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

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Public school principals’ perceptions of innovation

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-15
Abstract: 

Public education has long been reputed to be a system that is outdated. However, public education, like any organization has seen its share of change and innovation. This mixed-method study explored the perceptions of public school principals’ toward individual and organizational innovativeness.The quantitative phase of the study consisted of a purposeful sample of 23 school principals. It was a partial replication of two previous studies conducted by Mitchell 2008 and Williams 2013, who examined school superintendents’ perceptions of individual and organizational innovativeness. Individual and organizational characteristics were analyzed for statistical significance. In addition, principals’ survey responses were calculated to determine their adopter category according to Rogers’ 2003 classifications. Findings were similar to the replicated studies. Principals, like superintendents, viewed themselves to be more innovative than their schools. Significant, but weak differences were found for the tested professional practices, professional capacity, and gender. There were no significant differences found with the remaining characteristics. The qualitative phase of this study consisted of a purposeful sample of 13 principals who volunteered to participate in interviews from the survey phase. This phase explored principals’ views, perceptions, and challenges they faced in fostering innovation in their schools. Findings from this phase further elaborated on principals’ perceptions regarding individual and organizational innovativeness from the quantitative phase. Both phases of this study were conducted and analyzed separately. Findings from each phase were then synthesized to further clarify principals’ perceptions, and common understanding toward fostering innovation. Although some of the variables tested indicated statistically significant differences, principals did not view them as critical to fostering innovation during interviews. The findings from this study indicated that principals’ perceived their own and their school’s innovativeness as essential to providing students with a meaningful education. It became clear through interviews that factors such as financial resources, student socioeconomic status, and enrolment were not as critical to the innovation process in comparison to the human element of fostering relationships. Importantly, principals perceived their role as leaders as being fraught with complexity in terms of setting the right conditions for innovation to blossom.

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

Evaluation of school principals: Responses from education leaders in Saudi Arabia

Date created: 
2018-01-18
Abstract: 

The Saudi Arabian education system has experienced several significant restructurings since its creation in 1953. The 2011, administrative reform increased school principals’ responsibilities and their roles became more complex. These changes have increased the need for understanding the principal evaluation process in order to ensure long-term success for all in education. The aim of this study was to identify and examine the current evaluation process as experienced by Saudi high school principals and to present their opinions about how to improve the current criteria and methods used by the Ministry of Education. Two questions were used: What are high school principals’ perceptions of the process and criteria for their evaluation? and What are principals’ opinions about how to improve the criteria and methods used in evaluation compared with the recommendations advocated in the literature? A comparison of principals’ opinions and ideas and the recommendations advocated in the literature was completed. A qualitative research design was used to gather data from 14 high school principals working for the General Department of Education in the Eastern Region within the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia. Using a priori themes from the literature related to the research questions, this study presents the processes and procedures used in current principal evaluation. Results show that respondents believe the current principal evaluation processes and methods in Saudi Arabia are ineffective and of little value. Further findings provide suggestions regarding improving the evaluation criteria and procedures to support principals’ development. Study results support the need for change to the principal evaluation system in Saudi Arabia and highlight improving evaluation quality, ensuring purposeful professional development, and including clear performance expectations. Results further suggest the MoE must focus on building a new evaluation by taking into account the opinions of stakeholders, the characteristics of schools, and the need for a sufficient number of qualified evaluators. If education in Saudi Arabia is going to continue moving forward, and if principals are to become the strongest tools for education advancement, then accurate and meaningful evaluation is necessary.

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

Reduction of mathematics anxiety through use of vertical non-permanent surfaces and group discussion

Date created: 
2018-01-16
Abstract: 

Mathematics anxiety is a highly relevant issue in mathematics education. Research into pre-service teachers’ mathematics anxiety has indicated a number of worthwhile strategies to help minimize its effect on the nervous learner. Of particular interest is the Thinking Classroom model. However, while the research is comprehensive on pre-service teachers, it is sparse when concerning middle-school aged children. I have implemented a number of these strategies into a middle-school program designed for anxious youth. The current study is an exploration into how the Thinking Classroom model helps students lower their anxiety surrounding mathematics. During the study, students were asked to create a written reflection piece called a Math Autobiography, given a MARS-R several times and then interviewed. While not all students exhibited a decrease in anxiety, most students reported at the end of the study that they felt their abilities had increased in mathematics and felt more positive about the subject.

