and inspire teachers to persevere despite the challenges we face. They inspire me. Learning is such a gift for us all! Click the “Reflections.SS.Journeys” below the picture to read about it.



Raise your hand if you went into teaching for the money

Why do people choose to teach? The truth is, none of us really went into teaching because of the big bucks. So why? I agree with Daniel Pink that teachers should be paid more but merit pay doesn’t work because we are motivated by things that merit pay doesn’t accomplish.

“Rewards are very effective for some things — simple things, mechanical things,” he explains. “But for complicated jobs that require judgment and creativity, the evidence shows that it just doesn’t work very well.” Teaching, of course, is one of those jobs.”

“Pink said research shows that people who hold jobs that require creativity and sophisticated problem-solving perform best when they have autonomy, an opportunity to master something and a sense of purpose…

“It’s not that money doesn’t matter,” Pink said. “It’s that the best use of money is to get people to stop thinking about money.”…

Superintendent Starr, Montgomery County said, “If politicians want to improve academic performance, they should “reduce teenage pregnancy, give excellent prenatal health care and provide universal preschool — and test scores will go up.”

See Washington Post, February 16, 2012,  Lyndsey Layton


Check this out! Entrepreneur Artfully Launches Self-Study

A site worth checking out by a very creative entrepreneur.

You will find Mona’s work inspiring as you launch your own self-study innovations for the new year!

Learn how professionals – outside of the teaching profession – are finding self-study useful in very practical ways.


Tupperware Teachers

Business has much to teach teachers and I hope vice versa. Searching for the magic bullet to give “people a reason to come to work” one district has joined the 300 school systems and charter schools to “undergo” Disney training in the past two years. Business can help schools become more focused and efficient, particularly as budgets are shrinking” – Agreed.  Nonetheless, the scene described in the article “A page out of Disney’s book” where “three dozen recently hired teachers and bus drivers were introduced to their new employer’s vision statement in evangelical call-and-response fashion” reminds me of my aunt’s district manager Tupperware parties. I love Tupperware and I love what I do as a teacher.

“Give me a “T” ! ~ for Tupperware, no actually for Teacher. How sad. Let’s take back our profession and pay back the favor to business companies by helping teach them how to teach and reach their clients. We can learn from and with each other while still remembering our own reasons for why we chose our profession and why we come to work.