LeChase Hall, Box 270425, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627 (585) 210-9754

Research in Progress

With partial funding from the Spencer Foundation and a year-long sabbatical, Dr. Joanne Larson began a long-term ethnography on the UR/East EPO in 2014 and continues today. Ethnography is characterized by prolonged engagement and participation in the everyday life of a setting. Data collection includes participant observation in which field notes are the primary data collection method. In depth interviews are recorded and transcribed. Documents produced by people in the setting are collected, including digital products. School wide demographic, attendance, and achievement data are also collected.

After recruiting 25 teachers and administrators as study participants, Larson began a rigorous observation and interview schedule. During spring 2016, she co-taught with three of her teacher participants in a 9th grade English class and videotaped regularly. While the study is ongoing, the current data corpus includes field notes of participant observation in classrooms, leadership and staff meetings, hallways, cafeterias, auditoriums, full day shadowing of key participants, and a co-teaching experience in a 9th grade English class (~250), formal (~25) and informal interviews (~200) of officially consented study participants (N=25), school wide administrative data, emails (~3800), documents (including lesson and unit plans, newspaper articles, meeting minutes, etc.) (~1000), video of the co-teaching classroom (~24 hours), research and teaching memos (~40), photographs, and surveys of teachers, staff, students, and families.

In ethnography, data analysis occurs during the study and is ongoing throughout. Currently, five strands of analysis have emerged: 1) distributed leadership, 2) critical literacy, 3) methodology, 4) the partnership itself, and 5) the role of sarcasm in pedagogy. This work in progress is reflected in conference presentations or manuscripts for submission to journals.

See Dr. Larson’s Year One full ethnography report here.


Larson, J. & Morris, T. (in progress). Sarcasm as pedagogy: Using ironic speech acts in urban high school English. To be submitted to English Journal.

 This manuscript examines the role of sarcasm in teaching English in high school. Using humor and sarcasm is often discouraged in teacher education programs or in professional learning workshops. However, we found that this teacher’s use of sarcasm served key functions in developing authentic, trusting relationships and in fulfilling the teacher’s instructional goal of building critical thinking in his students.