I aim to teach in ways that provoke my students to think more deeply and critically about issues in education. I am concerned that what they learn connects to their backgrounds and interests and gives them a sense of new possibilities.
Marilyn Parsons

Dr. Parsons was a classroom teacher for 12 years in California and Utah teaching in public and alternative programs. Since receiving her PhD she has taught at 3 universities, The University of Utah, The Ohio State University, and now UIUC.

Key Professional Appointments

Professor Curriculum & Instruction, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2005 - present

Department Head Curriculum & Instruction, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2005 - 2006

Professor Integrated Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University, 1999 - 2004

Section Head Integrated Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University, 1998 - 2001

Associate Professor Integrated Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University, 1991 - 1999

Assistant Professor Integrated Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University, 1988 - 1991

Visiting Professor Teacher Education, Michigan State University, 1987 - 1988

Associate Professor Curriculum & Instruction, University of Utah, 1986 - 1988

Assistant Professor Curriculum & Instruction, University of Utah, 1979 - 1986


Ph.D., Cultural Foundations, University of Utah, 1997

M.A., Education, California State University, Long Beach, 1969

B.A., Elementary Education, California State University, Long Beach, 1964

Research & Service

Dr. Parson’s current research includes a self-study of the recent pilot implementation of the edTPA from the point of view of the instructors teaching in the elementary/middle school program. She has also just completed a cross-cultural study of how global perspectives are included in social studies program in South Korea, Turkey, and the U.S. Her research interests include educational reform related to teacher education and social studies education particularly related to issues of social justice and diversity. She is also interested in collaborative research methodologies, urban education, and action/teacher research and self-study/narrative inquiry. Recently Dr. Parsons published 2 books with teachers: one describes the ways in which learning successes happened daily in a an urban school that was labeled "failing" by its test scores, and a second book, a 15-year longitudinal study of an experimental PDS teacher education program.


Amalia, S., Johnson, D., Shin, Y., Shen, W., Swanson, J., & Johnston-Parsons, M. (2015) Dialogue in narrative inquiry. International handbook of interpretation in educational reearch methods Springer

Cronenberg, S., Harrison, D., Jones, A., Korson, S., Murray, N., Parrish, M., & Parsons, M. (2016) Trouble with the edTPA: Sliding from teaching to preparing for the test Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education 8 (1), n/a  link >

Johnston-Parsons, M. (2010) Focus on Policy: Dreaming of collaboration Language Arts 87 (4), 287-295

Christenson, M., Kerper, R., Boyd, B., Lynch, C., Dyer, J., Green, P., al, e., & Johnston-Parsons, M. (2009) Doctoral students as boundary spanners: Complexity and ambiguity for university supervisors within an M.Ed./PDS project School-University Partnerships 2 (1), 84-95

Johnston-Parsons, M., Lee, Y., & Thomas, J. (2007) Students of color as cultural consultants: A self-study of race and social justice issues in a teacher education program Studying Teaching Education 3 (1), 67-84

Johnston-Parsons, M., Wilson, M., Bernardi, J., Bowling, M., Karl, M., Lloyd, E., McCualsky, M., & al, e. (2007) Success stories from a failing school: Teachers living under the shadow of NCLB.. Information Age: Charlotte, NC

Johnston, M., & Parsons, M. (2006) The mirror and the lamp: Action research and self studies in the social studies. Research methods in social studies education: Contemporary issues and perspectives Information Age: New York

Saud, U., Johnston, M., & Parsons, M. (2006) Cross-cultural influences of educational reform: A case study of Indonesian teacher education Journal of Education for Teaching 32 (1), 3-20

Johnston, M., Thomas, M., & Parsons, M. (2005) The benefits and burdens of ETS portfolio evaluation on early career principals in Ohio. Educational Administration Quarterly 43 (4-5), 368-386

Griffin, M., Bass, L., Johnston, M., Perselli, V., & Parsons, M. (2004) Knowledge, social justice and self study. The international handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices Kluwer Academic: Dordrecht, The Netherlands

Johnston, M., & Parsons, M. (2001) Constructing ourselves: An evolving philosophy in the Open Classroom. Learning together: Children and adults in a school community Oxford University Press: New York

Johnston, M., Christenson, M., Norris, J., & Parsons, M. (2001) Teaching together: School/university collaboration in the social studies.. National Council for the Social Studies: Washington, DC

Johnston, M., Brosnan, P., Cramer, D., Dove, T., & Parsons, M. (2000) Collaborative reform and other improbable dreams: Professional development schools at The Ohio State University.. SUNY Press: New York

Johnston, M., & Parsons, M. (1997) Contradictions in collaboration: New thinking on school/university partnerships.. Teachers College Press: New York


Learning to teach or teaching to the test: Crossing the line with the edTPA (2016).: Las Vegas, NE.

Narrative Dialogue and Teacher Leadership for Social Justice: Re-Storying to Understand (2012). Fifth Annual Congress of Qualitative Inquiry: Urbana-Champaign.

Teacher Leadership for Social Justice (2012). Fifth Annual Congress of Qualitative Inquiry: Urbana Champaign.


Principal Investigator US/Indonesia Teacher Education Consortium (USINTEC) Workshops, National Science Foundation (Ohio State University), 2007 - 2008


Member of journal editorial board Inquiry in Education, 2009 - 2012

member, Board, John Dewey Society SIG within AERA, John Dewey Society, 2006 - 2009


Dr. Parsons taught for 12 years in K-6 grades in California and Utah. She taught in a elementary school in Pomona, California with a large Hispanic population. In Utah she taught one year in the public schools and then was the first teacher in an Free School, The Thoreau School, which is now (35 years later) a Charter School in Salt Lake City. A book written about the school's development, Learning Together, was published in 1998. After receiving a PhD in Cultural Foundations at the University of Utah, she has taught at the University of Utah, Ohio State University, and now UIUC.


Tchg Elem Social Studies Course examines the nature and role of social studies in elementary schools, both in terms of the formal curriculum and of the impact of the school as a social system on children's social learning. Examines multiple approaches to what should be experienced and learned in social studies as well as the nature of social inquiry. Various instructional methods emphasizing direct experiences as well as reading are emphasized. Local, state, and national trends in curriculum and evaluation are addressed. Students engage in social inquiry, as well as develop, implement, and evaluate an action research project focusing in depth on a particular practice of social education. Course Information: 3 undergraduate hours. 3 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Admission to the Elementary Teacher Education Program.

Soc Stu as Action and Inquiry This course continues the application of methods and content knowledge from CI 448 and will use an inquiry approach to study classrooms and school communities. Students will learn about teacher action research and begin planning an implement classroom inquiry in their teaching, first as a small pilot project and then a more extensive study connected with EdTPA assignments. The continuing themes of active citizenship, diversity, equity, and professional practices will guide learning and action research planning. Course Information: 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Admission to the Elementary Teacher Education Program.

Marilyn Parsons

Professor, Curriculum & Instruction



319 Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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