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

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Experiences of Latin Americans seeking professional jobs in Greater Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-03-05
Abstract: 

Canada is often acknowledged as one of the most welcoming countries for immigrants around the world. However, literature reveals that Canadian skilled immigrants, particularly those from Latin America, are often unemployed, underemployed, and earn significantly less than their Canadian-born counterparts. This dissertation examines the experiences of Latin American Skilled Immigrants (LSIs) in Metro Vancouver, including: the factors that prompt them to migrate; their experiences with the Canadian immigration system; and their transition into the new social space. I critically deconstruct dominant economic approaches to immigration and challenge human capital explanations of the phenomena. By utilizing a multiple case study research design, I conducted in-depth interviews with nine LSIs and coauthored their narratives. Filtered through the lenses of Bourdieu's theory of social reproduction, Rizvi’s ideas regarding the neoliberal imaginary, and Bauman’s concepts of the stranger’s aporia, I found that migration appears as a strategy of social reproduction in which participants aim to maintain or enhance their position in the social space. Furthermore, the neoliberal imaginary in conjunction with the participants’ habitus largely shaped their perception of what moving in the social space looks like and how it is achieved. With respect to their transition into Canada, I found that participants who entered with prearranged jobs (WPJ) had more positive experiences settling and adapting than those who entered without prearranged jobs (WOPJ). Participants WOPJ faced more onerous immigration processes and upon arrival, they encountered a contradictory society that intensely seeks to select the best and brightest, but does little to facilitate their integration and in some cases is even obstructive and discriminatory. Through the same theoretical framework, I realized that settling into the community and transitioning into the labour market did not solely depend on the participants’ intrinsic human capital, but also on a complex series of internal contradictions and relations of power created by the neoliberal imaginary. Acknowledging this complexity may lead to a more comprehensive and unprejudiced construction of the Canadian immigration system. This would allow more room to discuss and address the ethical and moral challenges that many immigration stakeholders face, particularly the higher education system in the era of academic neoliberalism.

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

Witnessing a mosaic emerge: The phenomenon of transformative learning within a professional master's degree program

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-08
Abstract: 

Personal and professional growth experienced by adult learners has been explored by education researchers for decades. Now in a second wave of theory development, transformational learning research has broadened from its earlier focus on cognitive and rational processes, to explore methods that promote and acknowledge a more holistic view of learning processes and an enhanced range of expressed and demonstrated outcomes that reflect multi-dimensions of transformative growth. What is not currently well documented in the research literature is evidence of sustained changes to personal and/or professional ways of being in the world arising from graduate level professional education programs. Unstructured phenomenological interviews were conducted with 20 alumni of a Master of Education in Educational Practice program (M.Ed. EP) 16-20 months post-graduation. Conversations focused on what the M.Ed. meant to them personally and professionally, experiences of sustained growth, as well as meaningful processes that facilitated and supported their expressed changes. Through phenomenological reduction, a common essence of the experience emerged which highlighted the role of the learning community and a variety of learning activities that were meaningful for the alumni’s change processes. A range of personal and professional outcomes were expressed as either transformative in nature, or professionally grounding, validating, and affirming in terms of professional identity and praxis. In this thesis, the phenomenon of the M.Ed. EP experience is presented as a narrative utilizing phenomenological reductions as exemplars to the nuanced experiences. Potentially adding to the second wave of transformative learning research, it is proposed that these varied accounts may all be expressions of transformative learning when applying a broader interpretive lens that includes professional praxis and professional identity changes as evidence of transformation. Collectively these 20 individual experiences, interpreted as nuanced accounts, act as pieces of a mosaic converging to provide a contextualized vision of transformative learning in the professional practice master’s degree. Findings may support faculty and educational designers who wish to facilitate transformative outcomes for their students.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Cher Hill
David Kaufan
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The understated power of reading contemporary Indigenous literature in Canada, a white supremacist nation

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-23
Abstract: 

This thesis offers a textual analysis of three contemporary novels by Indigenous writers in Canada – Tracey Lindberg’s (2015) Birdie, Katherena Vermette’s (2016a) The Break, and Eden Robinson’s (2017a) Son of a Trickster. Informed by critical Whiteness studies, scholarship on settler colonialism, and reader response theory, I argue how contemporary Indigenous literature facilitates the social and political transformation decolonization requires. When approached with prior knowledge about past and ongoing colonialism, the stories written by today’s Indigenous authors disrupt the settler national myths that normalizes White supremacy in Canada, and demands introspection on how settlers perpetuate colonial violence against First Peoples. Their stories extend possibilities for transformative learning by re-centering Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies, and by reframing kindness, reciprocity, and kinship as human obligations. In creating space for us to imagine existing beyond the limitations set by the racial settler state, these stories can instigate shifts in cultural perceptions and power relations in real ways. These stories also hold implications for meaningful and constructive human rights-based social justice practices, by reshaping knowledge on antiracism and decolonization outside dominant frameworks that assume the colonial state’s legitimacy and permanence.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dolores van der Wey
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Why the mentoring of female educational leaders with an ethic of care matters

