S-STTEP: Standing on a Threshold of Opportunity

  • Amanda BerryEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Since its formal establishment as a Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association in 1993 and the publication of the International Handbook of Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices in 2004, Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices (S-STTEP) has grown rapidly, bringing together the worlds of educational research and practice through the insider perspective of those simultaneously engaged in both. Now 15 years later, on the brink of publishing the Second International Handbook, it is timely to examine the accumulation of S-STTEP research produced since the previous Handbook, to identify directions taken, and to draw out issues and questions of significance that can shape future directions for the field. The authors of the chapters in this section do this through examining the foundations of S-STTEP and its development via several lines of inquiry including a historical perspective via the biennial “Castle” meetings of the S-STTEP community of scholars (Garbett, Fitzgerald, and Thomas); its genealogical-theoretical heritage (Craig and Curtis); its positioning, stance, and identity within educational research (Pinnegar, Hutchinson, and Hamilton); the establishment of its ways of knowing and claims to know (Vanassche and Berry); and its presence within the broader landscape of insider practitioner research (Butler and Branyon) and in teacher education policy and research (Clift and Liaupsin). While each chapter examines self-study practice and research through a particular lens, when brought together these chapters locate self-study very much at a threshold moment in terms of its development. In its literal meaning, a threshold marks a boundary between one place and another. Figuratively, a threshold also signifies a place of transition or a turning point. It can be a productive space, a space of tension and also of potential and opportunity. For the work of S-STTEP, this threshold moment represents both enduring and new challenges. As S-STTEP scholars, we recognize that as form of scholarship, S-STTEP is well-established. The accumulation of work over decades clearly signals that we are no longer beginning. Yet, as these chapters reveal, the extent to which our work extends beyond our local communities remains limited. Such limitations may keep us lingering on the threshold of potential for the growth and impact of our work. Reminiscent of Zeichner’s (2007) critique of self-study in terms of its limited contributions to “discussions and debates about issues of importance” (p. 44) in education, the current pressing issue for the S-STTEP community – and what may be seen as its threshold of opportunity – is in realizing its powerful potential for speaking and contributing to different communities and audiences. While the benefit of self-study in supporting teacher educators to recognize and value their own professional knowledge continues to serve a vital purpose, there are others external to the self-study community who can profit from the knowledge and understandings developed through self-studies of practice. Such a contribution is also consistent with the aim of self-study “to provoke, challenge, and illuminate” (Bullough and Pinnegar 2001) taken-for-granted ways of being in, and thinking about, education. Realizing the potential of this threshold moment for S-STTEP to expand its reach and influence is an issue explored by the authors of each of the chapters in this section. Their explorations also raise a central and enduring tension for the community of S-STTEP scholars – How to maintain the particular character and unique form of S-STTEP scholarship while at the same time aiming to contribute to the mainstream of educational research?


Castle Conference Epistemology Knowledge-making Ontology Policy Self-study scholarship 


  1. Arizona Group (2004). The epistemological dimensions and dynamics of professional dialogue in self-study. In J. J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. K. LaBoskey, & T. L. Russell (Eds.), International handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices (vol. 2) (pp. 1109–1167). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Bullough, R. V., Jr., & Pinnegar, S. (2001). Guidelines for quality in autobiographical forms of self-study research. Educational Researcher, 30(3), 13–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clift, R. T., Loughran, J., Mills, G. E., & Craig, C. J. (Eds.). (2015). Inside the role of dean: International perspectives on leading in higher education (pp. 3–20). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  5. Kelchtermans, G. (2009). Who I am in how I teach is the message: Self-understanding, vulnerability and reflection. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 15(2), 257–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. LaBoskey, V. K. (2004). The methodology of self-study and its theoretical underpinnings. In J. J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. K. LaBoskey, & T. Russell (Eds.), International handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices (pp. 817–869). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Loughran, J. J., Hamilton, M. L., LaBoskey, V. K., & Russell, T. (Eds.). (2004). International handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices (pp. 817–869). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McDonald, J. (1996). Note on the occasional papers series. In R. Berger (Ed.), A culture of quality. Providence: Brown University.Google Scholar
  9. Nilsson, P. (2010). Capturing the complexity of practice: A self-study in the context of engineering education. Studying Teacher Education, 6(2), 187–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Polkinghorne, D. (1988). Narrative knowing in the human sciences. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  11. Polkinghorne, D. (2004). Practice and the human sciences: The case for a judgment based practice of care. Albany: SUNY.Google Scholar
  12. Munby, H., & Russell, T. (1994). The authority of experience in learning to teach: Messages from a physics methods class. Journal of Teacher Education, 45(2), 86–95.Google Scholar
  13. Samaras, A. P., Karczmarczyk, D., Smith, L., Woodville, L., Harmon, L., Nasser, I., … 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.Google Scholar
  14. Slife, B. D. (2004). Taking practice seriously: Toward a relational ontology. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 24(2), 157–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Taylor, S., Rizvi, F., Lingard, B., & Henry, M. (1997). Education policy and the politics of change. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Vanassche, E., & Kelchtermans, G. (2015). The state of the art in self-study of teacher education practices: A systematic literature review. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 47(4), 508–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Whitehead, J. (1989). Creating a living educational theory from questions of the kind, ‘How do I improve my practice?’. Cambridge Journal of Education, 19(1), 41–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Zeichner, K. (2007). Accumulating knowledge across self-studies in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(1), 36–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Amanda Berry
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

Personalised recommendations