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

Receive updates for this collection

The person who arrives: Storying connections between disability studies and educational practice

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-19
Abstract: 

I am a disabled scholar, activist, parent, and public-school educator. My practice as an educator is informed by my interactions and activism alongside Autistic/Neurodivergent and other disabled people. The connectivity of social media has created a tremendous opportunity for us to work collaboratively on projects, locally and internationally. My research is situated within the paradigm of practitioner research, and the finely measured attunement and noticings that arise both during and in reflection upon my work with others. Specifically, I am interested in undermining the dominant narratives that suggest disabled people are less than, in order to consider and make space for including alternative perspectives. I seek to understand and respond to disability and disabled children/students/people in our schools and our homes and communities in ways that honour who they already are. I explore opportunities to disrupt the predominant pedagogy around disability within our school systems and the greater society, and as such I work to engage educators (and others) with the ideas of disability studies, drawing upon and amplifying the perspectives and voices of disabled people. What are the opportunities to teach and engage educators (and others) with the ideas of disability studies outside of higher education? My practice, aligned with my scholarship, is political, and I collaborate with other disabled people to shift the conversation about disability so that educators can explore and question ableist attitudes and thus be positioned to become co-conspirators for disability rights alongside their students. My research is a narrative exploration; a weaving of poetry, story, images, and theory that locates me firmly as a member of the disability community. I ask: what are the possibilities for transformation when educators are supported to view disability through a social justice lens that highlights counter narratives of disability, resistance, and pride?

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Lynn Fels
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Informal spoken language in a mathematics classroom: How high-school students talk about solving for x

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-09-23
Abstract: 

In secondary mathematics education in British Columbia, written communication is recognized as the dominant form of mathematical language, while little emphasis has been placed on spontaneous, spoken, peer-to-peer language. This prioritizing misses out on the opportunity to see student thinking through their informal speech. The purpose of this thesis is to attend to what students say to each other when they talk about the doing of mathematics in small groups. In particular, I seek to respond to the question, “What informal terms do students use in their spoken language while solving algebra equations in small groups together?” I recorded student conversations as they solved algebra questions, transcribed their discussions, and categorized aspects of their language. I found that students used a variety of terms outside of the mathematics register, terms that demonstrated different implications of mathematics and exhibited singular features of language. Furthermore, I discovered that when students worked with one another, they consistently used metaphorical language to express mathematical operations and objects.

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

Vexique: Vocabulary enhancement software for French immersion students

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-14
Abstract: 

This dissertation developed and tested online writing analytics software, Vexique, designed to improve French immersion (FI) high school students’ lexical richness by promoting use of alternative vocabulary in phrasing an essay. Vexique’s features were grounded in the Hulstijn and Laufer (2001) Involvement Load Hypothesis for second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition, whereby giving more attention to processing lexical information encourages vocabulary acquisition and retention in L2. Forty-five Grade 12 FI students participated. Students wrote two argumentative essays. Vexique provided quantified feedback of vocabulary and usage on the first essay that afforded making lexical improvements prior to submission. To test effects of the software’s analytics, students wrote a second essay without feedback. Lexical richness increased after learners received prompts about their first essay. Results showed statistically detectable benefits to lexical richness indicated by lexical density and diversity. Results also indicated no statistically detectable difference in repetitive content words in the second essay.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Philip Winne
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Trust in neoliberal times: A genealogy

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-15
Abstract: 

There is a crisis of trust in the neoliberal world. Is trust ending, or have we learned to trust in new ways? This thesis conducts an historical genealogy of trust practices across the early modern era, classical liberalism, the welfare state, and neoliberalism. This genealogy reveals that neoliberal trust practices are neither natural nor determined, and that we can inform how we trust in light of our past. This investigation finds that the neoliberal self has little capacity for trust beyond the present moment. Neoliberal trust practices, including auditing, skill learning, risk management, and emotional reasoning, are placed on the market, an unpredictable and erratic force that compels individuals to seek stability and security in isolation from others rather than with others. These attempts to gain security, however, tend to slide towards suspicion, distrust, and alienation. Three ethical implications are discussed regarding the impact of neoliberal trust practices on the therapeutic relationship.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeff Sugarman
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Baskets of offerings: Design, nature, animism, and pedagogy

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-09-22
Abstract: 

