Friday, August 01, 2014

Five Minutes With Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar

Tags: faculty, five minutes, palincsar

Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar

This is the latest installment of “Five Minutes With…” Everyone at the School of Education has interesting stories to tell, whether those stories are about their work, their travels, their hobbies or their home life. “Five Minutes With…” provides snapshots into the lives of our faculty and staff. If you know someone who would make a great subject for a future “Five Minutes With…” please contact Dan Bodene at

Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar’s research focuses on the design of learning environments that support self-regulation in learning activity, especially for children who experience difficulty learning in school; she has studied how children use literacy in the context of guided inquiry science instruction, what types of text support children's inquiry, and what support students who are identified as atypical learners require to be successful in this instruction. She has investigated the use of a hypermedia tool (called EASE-C) to support bringing to scale knowledge and practice regarding text comprehension instruction. She has studied the role of computer-assisted instruction in enhancing children's understanding of subject-matter text and web-based text. Palincsar has served as a member of the National Academy’s Research Council on the Prevention of Reading Difficulty in Young Children, the OERI/RAND Reading Study Group, the National Research Council’s Panel on Teacher Preparation, the National Education Goals Panel, and the National Advisory Board to Children's Television Workshop. She was co-editor of the journal Cognition and Instruction. She completed her doctorate at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

What was the most interesting research you’ve done?
I am so lucky because any research I am doing that brings me into classrooms is the most interesting research I do, and I typically do classroom-based, instructional research.

What’s the most underrated place on campus?
The stacks in the libraries.

Name two essential items in your briefcase/backpack/handbag.
(1) My list of “things to do” (yes, I still do this on paper), and (2) lip gloss.

Where would you take an out-of-town visitor?
To Gallup Park.

Biggest change you’ve seen on campus since you’ve been here?
The change in the amount of green space.

What’s your strategy for dealing with Ann Arbor traffic?
Don’t leave the school until the rush half-hour is over.

Best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Every June my partner, Bill, and I go to a place called Eatons Ranch and ride horses in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. That is my favorite place. It is a place where time has stood still and there is nothing but beauty and quiet.

Favorite place for lunch on campus or in town?
I don’t eat lunch very often, but I have really been enjoying Aventura for dinners.

Who was the most influential mentor you've ever had?
I studied with a remarkable developmental psychologist named Ann Brown. She had a tremendous influence on my way of thinking about research and being an academic. She opened a number of doors for me and I try, in my own way, to open doors for my students. But, since that time, I have been extremely fortunate to have collaborated with a number of wonderful colleagues – most recently, Linda Kucan (from the University of Pittsburgh), Betsy Davis and Mary Schleppegrell (from the School of Education).

Have you ever had a superstar student who went on to great national or international success?
I have had fabulous students at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. Among my former students are: movers and shakers who have disrupted “business as usual,” endowed professors, accomplished writers and editors, and outstanding teachers who change lives every day.

What is it about teaching that gives you the most satisfaction?
Wrestling with complex ideas or problems that have no easy answer; the honest exchange of ideas with my students; the joy of experiencing student growth.

What's the biggest difference you see in today's students that wasn't apparent when you first started teaching?
Today’s students are committed to the possibilities that education affords in the attainment of equity and social justice.

What's the number one reason you chose your particular area of expertise/research?
I believe that I study text comprehension because I love to read. Even as a beginning teacher, I was saddened by the numbers of my students who did not like to read because it was so challenging for them. I study ways to teach comprehension; I design innovative forms of text that might be engaging for students (such as digital texts); and I study innovative ways of using text.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working (hobbies, etc.)?
I do needlepoint (it takes me about three years to finish one project), cook and bake (especially high calorie foods), read literature that is beautifully written, walk (quickly), and enjoy time with my daughter, Danielle, and son-in-law, Brandon.

Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar is Chair, Educational Studies, Professor of Education; Jean and Charles Walgreen Professor of Reading and Literacy; Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

Within This Section

News by Topic