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Sonya N. Martin, PhD

Program(s) Association(s):

  • Undergraduate Education
  • MSSI
  • Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies Program
  • Elementary and Secondary Biology and Chemistry


  • Curtin University, Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Perth, Australia Doctor of Philosophy, May 2005 (Advisors: Drs. Kenneth Tobin & Barry Fraser)
  • University of Pennsylvania, School of Arts and Sciences, Philadelphia, PA M.S. in Chemistry Education, August 2002 (Advisors: Drs. Hai-Lung Dai & Kenneth Tobin)
  • University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, Philadelphia, PA M.S. in Elementary Education, Thesis awarded Pass with Distinction, May 1998 (Advisors: Drs. Janine Remillard & Kathy Schultz)
  • Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA B.A. in Biology, pre-med with a concentration in Neuroscience, May 1995 (Advisor: Dr. Peter Brodfuehrer)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Urban Science Education, K-12 Science Teacher Education
  • Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), Drexel University certificate, expected Dec 2010
  • Pennsylvania Instructional II Certification in Elementary Education (K-6), 1998-present
  • Pennsylvania Instructional II Certification in Biology (7-12), 1998-present
  • Pennsylvania Instructional II Certification in Chemistry (7-12), 2002-present

Professional Experience:

  • Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York City, NY
  • Queens College, City University of New York, Flushing, NY
  • School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Research interests:

  • My current research focuses on the teaching and learning of science that occurs in urban K-12 classrooms and in science and education classrooms at the University level. I use a combination of critical ethnography and cultural sociology to examine classroom interactions and the ways in which culture from the lifeworlds of students, teachers, and professors mediates the teaching and learning of science. I am engaged in several lines of active research, focusing around how people learn to teach science and how social interactions in schools and classrooms inform the teaching and learning of science. Specifically, I focus on the use of cogenerative dialogues (a structured discourse methodology), video analysis, and coteaching as tools for transforming science education and science teacher education. These research interests are clearly delineated in the following sections:
  • Cogenerative Dialogues and Video Analyses in Science Teacher Education
  • Cogenerative dialogue is a structured discourse method that encourages teachers and students to collectively examine and co-construct suitable solutions to resolve emerging issues in the classroom. I use cogenerative dialogue as both a research tool and a pedagogical tool to address numerous issues in science education, including attrition rates of minority students, target student behaviors, and equity issues informed by differences in class, race, gender, and language.
  • Examining the efficacy of using video and video analysis as a means to bridge the gap between theory and practice in teacher education is another of my research interests. This research offers a tool for training pre-service teachers to develop and nurture a reflective voice while in their student-teaching placements by learning to evaluate their teaching using videotape of their classrooms, a skill that they can rely upon throughout their careers. Beginning teachers often do not see the relationship between the events they experience in their own classrooms and the generalizations about teaching and learning they are taught in their university classes. Because learning to teach is a non-linear process where teaching occurs “in the moment,” it is rare that one has an opportunity to reflect on their actions.
  • My research utilizes video vignettes to provide a means for critical reflection for pre- and in-service teachers so that they can become aware of their unconscious teaching practices in the classroom. By evaluating vignettes in conjunction with theory, teachers can reflect upon their practices and the practices of others to catalyze change and develop new strategies for building an effective learning environment. Through video vignettes of urban science classrooms and the voices of students, teachers, and university researchers, science teachers are introduced to how the culture and practices of both students and teachers structure a learning environment and how theory can inform teacher and student choices, providing agency for changing those structures. In so doing, teachers are encouraged to build an understanding of the social, cultural and historical factors that mediate the efforts of students to learn science and their efforts to teach them.
  • The role of administrators in supporting science education reform Another line of my research investigates the role of school administrators in supporting science education reform at the local level. This research seeks to determine the effectiveness of incorporating an administrative component in a professional development program for practicing science teachers. Specifically this research aims to evaluate and characterize the experiences of administrative participation in an Administrator’s Academy for Science Education (AASE) in an effort to provide educational researchers a better understanding of the obstacles met by administrators as they work to support science education reform at the school level. This research seeks to determine both the efficacy of the AASE and the impact of having administrators implement cogenerative dialogues and video analyses as methods for improving administrative interactions with teachers, parents and students in an effort to better support science education reform in local schools.
  • English Language Learners and Science Education in Urban Contexts In addition to these existing research strands, I am developing a new line of research that incorporates elements of my current research interests (the use of cogenerative dialogues, video analysis, discourse analysis, and urban schools) to investigate the experiences of immigrant and 1.5 generation Cambodian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Latino/a students who are English Language Learners (ELL) in urban science classrooms. This new line of research seeks to involve science teachers and ELL students in discourse about science teaching and learning through cogenerative dialogues in which students and teachers examine the role of spoken and written language in making meaning and communicating science understandings. In addition, this research seeks to examine how gender and identity, including racial/ethnic identity and immigrant/citizen status, impact science learning, student/teacher interactions, and student/student interactions in an urban setting. Specifically this research aims to engage students and teachers in discourse about these issues in an effort to provide educational researchers with a better understanding of the obstacles met by science teachers of ELL students and ELL science learners as they work to collaboratively to improve teaching and learning.
Sonya N. Martin, PhD
Sonya N. Martin, PhD
School: School of Education
Telephone: 215-895-5954
Email: Sonya.Martin@Drexel.Edu
Fax: 215-895-5879
Office: Korman Rm 23