This dissertation explores how an animist spirituality redirects design. Design has long been understood as the professional practice of creating artefacts, systems, and communications for modern Western “civilization.” Recently, many scholars have been calling for a redirection of design’s talents and agency towards holistic, ecological and ethical practices. To do this, I argue, designers need to build an understanding and a connection with nature, ecological literacy, a visceral understanding of the Earth, and a spiritual knowing that we are interconnected and inseparable from all beings. I learned much of this during my childhood experiences on a farm, and during my exploration of contemplative practices. Through my journaling and my studies, I found that the spiritual and personal were artificially separated from the professional disciplines. I reunited important parts of myself that had been fragmented or split off during my professional teaching and professional design career. Buddhist mindfulness and meditation practices offer psychophysical learning. Contrary to academic intellectual traditions, these offer a path to understanding animist spirituality within mind, body, and heart. I search for pathways to extend this deep learning through somatic and experiential pedagogies in design. I relate several stories of how my colleagues and I have integrated animist, intersubjective, and contemplative practices into design pedagogy. I look for practices to support the embodied, relational, and experiential forms of exploration that can open opportunities for animist ways of knowing. We become aware, with carnal vitality, of our physical and emotional selves in the process. We come to understand ourselves and our bodies as fully implicated in seeing, reflecting, understanding, and practicing design. Reflections, stories, essays, and journal extracts are sorted into a series of baskets rather than the traditional thesis form of chapters. Meditative practices interweave throughout. This collection of possibilities allows a métissage of ideas rather than a scripted or definitive study.

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

Bridging the divide: Collaborative practice between faculty and student services staff

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-04
Abstract: 

As post-secondary student demographics have changed in Canada over the decades, students come to universities with different expectations, and the more recent trend is that students increasingly expect the university to fit in with their lives rather than them fitting into the university culture (Fisher, 2011). This trend requires that institutions consider how to enrich diverse student experiences both within and outside the classroom. Research has shown that collaboration between faculty and student services is essential for the development of a quality student experience (Kezar, 2005). First-year collaborations are designed to support the incoming student and provide a springboard/safety net, yet, they exist, more often than not, on the periphery of the academic experience (Barefoot & Gardner, 2003) and continue to be secondary add-ons. The purpose of this research was to analyze cross-divisional collaboration between faculty and staff that aspires to build broad-based partnerships and integrative educational experiences for students. A multiple site case study design across three post-secondary institutions in British Columbia utilized interviews and focus groups with 10 administrators, 13 faculty, and 13 staff. The theoretical frameworks informing this study and its analyses were organizational culture (Schein, 2004; Tierney, 1988) and critical theory (Foucault, 1982; Horkheimer,1982). The sites provided unique and individualized perspectives, but overwhelmingly spoke to cultural gaps—the lack of coordinated efforts and systemic issues that support separate functions. These cultural limitations have created a lack of knowledge and connection between faculty and staff that have led to hesitancy in attempted collaborative partnerships - although these layers of disconnection were minimized when participants had ongoing and prior relationship. Oshrey (1995) suggested: “Wherever there is differentiation—the elaboration of our differences—special attention needs to be given to dedifferentiation: developing and maintaining our commonality” (p. 8). Future studies might examine a) the impact of organizational structures, in particular, the lack of student service professionals on governance committees, task forces, and committees; b) communication strategies that enable knowledge sharing and provide access to institutional knowledge; c) institutional leadership; and d) how cultural change happens.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Michelle Pidgeon
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Practicing love: embodied attunement through the lens of Aikido

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-09
Abstract: 

Contemplative practices, such as secular mindfulness meditation, are being increasingly integrated into pedagogical settings to enhance social and emotional well-being and to address stress-induced overwhelm due to increased pressures on the education system and its constituents. While these practices bring benefits, including increased self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, and empathy for teachers and learners alike, this dissertation makes the claim that pedagogical practices on the whole reflect an epistemological worldview that privileges a highly cognitive approach to teaching and learning, one that fails to fully account for the deeper psychological, emotional, and somatic registers of human participants, and that sees them as separate from the other-than-human ecology of life around them. In a time of global crisis, such contemplative approaches to education, as beneficial as they may be, run the risk of reinforcing the psychosomatic notion of the individualized human self—itself rooted in interiorized experience--the Cartesian notion of mind-body dichotomy, and a host of other factors that underscore an already hypercompetitive and anthropocentric world. This dissertation extensively draws on the author’s lifelong practice in the non-competitive and defensive Japanese art of Aikido. Known as the ‘art of peace,’ Aikido is an inherently relational practice that teaches practitioners to view and engage an ‘opponent’ from a virtue-ethic standpoint and ontological view of non-dualism, non-violence, and calm, controlled physical resolution. Aikido is rooted in a spiritual and practical ethos of harmonized relations, or more radically, of unifying ‘love.’ To be effective, one has to embody this ethic not only from the intention of an ‘inner posture,’ but through fluid timing, relaxed movement, and non-aggression in their ‘outer posture’ and intercorporeality. Learning Aikido requires one to focus not only on cognitively acquired skill, but also on mind-body-spirit integration. The four essays in this thesis explore the various ways, through the lens of this non-violent relational art of Aikido, that pedagogy is always something being practiced (on the level of psychological, somatic and emotional registers) and thus holding potential for transformation into being more relational, ecological-minded, and reflecting more ‘embodied attunement.’ Thus pedagogy, as Aikido, holds potency as the skillful practice of empathic connectivity or ‘love.’ From the ‘art of motorcycling’ to ‘teacher as healer,’ these essays present teaching-learning practice from the Japanese philosophy worldview as ‘way’ or path—one that is taken up for daily life and based on self-cultivation of virtue-ethics as an aspirational achievement of mind-body integration and wholeness, rather than preoccupation with establishing claims about absolute truth.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Heesoon Bai
Stephen Smith
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Reimagining an employment program for migrant women: From holistic classroom practice to arts-informed program evaluation

