Elizabeth Dutro

Areas of Expertise
Critical Theories, Elementary Education, Equity-Minded Reform, Feminist Theories and Perspectives, Gender and Education, K-12 Education, Literacy, Race and Education, Social Class and Education, Sociocultural Theories and Perspectives, Standards-Based Reform, Teacher Education, Urban Education, Writing Education

Biography

Elizabeth Dutro is an associate professor of education, specializing in the area of literacy. Her research has investigated literacy education from children’s experiences in high-poverty classrooms to the accountability policies in reading and writing that impact those experiences. These research studies are linked by a commitment to educational equity, particularly for those children who have been least well served by public schools.

The primary strand of Dr. Dutro’s research grew from her encounters with children, curriculum, and educational policy in her own teaching in a high-poverty elementary school and is driven by questions about the intersections of literacy, identity, life experiences, and children’s and youth’s opportunities for positive, sustained, and productive relationships with schooling. She has conducted intensive qualitative investigations of classrooms in four state contexts, centrally examining issues of gender and sexual diversity, race, and class in children’s reading and writing practices. Through close collaborations with children, youth, and teachers, her current study engages the interdisciplinary field of trauma studies to consider how difficult life experiences enter schools, the role and consequence of responses to students’ lives, and the relationships and critical stances necessary if classrooms are to be supportive, productive spaces for learning.  She is also investigating how critical-emotional and relational practices can be enfolded into core practices of literacy instruction in practice-based teacher education.

Across her studies, Elizabeth’s findings emphasize the consequences of children’s encounters with school literacy practices for their social and academic positioning in classrooms. She argues that we need to better understand both how to provide access to opportunities to achieve success in the ways that officially count in US schools and how to expand what counts to include the knowledge and learning that cannot be captured in the high stakes assessments that are the primary focus of current accountability policies.

Elizabeth has received several awards for her scholarship, including a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Walgreen Award for Outstanding Literacy Scholarship from the University of Michigan, the Promising Researcher Award and the Alan C. Purves Award (both from the National Council of Teachers of English) and the Frank Pajares award from Theory Into Practice. Her work has appeared in numerous venues, including Review of Research in Education, Teachers College Record, Journal of Literacy Research, Research in the Teaching of English, Urban Education, English Education, Language Arts, Reading and Writing Quarterly, and Theory Into Practice.

Education

2000 PhD, Educational Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1993 MA, English Literature, San Francisco State University
1989 BA, Liberal Studies, La Sierra University

Research

The primary strand of my work is driven by questions about the intersections of literacy, identity, life experiences, and children’s opportunities for positive, sustained, and productive relationships with schooling. I am interested in two related aspects of identity that impact children’s experiences in classrooms: first, the out-of-school identities and experiences children bring with them to literacy classrooms and, second, the identities that get constructed and performed within classrooms. I have investigated several questions related to these dual aspects of identities: What is the relationship between the gender, race, class and intellectual identities children perform in classrooms and their negotiations of literacy curricula, instruction, and policy enactments they encounter? How do students’ life experiences, particularly the difficult circumstances, intersect with their relationships with school literacies? How can educators learn from children’s experiences with these negotiations to best support those who have been chronically underserved by public schools? To investigate these questions, I have conducted intensive qualitative investigations of classrooms in four state contexts. Across these studies, my findings emphasize the consequences of children’s encounters with school literacy practices for their social and academic positioning and opportunities to achieve success in the ways that officially count in US schools.

Teacher Research for Equity and Opportunity (TREO)

The TREO project was designed to support research collaborations between teachers who are current and former students in CU’s masters program and my university-based research team to explore questions of mutual interest related to equity and opportunity in classrooms and to bring a framework, drawn in part from literary trauma studies (see study below), to those questions. In its first two years, the project has involved six teachers from four different CU partner districts, across a range of grade levels (2 nd, 5 th, and 10 th), in this collaborative work. Through intensive classroom data collection and ongoing regular discussions among members of the research collaborative, we examine, first, how, by whom, and to what effects understandings of students’ lives are documented and interpreted in schools serving students of color and socioeconomically struggling students and families, and, second, how teachers talk about their attempts to support and serve as advocates for non-dominant students in each school context.

