Call for Review articles: RTE

From: Peter Smagorinsky (
Date: Tue May 18 2004 - 03:08:24 PDT

Research in the Teaching of English Volume 38, Number 4, May 2004 349
Editors’ Introduction
Looking Back to Look Ahead
As we talk with friends and colleagues in the NCTE research community, we
an increasing sense of urgency about influencing public policy—about conveying,
that is, what we’ve learned about literacy teaching and learning over the
years, and
how this body of knowledge might sensibly influence the work of classrooms and
schools. But even as we voice our certainty that the wider world should be
to us, making our voices heard remains a challenge that vexes educational
researchers across the land. For starters, our methodological and philosophic
diversity represents both a blessing and a curse—allowing us to ponder the
complexities of teaching and learning from multiple angles of vision, but also
dividing us into separate communities with diminished opportunity to talk
to one
another, let alone speak with a united voice. And then there’s the problem of
definitively knowing anything about schools, where influences tend to be both
manifold and tangled, and efforts to assign effects to causes must
inevitably be
tempered by caveats and calls for further study.
But meanwhile, out in the hustle and bustle of public debate, the rhetoric
tends to be less ruminative and tentative. As education policy becomes a
hot topic
among those campaigning for local, state, and national office, that
well-worn phrase
“all the research shows” is cropping up with new abandon. We believe that
can indeed provide important insights to guide practice and policy—but
given the complexity of school settings and students’ diverse needs, the
record seldom yields simple solutions that will do everywhere and for all.
Part of
our job as researchers is to take stock of what we know and how we know it, not
only to guide our own continuing work, but also to speak in clear and
ways to taxpayers and policymakers.
The time is ripe for literacy researchers to address the challenge of assessing
just what the research record can tell us about key issues, and what important
questions remain unanswered that future research can and must address. Research
in the Teaching of English is therefore issuing a call for literature
reviews that take
up topics of pressing interest to teachers and policymakers, and which are
for comprehensive and critical attention. What does the research record really
tell us, for instance, about the efficacy of explicit grammar teaching,
especially to
linguistically and culturally diverse populations? About attempts to teach
metacognitive strategies to developing readers? About approaches to authentic
assessment of student literacy learning? About the best strategies for
teaching what’s
come to be known as “The Neglected R”—that is, writing? About preparing
for the demands of the 21st-century workplace?
We hope that other ideas are coming to your mind as you read this, and that
you’ll consider developing such a review in the coming months. We would welcome
single-authored papers—but we also encourage collaboration across communities
of scholars, and invite interested professors to consider organizing graduate
seminars around the work of reviewing and discussing research pertinent to a
chosen topic. Please be in touch with us (Anne at;
Melanie at if you’d like to discuss
possibilities, strategies,
and timelines.

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