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-16
Abstract: 

This dissertation explores how arts-informed program evaluation contributes to the understanding of an employment program, which was reimagined holistically, for women with immigrant and refugee experience who face barriers entering the Canadian workplace. My practitioner inquiry focuses on a program I managed at an urban community college in partnership with a local community organization. The program supports the development not only of job skills, and English language and literacy, but of social identities that can contribute to success in the search for employment. The decision to launch a women-only program allowed me to surface the experiences and additional burdens conventionally carried by women—for instance, the challenge of childcare as well as periods of absence from the workforce. I used collage-making workshops to learn how these women experienced the program in order to gather knowledge that does not come into focus in the usual standardized evaluation forms or surveys. These arts-informed evaluations enabled students to reflect on the possibilities that the program had afforded them. Informed by theories of social capital and imagined communities and futures, my analysis of their stories showed me that a caring, localized context was paramount for learning. As a practitioner-researcher collaborating with an inquiry community of researchers and drawing on multiple sources of observational, group, and interview data, I was able to explore how, for these migrant women, investment in language and literacy learning in an employment program contributes to the development of confidence, identity, and social relationships, which enables them to overcome barriers. I also argue that a broadened access to an imagined community and imagined future opened up possibilities for the women, which impacted positively on their investment in language learning and their social identity as employable but also as mothers, citizens and community members.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Steven Marshall
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

An exploration of generative conversations during faculty meetings in a university setting

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-19
Abstract: 

The environment in which universities operate continues to shift and change consequent to economic realities, changing demographics, and changes in technology. Planning in higher education must be creative and responsive to address multifaceted demands. To sustain post-secondary education, institutional leaders need to develop skill sets that promote effective dialogue, group work, and generativity within internal organizations. Concepts of leadership for the 21st century shift focus away from the previous approaches of making incremental improvements to already existing processes toward discovering possibilities, exploring potential innovations, and generating actions (Burgess & Newton, 2015; Webber, 2016). Building on existing frameworks for understanding generativity in group work and planning, this study sought to understand generative processes and conversations that compel people to act upon thoughts and feelings arising from social interactions. A descriptive study design was utilized to explore and summarize the experiences of faculty involved in three different group planning processes: brainstorming (Osborn 1953, 1957, 1963), a force field analysis (Lewin, 1947), and a variation of an appreciative inquiry process (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987). The development of a generative conversations survey tool focused on how the faculty participants perceived the qualities of their experiences. A key outcome of the research was the creation of a set of recommendations for thinking about the design of group sessions and meetings that can transmethodologically enhance chances for generative results.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Milton McClaren
Tom Roemer
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Educating Semiosis: Exploring ecological meaning through pedagogy

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-10-15
Abstract: 

This thesis consists of six essays – framed by introduction and conclusion chapters – that develop possibilities for philosophy of education and pedagogy from the lens of bio-semiotics and edu-semiotics (biological and educational semiotics). These transdisciplinary inquiries have found commonality in the concept of learning-as-semiosis, or meaning-making across nature/culture bifurcations. Here, quite distinct branches of research intersect with the American scientist-philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce’s (1839 - 1914) pragmatic semiotics. I argue in these essays that the research pathway suggested by the convergence of edu- and bio-semiotics, reveals possibilities for developing a (non-reductive) theory of learning (and pedagogy generally) that puts meaning-making processes in a central light. A fully semiotic theory of learning implores us to take an ecological and biological view of educational processes. These processes explore the complementarity of organism-environment relations and the relationship between learning and biological adaptation. They also unravel new implications for education through the basic recognition that meaning is implicitly ecological. Understanding semiotic philosophy as an educational foundation allows us to take a broader and less dichotomized view of educational dynamics, such as: learning and teaching, curriculum design, arts and music education, inter/trans-disciplinary education, literacy (including environmental and digital literacy), as well as exploring the relationships and continuities between indigenous/place-based and formal pedagogical processes and practices. From this meaning-based and ecological perspective, what is important in the educational encounter is not psychologic explanations of learning stages, predetermined competencies, or top-down implemented learning-outcomes, but rather meaning and significance and how this changes through time-space and with others (not only human others) in a dynamic and changing environment. As addressed more directly in the conclusion chapter, these essays unravel the implications of this emerging approach to the philosophy of education, pedagogy and learning theory, specifically by providing conceptual/philosophical possibilities for integrating arts education, science education, and indigenous place-based knowledge into holistic educational approaches and programs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Susan O'Neill
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.