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Faded Sandpaper

 SONYA N. MARTIN (산야 마틴 / 馬山野)

Professor in the College of Education, Seoul National University



I am a teacher educator and researcher focusing on addressing equity issues in science education. In 2011, I moved from the United States to Korea where I am an Associate Professor in Science Education at Seoul National University. Prior to moving to Korea, I was a tenured faculty member at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA in the United States where I was PI of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded (HRD 1036637) study examining the intersections of gender, ethnicity, and language learning in the context of middle school science. My research focused on identifying science teacher practices that promoted language learning in the context of science inquiry with English Language Learners.


I became particularly interested in exploring ways to improve collaborative teaching between science content and ESL teachers to promote beneficial science teaching practices for all students. In addition, I became interested in the science education experiences of the students in my research study who had recently immigrated to Philadelphia from Asian countries. To learn more about science education in Asia, I accepted an international faculty position at Seoul National University and moved to Korea in 2011, where I have been working to learn Korean and am actively engaging in collaborative research with colleagues in Asia.


My broad research interests focus on using qualitative research methods and sociocultural theories to explore the intersections of culture and language in the context of school science. I use video analysis, coteaching, and cogenerative dialogues as tools to engage teachers and students in research. I am engaged in several projects with colleagues in Taiwan, Singapore, and Australia exploring how language and culture shape teacher and student interactions in science classrooms. My studies are primarily designed to engage teachers and students in collaborative classroom-based research that focuses on identifying ways to transform how science is taught and learned so students who are traditionally marginalized in science (such as, culturally and linguistically diverse students or students with special education needs) have expanded opportunities to participate in science and improve their understanding and achievement. At the same time, my research focuses on supporting the professionalization of science teachers so they are positioned to effectively support all students to learn science. Finally, I also engage in research exploring methods for overcoming the negative impact of English language hegemony in academic publishing that creates inequities in research dissemination efforts in the international science education community.


At SNU, I offer courses about sociocultural theory, multicultural education, teaching science to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) students and students with Special Education Needs (SEN), and using qualitative research methods and sociocultural theory to examine how gender, ethnicity, language, and class impact on science teaching and learning. Previously, I was a faculty member at Queens College, CUNY in New York City (3 years) and Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA (4 years). I hold a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bryn Mawr College and two master’s degrees, in Elementary Education and in Chemistry Education, from the University of Pennsylvania. I also hold a doctoral degree in Science Education from Curtin University in Australia. Prior to entering academia, I taught K-12 science in Philadelphia public schools for five years.

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