New faculty research profiles

November 11, 2020

We are delighted to introduce you the eight new faculty members who joined us recently. They bring diverse academic backgrounds and scholarly interests to the Faculty of Education. On this page you will learn about their research profiles.

Sara Davidson is an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Education. She completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2016 and was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of the Fraser Valley, where she taught Indigenous Education and English Language Arts Methods (K-12). She has extensive experience teaching Indigenous Education in both post-secondary and professional development contexts. Her K-12 teaching experience took place in British Columbia and Yukon where she worked predominantly with Indigenous students, coming to know firsthand the unique challenges of living and working in rural and remote communities. This experience allowed her to understand the educational priorities of Indigenous communities, and fully commit to finding ways to deliver courses in non-traditional formats that support the educational needs identified by the community.

The focus of Dr. Davidson’s scholarship has been to seek ways to improve schooling experiences for Indigenous students by collaborating with and learning from Indigenous communities, Indigenous students, and university and research communities. Her program of research and publications seeks to transform current pedagogical and research practices to be more respectful and inclusive of Indigenous contributions. In 2018, she collaborated with her father, Robert Davidson, to write Potlatch as pedagogy: Learning through ceremonyTo continue with this intergenerational focus in her scholarship, she is in the early stages of developing a proposal to do an autoethnography that explores her own identity in connection with her grandfather’s experiences at the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School. The intent of this research is to better understand intergenerational trauma and use land-based connections to achieve healing.

Cher Hill is an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education. She completed her PhD in Curriculum Theory and Implementation in the Faculty of Education at SFU in 2010. She also received her MA and BA at SFU. She has worked in at the Faculty of Education as a Tutor Marker, Research Assistant, Sessional Instructor, Limited Term Lecturer, and a Professor of Professional Practice as the Coordinator of the Master of Education in Educational Practice Program.

Dr. Hill’s research interests include practitioner inquiry, in-service teacher education, and qualitative research methods, as well as reflective and diffractive practice. She is a passionate supporter of participatory learning and community-based educative initiatives. Through her scholarship, she endeavors to deepen her understandings of teacher learning and the continued development of her own professional practice. Community-based, action-oriented scholarship is at the heart of her research, which has intertwined with her commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. She sets high expectations for her students and for herself through practitioner inquiry, and the intentional and disciplined study of practice.

Robyn Ilten-Gee is an Assistant Professor and an interdisciplinary scholar. She has been recommended for teaching assignments in a number of areas, including Educational Psychology, Educational Technology, and Languages, Cultures and Literacies, and primarily in Teacher Education. She completed her PhD in Human Development and Education at the University of California (UC), Berkley in 2019.

The focus of Dr. Ilten-Gee’s research is in sociomoral development, critical pedagogy, and media education. As such, her research interests align with many of our faculty members and are also relevant to current innovations in the new BC school curriculum. Notably, she has much experience outside of academia. She was a Microsoft education technology integration consultant for schools and teachers throughout the province of British Columbia. She also provides professional development for teachers on how to use digital tools, including Minecraft: Education Edition, in their classrooms to enhance equity, engagement, and organization. Experience from this job has motivated her to integrate several technology-based strategies into her own teaching practice, and she regularly engages undergraduate students in real-time online collaboration, visual design, and media analysis. What Robyn does outside of the classroom is commendable as well, for example, being the founding member of the Critical Trauma Working Group at UC Berkeley, and serving as a mentor with the Urban Native Youth Association in Vancouver.

Gillian Judson is an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership. She completed her PhD in Curriculum Theory and Implementation in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in 2009. She has worked at the Faculty of Education as a Research Assistant, Sessional Instructor, Post-doctoral Fellow with Kieran Egan, and a Limited Term Lecturer.

Dr. Judson’s current research projects focus on Imaginative Leadership, Imaginative Ecological Education, and Imaginative Assessment for Learning. Her research in Imaginative Leadership has brought about a new focus on contemporary theories of leadership, with an emphasis on creative problem solving linked to action, the idea that imagination is the ability to envision the possible in all things, and that imagination is needed in all aspects of education to create an educational system that conveys different worldviews and perspectives. Another area of her research is her work on Imaginative Ecological Education and the practical implementation of the approach she refers to as the “Walking Curriculum," which has been awarded by the HundrED’s annual Global Collection as one of the 100 most impactful innovations in K-12 education from around the world. Locally this work includes being involved in a collaborative inquiry with educators in seven schools across Surrey, connecting the Centre for Imagination in Research, Culture and Education (CIRCE) with the Network of Inquiry and Indigenous Education (NOIIE). This research explores the use of Indigenous ways of knowing and being as a resource and support for outdoor teaching, which supports all educators’ work in Indigenizing their practices.