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

From the inside out: A hermeneutic phenomenological exploration of the ethical dilemmas and lived experience of an associate dean

Date created: 
2018-01-12
Abstract: 

Academic administrators in the post-secondary environment, such as deans and associate deans, must make difficult, far-reaching decisions in demanding situations almost daily. Researchers have acknowledged the necessity of moral or ethical decision-making for academic administrators, but they have focused primarily on administrators in the kindergarten-to-grade-twelve system. Thus, little is known about how post-secondary academic administrators arrive at their decisions, many of which demand ethical judgements. In this thesis, I examine from a perspective I call “from the inside looking out” my experiences in my role of associate dean at a large suburban university as I resolve ethical dilemmas in my practice. In the past, most research exploring how academic administrators resolve ethical dilemmas has been written using the traditional approach that van Manen (1990) characterizes as being typical of the natural sciences, one which is concerned with knowledge that is generalizable, using procedures that are reproducible and examining participants and samples that are replaceable. This perspective is what I call an “outside-looking-in” approach and does not, I believe, take into account the lived experience of the researcher: it wants for an “inside-looking-out” perspective. To provide this “inside-looking-out” view point, I use a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to analyze three experiences, what I term “scenarios,” that I have encountered as an associate dean: the first involves the performance evaluation of a contract professor, the second a case of plagiarism, and the third a case of accommodation for a student. I examine these scenarios through the lenses of two moral frameworks, Rawls’ (2001) Justice as fairness and Blum’s (1994) focus on moral perception and particularity, and I discuss the consequences, such as moral distress and moral residue, for academic administrators. The relating of my lived experience and the analysis of my scenarios and the discussion of the effects arising from them should serve to help current or future academic administrators as they learn about resolving their own ethical dilemmas in their practice.

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

Language issues in the internationalizing university: Experiences of students, faculty, and staff

Date created: 
2018-04-04
Abstract: 

This research project investigates the experiences of students, faculty, and administrative staff regarding linguistic diversity in an internationalized Canadian higher education institution. Through qualitative interviews I investigate ideologies and assumptions about language and linguistic diversity that shape participants’ experiences with internationalization of education. I find that most student and faculty participants see linguistic diversity on campus as a problem to be fixed in light of the hegemony of the English language. This can lead to inequality and negative perceptions of multilingual students. On the other hand, most staff participants present critical perspectives about the role of language in processes of internationalization. I highlight the need for holistic analysis of the intersections of language and internationalization that consider the voices of staff, in addition to students and faculty. My recommendations for more linguistically-inclusive practices include flexibility in communicative practices, institutional and pedagogical practices that value linguistic and cultural diversity, and cross-cultural professional development for faculty and staff.

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

Using patterns-of-participation approach to understand high school mathematics teachers' classroom practice in Saudi Arabia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-02-26
Abstract: 

During the past decade, the Saudi Arabian education system has undergone major changes. Government agencies involved in education have introduced new policies, standards, programs, and curricula. The recent changes in the education system motivated me to conduct this study. The focus of this research is to describe and understand high school mathematics teachers’ current practices in Saudi Arabia. This research includes four cases of teachers currently teaching high school mathematics in Saudi Arabia. Using the Patterns of Participation concept (PoP) as the main framework, I identified some of the significant practices, or figured worlds, from the teachers’ sense of their practices. Some of the figured worlds that emerged are mathematics, the textbook, reform, responsibility for students’ achievement, and relationship with others. Mathematics, as it has always been, remains an influential figured world for mathematics teachers. Reform and the textbook are becoming as influential because of the current changes in the education system in Saudi Arabia. While some participant teachers are developing a new understanding of what mathematics is and what it means to teach it, they also indicated that they are mostly still using traditional teaching strategies rather than reform teaching strategies. In addition, I conducted a cross-case analysis to connect the findings from each case in order to gain some understanding of how high school mathematics teachers in Saudi Arabia respond to the shared or common circumstances they are facing in the current reform movement. I identified and described six common themes from the cross-case analysis. These themes are useful for showing the range of mathematics high school teachers’ practices in Saudi Arabia and the ways in which their practices differ. Participant teachers responded differently to the shared or common circumstances they face in the current reform movement. I found more differences than similarities in the current teaching practices of the participant teachers.

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

Shifting landscapes in the academy: Career development as a strategic priority

Date created: 
2018-04-04
Abstract: 

Higher education institutions may find it is challenging to deliver educational programming in the global environment. In the face of declining government support, this Canadian Institution has struggled to re-invent itself by operating in a business-oriented way. With a new guiding document, the Strategic Plan, new terms appeared, such as, sense of urgency, strategic priorities, and other rhetoric that revolves around the mission to be entrepreneurial. This study used descriptive qualitative research to look at the impact of a trend in post-secondary education that might be rationalized as academic capitalism by revealing faculty and administrators’ perceptions about the role of career development and its role in educational programming. The development of dedicated educational programming that has an increasing focus on career development and/or work-integrated education was driven by predominantly economic motivations, immigration policy, and students’ needs. The research reported on the effects of academic capitalism, entrepreneurialism, and strategic priorities in college discourse by uncovering perceptions about the role of career development that is increasingly embedded in the curriculum. Career development is a lifelong process of balancing learning, work, and personal goals and it has demonstrated a growing role within this Institution. The research draws from the theoretical framework of academic capitalism and is further informed by entrepreneurialism and resource dependency theory. The study found that research participants defined career development in different ways for themselves as opposed to students. When referring to their own career development, participants emphasized professional development, and when referring to students, career development had the same meaning as work-integrated education. Further, participants thought that career development and/or work-integrated education were essential components that met students’ needs and created financial resources for the college. Participants believed career development should be threaded throughout all curriculum in subject-specific ways. Six emergent themes were identified in the data and these influenced the creation of the implications for policy and practice, and recommendations that followed.

