Colleen Pennell, Carroll University faculty

Dr. Colleen Pennell

Associate Professor of Education and Chair of the Department of Education Get Contact Info


Education Education Graduate Studies


Originally from Madison, WI, Dr. Pennell began her teaching career in New Mexico as a fifth-grade teacher on the Zuni Indian Reservation. She spent the next several years in the southwest, working as both a classroom teacher and a Reading Teacher in Phoenix, AZ. Her mid-western roots brought her back to Wisconsin where she worked as a public-school Reading Specialist. She began her full time, higher education career in 2011 and has been at Carroll University since 2015.


  • Cardinal Stritch University, Ph.D. in Language and Literacy
  • Northern Arizona University, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with Reading Endorsement
  • Edgewood College, B.S. in Elementary Education

Areas of Specialization

Literacy Education, Classroom Discourse, Reading Comprehension, Reading and Writing Frameworks (K-12).

Scholarly and Professional Achievements

Refereed Journal Articles

Pennell, C. (2017). Classroom discourse during close reading: A multi-case study. Manuscript in preparation.

Pennell, C. (2017).  Philosophy for children: Five reasons to start today.  Wisconsin State Reading Association Journal. 

Pennell, C. (2014). In the age of analytic reading: Understanding readers’ engagement with text. The Reading Teacher.  Vol. 68 No. 4

Pennell, C. (2014).  Speaking and listening: Five lessons to start the year off right! Wisconsin State Reading Association Journal.

Pennell, C. (2010).  Improving student writing through classroom talk: A case study. Wisconsin State Reading Association Journal. Vol. 49 No. 2

Local and National Peer Reviewed Presentations

Pennell, C. (2017) Classroom Discourse during Close Reading: A Multi-Case Study. American Educational Research Association (AERA) (paper session).

Anderson, R., Kramer, K., Pennell, C. (2017). Developing Self Awareness in the Literacy Classroom:  The What, Why, and How. Wisconsin State Reading Association Annual Convention.

Pennell, C. (2016) International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 12th Annual Conference.  Student Engagement during Close Reading: A Case Study.

Pennell, C. (2016) Wisconsin State Reading Association Annual Convention.  What’s your Evidence? Closing in on Middle Schooler’s Literary Discussions.

Albright, C., Cobb, T., Ender, M., Hardgrove, J., Kercher, K. Lieck, J., Mullen, M., & Pennell, C. (2016) Wisconsin State Reading Association Annual Convention. Creating Your 21st Century Toolbox

Pennell, C. (2015) Literacy Research Association (LRA) Annual Conference, Carlsbad, CA. Classroom Discourse during Close Reading.  

Hameister, T. & Pennell, C. (2014). Association of Teacher Education Annual Conference, Phoenix, AZ.   Sustained, Targeted, and Accessible Support Communities for RTI

Pennell, C. (2014). University of Wisconsin Reading Research Symposium, Milwaukee, WI.  Research Poster Presentation, The Epistemic Climate in a Dialogically Organized Reading Intervention.

Pennell, C. (2014). International Reading Association (IRA) Annual Convention New Orleans, LA. Research Poster Presentation. Epistemic Beliefs Underpinning Discourse: A Multi-Case Study.

Kercher, K. Lieck, J., Omanchu, F., & Pennell, C. (2014). Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA)Annual Convention, Facilitating Accountable Talk in the Early Childhood Classroom.

Pennell, C. (2013). Literacy Research Association (LRA) Annual Conference, Dallas, TX. Paper presentation: Epistemic Beliefs Underpinning Discourse: A Multi-Case Study.

Hameister, T. & Pennell, C. (2013). Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA) Annual Convention, RTI Strategies for the Classroom Teacher.

Pennell, C. (2012) National Council Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention, Las Vegas, NV.  Research Roundtable: Teaching Reading and Writing from a Critical Literacy Perspective.

Pennell, C. (2012). International Reading Association (IRA) Annual Convention, Chicago, IL. Workshop Presentation. Responding to Struggling Readers with a Critical Literacy Intervention: Using Philosophy for Children to Leverage Accountable Talk and Critical Thinking

Pennell, C. (2012).  Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA) Annual Convention, Philosophy for Children: Comprehending Text through Dialogic Inquiry

Reisel, K., Pennell, C. Schrimpf, S., Sweet, J., Trame, J., (2011). Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA) Annual Convention, Primary Reading and Writing Workshop: Exploring the Space of Intentional Teaching

Pennell, C. (2010).  National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) 2010 Annual Convention, Orlando, FL Improving Writing through Teacher Talk

Service to Carroll University and Profession

Departmental Service

  • Foundations of Reading Boot Camps – Plan and Instruct
  • ACPE Revision Committee Member
  • Strategic Planning Committee

Carroll University Service

  • PLC Facilitator for Health Sciences (2016-2017)
  • Feasibility Workgroup Member Health Sciences

External Service

  • Wisconsin State Reading Association: 3rd Vice President
  • Co-President Wisconsin Professors of Reading
  • ESEA/RtI/Assessment Task Force (WSRA)
  • Editorial Review Board WSRA

What is your teaching style?

I have an interactive teaching approach that prioritizes clear instruction, discussion, and healthy amounts of feedback. I strive to provide a positive and safe classroom community where I devote time to knowing and understanding my learners, both personally and academically.

Why do you do what you do?

I am passionate about improving the lives of children who have been marginalized by reading difficulty and believe that teacher education can make a difference for the literacy outcomes of kids.

How do you make learning engaging?

I believe in providing diverse and collaborative learning opportunities. My classes include healthy amounts of discussion that promote the exchange of multiple perspectives. I facilitate learning environments where opinions and ideas are recognized and deliberated upon. I encourage learners to question and challenge one another’s ideas as well as their own beliefs regarding language and literacy.

What should students know about you?

That I love to laugh and I find a lot of humor in a trip to the dog park with my four legged best friends. Most of all, students should know that I am passionate about the field of literacy education, especially as it relates to working alongside preservice and practicing educators.

pano of main campus