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

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Mathematics teaching and social media: An emergent space for resilient professional activity

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-19
Abstract: 

Professional activity around mathematics teaching is considered vital in the improvement of mathematics education at all levels. Research in mathematics education has identified aspects of teacher professional development that are effective, but there has been a recent push for better understanding how mathematics teacher professional development can also be sustainable. To this end, informal professional activity around mathematics teaching has become of particular interest in the field. Since many education professionals are turning to resources that are becoming increasingly available beyond the confines of institutional boundaries, such as via social media, many of the constraints of traditional forms of professional activity are being bypassed, allowing for informal professional activity to flourish. In some cases, collectives of professionals have formed in such contexts. One such collective, referred to as the Math Twitter Blogosphere (MTBoS), has remained resilient for almost ten years with ongoing activity around mathematics teaching occurring daily. Although this self-organized, bottom-up, emergent collective thrives with engagement around mathematics teaching, it has received very little empirical attention within mathematics education. As such, this study investigates the inner workings of this collective by drawing on tenets of complexity thinking to develop a more comprehensive description of its nature and how it thrives. Informed by an ethnographic journey of becoming a MTBoS participant, I select and analyze data in innovative ways to uncover both the ideational network in MTBoS and the social network that drives its existence. Analysis of these networks illuminates the influence not only of social capital, but also of ideational capital, both of which are necessary for determining ideational resilience within the collective. The results of this research indicate not only the popular topics within MTBoS, but also more importantly, features that drive ongoing and often generative activity around mathematics teaching within this online, unprompted, unfunded and unmandated professional setting.

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

The river carries that which the mountains cannot hold: A series of geophilosophical experiments with the Fraser River

Date created: 
2019-07-05
Abstract: 

This dissertation is divided into two parts. In part I the argument is put forward that the ideas and practices informing life and work (with a special focus upon work within the human services industries, including education) must emerge from and find ways to return to the specific relational and ecological assemblages that include the land, air, and water with which we live and work. The term geophilosophy is explored to help unpack such an assemblage of land and thought, ecology and history. In Part II of this thesis the reader is invited into a succession of explorations with a geophilosophy. These explorations involve a kind of pilgrimage with a river, in particular with the Fraser River – a geological entity with which the author has close personal ties. In articulating the concept of geophilosophy, the author takes guidance from a diverse group of thinkers, such as: Deleuze and Guattari, Gregory Bateson, Lynn Hoffman, Jacques Derrida, Tompson Highway, John Kelley, Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour, Dianne Chisholm, Brian Massumi, Eduardo Galeano, and Bruce Alexander. Part II of this geophilosophical journey involves two forms of chapters. First, there is what the author calls the Dérive-Prayer, a process which requires travel with the river accompanied by a series of reflective essays focusing upon the relations that emerge between a specific location along the river and spiritual, political, and ecological realities that also come to life within the same area of the river. Secondly, there is a series of essays that the author describes as Experiments – these are geophilosophical experiments. Significant philosophical concepts are tied to the geographies connected with the river. This pilgrimage with the Fraser River watershed follows a particular path -- beginning at Sts’ailes First Nation and moving upstream along the Fraser’s watershed, through Kamloops, the Thompson and the North Thompson Rivers, all the way to the Fraser’s headwaters at the continental divide. The Fraser is then followed downstream through its Eastern reaches, past the Cariboo, past the town of Lillooet, through the Fraser Canyon and the Fraser Valley, rolling on through Vancouver and into the Salish Sea. This pilgrimage ends in the same place the river begins, far out in the cold waters of the Pacific. This study is seen as having an ontological focus in that it attempts to open-up possible worlds in which those who recognize their relations with these geographies can learn to live and take action. Such ontological unfoldings hold much diverse relevance for the assortments of living beings who reside with the river, and it holds particular relevance for those of us who work within the various human service industries connected with these lands. The author offers this work as a form of contemplative inquiry placed philosophically before the creation of ethical imperatives, yet after, or in the midst of, its ontological unfolding.

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

Language acquisition in a deaf learner: An autobiography

Date created: 
2018-07-09
Abstract: 

This thesis presents an autobiographical account of an exceptional learner\'s journey as a member of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community—a learner who, despite challenges, acquired four languages and become an educator of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This \'learning journey\' is interpreted through a sociocultural lens and approach of Plurilingualism informed by research and practice in language education. The exhibitions are based on the writer’s ethnography concerning acquisitions of American Sign Language (ASL), English, Spanish, and German through decades of academic work that have been effectively applied to professional work and societal and cultural engagements.

