Main Menu Summer 2013

Mark Dressman

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Language and Literacy Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, 1994
  • M.A., Curriculum Development, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1981
  • B.A., English and Psychology, Thomas More College, Crestview Hills, KY, 1977

Key Professional Appointments

  • Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011-present
  • Associate Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003-2011
  • Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, University of Houston, 1997-1999
  • Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, New Mexico State University, 1994-1997

Activities & Honors

  • Co-Editor, Research in the Teaching of English, National Council of Teachers of English, 2007-2013
  • Dean's Prize for Breakthrough Initiatives in Teaching, College of Education, 2011
  • Chair, Early Career Research Award Committee, National Reading Conference, 2006-2009
  • Member, Editoral Board, Research in the Teaching of English, 2003-2008
  • Area 6 Co-Chair, Adolescent, College, and Adult Literacy Processes, National Reading Conference, 2004-2006
  • Book Review Editor, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 2002-2006

Research Statement

My research investigates the underlying cultural, semiotic, economic, and historical assumptions that shape research and practice in education across a wide range of textual modes. The goal of this research is to refine and improve current practice and programs in curriculum and teaching.

I am currently working on two research projects. The first focuses on uses of computer-mediated communication and service-learning projects to advance transcultural exchange between pre-service secondary teachers in the US and students in international universities. I also take students from the secondary education program on a service-learning trip to a high school on the Navajo Nation each winter. A second more theoretically oriented project is to develop and test an approach to the semiotic analysis of multimodal texts that relies principally on the semiotic theory of Charles Sanders Peirce, with reference to Saussurean theories at fully symbolic levels.

I am also co-editor (with Sarah McCarthey and Paul Prior) of <i>Research in the Teaching of English</i> (2008-2013) and was lead editor for a project commemorating 100 years of research by NCTE (Vol. 45, No. 2).

Recently completed projects have focused on the history of poetry education in the US and its implications for teaching poetry performatively in middle and lower-level high school classrooms, and a study of how social theory frames current qualitative educational research. I have also completed a series of case studies of students with a long history of struggle in school that questions three theories of school failure, and another study focusing on computer technology and struggling adolescent readers. I have examined the individualism of reading and writing workshop approaches, the historical and cultural roots of librarianship and their impact on elementary students of different genders, social classes, and cultural backgrounds, the political and instructional implications of the Whole Language movement, and the cultural and theoretical assumptions underlying phonemic awareness research and its citation within state and federal reading policies.


  • Principal Investigator, Hardie Collaborative Stipend: Religion, Race and Language in Global Context: A Proposal for Collaborative Undergraduate Ethnographic Research, Bureau of Educational Research, 2007-2008
  • Principal Investigator, Using Technology to Enhance Achievement in Math, Science, and Literacy: A Middle School-University Partnership, Hewlett-Packard, 2001-2003
  • Principal Investigator, Reading the Lives and Literacies of Disenfranchised, Disaffected Youth, Campus Research Board, 2000-2001

Select Publications

  • Dressman, M., Faust, M. Lessons from the history of poetry education in one journal, 1912-2005: Does history matter? Journal of Literacy Research.
  • Dressman, M., Faust, M., , . On the teaching of poetry in English Journal, 1912-2005: Does history matter? . Journal of Literacy Research, 29.
  • Journell, W., Dressman, M., Babock, A., Weatherup, N., Makhoukh, A. (2013). “Toward technology-mediated transcultural education: Learning from a discussion of politics and culture between American and Moroccan students.” International Journal of Social Education, 24(2), 169-192.
  • Dressman, M. (2013). Beyond disbelief: A confessional tale of religion, technology, and academic conceit. , 255-274.
  • Dressman, M., Journell, A., Mann, J. (2012). Teacher education: Qualitative research approaches. Handbook of qualitative research in education. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited: Cheltenham, Glos, UK.
  • Dressman, M., McCarthey, S. (2011). Toward a pragmatics of epistemology, methodology, and other people's theories in literacy research. Literacy research methodologies. Guilford Press: New York.
  • Dressman, M. (2010). Let's poem: The essential guide to teaching poetry in a high-stakes, multimodal world. Teachers College Press: New York.
  • Dressman, M. (2008). Using social theory in educational research: A practical guide. Routledge: London.
  • Dressman, M. (2007). Theoretically framed: Argument and desire in the production of general knowledge about literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 42, 332-363.
  • Wilder, P., Dressman, M. (2006). New literacies, enduring challenges? The role of capital in adolescent readers' internet practices. Reconceptualizing the literacies in adolescents' lives. Erlbaum: Mahwah, NJ.
  • Dressman, M. (2006). Teacher, teach thyself: Teacher research as gendered ethnographic practice. Ethnography, 7(3), 329-356.
  • Dressman, M., Wilder, P., Connor, J. (2005). Theories of failure and the failure of theories: A cognitive/sociocultural/macrostructural study of eight struggling students. Research in the Teaching of English, 40, 8-61.
  • McCarthey, S., Dressman, M. (2004). Toward a pragmatics of epistemology, methodology, and other people's theories in literacy research. Literacy research methods. Guilford Press: New York.
  • Dressman, M. (2004). Dewey and Bakhtin in dialogue: From Rosenblatt to a pedagogy of literature as social, aesthetic practice. Bakhtinian perspectives on language and literacy education. University Press: Cambridge, UK.

In The News