Reconsidering the difficult stories in children’s lives and literacies (embedded within the TREO project)

This project, which is both theoretical and empirical, investigates the presence and role of challenging life experiences, including those born of poverty, on children’s literacy practices and efforts to construct and sustain a positive relationship to schooling. I am the first scholar in literacy studies to combine trauma studies—an interdisciplinary field that examines the role and functioning of trauma in human experiences—with critical theories of literacy and poverty studies. In this project, I am using the insights of trauma studies to develop a theoretic framework that conceptualizes classrooms through metaphors offered from trauma studies, such as “testimony and critical witness” and “the speaking wound”. I argue that such conceptual lenses enable educators to first, account for the emotional dimensions of students’ engagements with literacy and, second, address the material and emotional consequences of economic struggle and racism without falling into the trap of the deficit narratives that often circulate about non-dominant students. By emphasizing the need for metaphors that centrally engage the emotional dimensions of life experiences that enter classrooms, my work complicates and seeks to extend the prevailing frameworks that draw primarily on ledger metaphors such as “resource” and “fund” to conceptualize how students draw on out-of-school experiences for their literacy learning.

Presentations

Dutro, E. Bien, A., Henning, M., Lewis, K., Nevarez, V. (2010). Emotions as/of advocacy in teaching for social justice. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, Colorado.

Dutro, E., Henning, M., Kantor, J. (2010). Enacting a Pedagogy of Testimony and Witness: Children Writing the Difficult in a High-Poverty Elementary Classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, Colorado.

Dutro, E., Bien, A. (2009, December). List ening to the “Speaking Wound”: Tracing the Difficult in Children’s and Teachers’ Lives and Literacies. In E. Dutro (chair), Troubling Stories of Students’ Lives: How, by Whom and with What Consequences Students are Narrated and Consumed in Literacy Classrooms. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, Alberquerque, New Mexico.

Dutro, E., Zenkov, K. (2009, April). Including Urban Students’ Perspectives in the “Circle of Knowledge”: The Voices of City Youth in What and How We Know in Education Research. Interactive symposium presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, California.

Dutro, E. (2008, December). Literacies of Loss: Heeding the Unbearable in the Literacy Classroom. In S. Meacham (chair), Visceral literacies: Emotion and Imaginative Engagement in the Classroom. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, Orlando, Florida.

Dutro, E., Kantor, J. (2008, December). Witnessing students’ lives and literacies on screen: Reading a pedagogy of Testimony and Witness in The Wire. In S. Jones (chair), “If they’ll listen to us about life, we’ll listen to them about school”: The literacies of urban students and families in life, schools, and popular media. Paper presented at the National Research Conference, Orlando, Florida.

Dutro, E. (2008, November). What ‘hard times’ means: Mandated curricula, class-privileged assumptions, and the lives of poor children. Paper presented in recognition of Promising Research Award, National Council of Teachers of English, San Antonio, Texas.

Dutro, E. (2008, March). Writing Wounded: Trauma, testimony, and critical witness in literacy classrooms. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.

Dutro, E. (2007, December). Responding to “hard times” in a mandated literacy curriculum: Children’s stories of poverty confront middle-class assumptions. In E. Dutro (chair), Stories of poverty in the literacy classroom: Supporting preservice teachers’ responses to the realities of students’ lives. Symposium presented at the National Reading Conference, Austin. Texas.

Dutro, E. (2007, December). “I like to read, but I know I’m not good at it”: Children’s experiences with high-stakes assessment in an urban elementary classroom. In G. Campano (chair), Literacy Policy Implementation in Urban Elementary Classrooms: What’s at stake for children? Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the National Reading Conference, Austin, Texas.