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

Community in the making: Weaving places of learning, cultural production, and community building within a community festival space in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-01-13
Abstract: 

Bringing together the theories of cultural studies and critical pedagogy, as well as the multisensory approach to cultural production, this dissertation explores a community festival, namely, the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival in Vancouver, and its important role in the construction of pedagogical spaces, local culture, and community. Drawing from multiple sources of data generated from four years of ethnographic work between 2013 and 2017, this dissertation takes a close look at how cultural production practices and processes, embodied learning experiences, civic agency, and community building interlink and influence each other to turn the ephemeral space of a community festival into a dynamic performative space that fulfils educational, social, cultural, and personal functions. Through instances of the production of critical multiliteracies and festival participants’ active engagement, this dissertation illustrates how the Festival served as a multi-functional space, a) providing a critical pivot for civic pedagogies to rise; b) involving festival participants into relational, sensory learning and enabling them to become critical learners and cultural citizens through multimodal cultural production; and c) serving as both the medium and outcome of its participants’ engagement and their sense-making. The study offers a robust conceptualization of the community festival and creates new links between the urban festival, pedagogy, cultural production, and place-making. It also provides insights into the educative potential of the community festival as a site for critical public pedagogy.

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

Springsteen, a three-minute song, a life of learning

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-09
Abstract: 

This dissertation is an autobiographical and educational rendering of Bruce Springsteen’s influence on my life. Unbeknownst to him, Bruce Springsteen became my first proper ‘professor.’ Nowhere near the confines of a regular classroom, he opened the door to a kind of education like nothing I ever got in my formal schooling. From the very first notes of the song “Born in the U.S.A.,” he seized me and took me down a path of alternative learning. In only four minutes and forty seconds, the song revealed how little I knew of the world, despite all of my years in education, being a teacher, and holding senior positions. Like many people, I had thought that education was gained from the school system. One song changed everything. It made me question the very definition of education and what it means to be educated. This work, through life writing, examination of lived experience and deep sustained reflection, represents my educational journey. It describes my ‘other’ education, the kind of learning discovered through my passion for the music of Springsteen and the lyrics and delivery of his songs. I unpack these experiences of life and learning in terms of contemporary educational literature and dis-courses. This allows me to interpret how my ‘other’ education was formed in light of Springsteen, his songs, live performances and some of his observations. I make a case in this dissertation for the contribution of popular song as a potent force for learning and transformation. I aim to open the door to further the potential for rock and popular music in educational practice.

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

Design, development, and evaluation of an online escape game for older adults

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-11
Abstract: 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that seniors (persons who are 60 years old and older) are one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. Accordingly, maintaining their quality of life has become an exponentially important issue, and digital technologies can help. A large number of older adults have embraced digital technologies. Many others would be open to digital technologies provided that they would see the benefits and become motivated to use these new tools. Older adults can benefit from new technologies in various ways and digital games provide one such way. Older adults represent a growing demographic of gamers. Research has shown that digital games have physical, cognitive, emotional, and social benefits for seniors. They also offer opportunities for lifelong learning and improving digital skills. Nevertheless, older adults are underrepresented as digital game players, and hence, digital games that are designed for them are still rare. Due to age-related changes and different preferences, digital games targeted at older adults have particular design requirements to address their needs and preferences. A user-centred design (UCD) process is an approach that includes older adults in the design process to make sure the game is usable and enjoyable for them. In this project, an online escape game was designed, developed, and evaluated using a UCD process. The game is based on real-life escape rooms that are collaborative adventure games in which a team of players is locked in a room. They need to discover clues and solve puzzles to attain the final goal; i.e., escape the room, usually within a time limit. We performed a needs assessment in real-life escape rooms, created a game concept based on the assessment, designed the game with older adults, and tested two prototypes iteratively with older adults. The findings suggest that the game was usable and enjoyable for older adults. However, it still needs several refinements and further usability and field testing before a larger audience of players can use it.

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

The dance of utter darkness: Pedagogy for the outsider

Date created: 
2019-09-20
Abstract: 

The rationale of this study is to explore the connections between body-being, morality and transformative learning by examining particular contexts of butoh dance. By approaching the phenomenon of butoh through the lens of art, aesthetics and ethics, as well as incorporating a socio-political-historical perspective, I aim to understand this form for the transgressive and thus, regenerative powers it contributes to art and life. Transgressive art does not attempt to deny the structure of civilized social life but rather re-orders it by highlighting excluded, often taboo behaviors and provoking us to accept life whole-heartedly as a paradox, without firm ideas of right and wrong. I am intrigued by the idea of butoh/ dance as a non-coercive, non-verbal tool for communication; not simply as an aesthetic or artistic expression but potentially as a highly dismantling framework through which to question social norms. Butoh dance seeks to rupture the safe, intact and socially defined boundaries which normally encompass cultures specifically through language, and it asks what relation language has to the experiential knowledge of the flesh, a very post-modern concern. Butoh, when framed within the context of modern dance- itself a harbinger for the radical post-modern wave, represents a still subversive form of art in 2019.This is partly because it challenges epistemologies based on the superiority of linguistic representation. Butoh is integrally associated with ritual and is most often defined by the aesthetic qualities of darkness and depth. It is considered a philosophy, a spiritual practice, and even a way of life. This form provides an unmatched profundity, often by way of the dark subconscious and shadow sides of life because butoh draws deeply from the collective unconscious, questing for self-knowing through depth, breadth, emptiness and crisis. The pedagogical implications of this subversive art form are massive, for butoh offers entrance to those at the outer edges of the social structure; butoh offers a dwelling place to the marginalized.