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

Online language teaching: The convergence of learning management systems and teaching practices

Date created: 
2018-01-29
Abstract: 

How do different Learning Management System (LMS) components facilitate and/or constrain the activities and pedagogical approaches in fully online language courses? To what extent online language instructors exercise their pedagogical preferences when teaching in LMS environments? These questions were examined from an Educational Technology perspective, considering foreign language learning as a question of learning design. The study employed a survey design with scaled and open-ended questions. Quantitative data were analyzed using non-parametric tests, and qualitative data were analyzed using an open coding procedure. The participants were 97 university and college second-language instructors located in Canada and the United States, who were currently teaching or had taught credit-bearing online courses. Results showed that online language instructors do not make frequent use of synchronous or communicative LMS tools (chat rooms, whiteboards, multimedia rooms; peer review, whiteboards or Wikis); and there is not a clear relation between tools and the type of learning activities they are used for. The study also explored where the type of LMS, the language taught and the years of teaching experience of the instructor were factors that influence the use of LMSs. Although some associations were found, no general conclusions could be drawn. In relation to instructors´ ability to implement their pedagogical preferences when teaching online courses, analysis indicated that the great majority of the participants felt limited by the LMS to some degree, and that limitation was felt more strongly by instructors who had a higher preference for the Constructivist approach. Qualitative analysis suggested that the main advantages of teaching through a LMS were the flexibility and convenience that the online medium provides to students, and that it is a good medium to promote a student-centered type of learning. The major limitations centered on the lack of physical contact, the difficulty to organize synchronous communications or group-based activities, and the time instructors require to prepare and deliver activities as well as to provide personalized feedback to students.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kevin O'Neill
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The contributions of temperament and theory of ‎mind to teaching abilities in early childhood

Date created: 
2018-02-22
Abstract: 

Peer tutoring is an effective evidence-based practice commonly used in early childhood ‎settings. Theoretically, to teach effectively the child must understand particular features of ‎the student's mind, an ability referred to as Theory of Mind (ToM). Despite a conceptual ‎connection between ToM and teaching ability, few studies have empirically examined this ‎relationship. ‎In addition, effective teaching is likely supported by certain dispositions that ‎enable the teacher to interact in a regulated and positive way with the student. In ‎childhood, dispositions such as these are captured under the rubric of temperament. This ‎study investigated the contributions of ToM and temperament to children's ability to teach ‎another.‎Children aged 3-5 years (24 girls; 28 boys) engaged in 2 teaching tasks in which they ‎taught an age appropriate children’s game to an adult. Children also completed 3 tasks ‎assessing ToM and their parents completed the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire, a ‎measure of child temperament. ‎Results showed that although performance on basic ToM tasks did not relate to teaching ‎behaviour, performance on the advanced ToM task did. Children who scored higher on ‎the advanced ToM task demonstrated better teaching skills. In addition, several ‎temperament dispositions were associated with children’s teaching performance. Activity ‎level was negatively associated with teaching ability, while attentional ability was ‎positively associated with teaching scores. Ability to suppress pre-potent responses was ‎also positively associated with teaching behaviour. In a regression model including ‎temperament dimensions and ToM scores as predictors of teaching only the temperament ‎dimension of attention was statistically detectable. ‎

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Lucy Le Mare
Philip Winne
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Text Marking: A Metacognitive Perspective

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-02-23
Abstract: 

Despite learners’ engagement in cognitive and metacognitive processes when marking text, text marking was only examined from a cognitive perspective. Although identification of important information using textual cues and prior knowledge is a cognitive process, the decision of whether to mark or not is metacognitive. Learners use standards they create to metacognitively monitor content and decide which parts merit marking and which do not. Acknowledging the metacognitive aspect of text marking would provide a better understanding of how the study tactic works. The current study investigates the effects of standards for metacognitively monitoring learners’ interaction with text when reading and marking. The experimental design allows comparisons of performance and marking activity among groups given or not given specific criteria of content to study and mark. The research also examines standards learners use when they freely mark text as well as the probability of recall for an information segment if marked or not marked. Learners used nstudy to mark text. nStudy is an online learning tool that allows learners to mark text and logs detailed traces of marking, and provides a description of what and how much learners’ marked. Findings show that if learners are given specific criteria to focus their learning, they do not need to mark text to process specified content. This implies that the key to efficacy of text marking is the judgment that learners engage in when deciding whether a text extract should be marked or not. Providing learners with criteria to guide marking and studying text dampens the marking of content not specified in the criteria, but it does not elevate the marking of criteria- specific content. Interestingly, learners who freely marked reported using 17 different standards when judging what to mark. Findings also show that, marking text and being engaged metacognitively in deciding what content to mark does enhance the probability of recalling marked text.

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