Dutro, E., Marquez-Zenkov, K. (2007, December). Urban students testifying to their own stories: Talking back to deficit perspectives. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Reading Conference, Austin, Texas.

Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., Balf, R. (2007, April). Stories Count: Examining children’s experiences across mathematics and literacy in an upper-elementary classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois.

Dutro, E. (2006, December). Children writing trauma in an urban elementary classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Reading Conference, Los Angeles, California.

Dutro, E. (2006, November). Negotiating ‘hard times’: Children’s lives and the assumption of privilege in a mandated curriculum. In S. Greene (chair), Freedom to Teach and Freedom to Learn: What Gets Lost in the Scripted Writing Curriculum. Invited symposium at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., Balf, R. (2006, April). ‘About your color, that’s personal’: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Race and Resistance in an Urban Elementary Classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, California. (ERIC accession number: ED491665).

Kazemi, E., Hubbard, M., Dutro, E., Balf, R. (2006, April). Supporting Mathematical Engagement: Elementary Children’s Experiences in One Discussion-Intensive Mathematics Classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, California.

Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., Balf, R. (2005, September). Children’s Positioning Across Subject Areas in an Urban Elementary Classroom. In E. Moje (chair), Positioning Across Texts and Contexts: Understanding the Lived Experiences of Teachers and Students. Symposium presented at the congress of the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research, Seville, Spain.

Teaching

My primary goal for my teaching is that students leave my courses with a nuanced understanding of course content, an enthusiasm for ideas encountered in the course, a sense of teaching as an intellectual endeavor, and a desire to inspire learning in their own current or future students. The theoretical commitments that guide my work as a researcher also influence my approach to teaching in my university courses. Therefore, my teaching reflects grounding in sociocultural, critical, poststructural, and feminist theories. In all of my courses I attempt to model practices that recognize learning as a social process, influenced by social and cultural contexts, providing opportunities for students to critically examine their own assumptions about literacy, learning, and students, as well as the assumptions embedded in the language surrounding children, youth, and schooling. In each course I strive to build a sense of community and collaboration that facilitates the exploration of important and complex ideas.

Courses Taught

EDUC 8210 Perspectives on Classrooms, Teaching, and Learning

This course is part of the doctoral core requirements and is taken first semester of the first year of doctoral study.

EDUC 6964 C&I Capstone: Teacher Inquiry in the Content Areas

This course focuses on teacher research and is the required capstone course for the Curriculum and Instruction Masters programs in math/science and humanities. Students complete an intensive research project that serves as their exit requirement for the degree.

EDUC 4800 Education in Film

Undergraduate course focused on analysis of films that portray various aspects of education.

EDUC 6804 Gender and K-12 Literacy

Graduate course focused on theories of gender and the complex ways that gender is manifest in K-12 Classrooms.

Service & Outreach

Professional

2006 Program co-chair, Area 1: Preservice Teacher Education in Literacy, National Reading Conference
2004-2007 Member, Commission on Composition, National Council of Teachers of English
2002-present Editorial Board MemberóJournal of Literacy Research
2005 Reviewer for Journal of Teacher Education
2001, 2003, 2005 Proposal Reviewer for American Educational Research Association
2001-present Reviewer for English Education
2000-present Reviewer forEducational Researcher
1999-present Proposal Reviewer for the National Reading Conference
1998-1999 Guest Reviewer for Reading Research Quarterly
1998 Reviewer for Center For Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA)
1996-present Reviewer for Research in the Teaching of English

College and University

2004-2005 Search Committee Chair, two assistant professor positions, literacy
2003-2004; 2004-2005 Literacy Program Coordinator, Cleveland State University
2004 Search Committee Chair, Associate Dean for Student Services and External Relations, Cleveland State University
2003-present Graduate Affairs Committee member, Cleveland State University
2002-2003 Guest presenter for America Reads training sessions for tutors, Cleveland State University
2001 Discussion Facilitator (gender and gender equity)óFaculty Retreat, University of Washington
2001 Chair, Committee to draft the mission statement, UW College of Education Strategic Plan
2001-present Diversity Committee, College of Education, University of Washington
2000-present Gender Equity Committee, College of Education, University of Washington
2000-present Teacher Education Council, College of Education
2000; 2001 Application review for Teacher Education Program, College of Education
2000; 2001 Interviewing of applicants to Teacher Education Program, College of Education
May, 2000 Chair, Nikkei Educational Issues. Panel presented at The Nikkei Experience in the Northwest Conference, University of Washington
1998 Evaluator for Teacher Education Program Review; School of Education, University of Michigan