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

Perceptions of autism, culture, and personhood from parents of children with autism and from colleagues delivering services to children with autism

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-12
Abstract: 

Through exploration of the critical frameworks of practitioner inquiry along with the tools of self-study, reflective inquiry, and dialogic journaling, this paper investigates new possibilities and models for practitioners who work with Korean-Canadian immigrants who have a child with autism as they deal with acculturation and attempting to gain support while juggling two cultures. This study gathers and analyzes qualitative data on the perceptions of autism, culture, and personhood from parents of children with autism and from colleagues delivering services to children with autism. Specifically it looks at the pressing need for continuing to expand autism research and how this research specifically intersects Korean-Canadian families. Increasingly over time, researchers have argued that it is preconceived notions of “personhood” which lead to the declaration that autistic behaviour is “abnormal”. This research asks what presuppositions exist about “typical” versus “atypical” identities, then asks how educational practices can better support children with autism in realizing and expressing their personhood? And, how do cultural and other discourses- affecting educational practices and affecting children and their families- impact these efforts? This research seeks to answer these questions by exploring notions of how personhood and identity for students with autism is conceptualized within the education system, as intersecting with specific cultural discourses of families and practitioners. The study concludes that it is critical to enhance practitioners’ ability to take multiple perspectives, recognize the significance of student, family and colleague epistemology, and acknowledge the importance of culturally relevant methodology to meet the needs of diverse students.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Robert Williamson
Michael Ling
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Changes in positioning: An alternative perspective on learning in Massive Open Online Courses

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-07
Abstract: 

Discussion forums are widely provided in Massive Open Online Courses for learners to interact and exchange learning support. Developing one’s forum participation pattern to interact substantively about the course content can be an important form of MOOC learning. This mixed-method study examines learners’ forum participation patterns as positions that can be characterized by characteristics related to their contributions and social relations. The series of positions that a learner takes over time form their position trajectory. This study analyzed learners’ positions in the beginning, middle, and end periods in a statistics MOOC and a writing MOOC. Through performing content analysis and social network analysis on the discussions, five kinds of participation characteristics were extracted for each learner: quantity of content-related contributions, input seeking and providing activities, deep consideration of the discussion content, connectedness in the social network, and strength of social connections. Positions in each time period were identified through clustering groups of learners who had similar participation characteristics. The identified positions fell into six primary types: enthusiastic central providers, enthusiastic central reciprocators, moderate providers, moderate reciprocators, moderate deep thinkers, and minimal peripheral contributors. The forum at any time point usually contained a small group of enthusiastic contributors, a big proportion of moderate contributors, and a majority of minimal contributors. This study further examined the position trajectories for learners who participated in multiple periods, and performed case studies on learners who showed the frequent trajectories. In both MOOCs only 17% of the multi-period learners showed constructive development in participation pattern and changes in language and participation focus that suggested identity development. This study is the first effort among MOOC research to examine changes in participation pattern using multiple contribution and social characteristics. The identified positions provided a critical ground for studying content-related interaction and learning community in MOOC forums. The moderate contributor groups are under-researched in the MOOC literature and promising for expanding the understanding of MOOC learners. The findings in this study also demonstrate the usefulness of the position perspective for understanding MOOC learning and both the need and potential avenues to help MOOC learners become more competent forum participants.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alyssa Friend Wise
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Topic driven writing analytics: Using natural language processing techniques to derive topic-based feedback supporting writing revision

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-04
Abstract: 

Writing provides a medium for learners to construct, critique and share understandings of concepts, reasoning and judgments. Connecting and representing ideas in an essay is an important but challenging skill for novices to develop. Occasions often are limited to receive personalized feedback and time is short to practice implementing recommendations, particularly in post-secondary education. Writing analytics can help address these challenges, providing opportunities to receive on-demand feedback that guides iterative revision to writing. This project creates a new form of writing analytic, analyzing patterns in topics expressed in an individual student’s essay to generate personalized feedback. The analytic is content driven, identifying and describing essay features designed to guide effective revisions, focusing on sequencing topics, expanding underdeveloped ideas, and making holistic revisions to improve the clarity of the ideas expressed. Two experiments tested different reflective prompts based on this analytic, which were derived from unsupervised Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic modeling. The analytic visualizes how topics are distributed across an essay. Experiment 1 tested 3 types of feedback encouraging revisions to expand underdeveloped ideas. Model feedback was evaluated by two human reviewers examining 113 undergraduate student essays. The reviewers found feedback prompting sentence-level revisions on underdeveloped topics was most helpful, while analytic feedback on minor topics in the overall essay were not. This indicates a preference for specific prompts in context. Experiment 2 further explored patterns of topic inclusion that could generate personalized feedback at the paragraph level. Prompts were designed for an essay’s introduction and conclusion paragraphs to highlight main topics in the essay potentially overlooked in those paragraphs. Paragraph prompts pointed to revisions to improve topic clarity and cohesion. Model feedback was evaluated using 71 undergraduate student essays scored by two human evaluators. Model accuracy was strong for all types of feedback. This project extends the scope of writing analytics by opening new branches of research on using the content covered in an individual student’s essay to generate novel forms of feedback on concepts covered, connections made, and integration of source materials.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Philip Winne
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.