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School of Education Professor Dr. Tony Talbert Honored for Qualitative Research

Feb. 27, 2014

Tony Talbert Award Story

Dr. Tony Talbert, professor in the Baylor School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, received the McGraw Hill Distinguished Scholar Award in recognition of his career of scholarly contributions to qualitative and ethnographic research.

The award was presented by the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference (EQRC) at its 26th annual conference in February. The EQRC is a national, juried, research conference.

Dr. Michael W. Firmin — director of the EQRC and professor of psychology at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio — said the EQRC draws top scholars, meaning that Talbert was honored among a “noted group of peers.”

Tony Talbert-FirminFirmin (pictured, left, with Talbert) said, “Tony’s quality and quantity of his scholarly record was exemplary, and his longstanding commitment to mentoring graduate students and fostering their future scholarship abilities helped him stand out among other candidates for the award.”

This was the inaugural year for the award. A blue-ribbon committee of EQRC researchers selected four winners who “evidenced able scholarship in research conference presentations, journal publications, and other scholarly contributions to their respective fields,” according to the award notice. In the future, previous winners of the award will comprise the award selection committee.

Talbert said he enjoys qualitative research because it looks at the “how” and the “why” behind statistics. Talbert specializes in ethnography, which is the study of cultures.

“I am fascinated with things that are not easily generalizable,” he said. “I absolutely love trying to figure out the unknown.”

As an example, Talbert described a survey he conducted about the attitudes of fourth through seventh graders about citizenship. “We had the statistical information about their answers, but when we dug in to find out how and why they answered in specific ways, well, then it got interesting,” he said. He found that the students’ ideas of what made a good citizen differed with their ethnic identity, regardless off socioeconomic status or other indicators.

During the 2013-14 academic year, Talbert has taken his research back into the classroom; he has been teaching in Waco-area high schools and conducting interviews with teachers and administrators.

“I went back into the classroom to better understand what I’ve been telling people for the last 28 years,” he said. “And I realized I’ve been wrong a lot of the time, but I’ve been right some of the time. My core beliefs were confirmed, but my operational truths have been altered. The world has changed.”

Talbert said the scholarly writing that comes from his semester “abroad” will be completely different than anything he has done before, because he is beginning with a narrative of his own experiences.

Talbert made a presentation at the recent EQRC conference about this current research.

The award Talbert received bears the name of McGraw Hill textbook publishers. EQRC director Firmin said, “We believe this is fitting, since the corporation is known for scholarly and academic excellence.” —Meg Cullar

About the Baylor School of Education

Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education (SOE)

— Prepares leaders through four departments in two broad program areas, Professional/Teacher Education and Health Education. Preparation begins in undergraduate programs, continues through master’s level work, and culminates in both EdD and PhD programs.

— Impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning, and community-focused research in local and global contexts.

— Shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice, and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.