Chris Ward, PhD

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Attributed to Aristotle, this idiom also captures the power and potential of collaborative inquiry in education: a small group of teachers pooling their individual capacities to work with a shared purpose on complex problems. And it drives one of my passions as a teacher educator to provide the support and structure—and help teachers learn the skills—to engage in this powerful learning process. Collaborative inquiry involves teachers coming together to investigate their practice, critically examine student work, question how they engage students, and support one another in cycles of improvement toward ambitious teaching. It’s hard work. It takes time, knowledge, trust, commitment, shared vision, structure and support. The benefits, though, are immense and worthwhile: Through engagement in collective inquiry, teachers strengthen their practice, better understand student learning, and value and respect their colleagues. 

At UVEI, I am honored to work with and support teachers who are committed to improving their practice. And I am grateful to be in a position to help these teachers learn the concepts and routines that comprise a collective inquiry process and mindset:  to understand and use protocols for examining student work, develop facilitation skills to lead learning conversations, pay attention to student thinking, and  putting all these skills together in becoming teachers-as-practical-researchers. Furthermore, I am committed to helping UVEI grow into a hub of collaborative inquiry for teachers through our advanced teaching and leadership inquiry cycles and our professional education offerings.

Schools are professional workplaces and teaching is a social practice. It is imperative to help teachers collectively build their professional communities in order to support one another in pursuit of their ultimate professional goals of deep student learning and healthy child development. 


As the Graduate Studies Coordinator at the Upper Valley Graduate School of Education, Christopher Ward, PhD  is a member of the Program Faculties of the Masters Degree Programs as well as the Principal Intern Program and Teacher Intern Program . His work in all programs is focused on teaching candidates how to use and understand research to frame and take action on educational problems of practice.

Before coming to UVEI, he most recently served as Interim Director of Teacher Education in the Department of Education at Dartmouth College. He has also been a faculty member at the University of Washington and the University of Central Florida.

Chris is a member of the New Hampshire Council on Teacher Education and  of the New Hampshire Institutions of Higher Education Network, where he serves in a leadership role on the Teacher Common Assessment of Performance research and coordinating committee. He also serves on the Board of Changing Perspectives, a local disability awareness nonprofit. Chris received his PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Washington.  His article, Situating Motivation, written with colleagues from the University of Washington and Vanderbilt University and published in the journal, Educational Psychologist, won Division 15 of the American Psychological Association’s 2015 Best Article of the Year.


Chris’ research and practice interests include collaboration and collective inquiry, the relationship between motivation and engagement in learning, and novice teacher learning, motivation and identity development.



April 2016
American Educational Research Association, Washington DC
“A localized policy framework: A statewide collaboration toward teacher candidate performance assessment” 

April 2013
American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA
“Productive Friction: Conflict in Student Teaching Creating Opportunities for Learning”

April  2012
American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, BC, Canada
“Engagement in What? The Negotiation of Joint Enterprise in Project-Based Learning”

April 2011
American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA
“A Situative Account of Changes in Novice Teachers’ Thinking about Student Motivation”

May 2010
Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO
“Novice Teachers’ Motivation to Learn and Employ Asessment Practices”

August 2008
4th Biannual European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction SIG 14: Learning and Professional Development Conference, Jyväskylä, Finland
“A Situative Approach to Identity Development and Motivation in Novice Teachers”

April 2008
Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY
“Trajectories of Participation, Goals, and Identity in Learning to Teach” 
“Identity Development, Motivation, and Learning in “Becoming” a Teacher: Findings and Theoretical Advances 
“Becoming Teachers: A Situative Look at Identity, Motivation, and Learning”


Nolen, S. B., Horn, I. S. & Ward, C. J. (2015). Situating motivation. Educational Psychologist50, 234–247.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Horn, I. S. (2014). Changing practice(s): A situative account of teachers’ motivation to learn. In P. W. Richardson, S. A. Karabenick, & H. M. G. Watt (Eds.), Teacher motivation: Theory and practice (pp. 167–181). New York: Routledge.

Horn, I. S., Nolen, S. B., & Ward, C. J. (2013). Recontextualizing practices: Situative methods for studying the development of motivation, identity and learning in and through multiple contexts over time. In M. Vauras & S. Volet (Eds.), Interpersonal regulation of learning and motivation: Methodological advances(pp. 189–204). New York: Routledge.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Horn, I. S. (2012). Methods for taking a situative approach to studying the development of motivation, identity, and learning in multiple social contexts. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 27, 267–284.

Ward, C. J., Nolen, S, B., & Horn, I. S. (2011). Productive friction: How conflict in student teaching creates opportunities for learning at the boundary. International Journal of Educational Research, 50, 14–20.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Horn, I. S. (2011). Motivation, engagement, and identity: Opening a conversation. In D. M. McInerney, R. A. Walker, & G. A. D. Liem (Eds.), Sociocultural theories of learning and motivation: Looking back, looking forward (pp. 109–135). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Nolen, S. B., Horn, I. S., Ward, C. J., & Childers, S. (2011). Assessment tools as boundary objects in novice teachers’ learning. Cognition and Instruction, 29, 88–122.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., Horn, I. S., Childers, S., Campbell, S., & Mahna, K. (2009). Motivation in preservice teachers: The development of utility filters. In M. Wosnitza, S. A. Karabenick, A. Efklides, & P. Nenniger (Eds.), Contemporary motivation research: From global to local perspectives (pp. 265–278)Ashland, OH: Hogrefe & Huber.

Horn, I. S., Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Campbell, S. S. (2008). Developing practices in multiple worlds: The role of identity in learning to teach. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35, 61–72.

Nolen, S. B., & Ward, C. J. (2008). Sociocultural and situative approaches to studying motivation. In M. Maehr, S. Karabenick, & T. Urdan (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement: Social psychological perspectives (Vol. 15, pp. 425–460). London: Emerald Group.