Dawn Abt-Perkins

Dawn Abt-Perkins

Professor of Education

Dean of the Faculty


Secondary Education
Teacher Education
Multicultural Education
English Language Arts Education
Secondary Reading Instruction


Multicultural Literacy
Teacher Development
Professional Development for Teachers in High-Needs Schools


PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison, Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in English composition theory
MS University of Wisconsin-Madison, Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in writing instruction
BS University of Wisconsin-Madison, Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in English education

Courses Taught

First-Year Studies 171:  Examining Educational Equity
English/ Education 232:  Teaching Writing
Biology 209/Education 209:  Biology and the Learning Process, co-taught with Associate Professor of Biology Karen Kirk
Education 210:  Observing the Schooling Process
Education 215: Instructional Communication Theory and Practice
Education 306:  Middle School Internship and Seminar
Education 313: Reading in the Content Areas
Education 315: Middle School Fieldwork and Seminar
Education 418:  Elementary Student Teaching Seminar
Education 420: Discipline-Specific Secondary Instructional Design
Education 421: Student Teaching and Secondary Seminar


Greene, S. and Abt-Perkins, D. (Eds.) (2003).  Making Race Visible:  Literacy Research for Racial Understanding.  Teachers College Press, New York, NY.

An excerpt from her latest publication

A forward to Cultural Relevant Pedagogy: Exploring and Negotiating Tensions edited by Lisa Scherff and Karen Spector, in press

Inspiration is difficult to find in schools that are underfunded, in communities that have been ravaged by deindustrialization, in families that face mounting economic and emotional pressures. We all need to be reading research that inspires us to think through the questions and issues that most influence our work in these communities, with these children and families, and within these classrooms….With few exceptions have we been allowed inside the classrooms and the minds of teachers who are at work with this theory, molding it to fit their particular circumstances.

There are even fewer cases of teacher educators working within a self-reflexive framework on issues of cultural responsiveness. None have addressed the moral, ethical, and political dilemmas of this work while, at the same time, exploring the theoretical dimensions of culturally responsive pedagogical theory. By allowing the reader to enter into their critical reflections on their practice, the authors in this volume inspire us to engage in similar critical processes and theoretical exploration. 

And from my most recent professional development project:  Science and Math Learning Communities, published in the Center for Success in High Needs Schools Journal.

When I first started to work with middle school math and science teachers on the shortage of women in math- and science-oriented careers, the middle school teachers said: “That’s not our problem. Girls do better than boys in our classes on everything from homework to quiz and test grades. They aim to please. If girls are choosing not to pursue careers in math and science fields, that is a matter of choice, not a matter for instructional reform.”

On the other hand, the college professors with whom I worked were concerned. They saw the young women in their classes dropping their courses at the first unexpectedly low grade, not coming to office hours or tutorial sessions, and, in general, not persisting in major fields of study leading to engineering or math careers. These professors — a majority of whom are female — were perplexed by this phenomenon. Obviously, the role of the professor as female role model was not enough to encourage women to persist in these disciplines. Clearly, between middle school and college, something disturbing was happening that needed to be better understood to support girls in math and science. And, just as clearly, we were not sure what could be done about this problem by initiating instructional change. What, if anything, was happening in middle school and college classrooms that was working against girls moving ahead to math and science careers?

Grant-Funded Projects

Alumni Mentorship Project, 2009-currently.  Grant from the Associated Colleges of Illinois Center for Success in High Needs Schools, $2,500 annually to support new teachers in high-needs schools and engage in reflective assessment of the design of teacher education programs in small, liberal arts colleges for high-needs school environments.

Science and Math Learning Collaborative.  October, 2007-2010.  Grant from the Associated Colleges of Illinois Center for Success in High Needs Schools ($40,000 annually for three years) through Illinois Board of Higher Education to support the development of  gender-conscious teacher education programming for middle school teachers.

Linking Learning Communities:  New Teacher Leadership Project. Part of the Associated Colleges of Illinois, Center for Success in High Needs Schools.  United States Department of Education Teacher Quality Grant, 2004-2009.  Project Director ($750,000 for five years).

A Model Collaboration:  Rethinking American History.  United States Department of Education, 2001-2003, with Professor Michael Ebner, Associate Professor Rachel Ragland, Dean of Faculty Janet McCracken and Waukegan Schools administration.

Elected Positions and Appointments

Associate Dean of the Faculty for Student Success, 2017 to present.

Director, Writing Programs, Lake Forest College, 2007 to 2017.

Research in the Teaching of English, Editorial Board, 2010 to present.

Nominating Committee, National Council of Teachers of English, 2008.

Chair, Conference on English Education of the National Council of Teachers of English and Executive Board member, 2002-2005.

Chair, College Forum of the National Council of Teachers of English, 2001.

Associate Chair, Research Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English, 1997-99; 2005-07.

Faculty Personnel Policies Committee, Lake Forest College, 1998, 2000-2003.

Awards and Honors

Meade Award, National Council of Teachers of English, for distinguished research in English language arts and teacher education, 2003, with Stuart Greene. 

