Education - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Student actions as a window into goals and motives in the secondary mathematics classroom

Date created: 
2017-06-30
Abstract: 

Students come to the secondary mathematics classroom with a variety of motives. These motives shape the goals a student holds, and the actions that a student performs within the classroom. Ultimately, the approach that a student takes towards learning is a direct consequence of his or her motives. Given the significance of student motive for learning, it is important to understand better the relationship between actions, goals, and motives. The research presented in this thesis aims to do just that. More specifically, it looks closely at student actions in high school mathematics classrooms with the aim of identifying student goals and motives, and further, analysing the relationships between students’ actions and their motives. Using an ethnographic perspective and methods, student actions in three different secondary mathematics classrooms were observed and in situ informal interviews were conducted. Data were first organised and analysed according to actions performed in each activity setting. Then, using classical activity theory, 10 students’ actions and goals in multiple activity settings were analysed to ascertain his or her motives in mathematics class. Finally, the motives and actions of all participants were re-examined from two different perspectives: first, looking at the performed actions of all students holding a given motive in each activity setting; and second, examining the relationships between similar student actions and different motives in one activity setting. This ‘crossover’ approach revealed that similar student actions can be driven by different motives, and that the same motive does not always manifest in similar student action.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Liljedahl
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The Transition from High School Mathematics to First Year Calculus

Date created: 
2017-06-29
Abstract: 

Student preparedness for first-year calculus has been an ongoing concern for post-secondary programs and their respective career paths. Researchers have investigated the benefits and pitfalls of prior calculus knowledge, and the general development of academic competence in an effort to improve student success and retention. Most of the literature is survey based, rather than anecdotal, and serves to inform universities about their own student populations, rather than to inform incoming students about how to be successful. This study compares the perspectives of students and lectures based on anecdotal responses to related questions, and identifies the expectations and habits that are different from students’ high school experiences. The results showed most differences were in regards to the amount of time students needed to spend on homework problems, their problem-solving skills and level of engagement with their homework; and the level of self motivation and independence that was needed for success.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Liljedahl
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis (Education) ) M.Sc.

Revealing place through art: A métissage of indwelling within thin places

Date created: 
2017-09-14
Abstract: 

This inquiry explores how artists are influenced by place - in particular our deep relationship with the natural world. This métissage approach weaves together poetic inquiry, life writing, and photographic inquiry - a multi-modal, multi-sensory, and heuristic pathway to seeking place. It is about evocation and provocation that comes from the indwelling of place, and the deep dialogic with place. Does place live within the artistic creation? How does place inform the geography of our embodied poetics? Does illness trespass on, or open an artist to synergies with place? Society traditionally asks artists to make meaning, to be the human vessel that translates. Place/nature asks artists not to generate meaning so much as to discern the meaning already there. This inquiry created an observational pathway that leads to a discernment of 'thin places', witnesses the communion as well as synergy of artist and place; and honours the way home.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Vicki Kelly
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Navigating Change: A Study of British Columbia University-College Governing Board Responses to the Change in Status from University-College to University

Date created: 
2017-05-24
Abstract: 

In 2007, a new report for the post-secondary education sector was released by the province of British Columbia referred to as “Campus 2020.” This review was the first comprehensive look at higher education in British Columbia in 45 years. A year later, because of recommendations made in the report, the University Amendment Act created five new “Special Purpose Teaching Universities.” There are not many new universities created in Canada and the research on how to become a university is scarce. Moreover, what happens with the university governance, the leadership, and the strategy after the institution has changed its status has not been studied. Specifically, the culture-senate-research equilibrium (that is foundational to the bicameral structure of most universities, but very different from the unicameral, centralized, and hierarchical structure of most colleges) is reviewed in this paper. The new universities had originally been created under the College and Institute Act, and they were changed by the University Amendment Act—with manifestly different mandates, structures, and roles. The purpose of this study was to examine how the boards of university-colleges and colleges affected by the new university Act interpreted their new legislative status and to determine whether there were differences among the boards of the different institutions in how they implemented the changes in status and mandate for their institutions. The research relies on a qualitative design based on document searches and on interviews from board members of the new universities (board chairs, CEOs, and long serving faculty board members), from former senior AVED Ministry personnel, and from the author of the Campus 2020 report. The key finding indicates that there was no common approach in how the boards led the changes required. There was little specific guidance provided to the boards by the BC government or by the Campus 2020 report: it appears the boards were left to struggle with many of the changes on their own.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Milton McClaren
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Self-Compassion: Integrating Buddhist philosophy and practices with Western psychotherapy and a group counselling curriculum

