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Samara Madrid Akpovo

Associate Professor, Director of the Intercultural and Classroom Culture Research Lab


Samara Madrid Akpovo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Her research has focused on the intercultural and emotional lives of adults and children in early childhood classrooms using collaborative ethnographic methods. A central theme in her research has been to challenge and deconstruct normative ways of being, feeling, and knowing with children and teachers in diverse social and cultural contexts. Her research also examines preservice teachers’ intercultural understandings and competence during online and virtual exchange programs (Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders) and international field experiences. 

Vist COLAB here 


  • Emotional lives of children and adults in early childhood classrooms
  • Peer and school cultures/classroom ethnography
  • Qualitative cross-cultural research and discourse analysis
  • Preservice teachers’ intercultural knowledge and experiences within international contexts (i.e., Nepal)


  • Ph.D., Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood Education, The Ohio State University, 2007
  • M.A., Experimental Psychology, San Jose State University, 2000
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Hawaii-Hilo, 1998

Curriculum Vitae

Awards and Recognitions

  • Frances Speight Clark Faculty Enrichment and Development Award, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, 2020 – (2,000)
  • Online and Hybrid Teaching Support Awards Program, The University of Tennessee, Teaching & Learning Innovation Center2020 - (2,250).
  • Global Catalyst Program Funding, The University of Tennessee, Center for Global Engagement, Office of Research and Engagement, 2019 - (29,997).
    • In collaboration with The University of Auckland, New Zealand, The University of Melbourne, Australia and The University of Wyoming, USA.


Selected Recent Publications:

(*Denotes graduate student or teacher practitioner) 

Arndt, S., Madrid Akpovo, S., Tesar, M., Han, T., *Huang, F. & *Halladay, M. (accepted). Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders (COLAB): Examining the intercultural understandings of preservice-teachers’ using a virtual cross-cultural university-based program. Journal of Research in Childhood Education.  

Thapa, S., & Madrid Akpovo, S. (2020). Cultural humility in an intercultural mentor-mentee relationship: Overcoming Emotional “borders and borderlands” of Nepal-mentors and US-mentees. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. doi/pdf/10.1080/02188791.2020.1848798?needAccess=true 

Lash, M., Madrid Akpovo, S. & Cushner, K. (2020). Developing the intercultural competency of early childhood preservice teachers: Preparing teachers for diverse classrooms. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. 

Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Mwangi, A. (2020). How neocolonialism and globalization affects the early childhood workforce in Nepal and Kenya. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood,

Kambutu, J., Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., Thapa, S., & *Mwangi, A. (2020). Privatization of early childhood education (ECE): Implications for social justice in Kenya and Nepal. Policy Futures in Education,  DOI:10.1177/1478210320922111

Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., & Kambutu, J. (2020). Culturally inclusive and contextually appropriate practices: Rethinking perspectives, practices, polices, and experiences in early childhood education programs. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 34(1), 2-5, DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2019.1697153

Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Halladay, M. (2020). Learning to see teaching as a cultural activity: US preservice-teachers’ significant experiences with Nepali mentor-teachers during an international field experience. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,34(1), 59-7, DOI:

Madrid Akpovo, S., & Nganga, L. (2018). Minority-World professionals in majority-world contexts: How do international field experiences promote intercultural competence or reinforce ethnocentrism? Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood,19(2), 1-7. DOI: 10.1177/1463949118778024

Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., & *Acharya, D. (2018). Minority-World preservice teachers' understanding of contextually appropriate practice while working in Majority-World communities. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(2), 202-218. DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2017.1419321

Link to Books

Madrid Akpovo, S., Moran, M.J., Brookshire, R. (2018). Collaborative cross-cultural research methods in early care and education contexts. New York: Routledge.

Madrid, S., Fernie, D., & Kantor, R. (Eds). (2015). Reframing the emotional world of early childhood classrooms. New York: Routledge.

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