Research

Brad Olsen on his research:

"My research looks at teachers, teaching, school reform, and education policy-- not as separate domains but as a complex tangle of practices, contexts, and interlocking systems. As someone who often studies education through the lens of teachers, I'm interested in better understanding how teachers and other educators combine prior and present experiences, knowledges, contexts, and their professional preparation as they continually construct new understandings, practices, and career shapes inside various contexts of practice.

This ecological view informs my research methods, too. I conduct mostly qualitative research at the convergence of ethnographic, interactionist, and sociolinguistic methods. Because I view teacher knowledge as a situated, holistic process—rather than a mental, singular product—I frequently employ teacher identity as analytical frame. Not only do educators learn within disparate sites, they learn (which is to say that they develop and enrich new professional identities) as they move across sites and within newly constructed sites. The sites for my investigations are typically new teacher networks and institutes, K-12 schools, and current policy arenas within and across countries.

Recently, I have been studying the role of teachers and teaching in the contemporary global reform climate. I have also been studying the professional development of university teacher educators, new models of teacher development, and educational innovations in low- and middle-income countries around the world. And I continue to play around with complexity theory to investigate the knotty landscape of school reform as its own complicated global 21st-century ecosystem. "