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Lisa Simon

Faculty and Staff Profiles

Lisa Simon

Associate Professor

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Lisa Simon is an Associate Professor of Transformative Literacy in the Department of Teaching, Learning, & Culture in City College's School of Education.  She received her Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from the School of Education (now Steinhardt School of Culture, Education & Human Development) at New York University.  She is the author of numerous journal articles. She has served in several official capacities for the Literacy Research Association (formerly National Reading Conference).

Simon's scholarship centers on the ways in which literacy can be used to negotiate and challenge barriers to equitable learning opportunities.  Her research emphasizes:

  • unpacking the concept of background knowledge in relation to diverse perspectives and experiences.  Her focus in this aspect of her scholarship is identifying approaches that facilitate diverse youth's understanding and critique of complex, challenging texts;
  • examining the instructional approach of inquiry in relation to expanding literacy skills and engagement. A particular emphasis is the kinds of support that inquiry provides in critiquing and transforming inequitable representations and marginalization;
  • developing approaches, curricula, and materials that support educators in using cultural diversity as a resource in their teaching. This research takes as its starting point the recognition that culture involves multiple and intersecting dimensions including but no limited to ethnicity. Thus, individuals' experiences in relation to language, gender, citizenship status, age, sexuality, spirituality, and health all engender complex expertise and knowledge that can be used as valuable resources in learning.

Simon's current research focuses on youth's experience with asthma. This research analyzes the insights and expertise engendered by young people's management of this disease. With this attention to youth's health management and maintenance, Simon seeks to identify effective methods for linking youth's funds of knowledge to their learning of subject-area content.



Ph.D., Applied Psychology, 1999, New York University

M.A., Applied Psychology, 1993, New York University

B.A., English Literature, Bryn Mawr College, 1985

Courses Taught

Simon has taught the majority of courses offered by the Transformative Literacy Program.

Research Interests

 Research Projects

An Exploration of Children's Expertise and Understanding in Relation to Asthma:

Lisa Simon is the Principle Investigator of this study, the purpose of which is to examine young people’s expertise in relation to managing asthma.  This direct examination of the too often marginalized experience of health management and the expertise this management engenders seeks to extend educators’ understanding of how they can become aware of the range of knowledges their students bring into the classroom.  These insights will offer children and teachers significant support in developing powerful and valuable learning opportunities. Participants are youth living with the long-term, chronic disease, asthma. Data collection focuses on exploring their understandings of this disease and the strategies they have developed to manage asthma’s physical, emotional, and social dimensions. This research is supported by a 2008-2009 PSC-CUNY grant. 

Bringing Inquiry to the School Library: 

Lisa Simon is the Principle Investigator of this study on inquiry implementation.  This research focused on a school library teacher’s implementation of inquiry research projects in her classroom. Data collection and analysis focused on the nature of the implementation particularly in relation to the negotiation of challenges.  Findings reveal the ways in which views of students as well as the concept of “inquiry” create unexpected barriers to implementation. This research was supported by a 2008-2009 PSC-CUNY grant.



Simon, L. (2010). Working to change the world: An examination of one child’s social activism. The Urban Review, 42(4), 296-315.

Simon, L. (2009). “And they got married by the church….”: “Crazy stories” and the possibilities of collaborative textual transformations. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 8(2 & 3), 107–123.

Simon, L. (2008). Weaving color into a white landscape:  Addressing the silences of Out of the Dust.Multicultural Education, 16(2), 22-30.

Simon, L. (2008). “I wouldn’t choose it, but I don’t regret reading it”:  Scaffolding students’ engagement with complex texts.  Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(2), 134-143.

Simon, L. (2007).  Expanding literacies: Teachers’ inquiry research and multigenre texts.  English Education, 39(2), 146-176.

Simon, L.  (2006). Quality and equality in education: A review of Why We Teachby Sonia Nieto and Teacher Leadership by Ann Lieberman and Lynne Miller. The New Educator, 2(3), 259–266.


PSC-CUNY Grant to conduct study: “An exploration of children's expertise and understanding in relation to asthma” (2008-2009).

PSC-CUNY Grant to conduct study: “Bringing inquiry to the school library: Helping elementary students read informational texts” (2006-2008).


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