Practitioner Inquiry Day

About Practitioner Inquiry Day

Practitioner Inquiry Day was initiated in 1987 by Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Susan L. Lytle – both assistant professors at Penn GSE at the time – and grew from the burgeoning interest in teacher research, action research, critical action research, and participatory research that was evident across the U.S. and internationally. From the beginning, the intent of Practitioner Inquiry Day was to provide a space for educators to share their research in various formats, including papers, symposia, data sessions, informal group discussions, et cetera. Over the years there have been a number of featured speakers, groups, and individuals from around the U.S. and internationally who have attended and presented during Practitioner Inquiry Day. The participants are K-12 teachers, community college and university teachers, public and independent school leaders, community organizers, social activists, and others who share a commitment to democratizing the discourse around teaching, learning, and leading to include the voices and ideas of a wider span of participants.

Practitioner Inquiry Day at the Ethnography Forum celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1997, its 20th in 2007, and its 25th in 2012, each time with a special program to acknowledge and explore the evolving movement of practitioner research. At its 20th anniversary, there was a memorable Reader’s Theater performance, “Practitioners’ Voices,” that highlighted the rich perspectives and diverse experiences of teachers, school leaders, and other educators whose inquiries explore teaching, learning, and schooling (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009). In 2012, on the 25th anniversary of Practitioner Inquiry Day, Professor Gerald Campano initiated a midday Forum for presentations which focus on Communities of Inquiry. Special celebrations and events have marked milestones in Teachers College Press’ Practitioner Inquiry Series, which grew out of the Ethnography Forum’s Practitioner Inquiry Day, and each year there has also been a special display of books by and for practitioner researchers.

After 30 years, Practitioner Inquiry Day remains faithful to its roots, and still provides a dedicated space for educators, practitioners, and community organizers to come together and inquire into, theorize, and collectively make meaning of their sites of practice. This year’s forum theme, which focuses on inequality, poverty, and education, is particularly relevant to practitioners today and offers them a space to share the important work being done at the intersections of teaching and learning. We are excited for all the promise Practitioner Inquiry Day holds, as we both honor our past and move into the future, committed always to justice and social change.

For more information, contact the Coordinator of Practitioner Inquiry Day at