Distinguished Paper Award, American Educational Research Association, Instructional Supervision Special Interest Group, 1998

Hotchkiss Fellowship, Lake Forest College, Fall, 1997.

A.S. Barr Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992-1993

Carrie R. Barton Memorial Award in English Education, Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison, 1991-1992

Supervisor, Student Teacher of the Year, Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English, 1991

American Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation Journalism Award, 1989

Dow Jones Fellowship for Promising Journalism Teachers, 1988

Articles and Book Chapters

Abt-Perkins, D. (2010). Making the invisible visible: Professors and middle school teachers study classroom climate issues to address the persistence of girls in math and science fields of study.  Associated Colleges of Illinois Center For Success in High Needs Schools Journal.

Abt-Perkins, D. (2011).  Looking for a little inspiration.  In Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Clashes and Confrontations, edited by Lisa Scherff and Karen Spector. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Pettengill, R., Abt-Perkins, D., Buckley, S. and Babock, K. (2010). Teaching difficult dramatic texts:  A Collaborative Inquiry Using Dramaturgy.  English Journal.

Abt-Perkins, D. (2009). Finding Common Ground: Conditions for Effective Collaborative Professional Development For Professors  of History to Teach Middle and High School Teachers.   In R. Ragland and K. Woestman (Eds.), The Teaching American History Project:   Lessons for Historians and History Educators.  Routledge. 

Ragland, R., Pettengill, R. and Abt-Perkins, D. (2008).  Dimensions of Collaborative Faculty Development.  Academic Exchange Quarterly, 12 (4).

Abt-Perkins, D. (2008).  Learning to Speak the Same Language:  Collaboration between arts and science and teacher education professors on assessment of teacher candidates.  Center for Success in High Needs Schools Journal.

Dudley-Marling, C., Abt-Perkins, D., Kyoko, S., and Selfe, R. (2006).  Teacher quality:  The perspectives of NCTE members.  English Education.  38, (3).

Sherman, S.,Abt-Perkins, D. and Rosswurn, S. (2005).  Finding Home:  Preparing Pre Service Teachers for High Needs Schools.  Center for Success in High Needs School Journal.  Associated Colleges of Illinois, Chicago, IL.

Ebner, M., Ragland, R. and Abt-Perkins, D. (2003).  Teaching American history:  A report from the field.  Organization of American Historians Newsletter, 31, 1.

Abt-Perkins, D. (2002).  Reports from the states:  Illinois.  English Education, 34 (2), 156.
Abt-Perkins, D. and Hauschildt, P. and Dale, H.(2000)  Becoming Multicultural Supervisors:  Lessons from a Collaborative Field Study.  Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 16,1,1218-48.
Abt-Perkins, D. and Rosen, L.M. (2000). Preparing English teachers to teach students of color: Beliefs, challenges, proposals for change. English Education, 32,4, 251-267.

Abt-Perkins, D., Dale, H., and Hauschildt, P. (1998).  Letters of intent:  Collaborative self-study as reform in teacher education.  In A. Cole and G. Knowles (Eds.), The Heart of the Matter: Teacher Education Reform Perspectives and Possibilities. Caddo Gap Press.

Abt-Perkins, D., Hauschildt, P. and Dale, H. (1998). Critical pedagogy in process: A collaborative self-study.  Teaching Education, 9, 2, 101-107.

Abt-Perkins, D., and Hightower, D. (1998).  Designing liberal arts teacher  education to attract students of color.  Views and News.  Association of  Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education, 10, (2), 14-17.

Abt-Perkins, D. (1996).  Teaching diverse learners in a middle school writing workshop.  In F. Rios, (Ed.), Teacher Thinking in Multicultural Contexts, Albany, NY:  State University of New York Press.

Gomez, M.L. & Abt-Perkins, D. (1995).  Sharing stories for practice, analysis, and critique. Education Research and Perspectives, 22, (1), 39-52.

Abt-Perkins, D. (1995).  Are you calling her a racist?:  Language, context, and the struggle to better understand conflicts concerning race.  Women and Language, 18, (1), 25-30.

Smith, M. W. & Abt-Perkins, D. (1994)  Preservice teacher education.  In A .C. Purves (Ed.),  Encyclopedia of English Language Arts, pp. 945-948. Urbana, IL:  National Council of Teachers of English.

Abt-Perkins, D. & Pagnucci, G. (1993).  From tourist to storyteller:  Reading and writing science.  In S. Tchudi (Ed.), The Astonishing Curriculum:  Integrating Science and Humanities through Language,  Urbana, IL:  National Council of Teachers of English.

Abt-Perkins, D. & Gomez, M .L. (1993).   A Good place to begin:  Examining our personal perspectives.  Language Arts, 70, (3), 193-204.

Abt-Perkins, D. (1992) From alienation to authorship:  Creating a writing community for high school basic writers.  Journal of Teaching Writing,  11, (1). 

Pagnucci, G. & Abt-Perkins, D. (1992) The Never making sense story:  Reassessing the value of narrative. English Journal, 81, (3).