Community

2004-present Steering Committee, Greater Cleveland Literacy Collaborative
2004-present Consultant (pro-bono), A Cultural Exchange, a community-based literacy organization
2004 Presenter, Multicultural Multilingual Conference, Cleveland Municipal School District
2003 MemberóAcademic Yearly Progress team, Cleveland Municipal School District
2002 Team memberóliteracy support for Margaret Ireland K-8 School, Cleveland Municipal School District
2000 Evaluator of Educational Resource Guide for Seattle Childrenís Theatre

Selected Publications

(For complete list of publications, please see the faculty member's curriculum vitae.)

Articles

Dutro, E. (2010). What ‘hard times’ means: Mandated curricula, middle-class assumptions, and the lives of poor children. Research in the Teaching of English, 44, 255-291. (the journal is published by the National Council of Teachers of English)

Dutro, E. (2009). Children Writing ‘Hard Times’: Lived Experiences of Poverty and the Class-Privileged Assumptions of a Mandated Curriculum. Language Arts, 87, 89-98.

This is an electronic version of an article published in: 
Dutro, E. (2008). “That’s why I was crying on this book”: Trauma as testimony in children’s responses to literature. Changing English, 15, 423-434. Changing English is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com with the open URL of your article.

Dutro, E. (2008). Boys reading American Girls: What’s at stake in assumptions about what boys won’t read. In R. Hammett & K. Sanford (Eds), Boys, Girls, and the Myths of Literacies and Learning (pp. 69-90). Toronto: CSPI/Women’s Press.

Dutro, E., Kazemi, E, Balf, R., & Lin, Y. (2008). ‘What are you and where are you from?’ Race, identity, and the vicissitudes of cultural relevance in an urban elementary classroom. Urban Education, 43, 269-300.

Dutro, E., & Zenkov, K. (2008). Urban students testifying to their own stories: Talking back to deficit perspectives. 57th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference, 172-218.

This is an electronic version of an article published in: 
Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., Balf, R. (2006). Making sense of “The Boy Who Died”: Tales of a struggling successful writer. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 22, 325-356. Reading and Writing Quarterly is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com with the open URL of your article.

Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., & Balf, R. (2005). The aftermath of "You're only half": Multiracial identities in the literacy classroom.  Language Arts, 83(2), 96-106. Copyright (2005) by the National Council of Teachers of English http://www.ncte.org/. Used with permission.

Dutro, E. (2004). Book review: The handbook of discourse processes. Journal of Literacy Research, 36(4), 273-282.

Dutro, E., & Valencia, S. (2004). The relationship between state and district content standards: Issues of alignment, influence and utility.  Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12(45), 1-49.

Dutro, E. (2003). "Us boys like to read football and boy stuff": Reading masculinities, performing boyhood.  Journal of Literacy Research, 34(4), 465-500.

Dutro, E., Fisk, M. C., Koch, R., Roop, L. J., & Wixson, K. (2002). When state policies meet local district contexts: Standards-based professional development as a means to individual agency and collective ownership.  Teachers College Record, 104(4), 787-811.

Dutro, E. (2001/2002). ‘But that's a girls' book!' Exploring gender boundaries in children's reading practices. The Reading Teacher, 55 , 376-384.

Book Chapters 

Wixson, K. K., Dutro, E., & Athan, R. G. (2003). The challenge of developing content standards.   In R. E. Floden (Ed.), Review of research in education (pp. 69-107). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.