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-22
Abstract: 

The intent of this dissertation is to investigate how mentorship practices embodying an ethic of care can play a role in the recruitment and retention of female educational leaders into administrative roles in education. Through a critical review of Nel Noddings’ ethic of care theory and the concept of mentoring, associated as well as opposing or alternative theories are examined. By employing the methodological approach of autoethnography, the marriage of mentoring with an ethic of care can be studied in support of female educational leaders seeking ascension. An informal conceptual analysis of mentoring as well as Noddings’ ethic of care theory provide the framework for analyzing this study which spans both the public K-12 and post-secondary education sectors. Noddings’ ethic of care theory is the lens through which we may view the personal narratives for care or lack thereof, while informal mentorship is explored using autoethnography. Four components are critical to Noddings’ (2012b) care theory from the perspective of a moral education: “modeling, dialogue, practice, and confirmation” (p. 237). Through autoethnography, these components are considered with a focus on natural, relational caring in supporting a female educational leader’s quest towards educational administrative leadership. The findings illustrate that foundational to a female educational leader’s quest for ascension are identity development and dialogue, both of which play a key role in the development of the mutuality of relation. Additionally, through informal mentoring, a mutual relation between the one-caring and the cared-for serves to confirm the best self possible in the cared-for. Encouraging the development of the best self possible in the cared-for is the expression of Noddings’ moral objective. Because the moral objective of allowing natural caring to flourish between the cared-for and the one-caring in reaching the female educational leader’s best potentialities is important in building her capacity to ascend to educational administrative leadership, collaboration with a mentor is key to successfully transforming female educational leaders through ascension into educational administrative leadership roles.

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

Listening for listening in art and inquiry

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-09
Abstract: 

Reflecting on my ways of being in the world as an artist, researcher, student, and mentor, I am drawn by the recurring theme of listening—not only in the sense of auditory perception, but also a wider attunement to the world, involving all my intermingling senses. Arts-based research practices of living inquiry, performative inquiry, embodied inquiry invite me to explore the multiple ways I enact listening in different contexts of my life, such as when reading, dancing, writing, transcribing and facilitating art engagement. Through poetry, theory, life-writing and meditations on my embodied experiences, I observe how different metaphors, intentions or practices can guide and enable different kinds of listening experiences. In particular, I propose that listening transcends an act of reception, constituting a creative and dialogical encounter. Listening calls us to release expectations, preconceptions and control in order to enliven our desire for curiosity, discover new possibilities, and bring forth our own unique voice.

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

Retrieval-based argument mapping promotes learning transfer

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-01-30
Abstract: 

The purpose of my thesis was to investigate if the effects of retrieval practice are enhanced by having learners recall studied information in the format of an argument map. A sample of 120 university students was randomly divided into three treatment groups: a restudy group, a retrieval practice group, and a retrieval-based dialectical map construction group. After reading a text about wind power, the restudy group reread the text. The retrieval practice group completed two cycles of unstructured retrieval practice of the text. The dialectical map group constructed argument maps in the absence of the text with the aid of a web-based argument visualization tool called the Dialectical Map (DMap). Participants returned within two weeks to complete the outcome tests, including a free recall test, a short-answer test, and an argument essay. The latter two measures required transfer and application of knowledge acquired from the text. The results indicated that retrieval-based argument mapping did not yield superior recall, but it did promote knowledge transfer. Argument mapping as a retrieval activity contributed to greater short-answer and argument essay test achievement relative to restudy and free recall testing. Unexpectedly, participants who engaged in free recall practice after reading the text and those who reread the text performed similarly on all three measures. The interaction effect between need for cognition and study strategy was not statistically detectable. This research is the first to integrate retrieval practice and argument mapping and provides new insight into the phenomenon of test-enhanced learning.

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

Experiencing leadership: A study exploring perceptions of leadership of people who pursued doctoral studies in Educational Leadership at Simon Fraser University

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-24
Abstract: 

