Education Expert Explains Importance of Self-Study

Posted: July 12, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Edgerly

Teaching is a challenging and oftentimes solitary profession, leaving many teachers feeling powerless, says Anastasia Samaras, associate professor and coordinator of the Career Switcher Program in Mason’s Graduate School of Education. Today, nearly half of all newly hired teachers leave the profession within their first five years because of the challenges they encounter.

According to Samaras, teachers leave the profession largely because of three main reasons:

  • Inadequate support

  • A lack of influence

  • Poor opportunities for professional development

Samaras encourages teachers to engage in self-study.
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Co-author of the 2006 book, “Self-Study of Teaching Practices” published by Peter Lang Publishing Inc., Samaras says that engaging in self-study — “the systematic and critical examination of one’s actions and their context as a path to develop a more consciously driven mode of professional activity” — is key to building teacher efficacy. The book, which Samaras wrote with Anne Freese of the University of Hawaii, serves as a guide to assist teachers through the process of self-study.

“This book is different from others because it is meant for a practitioner audience and is applicable to all disciplines,” notes Samaras. “Educators at any level, elementary through higher education, can use this primer as a guide to conducting their own self-study. It encourages teachers to take charge of their learning and professional development.”

A teacher since 1972, Samaras felt a pull toward self-study based on her studies of developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s work. She was inspired to make his theory practical for teacher education.

On the faculty at Mason since 2002, Samaras has presented and published nationally and abroad. “Self-Study of Teaching Practices” is her third book on the topic. Her interest in the self-study of teaching and teacher education practices furthering professional development, including her own, continues to drive much of her research.

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