AACTE to Award Dissertation on Teacher Identity for Inclusion in Urban Schools


AACTE will honor Molly Baustien Siuty, assistant professor of inclusive teacher education at Portland State University (OR), with the 2018 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award for her study (Re)constituting Teacher Identity for Inclusion in Urban Schools: A Process of Reification and Resistance. The award will be presented at the 70th AACTE Annual Meeting Closing Keynote session, March 3 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Siuty’s dissertation investigated how teacher candidates’ learning about diversity and inclusion in their preservice preparation programs translates – or struggles to translate – into their practice as new teachers. The study uncovered important insights for bridging gaps between teacher preparation and induction.

The dissertation was completed in 2017 for the Ph.D. at the University of Kansas, Department of Special Education. Professor Elizabeth Kozleski was Siuty’s adviser there.

“[Siuty’s] work addresses an important gap in the literature,” Kozleski writes in a letter of recommendation for the AACTE award. “Little is known about how graduates of inclusive programs transform their identities through their practice and engagement in urban school systems that are not necessarily conducive or designed for inclusive practice.”

Siuty found that most participants were deterred by the exclusionary practices that served as the dominant norms of their practice contexts. “Indeed, their practice contexts made it nearly impossible for them to use inclusive practices from their preparation,” Kozleski notes. “However, at times they also drew on their preparation and personal experiences to adopt identities as resistors. These findings can inform how teachers are prepared to cross boundaries between inclusive teacher preparation and their practice contexts. Moreover, they locate the ways in which the sociocultural context of schooling affords and constrains the work of increased inclusion and equity. These recommendations have potential for altering the systems through which we prepare educators, induct them into the profession, and also collaborate across preparation and practice contexts.”

“I’m thrilled to congratulate Dr. Molly Siuty for receiving the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award,” said Rahmat Shoureshi, president of Portland State University (PSU). “Dr. Siuty’s research explores how teacher candidates’ learning about diversity and inclusion in their teacher preparation programs translates into their practice as new teachers. This is absolutely essential to the future health of our nation’s public education system.”

Reviewers on AACTE’s Committee on Research and Dissemination, which oversees the award, praised Siuty’s well-organized and engaging writing, identification of clear problems and solutions, and compelling vision of teachers as “bridge makers” who stand up in society and in bringing special and general educators together.

Before pursuing her Ph.D., Siuty taught special education in New York City and earned a master’s in special education and leadership from the City College of New York. Her current research focuses on critical and intersectional approaches to inclusive teacher preparation. She was recently awarded a Dean’s Funds of Excellence grant from PSU to fund her project “The Art of the Possible: Developing New Teachers’ Pedagogies of Possibility for Inclusion Through THINK College Academic Coaching,” which explores how academic coaching through the Think College Inclusion Oregon program mediates candidates’ inclusive teacher identity development.

“This work will build on my dissertation by exploring how recent graduates engage in pedagogy of possibility,” Siuty said. “Indeed, most educational institutions remain impervious to inclusion. The extent to which new teachers draw on inclusive identities indicates a sense of possibility for a more just and inclusive educational and social landscape.”

Learn more about Siuty’s work in her professional websites:

AACTE issued a press release today announcing all of its 2018 award winners. For more information on AACTE’s awards program, visit http://aacte.org/professional-development-and-events/awards. Applications for next year’s dissertation award will open in April.

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