Ozge Evcen joins the University of Iowa College of Education this fall as a visiting assistant professor in Elementary Literacy Education.
Evcen received a bachelor of arts degree in English language and literature with honors at Cankaya University in Turkey before working at multiple higher education institutions as a foreign language instructor for six years in Turkey.
She moved to the U.S. and received a master of arts degree in teaching English as a second language from the University of Mississippi. While in Mississippi, Evcen worked as an ESL instructor for international students at the Intensive English Institute of the university.
Evcen received a doctorate from the Curriculum and Instruction Department with the division of Language and Literacy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2020 and worked as an instructor for literacy courses for five years during her doctoral program.
Evcen was drawn to the University of Iowa by the Teacher Education Program’s mission and by the collaborative work being done by well-known scholars in the field.
“The Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Iowa is the perfect fit for me since it combines my dedication to the education field and my strong advising skills with the opportunity to mentor future teachers on their career paths,” Evcen says.
Evcen has found teaching effective literacy and language practices to be demanding but personally rewarding. She is proud to have the opportunity to serve diverse learners as a bilingual individual herself. She says she believes this has helped her reflect on her teaching process and to grow as an educator.
“I can proudly state that I have had students who are linguistically diverse, ethnically different from each other,” Evcen says. “I have had students who were first generation college students just like me, students who were minorities socio-economically, and women minorities as college students. Working with all these different groups of students has made me commit myself to diversity and recognize the barriers these groups could come across during their education.”
Evcen’s dedication to working with pre-service teachers in teacher education programs is based on the idea of language loss and how resourceful future teachers can be for the linguistically and culturally diverse student populations.
“We need to embrace the beauty of being bilingual and create more spaces in our education settings for emergent bilinguals so they do not lose their first or home languages,” Evcen says.
Her research focuses on heritage language speakers with a particular emphasis on children’s language and culture, their identity, curriculum design, family involvement, heritage language acquisition, and bilingualism.
In her new position, Evcen looks forward to the conversations she will have with pre-service teachers and the opportunity of a hands-on experience with future teacher candidates.