Susan Lytle

Professor Emerita
Founding Director, Philadelphia Writing Project

Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania


Professional Biography

Dr. Lytle began her career in education as an English teacher in public secondary schools in Massachusetts and California and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Manila, Philippines. At Penn since the early 1970s, she began as a supervisor of secondary English interns and later, as a faculty member, was co-holder of the Joseph L. Calihan Term Chair in Education, awarded for her collaborative research on teacher inquiry. Dr. Lytle is also the founding director of the Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP), a teacher collaborative project with the School District of Philadelphia. PhilWP has been the primary site of her research, for which she has received a number of major grants, including one from the Spencer Foundation on teacher inquiry and the epistemology of teaching and another from the Spencer and MacArthur Foundations for professional development and teacher leadership in urban secondary schools.

Committed to improving the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of education, including colleges and universities, Dr. Lytle has published widely on literacy and urban teacher education. She has worked closely with urban K–12 teachers, community college/university faculty, and adult educators to design and implement a variety of inquiry-based collaborative field-university projects focused on issues of literacy, culture, pedagogy, and social justice. Her co-authored book, Inside/Outside: Teacher Research and Knowledge (Teachers College Press, 1993), received the AACTE Outstanding Professional Writing Award in 1995. Dr. Lytle is a past president of the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy and of the NCTE Assembly on Research. In 2011, she and Marilyn Cochran-Smith received the David Imig Award for Distinguished Research in Teacher Education from AACTE.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Lytle’s research interests include the professional development of teachers, literacy learning in adolescence and adulthood, teacher leadership, the literacies of women, and practitioner inquiry. Her work concerns the relationships of inquiry, professional knowledge and practice; critical and feminist theory, research, and pedagogy; teacher networks; and school/university partnerships. She has recently completed a study of teaching and teacher leadership in urban secondary schools with a grant from the Spencer-MacArthur Foundations. She is co-editor of the Practitioner Inquiry Series of Teachers College Press. Dr. Lytle is currently working on a co-authored book with seven RWL graduate students tentatively entitled Inventing What We Desire: Critical Inquiry into the Literacies of Teaching and Learning in Graduate School.

Selected Publications

Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. L.: Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation. \{Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation}. New York: Teachers College Press, 2009.

Lytle, S. L., Portnoy, D., Waff, W., & Buckley, M. : Teacher research in urban Philadelphia: Twenty years working within, against, and beyond the system. Educational Action Research 17(1): 23-42, 2009.

Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. L.: Teacher Research as Stance. Handbook of Educational Action Research. B. Somekh and S. Noffke (eds.). SAGE, Page: 39-49, 2009.

Lytle, S. L.: At Last: Practitioner Inquiry and the Practice of Teaching: Some Thoughts on "Better" Research in the Teaching of English 42(3), 2008.

Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. L.: Everything’s ethics: Practitioner inquiry and university culture. An ethical approach to practitioner inquiry. A. Campbell & S. Groundwater-Smith (eds.). London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. L.: Troubling Images of Teachers and Teaching in No Child Left Behind. Harvard Educational Review 76(4), 2006.

Lytle, S. L.: The Literacies of Teaching Urban Adolescents In These Times. Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescents’ Lives. 2nd Edition. D. Alvermann (eds.). Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006.

Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. L.: Practitioner Inquiry, Knowledge, and University Culture. International Handbook of Research in Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices. J. Loughran, et al (eds.). Kluwer Publishers, 2004.

Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. L.: Teacher Learning Communities. Encyclopedia of Education 2nd Edition. J. Guthrie (eds.). New York: Macmillan, 2002.

Gold, E., Rhodes, A. Brown, S. Lytle, S.: “Clients, Consumers, or Colaborators? Parents and their Roles in School Reform During Children Achieveing. 1995-2000." Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, August 2001.