Professor, Department of Elementary Education
Prisca Martens wrote her doctoral dissertation on the literary development of children, using her young daughter in the case study, which explored how children learn to read and write. Today, almost 25 years later, Martens continues to explore those themes, incorporating the latest findings in her courses in literacy and children’s literature.
Martens joined the Towson University faculty in 2001 and says, “From the very beginning, l loved the collaborative feeling and vibe. There is so much respect among students and faculty for each other’s work. That’s what has kept me going.”
Martens’ recent work has focused on eye movement miscue analysis (EMMA), which provides clues to what occurs during the reading process by tracking eye movements during reading. “Readers’ eye movements are windows into where the brain directs the eyes to look for information,” she describes. “We analyze eye movements as well as readers’ miscues (what readers say that differ from the printed text) to learn the strategies readers use to make meaning.”
Prisca Martens and her husband, Ray Martens, an associate professor in art education at Towson University, are studying how children’s reading and the written text and art they create in picture books enhance their literacy development. “As we become a more visual society, we need to understand how imagery and words work together in the reading process,” explains Martens.
The two are collaborating on an initiative they call Storying Studio, which encourages young students to express themselves in words and art.
Martens, who taught elementary school for 17 years, still loves being in the classroom and often returns to Baltimore County classrooms to read to students and assist teachers with reading projects. “Towson University is the flagship university for educating teachers in the state,” says Martens. “Our students are in high demand, and school districts are always eager to hire TU graduates. I am always pleased to see former students become successful teachers and make a difference for their young students.”