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Teacher Research and Documentation Center (TRDC)

The Teacher Research and Documentation Center is a laboratory designed to educate teachers as researchers, promote critical thinking, and generate knowledge about how children learn.

Developing Scientists in the Classroom

The Teacher Research and Documentation Center is a laboratory designed to educate practitioners as researchers and to develop critical thinking along with knowledge about how children learn best. The integration and implementation of research and practice in the field is the cornerstone of inquiry-oriented teacher practice. The TRDC is a place for students and teachers to utilize technology and access mentoring in order to develop research skills that inform and guide practice.


• Teacher-researchers and child development students learn to use computers, scanners, cameras and printers and online courses to systematically organize and analyze classroom records.
• Teacher researchers and child development students use video and audio tape of children’s processes of learning and conversations, photographs of children engaged in classroom activities, scans of children’s art and early writings in order to study these documents to plan future curriculum and assess children’s learning and development.
• Faculty videotape, audiotape, and interview teacher researchers and child development students’ processes of inquiry in order to study the nature of inquiry and to determine how best to guide scientific inquiry through the study of documentation.


Current Projects

research_gradCFS Graduate Student Interns’ Action Research Projects

Each fall more than thirty graduate student interns design and implement action research projects as part of their fifth-year teaching internship experience in K–4 classrooms. The TRDC is the place where students gather for collaborative analyses of classroom records and to prepare presentations for class and for professional conferences.



CFS Undergraduate Students Action Research Projects

Each year, 150 undergraduate students study the impact of the environment (space, materials, adults, and peers) and curriculum on children’s learning (infants to elementary-aged children). The TRDC is a place where students gather to participate in collaborative inquiry.

Development of Critical Thinking Through Visual Literacy Project

This ongoing web-based project is designed to develop the technological savvy of educators and create usable images and video clips that reflect state-of-the-art thinking and practice for categorizing, archiving, and retrieving data about children’s learning in ways that augment the development of preservice teachers’ decision-making. Web-based teaching modules provide instruction on social constructivist early childhood educational practices.

Research is focused on the role of digital photography as the mediator between preservice teachers’ content knowledge and reflective practices that lead to critical thinking and classroom decision-making.

research_emergentA Study of the Emergence of Preservice Teacher Collaborative Inquiry
Fifteen undergraduate students in CFS 350: Environments and CFS 351: Preschool Curriculum participate in an ongoing study of the connection between documentation of children’s learning and the development of an inquiry-oriented teaching stance. RAs videotape participants in the TRDC as they analyze a variety of classroom records (e.g., photographs, video and audio tapes, field notes and children’s work samples). RAs interview participants to see how they employ careful observation, constant reflection, rigorous questioning, and continuous adaptation of classroom curricula and environments.

Child Development Laboratory Teacher Action Research Project (CDL/ARC)

This two-year study will analyze the diverse ways CDL supervisory teachers promote the development of reflective practice among undergraduate and graduate student teachers. The overarching goal is to develop effective strategies for supporting students’ reflectivity and inquiry-oriented teaching.

Anderson County–UT Teacher Practice Project

Ten Head Start and early childhood teachers participate in a study that designs Cognitively Challenging Curriculum and teaches them to engage in reflective practice and develop an inquiry-oriented teaching stance. RAs will assist faculty in (1) videoing teachers in their classrooms, (2) transcribing audiotapes of teacher interviews and focus groups, and (3) analyzing teacher reflective writings.

Become a Research Assistant

Students wishing to become research assistants can enroll in CFS 481 (see catalog for prerequisites) with the permission of Mary Jane Moran. In these variable credit research practica, students are assigned to one of a number of ongoing research projects that best fit their professional interests. Occasionally, research assistants will be hired to work on research projects, as funding is made available.

Research assistants learn basic research skills that include: field observation, transcription of audiotapes, interview techniques, use of software to analyze narrative text, and the preparation of research proposals. In some cases, research assistants will have the opportunity to present with Moran at professional conferences and co-author articles for publication.

Research assistantships are open to upper-level undergraduates and graduate students in CFS and related majors. Download the TRDC Application form to apply.

TRDC Contact Information

Teacher Research and Documentation Center
1215 W. Cumberland Avenue
236 Jesse Harris Building
Knoxville TN 37996-5316
865-974-2742 (fax)

Faculty Contact

Mary Jane Moran
Jessie Harris Building, Room 115


The Teacher Research and Documentation Center is located in the Jesse Harris Building in Room 236. Click the map below for directions.



Useful Links

Department of Child and Family Studies

College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences

CFS Graduate Student Information

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

Journal of Early Childhood Research and Practice