Professional Biography

Dr. Sharon M. Ravitch is a Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, where she is a Founding Co-Director of Penn’s Inter-American Educational Leadership Network and serves as the Principal Investigator of two multi-year applied development research initiatives, one in Nicaragua and one in India. 

Ravitch has published five books: Qualitative Research: Bridging the Conceptual, Theoretical, and Methodological (with Nicole Carl, Sage Publications, 2016); Reason and Rigor: How Conceptual Frameworks Guide Research (with Matthew Riggan, Sage Publications, 2012, 2016); School Counseling Principles: Diversity and Multiculturalism (American School Counselor Association Press, 2006) and Matters of Interpretation: Reciprocal Transformation in Therapeutic and Developmental Relationships with Youth (with Michael Nakkula, Jossey-Bass, 1998). Ravitch is currently working on two book projects. The first, with Dr. Venkatesh Kumar, is entitled: Mainstreaming CSR for development: Participation as policy reform in India. The second, with Nicole Carl, is entitled Breaking the Numbers Tyranny: Qualitative Research in Education Leadership, Practice, and Policy.

Ravitch holds two master’s degrees from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology and Education, and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in an interdisciplinary program that combined education, anthropology, and sociology.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Ravitch’s research integrates the fields of qualitative research, education, international development, cultural anthropology, and human development, and has four main strands: (1) Practitioner research as a means to engendering sustainable professional and institutional development, change, and innovation; (2) International applied development research that works from participatory, action, and applied ethnographic research approaches (projects currently in the U.S., Nicaragua, and India); (3) Ethnographic and participatory evaluation and assessment; and (4) Leader education and professional development.

Dr. Ravitch’s research in institutional ethnography and practice-based inquiry is grounded in her experiences working with a range of educational practitioners, not-for-profit and non-governmental organization leaders, and business leaders across these various domains, fields, and content areas.

Ravitch has the distinct honor of being designated as a GIAN Scholar of the Government of India.  Ravitch has received a Fulbright Fellowship, through the CIES Fulbright Specialist Roster, to engage in research and applied development work in India. Ravitch engages in a range of applied research projects in India, serving as a Visiting Faculty at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, working as a co-researcher and key resource expert in policy advocacy, professional development, and research on issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) through TISS’s CSR Hub. She is involved in the development and implementation of assessment and evaluation of statewide performance through mixed methods research in the Ministry of Human Resource Development's major policy initiative, Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), a countrywide reform initiative aimed to revive and resurrect India’s state public university system. As a part of this broader work, Ravitch collaborated in the final phase of the Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative Grant on Higher Education for the project “Capitalizing the Demographic Dividend: Talent Development in India and the U.S.” She is also involved as an expert advisor at the Center for Academic Leadership and Education Management at TISS, which provides professional development and policy advocacy support to school education leaders across the country. She is working in the Center’s capacity-building program and collaboratively developing case studies for the higher education sector through her expertise in participatory research.


Ph.D. (Education, Culture, and Society) University of Pennsylvania, 2000

Ed.M. (Human Development and Psychology) Harvard University, 1995

Ed.M. (Risk and Prevention) Harvard University, 1994

B.A. (Religion and Women’s Studies) Temple University, 1993 

Areas of Expertise

Qualitative research

Participatory action research and participatory evaluation

Practitioner research

Applied international development research (community and institutional)

Resource-oriented, sustainable leader and organizational capacity building

Equity, diversity, and communication in organizations

Courses Taught

EDUC 545: Fieldwork and Mentoring

EDUC 545: Qualitative Research Design

EDUC 579: Intercultural Communication and Miscommunication

EDUC 621: Doctoral Proseminar in Professional Education

EDUC 664: Participatory Educational Research in Global Perspective: Theory and Practice

EDUC 665: Research on Teaching

EDUC 668: Master’s Research Seminar

EDUC 672: Qualitative Modes of Inquiry

EDUC 690: Advanced Professional Development in School & Mental Health Counseling

EDUC 699: Race and Cultural Issues in Urban Education (Teach for America)

EDUC 701: Advanced Research Methods (Executive Program in Workplace Learning and Performance Leadership)

EDUC 703: Advanced Qualitative and Case Study Research

EDUC 801: Qualitative Research Methods (Mid-Career Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program)

EDUC 802: Research Proposal and Instrument Design (Mid-Career Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program)

Selected Publications

Kumar, B.V. & Ravitch, S.M. (2018). “The Demographic Dividend: Enhancing Youth Skills, Knowledge, Capital, and Networks towards Sustainable Possibility Development in India. Nakkula, M.J. & Schneider-Munoz, A. (2018). Adolescent psychology worldwide: Global perspectives on risks, relationships, and development. Connecticut: Praeger.

Ravitch, S. M., & Riggan, M. (2017). Reason & rigor: How conceptual frameworks guide research (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Qualitative research: Bridging the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Ravitch, S.M. & Lytle, S. (2016). “Becoming practitioner-scholars: The role of practice-based inquiry dissertations in the development of educational leaders.” In V. Storey & K. Hesbol, (Eds.). (2016). Contemporary approaches to dissertation development and research methods. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Ravitch, S. M. (2014). The transformative power of taking an inquiry stance on practice: Practitioner research as narrative and counter-narrative. Perspectives on Urban Education, 11(1).

Schultz, K., & Ravitch, S. M. (2013). Narratives of learning to teach: Taking on professional identities. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(1), 35–46.

Ravitch, S. M., & Tillman, C. (2010). Collaboration as a site of personal and institutional transformation: Thoughts from inside a cross-national alliance. Perspectives on Urban Education, 8(1).

Ravitch, S. M. (2009, November). Tapping into research for innovation. [Special issue]. Chief Learning Officer, 8(11).

Ravitch, S. M. (2009). El sentido las metodologías de la investigación cualitativa para terapeutas familiares: Una introducción [The Meanings and Methods of Qualitative Research for Family Therapists: An Introduction]. In S. M. Ravitch (Ed.), Metodología de la investigación cualitativa [Qualitative research methods: A reader]. Quito, Ecuador: Centro Integral de la Familia. 

Ravitch, S. M., & Wirth, K. (2007). Collaborative development of a pedagogy of opportunity for urban students: Navigations and negotiations in insider action research. Journal of Action Research, 5(1), 75–91.

Ravitch, S. M. (2006). School counseling principles: Multiculturalism and diversity. Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor Association Press.

Ravitch, S. M. (2005). Pluralism, power and politics: Discourses of diverse pedagogies and pedagogies of diversity. In J. Shultz & N. Peters-Davis (Eds.), Challenges of multicultural education: Teaching and taking diversity courses. St. Paul, MN: Paradigm.

Nakkula, M. J., & Ravitch, S. M. (1998). Matters of interpretation: Reciprocal transformation in therapeutic and developmental relationships with youth. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.