Kristiina Kumpulainen is an Associate Professor in the Educational Technology and Learning Design program. She completed her PhD at the University of Exeter in 1994, and has held various faculty and visiting faculty positions at different universities internationally since obtaining her degree. Dr. Kumpulainen was the Vice Dean for research in the Faculty of Educational Services at the University of Helsinki prior to being a Visiting Professor at the University of British Columbia for the past year.

Dr. Kumpulainen’s research focuses on children’s digital literacies, agency and creativity, and learning and teaching practices with evolving technologies in formal education and informal learning environments, including early childhood education centers, schools, homes, museums, science centers, libraries, outdoors, and in digital and immersive worlds. She has researched and developed pedagogies, learning environments and tools for children’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) learning, multiliteracies, and for children’s environmental and climate change education. She is the founding member and research director of the Playful Learning Center and Co-leader of the  Learning, Culture and Interventions (LECI) Expert Group. Her portfolio includes an extensive record of publications and externally funded research projects from highly competitive and distinguished programs in Finland, Europe and Australia. In 2019, she was nominated to become a Fellow of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. In addition to her role in several editorial boards, she serves as the co-editor of the international journal of Learning, Culture and Social Interaction published by Elsevier.

Yumiko Murai is an Assistant Professor in Educational Technology and Learning Design. She completed her Doctor of Education in Communication in Education at the Teachers College, Columbia University in 2015. Before joining SFU, Dr. Murai was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Dr. Murai’s scholarship focuses on the design and study of playful tools and learning environments that help learners and educators engage in learning through creative and personally meaningful projects. She is particularly interested in the role of social and cultural contexts in supporting the creative confidence and intrinsic motivation of learners. At the Playful Journey Lab at MIT, she co-produced the Beyond Rubrics Toolkit, a game-like assessment toolkit for maker classrooms. At Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT, she co-designed and organized the third iteration of Learning Creative Learning, an open online course and community for educators around the world, and its in-person spin-off, Shinshu Maker Fellows Program. She also worked on Unhangout for Educators, a series of online unconferences for maker educators, while with the Learning Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Growing up making and performing music and arts, Yumiko has a passion to help people unlock their own creative potential for learning through design, research, and teaching. 

Krista Socholotiuk is an Assistant Professor in Counselling Psychology. She is also a Registered Psychologist specializing in Child & Youth Mental Health. She completed her PhD in Educational and Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia in 2015 and was a faculty member at the Trinity University before joining the Faculty of Education at SFU.

Dr. Socholotiuk’s research interests include using counselling psychology approaches to treat adolescent eating disorders, applications of Contextual Action Theory in counselling and psychotherapy practice, and incorporating research into counselling and psychotherapy practice. Since joining the Faculty of Education at SFU in 2019, she has received two major external grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). As a Co-Investigator, she was awarded a Partnership Development Grant, Connecting Career Development and Mental Health in Schools, that aims to expand and strengthen the evidence and practice of using career interventions to influence adolescent mental health through a broad-based partnership across Canada and beyond. As the Principal Investigator, she received an Insight Development Grant, Early Relationship Formation in Cross Cultural Counselling: Actions and Processes, that aims to investigate how the early formation of the therapeutic relationship is co-negotiated in cross¬-cultural dyads.

Inna Stepaniuk is an Assistant Professor in Inclusive Education. and has just received her PhD in the Faculty of Education at the University of Kansas, defending her thesis in August, 2020. Prior to attending the University of Kansas, she served as an Assistant Professor in Psychology and Social Pedagogy at the Zhytomyr Ivan Franko State University in Ukraine.

Dr. Stepaniuk’s research is anchored in critical disability studies, decolonial theory, and sociocultural, constructivist approaches to learning and teaching. Her scholarship exposes the politics of dehumanization embedded in educational systems and supports schools and educators to become social justice-oriented educational leaders. She is passionate about transforming schools into inclusive and equitable communities. Dr. Stepaniuk has authored and co-authored articles on inclusive education, equity-driven systems change in education, and disability policy in the context of intersectionality.