Elizabeth Dutro
Associate Dean of Faculty • Professor
Literacy Studies • Humanities Education • Teacher Learning, Research & Practice

Miramontes Baca Education Building, Room 244A
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Elizabeth Dutro is a 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. Through close collaborations with children and teacher colleagues, her current studies include critical and affective framings of what trauma means and how trauma functions in classrooms; teachers' opportunities to learn together in the context of their daily work and relationships with children; and critical-affective pedagogies in teacher education and classroom literacies.

Elizabeth has received several awards for her scholarship and teaching, including a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, the Promising Researcher Award and the Alan C. Purves Award (both from the National Council of Teachers of English), the Provost Faculty Achievement Award, and the Best Should Teach gold award and Boulder Faculty Assembly Teaching Excellence Award. Her work has appeared in numerous venues, including American Educational Research Journal, Review of Research in Education, Teachers College Record, Journal of Literacy Research, Research in the Teaching of English, Teaching and Teacher Education, Urban Education, English Education, and Language Arts, Reading and Writing Quarterly, and Theory Into Practice. Her book "The Vulnerable Heart of Literacy: Centering Trauma as Powerful Pedagogy" was published in 2019 by Teachers College Press.


PhD Educational Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2000

2018-2022   “Collaborative Learning About Discussions” (PI; Co-PIs: Hala Ghousseini, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Sarah Kavanagh, University of Pennsylvania; Elham Kazemi, University of Washington, Seattle Funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation ($2.5 million) https://www.jsmf.org/grants/20170017/

2008-present   Critical Approaches to Trauma in the Classrooms.  "Centering Trauma as Powerful Pedagogy",  "Reconsidering the Difficult Experiences in Students' Lives and Literacies in High-Poverty Schools: A Teacher-Research Collaborative"   Funded by the Center for Research and Creative Work, University of Colorado ($7,000.00) (2008-2009); CARTSS Scholar Award ($3,500.00) (2009-2010); WISE Grant ($5,000.00)  For insight into my perspectives in this work view my EdTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=7XfK8dw6aog     

2013-2017   “Ambitious Writing Instruction as Critical Witnessing: Merging Findings from a Multi-Year Classroom Research Study into Innovative Models for Undergraduate Teacher Education” Funded by University of Colorado at Boulder Outreach ($32,000.00 over four years); WISE grants ($20,000.00); IMPART grant ($2,000.00).

2013-2017   “Complexities of Practice(s) Across Teacher Preparation Programs in English Language Arts”; with members of Core Practices Consortium collaborative research group. Funded by Spencer Foundation; Gates Foundation (~$7,000.00).

2008-2012   “Teacher Research for Equity and Opportunity” Funded by University of Colorado at Boulder Outreach ($19,000.00 over four years); Weener Grant ($18,000.00) (2009-2011); IMPART grant ($5,000.00) (2010-2011); CARTSS Scholar Grant ($3,000.00) (2010-2011)

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.

Examples of 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 2150 Education in Film  (Undergraduate course focused on analysis of films that portray various aspects of education)

EDUC 8950 Prospectus and Dissertation Writing (new advanced qualitative methods course launched Fall 2017)

EDUC 2050 Step Up to Social Justice Teaching (introductory course for Elementary Education major)

EDUC 3190 Introduction to Teaching and Learning (online course for the BA in Interdiscplinary Studies degree completion program)

EDUC 8155 Visceral Literacies of the Raced, Classed, Sexed, Gendered Body (Advanced Doctoral Seminar)

EDUC 4321 Writing in Elementary Schools (undergraduate elementary licensure course)

Examples of recent service activities:

Program Chair, Literacy Studies

Dean's Advisory Council

Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Committee (university tenure, promotion, and reappointment)

Offices Held:

Vice President-Elect (2020)  National Council of Research on Language and Literacy

President-Elect (2021)  National Council of Research on Language and Literacy

Section Co-Chair, Division K (2016-2018)  American Educational Research Association

Board of Directors, elected position (2015-2018)  Literacy Research Association

Editorial Review Boards:

Research in the Teaching of English

Reading Research Quarterly

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy Language Arts Journal of Literacy Research


Dutro, E. (2019). The vulnerable heart of literacy: Centering trauma as powerful pedagogy. New York: Teachers College Press.


Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

Dutro, E. (2019). How Affect Theory Can Support Justice in Our Literacy Classrooms: Attuning to the Visceral. Language Arts, 96, 384-389.

Grossman, P., Kazemi, E., Kavanagh, S. S., Franke, M., & Dutro, E. (2019). Learning to facilitate discussions: Collaborations in practice-based teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 81, 97-99.

Garcia, A., Dutro, E. (2018). Electing to Heal: Trauma, Healing, and Politics in Classrooms. English Education, 50, 4, 375-383.

Dutro, E., Haberl, E. (2018). Blurring Material and Rhetorical Walls: Children Writing the Border/lands in a Second Grade Classroom. Journal of Literacy Research, 50, 2, 167-189.

Dutro, E., Cartun, A., Melnychenko, K., Haberl, E., Pacheco Williams, B.(2018). Designing for Critical, Relational, Practice-Immersed Teacher Preparation: Weaving Threads Together in a Critical Project-Based Literacy Partnership. The New Educator, DOI: 10.1080/1547688X.2017. 1412001

Alston, C., Danielson, K., Dutro, E., Cartun, A. (2017). Does a Discussion By Any Other Name Sound The Same? Teaching Discussion In Three ELA Methods Courses. Journal of Teacher Education, 1-14.

Dutro, E. (2017). Let’s Start with Heartbreak: The Perilous Potential of Trauma in Literacy Classrooms. Language Arts, 94, 326-337.

Dutro, E., Cartun, A., Melnychenko, K., Haberl, E., Pacheco Williams, B. (2017). Partnership Literacies in a Writing Methods Course: Practicing, Advocating, and Feeling Together. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 60, 585-588.

Dutro, E., Cartun, A. (2016). Cut to the core Practices: Toward visceral disruptions of binaries in practice-based teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 58, 119-128.

Dutro, E., Bien, A. (2014). Listening to the “Speaking Wound”: A trauma studies perspective on student positioning in schools. American Educational Research Journal, 51, 7-35.

Dutro, E. (2013). Toward a Pedagogy of the Incomprehensible: Trauma and the Imperative of Critical Witness in Literacy Classrooms. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 8, 4, 301-315.

Dutro, E., Selland, M. K., & Bien, A. C. (2013). Revealing Writing, Concealing Writers High-Stakes Assessment in an Urban Elementary Classroom. Journal of Literacy Research, 45(2), 99-141.

Book Chapters

Dutro, E. (2019). Visceral Literacies, Political Intensities: Affect as Critical Potential in Literacy Research and Practice. In K. Leander and C.

Ehret (Eds.), Affect in literacy teaching and learning: Pedagogies, politics, and coming to know (pp. 73-91). New York: Routledge.

Cartun, A., Dutro, E., Melnychenko, K. (2018). The Affective Archive Project: Engaging affect toward critical pedagogy in a practice-immersed literacy methods course. In K. Zenkov & K. Pytash (Eds). Clinical Experiences in Teacher Education: Critical, Project-Based Interventions in Diverse Classrooms. New York: Routledge.

Dutro, E. (2017).  Heeding the Unbearable in Teacher Education: Visceral Literacies as Critical Possibility and Praxis. In J. Justice and B. Tenore (Eds.), Becoming Critical Teacher Educators: Narratives of Resistance, Possibility, and Praxis. New York: Routledge.

Dutro, E., Cartun, A. (2015). A Trauma Studies Lens on Writing Methods: Crafting a Critical, Affective, Practice-Based Pedagogy. In Brass, J, Webb, A. (Eds.). Teaching the English Language Arts Methods Course: Contemporary Theories and Practices. New York: Routledge.