Nazarbayev University
Graduate School of Education

Graduate School of Education

Michelle Somerton


Michelle Somerton
Assistant Professor
Office Phone:
+7 7088010601
Inclusive education


Dr. Michelle Somerton is an Assistant Professor at NUGSE and academic program director for the specialisation Leadership in Inclusive Education. She holds a PhD from University of Tasmania, Graduate Certificate in Research, and a Bachelor of Education with Honours. Her teaching concerns Inclusive Education in leadership, policy, and teaching practice for Master’s students. Current research interests are investigating educational inequity and barriers to education, educational technologies, and cognitive diversity. 



PhD, 2016 University of Tasmania, Australia, Emeritus Professor Ian Hay.

Reading Between the Lines: An intervention concerning Reading Comprehension, Students with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the design of educational software for Mobile Technologies.

Graduate Certificate Research 2014 – University of Tasmania, Australia

Bed (Honours), 2011, University of Tasmania, Australia, Associate Professor Ruth Fielding-Barnsley.

It's not what you say but how you say it: An investigation into the relationship between phonological and visual-spacial processing in children diagnosed with Autism.


Courses taught at GSE

  • EDIE651 Perspectives on Inclusive Education  

  • EDUC600 Research Methods I and II

  • EDIE651 Policy and Inclusive Education

  • EDIE609 Leadership and Inclusive Education

      Thesis Supervision Masters of Science and Doctor of Philosophy


Funded Projects

2020.   73,190.00USD    ADiBE-NUGSE: Co-PI – “Attention to Diversity in Multilingual Education in Kazakhstan.” Awarded February 2020.

2019.    42,784.00USD   “Diagnosing children and young adults with intellectual impairment and autism.” Nazarbayev      University Small Grants  Project in conjunction Nazarbayev University School  of Medicine and Astana Medical University Co-PI

2018.    10,000.00USD   Creating conditions for inclusive education in Kazakhstan: Resource centers in Astana Researcher


Thematic areas of research specialization: (Underline all that apply)

Pre-school education

School education

Higher education

Inclusive education

Multilingual Education and language policy

Educational Technology


Neuro-developmental disorders




Hernández-Torrano, D., Somerton, M, & Helmer, J. (2020). Mapping research on inclusive education since Salamanca Statement: A bibliometric review of the literature over 25 years. International Journal of Inclusive Education. DOI:10.1080/13603116.2020.1747555  

Somerton, M., Helmer, J., Kasa, R., Hernández-Torrano, D., & Makoelle, T. M. (2020). Defining spaces: Resource centres, collaboration, and inclusive education in Kazakhstan. Journal of Educational Change. DOI:10.1007/s10833-020-09384-1 

Vleck, S., & Somerton, M. Rayner, C., (2020). Collaboration: teachers, parents, and allied health professionals supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Australasian Journal of Special Education. 44(2), 102-115. DOI: 10.1017/jsi.2020.11

Helmer, J., Kasa, R., Somerton, M., Makoelle, T.M. and Hernandez-Torrano, D. (2020). Planting the seeds for inclusive education: One resource centre at a time. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 1-17. DOI:10.1080/13603116.2020.1864791

Rollan, K., & Somerton, M. (2019). Inclusive education reform in Kazakhstan: Civil society activism from the bottom-up. International Journal of Inclusive Education, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2019.1599451 

Somerton, M. (2015). Who is Billy possum? The Journal of Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria, 2(2), 45-47. ISSN:2205-3611


Makoelle, T.M. & Somerton, M. (Eds). (2021). Inclusive education in a post-Soviet context: The case of Kazakhstan. Netherlands: Springer Nature. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-65543-3

Book Chapters

Makoelle, T. M., & Somerton, M. (2018). Facilitating inclusive teaching and learning spaces through digital education technology: Teaching and learning through digital education technology. In Educational and Social Dimensions of Digital Transformation in Organizations (pp. 43-64). IGI Global. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6261-0.ch003


Somerton, M. (2014). Billy possum’s interactive comprehension (v1.1.2) [mobile application software]. Retrieved from the iTunes store. 

Conference Papers

Somerton, M., Bowen, E., Chacha, M., & Khanin, S. (2019). Being, becoming belonging: Developing Inclusion and Inclusive  Education in Higher Education. Paper presented 2019 IAFOR Education Conference, Tokyo, Japan. 

Somerton, M. (2018). Facilitating inclusion through the provision of resource centres in Kazakhstan: A pilot project. Paper presented at the 2018 Inclusive Education Summit, Deakin University Melbourne, Australia 

Somerton, M. (2018). Inclusive Education and the impact of school leaders’ attitudes and experiences. Paper presented at the 2018 International Scientific Practical Conference “Inclusive Education: Theory, practice, experience” National Academy of Education, Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan

Somerton, M. (2017). Re-conceptualising Inclusive Education: school principals' perspectives in post-soviet Kazakhstan. Paper presented at the 2017 Inclusive Education Summit, Adelaide, Australia.

Somerton, M., Fielding-Barnsley, R., Rayner, C., & Hay, I. (2015). Embedding Teaching Strategies into iPad Technology to improve Reading Comprehension in students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Paper presented at the 2014 International Society of Technology and Education Conference. Atlanta, US.

Somerton, M. (2015). Educational Software Design for Mobile Technologies – Research and Development of a Literacy App. Paper presented at Conversations on Knowledge for Teaching, Launceston, Australia.


Awards and Achievements

May 2019               Teaching Award – Inclusive Teaching, Nazarbayev University

May 2018               Teaching Award – Inclusive Teaching, Nazarbayev University

May 2017               Teaching Merit Certificate Inclusive Education Teaching Team                                                

March 2017           Teaching Award – Inclusive Teaching, Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education

July 2014               iAward Postgraduate Tertiary Student and National finalist

October 2012        UniQuest Trailblazer University of Tasmania – Student Highly Commended

March 2012           Awarded Elite Scholarship University of Tasmania

December 2011    T.E. Doe Prize in Education – Overall Best Performing Student in the Bachelor of Education. 

                                     Awarded to a full-time first degree undergraduate student in the Faculty of Education. 

December 2011     Awarded Dean’s Roll of Excellence

December 2009    Awarded Dean’s Roll of Excellence