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Portrait of Peter Smagorinsky

Contact Information

Office Location

110 Carlton Street
Athens, Georgia 30602

Social Media



Degree Concentration Institution Year
B.A. English Literature Kenyon College 1974
M.A.T. English Education University of Chicago 1977
Ph.D. English Education University of Chicago 1989

Awards and Accolades

Year Award From
2014 Steve Witte Award presented to a senior scholar who has made significant contributions to research in the area of writing and literacies through a particular academic work or body of work that has contributed significantly to scholarship in the area of writing and literacies, for Vygotsky and literacy research: A methodological framework. Special Interest Group in Writing and Literacies of the American Educational Research Association
2014 2014: UGA Service-Learning Research Excellence Award for Service-Learning in Literacy Education: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning. University of Georgia Office of Service-Learning
2013 David H. Russell Research Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English for an outstanding work of scholarship or research in language, literature, rhetoric, or pedagogy and learning, published during the previous five years National Council of Teachers of English
2012 2012: Sylvia Scribner Award, to recognize a current program of scholarship by a Division C member that has significantly influenced thinking and research of learning and instruction and that represents a significant advancement in the field's understanding. Division C of the American Educational Research Association
2009 Edward B. Fry Book Award, awarded for the book published within the last five years that most outstandingly advances knowledge about literacy, displays inquiry into literacy, and shows responsible intellectual risk taking, presented for Handbook of Adolescent Literacy Research. National Reading Conference
2009 Russell H. Yeany, Jr., Research Award UGA College of Education
2008 Distinguished Research Award, presented for "Student Engagement in the Teaching and Learning of Grammar: A Case Study of an Early Career Secondary English Teacher" Association of Teacher Educators
2003 Janet Emig Award for the article published in English Education that most contributes to the field's thinking about English teacher education and most informs the field's research. Presented by the for "Acquiescence, accommodation, and resistance in learning to teach within a prescribed curriculum" National Council of Teachers of English's Conference on English Education
1999 Raymond B. Cattell Early Career Award for Programmatic Research presented to recognize the scholar who has conducted the most distinguished program of cumulative educational research in any field of educational inquiry within the first decade following receipt of his or her doctoral degree. American Educational Research Association
2007 Outstanding Mentoring Award in Humanities and Fine and Applied Arts UGA Graduate School

Areas of Expertise

  • literacy teaching and learning; professional development of english/language arts teachers; methods of teaching secondary school english; mental health as issue of diversity education and inclusion;

Research Interests

  • literacy teaching and learning; professional development of english/language arts teachers; methods of teaching secondary school english; mental health as issue of diversity education and inclusion;

Research Summary

Smagorinsky's research has been unified by a sociocultural approach to understanding literacy teaching and learning grounded in the theory of L. S. Vygotsky. A major strand of his research has been the study of composing process, including written and artistic compositions, and group discussions oriented to literary interpretation and interpretive texts. These studies have prompted a strand of meta-research focused on the cultural practices involved in the collection and analysis of data. He also began studying teachers' concept development in their early-career transition from university programs to their first jobs. More recently he has begun exploring issues surrounding mental health as an issue of educational inclusion and diversity; learning processes involved in service-learning; and the discourse of character education. Throughout he has written books and articles on teaching methods, and since 2010 has begun writing short essays on education for the public.


After graduating from Kenyon College in 1974, Smagorinsky worked as a hall monitor and substitute teacher in Trenton, NJ. He began his teaching career as an English teacher in the Upward Bound/Pilot Enrichment Program in Hyde Park on Chicago's South Side, where the University of Chicago is located. He taught in UB/PEP while attending Chicago's master of arts in teaching program in English Education, studying under George Hillocks. After he received his M.A.T. in 1977, he went on to teach in several high schools outside Chicago: Westmont HS (1977-8), Barrington HS (1978–1985), and Oak Park and River Forest HS (1985–1990). He was the assistant varsity track coach for his one year at Westmont HS and the assistant sophomore basketball coach for three years at Barrington HS. A year after receiving his doctorate (awarded in 1989), Smagorinsky accepted a position as assistant professor of English Education at the University of Oklahoma. Smagorinsky moved to The University of Georgia in 1998.