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Minjung Ryu

Every learning, and chemistry learning as well, is mediated by language and symbols. We communicate chemistry ideas with forms of spoken language, written texts, and representations like graphs, diagrams, or chemical formula. While seemingly obvious, language and symbols are inevitably ambiguous and carry various meanings. That is, language and symbols sometimes convey different senses to different people depending on their background knowledge, position speakers and listeners in particular ways, and afford access to learning for some learners while not for others.

My research addresses this issue of how people learn chemistry (and science) through language and symbols and how various ways of communicating chemistry ideas facilitate or constrain some learners' learning. I am particularly interested in non-native English speaking students, their participation in classroom discourses, and learning or not-learning of chemistry. This population accounts for an increasingly more number of chemistry students, and K-12 teachers and university faculty often experience challenges to interact and with these students and teach. Drawing on sociocultural and constructivist learning theories, I plan to conduct research on how non-native English speaking students utilize various linguistic resources to interact with instructors and peers, communicate chemistry ideas, and learn chemistry and how instructors should support these learners' participation and learning.

With this research interest, I would like to add to the literature and repertoire of practices for instructors who teach a culturally and linguistically diverse student body.


  • Postdoctoral Training, 2012 - 2014, University of Maryland, College Park and Johns Hopkins University
  • Science Education in Ph.D., 2012, University of Maryland, College Park
  • M.S. in Chemistry, 2005, Seoul National University
  • B.A. in Chemistry, 2003, Seoul National University


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