Carol Anne M. Spreen

Carol Anne M. Spreen
Phone: 434-924-0869
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Location: Bavaro Hall 234B
Department: Leadership, Foundations and Policy
Mailing Address: PO Box 400265, Charlottesville, VA 22904

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Areas of Study

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Associate Professor


  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 2001
  • M.A., Teachers College, Columbia University, 1998
  • M.Ed., University of Illinois at Chicago, 1992
  • B.A., American University, 1989

Personal Statement

My research centers on political and socio-cultural studies of educational change, particularly the influences of globalization on teaching and learning.
Over the last decade I served as a researcher for several of the nations leading educational research centers: School Redesign Network (SRN), National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching (NCREST), Center for Research and Evaluation on Standards and Student Testing (CRESST), and North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL). Internationally, I\‘ve worked with many educational development and planning organizations, and assisted numerous schools, districts and educational Ministries with various reform innovations.

Research Interests
My scholarship brings together interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to examining education policy and practice. My current research focuses on three areas: (1) teachers lives and work, particularly understanding how policies impact teachers and classrooms - on one level examining global influences on teaching (e.g. teacher migration, curriculum, accountability), and on another, designing policies to recruit, retain and professionalize teaching, (2) measuring teacher quality and school achievement beyond traditional comparisons of indicators and production function analysis and instead exploring teachers orientations to education policy and how structural social inequalities influence educational outcomes and, (3) using participatory/action research to study the impact of poverty and inequality on education and examining the role of education in promoting human rights. This research relies on anthropological (qualitative and ethnographic approaches), sociological (institutional and network analysis) and critical cultural perspectives to explore policy formulation through an international lens.
My most recent work emphasizes ethnographic approaches to school and community-based studies of educational change. As a socially engaged researcher I explore the deeper social characteristics of school communities - the diversity of its composition, its history, language, culture, traditions and experience of struggle and resistance. For me, participatory action research illuminates the critical importance of historical and contextual approaches to social analysis and helps shed light on the reservoir of knowledge and experience that already exists in such communities. This approach to inquiry, based on solidly grounded information and knowledge, can be used to inform local action as well as engage with the policy and decision-making agencies of the state as well as educational reformers.


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