MST Times

Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Newsletter

Current Student Spotlight: Dr. Francis Oh, Science Education, Ph.D. 2013

By • Jul 31st, 2012 • Category: Science Education

Dr. Francis Oh

Dr. Francis Oh, DDS, is a current Science Education student in the Ph.D. in Science Education program at Teachers College.

He was born in South Korea, and came to United States when he was a freshman in high school. He is a product of the K-12 system of both South Korea and United States.

He went to Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, and then attended Boston College where he majored in biochemistry.  After college, he worked in the pharmaceutical industry for a few years, and then he came to New York to attend Columbia University College of Dental Medicine for four years. After graduating from the dental school, he trained for a year as a resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital Advanced Education in General Dentistry program.  Seeking more knowledge, Dr. Oh joined Columbia University College of Dental Medicine’s Post Graduate Prosthodontics 3 years program to become a specialist in full mouth reconstruction.

When Dr. Oh was a second year dental student, he was given an opportunity to participate as a prototype student in the dual degree program, where he was able to earn Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and earn a Masters of Arts Degree in Science and Dental Education at Teachers College.  The dual degree program was developed between Dr. Anderson at Teachers College and Dr. Salentijn at the dental school in effort to produce dental educators who are proficient in both the dental science content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge in teaching. Eventually, Dr. Oh transitioned into the Science doctoral program at Teachers College under Dr. Anderson’s guidance.

“The problem at many professional schools is that majority of professors identify themselves as researchers, doctors, and scientists first, not as an educators first…  Our dual degree program is unique because the focus is on education first.”

Currently at CU CDM PG Prosthodontics clinic, Dr. Oh splits his work between student education and patient treatment. Dr. Oh also does private practice work in downtown Manhattan. He is studying as a 5th year PhD student at Teachers College.

One of Dr. Oh’s current research interests is in the area of human cognition. “You have to think about the students’ mind, and you go into their minds and try to find out how their mind works, and how to develop it further to maximize their cognitive load.” Dr. Oh is currently working on creating a computer based cognitive tool to help students develop diagnostic problem solving skills to improve patient care.  Under the guidance of Dr. Anderson, Dr. Oh is working to infuse concept mapping, learning progression, technology and cognitive load theory.  This research project serves as his doctoral work.

“Diagnostic problem solving is the most important skill for doctors. In the end, it is neither about the teeth nor the mouth.  It is all about if you can solve your patients’ problem or not.”

“Dr. Anderson at TC has been more than a mentor to me… he has so much experience and knowledge in him that I feel I am just starting to tap into, and he is the reason why I am here.”

Teachers College and Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine both offer many resources. Dr. Oh has been able to present his research to several deans at Columbia University as a result, and a manuscript of his research is currently in preparation for publication.

Dr. Oh’s long-term educational interest is in situated learning and legitimate peripheral participation, concepts he got interested through the mentorship of Dr. Ann Rivet, a professor in Science Education at Teachers College. “We should help students develop this skill to be an active part of the  (scientific) community where you can extract from and contribute to the knowledge base of the (scientific) community.”

Dr. Oh has completed all his course work and is in the final stages of data collection, analysis and writing. He hopes to defend his dissertation this coming autumn.

When he completes his degree at Teachers College, Dr. Oh plans to work at a university, create a company that develops education software, and continue his clinical work.

Dr. Oh is an active member of the American Dental Education Association, which is the largest governing body for dental educators.  He is also a member of the American Dental Association, American College of Prosthodontics, and Greater New York Academy of Prosthodontics.



By Deiana Jackson, Graduate Student, Mathematics Education Ed.D.

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