Dr. Rachel Wolkenhauer is a community-engaged scholar who studies and teaches practitioner research as a form of professional learning for preservice teachers, in-service teachers, and teacher educators in school-university partnerships.
Practitioner research (also known as practitioner inquiry, teacher research, teacher inquiry, or action research) is defined as the systematic and intentional study by educators of their own practice. Dr. Wolkenhauer examines the ways this form of professional learning involves educators in continuous processes of problematizing systems of schooling, questioning practice, and working in community to participate in educational and social change. Her research articles, often co-authored with school partners and/or teacher education students, are published in journals such as Journal of Teacher Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, Action in Teacher Education, and School-University Partnerships. Her co-authored book (2013) offers support and structures for constructing generative local knowledge about the Common Core State Standards and how they can be actualized. Further, the book advocates for inquiry as a pedagogical approach with elementary students, emphasizing its role in equitably meeting the standards.
Dr. Wolkenhauer has worked to embed inquiry as equity pedagogy into the Elementary and Early Childhood undergraduate teacher education program, the World Campus Curriculum and Instruction master’s program, and has developed a graduate seminar on practitioner research for equity in school-university partnerships, popular among Penn State doctoral students and local schoolteachers. Her approach to advising graduate students builds on her expertise in practitioner inquiry as she encourages emerging teacher educators and teacher education scholars to engage in graduate studies as intentional, reflective, and responsive professional learning.