Date created: 
2017-05-18
Abstract: 

In this dissertation, self-compassion and its significance to us are explored from the bifocal perspective of contemporary Western psychotherapy and Buddhist wisdom traditions containing philosophical, spiritual and psychological teachings. The dissertation explores the dialogue and synthesis that have been transpiring for the last few decades between Buddhist and Western psychological systems as proposed and practised by Buddhist and Western psychotherapists, psychiatrists and teachers on compassion and self-compassion. My personal orientation and experience of both Buddhism and the practice of Western psychotherapy serve to promote here a rich, meaningful integration and application of self-compassion in the arenas of education and human service, including schooling and mental health. Chapter 1 is a discussion of the context for my inspiration to study and research self-compassion as a Buddhist practitioner and psychotherapist. In chapter 2, I examine the Buddhist concept of self, as it is integral to the understanding of self-compassion. Perspectives and conceptualizations from some of the primary contributors to the burgeoning field of self-compassion are presented. Chapter 3 discusses further contemporary Buddhist discourses and applications on self-compassion in the therapeutic context. Topics of particular relevance are explored: mindfulness, Buddhist view of reality, wisdom, altruism and loving-kindness practice. In chapter 4, ancient Buddhist texts from both classical and ongoing traditional forms enrich the study; these provide a sacred historical authenticity to the discussion of compassion and honour the Buddhist foundational influences and practices. Chapter 5 is on emotion regulation. Self-compassion is the significant practice and skill involved in this topic. Emotional regulation, as it relates to cultivating positive emotions such as compassion and loving-kindness, has become integrated into affective contemplative practices. Chapter 6 presents scientific research relevant to compassion and self-compassion. Chapters 7, 8 and 9 present modalities for the development of self-compassion in group settings. Chapter 7 presents three major group therapy curricula used today by pioneers in the field of self-compassion: Compassion-Focused Therapy, Compassion Cultivation Training, and the Mindful Self-Compassion program. For chapter 8, I create a specialized self-compassion therapeutic application for Buddhist practitioners using a Tibetan Buddhist practice of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion. Chapter 9 discusses my secular group psychotherapy curriculum for self-compassion. The appendix includes an in-depth nine-session guide for facilitators of that curriculum.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Heesoon Bai
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Mathematical reasoning among adults on the autism spectrum: Case studies with mathematically experienced participants

Date created: 
2017-08-08
Abstract: 

I investigate the unique or unusual characteristics of mathematical problem-solving among adults on the autism spectrum by conducting and analyzing three case studies. The case studies involve providing individuals with a variety of mathematical problems divided into four main groups: paradoxes of infinity, problems emphasizing algebraic or geometric solution, probability, and logic and proof. Participants are given individual interviews, intended to facilitate the communication of their thought processes when solving these problems. Results are analyzed with a variety of constructs, from a perspective that is rooted in Vygotskian ideas and supportive of neurodiversity.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Rina Zazkis
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Exploring Parents’ Perceptions of Student Absenteeism in K-3

Date created: 
2017-08-21
Abstract: 

Chronic absenteeism affects students’ academic achievement as well as their social and emotional wellbeing. In early elementary school, the primary responsibility for school attendance rests with parents and guardians. This thesis investigates parents’ perceptions of factors related to school attendance. The study was conducted in BC’s largest school district within the context of an absenteeism reduction program. Fifty-four parents of students in K-3 from 15 inner-city schools participated in individual interviews that explored their views on the links between the purpose of school, attendance, and academic achievement. While most parents’ perceptions were that attendance is important providing social and academic value, several noted that they kept their child at home to bond with a parent or to support their children's mental health. The results point to a complex and nuanced relationship among factors linked to school attendance, such as individual child and parent characteristics, transportation, food security, and after- school programs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michelle Nilson
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Professional Learning Experiences of Non-Mathematics Subject Specialist Teachers: A Descriptive Study