Although leadership research has amplified over the past decades, leadership is still puzzling. Scholars and practitioners have jointly contributed to the understanding of the leadership phenomenon, the advancement of comprehensive definitions, and the development of theory and praxis of leadership. This qualitative interpretive study aimed to discover what aspects of leadership theory were found in the practice of educational leaders and implications for the design and the development of leadership education. In order to achieve these goals, I explored, analyzed, and interpreted how people who pursued doctoral studies in Educational Leadership at Simon Fraser University experience leadership. For this study, I constructed a conceptual framework consisting of three Leadership Domains (Individual, Interactional, and Collective) and two embedded Leadership Dimensions (Development and Implementation). I used in-depth interviewing methods to collect participants’ leadership stories about their perspectives, development, and implementation of leadership. Data were analyzed to identify themes and triangulated within and across interviews and with researcher’s systematic reflections. This study’s key findings showed that leadership was a multifaceted phenomenon, shaped by people’s past experiences, and perceived as responsibility rather than authority. Participants perceived leadership as concerning people, relationships, influence, and change. Leadership development was seen as a lengthy and intricate journey, involving engagement in various forms of education, with formal education having the most impact. In addition, leadership emerged formally and informally in organizations and its implementation was primarily contextual. This study contributes to literature by providing a better understanding of educational leadership. It demonstrates that a systematic approach to studying leadership generates a richer and more cohesive perspective of this complex phenomenon. In this sense, the conceptual framework constructed for the study and the methodological approach can be used for future leadership research. The study is also useful to leadership scholars and practitioners, as well as to organisations providing leadership education.

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

Smothering othering: South Asian students in K-12 Canadian classrooms

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-22
Abstract: 

As a student, growing up and attending schools in Canada, I found that my racial and cultural identity and experiences were often ignored, questioned, trivialized and/or inferiorized by most of my teachers. Presently, as a teacher, I have born witness to the same type of behaviours within schools albeit, in more covert ways. Such continual oppressive practices prompted this study of how students of South Asian descent describe their educational experiences in K-12 Canadian classrooms. I conducted a qualitative study that was informed by Auto-ethnographic and Critical Ethnographic methods. I used semi-structured interviews to investigate both positive and negative experiences as well as the ways in which participants believed their racial identity may or may not have factored into their schooling. Data was examined using a thematic analysis approach. The themes that emerged were then analzyed through Critical Race Theory, Whiteness Theory, and Anti-racism education lenses. The findings uncovered oppressive practices that contribute to the disaffection of students as well as inclusive practices that lead to validation and engagement. It is hoped that the findings of this study will allow educators to analyze ways in which teacher behaviours and educational institutions perpetuate or combat racism and build or limit the empowerment of their students.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dolores van der Wey
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Learning and teaching visualization tasks in secondary mathematics classrooms

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-14
Abstract: 

In the new British Columbia’s Mathematics curriculum, students are expected to “visualize to explore mathematical concepts.” Although research shows that spatial skills can improve with targeted intervention, oftentimes these skills are considered to be difficult to transmit and to assess. In this study, students in Mathematics 8 and Mathematics 9/10 classes engaged in visualization tasks inspired by Caleb Gattegno’s practice. They imagined a scenario described by the teacher, drew a sketch of the scenario, and discussed their solution with peers. Through drawing, the students developed strategies including showing hidden edges of three-dimensional shapes, and stepwise rotation of shapes and learning how to draw loci. Through discourse, they stated conjectures and arguments, applying their own mathematical agency. Students developed awareness of definitions, conventions and properties of shapes and the ability to consider multiple constraints of task and to generalize. Additionally, they developed awareness of their own and their peers’ thinking.

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

The learning virtues: Chinese cultural dispositions and student success

Date created: 
2020-04-15
Abstract: 

Internationalization in Western higher education, especially given the large number of students coming from China, requires an understanding of culturally-informed learning dispositions. Learning challenges and cultural strain are the foci of most of the existing research, however these foci do not sufficiently illumine the positive and often outstanding educational outcomes these international students attain. This phenomenological case study explores the experiences of eleven Chinese international students in an undergraduate dual degree program of Simon Fraser University and Zhejiang University, investigating the qualities they share which dispose them to perform well academically. An analysis of three sources of data, namely, (1) autobiographical descriptions of student participants’ learning histories, (2) interviews with student participants, and (3) interviews of two faculty members, reveals six key learning dispositions driving these students earnestly, strategically and proactively toward academic excellence. With “Enterprise” and “Resolve,” they set high standards and aspirations as their learning goals, and pursue these goals with diligence. In the process of academic learning, “Concentration” assures full engagement in learning tasks, while “Perseverance” helps them endure learning hardships. “Humility” has them temper their self-satisfactions in order to be ready to learn from their teachers and peers. With the disposition of “Responsibility,” learning to the best of their abilities fulfills family expectations and connects their actions to intended futures.These learning dispositions are rooted in the Confucian learning tradition. They reveal the moral dimension to the learning. This study thus charts a new line of inquiry, one based on taking an emic, insider perspective on the internationalization of higher education, that promises to enrich our understandings of learning beyond knowledge construction and competency development. The findings will also inform current and potential Chinese international students, and their host Western universities, how and why these students are able to excel in their studies. Some practical recommendations for supporting these international students are drawn from the study data.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen Smith
Cécile Bullock
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.