Date created: 
2017-08-17
Abstract: 

Certified teachers in British Columbia (BC) schools can be assigned to teach secondary mathematics without having a major, minor, or formal background in mathematics. This is known as out-of-field teaching. These non-mathematics subject specialist teachers (NMSSTs) must learn or relearn the subject matter of mathematics to teach secondary mathematics. This study investigates what professional learning activities NMSSTs participate in to gain subject matter content knowledge in mathematics, which activities these teachers believed best facilitated the acquisition of subject matter, and which they believed helped them to teach secondary mathematics better. This was a descriptive study using survey methods. Sixteen professional learning activities were considered. The survey questionnaire was distributed and completed online. Sixty-two NMSSTs completed the survey in full. Most learned the subject matter autodidactically from teaching secondary mathematics, referring to textbooks, or going online. However, formal learning activities such as completing a graduate degree in mathematics or a mathematics-related field best facilitated the acquisition of the subject matter and helped in teaching mathematics better. Other findings include the following: learning from an expert in the field was highly valued; professional learning days were not highly valued but frequently participated-in; the perceived level of subject matter content knowledge of those who completed a graduate degree and those who did not were the same; the NMSST characteristic of perceived level of subject matter content knowledge did not influence participants in this study to self-identify as mathematics subject specialists. Recommendations for practitioners included not learning the subject matter in isolation and to find a mentor. Recommendations for school leaders were to redesign professional development days and to consider purposeful teaching assignments. Recommendations for future research were to develop a self-assessment tool and to implement a study on subject matter acquisition of NMSSTs in a master of mathematics education program. Recommendations for policy-makers included providing alternative professional development opportunities for teachers and setting standards for NMSSTs to help them self-assess their subject matter content knowledge in mathematics.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Daniel Laitsch
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Occasioning flow in the mathematics classroom: optimal experiences in common places

Date created: 
2017-06-28
Abstract: 

This research looks at several mathematics high-school classrooms through the lens of Csíkszentmihályi’s flow theory: optimal matching of skills and challenge, clear goals and feedback, loss of temporal awareness, intense concentration, a sense of control, merging of action and awareness, loss of self-consciousness and autotelic experience. The study focuses on creating and maintaining the flow experience in students. In order to uncover successful pedagogical interventions, the students are surveyed through questionnaires and interviews. The study discusses the crucial role of collaboration and of mathematical tasks in occasioning the flow experience, how students differ in experiencing flow, and how they learn to seek and re-create the flow experience. The study also examines the students’ unfavourable perception of textbooks, the students’ negative experiences of boredom and apathy, and the precarious relationship between teacher flow and student flow.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Liljedahl
Nathalie Sinclair
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis (Education) ) M.Sc.

Effectiveness of Targeted Feedback towards Rhythm Sightreading in University/College-Level Music Education Contexts

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-08-10
Abstract: 

Achieving fluency in sightreading—particularly rhythm reading—is often cited by researchers as a universally problematic aspect of formal music education. Music teachers and students also widely recognize sightreading as a challenge to learn. A review of the literature revealed that sightreading ability is typically assumed by educators to develop naturally in students through the accumulation of experience in general musicianship, rather than given attention as a stand-alone component of instruction in formal music curricula. Overall, there is not an immediately clear answer as to what kind of practice or instruction can help improve sightreading most effectively. This study employed a simple experimental design to compare rhythm sightreading pre- and posttest errors between a group that practiced rhythm sightreading daily for one week, and a treatment group in which participants practiced daily and received expert feedback. Findings showed that the treatment group had statistically significant rhythm sightreading performance improvement over the course of the study, while the practice-only group did not.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dr. Kevin O'Neill
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.