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

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Starting from now, learning to see: Introducing pre-service teachers to the process of Indigenous education through a phenomenological art inquiry

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-11
Abstract: 

This thesis explores how a practice in phenomenological art inquiry might help pre-service teachers begin decolonizing themselves so they are better prepared to include Indigenous education in their lessons in sensitive and culturally relevant ways. Drawing on a review of literature in the areas of critical pedagogy, Indigenous education, and phenomenology, two central questions drive this research: 1) how might student teacher engagement in phenomenological art inquiry, informed by Ann Curry-Stevens’ framework for transformative education for privileged learners (2007), impact on student teachers’ perceptions of Indigenous peoples and education and help them enact more holistic approaches to Indigenous education that avoid replicating colonial stereotypes? and 2) how might art precipitate the kind of ontological uncertainty necessary for transformative education to ensue? To address these questions, a pre-service teacher education program called Starting from Now, Learning to See was developed to assist participants in acquiring the dispositions and strategies necessary to deliver effective and inclusive Indigenous education to their students. The program exposed student teachers to several examples of political- and identity-based contemporary Aboriginal art with the aim of disrupting their perceptions of Indigenous peoples, while at the same time providing alternate, and arguably more inclusive, versions of the Canadian narrative. In particular, students were asked to undertake a process of phenomenological art inquiry in relation to the art works presented. This process asked them to become aware of their own reactions and responses not only to the aesthetics of each work, but also to the discourses each work introduced, such as the impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples, misrepresentation, and erasure. The program was implemented with a cohort of 30 pre-service teachers in the Professional Development Program (PDP) at Simon Fraser University during five sessions over a 4-month period. A qualitative study using thematic analysis explored participants’ written reflections and a multimodal social semiotic discourse analysis was used to examine participants’ phenomenological inquiry into Indigenous artwork. The findings indicated that learning to engage with art in a dialogic and phenomenological fashion is highly effective in helping student teachers detect and correct gaps in their knowledge by offering them a point of entry into Indigenous teaching and learning that is both contemporary and relevant. There was also considerable evidence of on-going resistance to the inclusion of Indigenous education in schools both from participants, from Faculty Associates and others at the school sites in which their practicums were set, which points to the need for post-secondary institutions to increase their efforts to improve the depth and degree to which they support Indigenous education. In particular, more needs to be done to provide careful instruction, ideally from Indigenous mentors, and ample time for student teachers to absorb and internalise the concepts associated with Indigenous education, especially given that the current structure of PDP embeds this aspect of instruction within larger pedagogical discourses. The study also revealed a pressing need for improved Indigenous education in our K-12 systems, as many students arrived in the PDP with significant self-identified deficits in their knowledge and understanding of Indigenous peoples.

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

Use and perceived effectiveness of multidisciplinary teams to address problematic student behaviour to prevent campus violence in Canadian higher education

Date created: 
2018-02-16
Abstract: 

Case studies of high-profile occurrences of on-campus violence have resulted in recommendations for colleges and universities to implement multidisciplinary teams, called Behavioural Intervention Teams (BITs). These teams serve as a mechanism to collect, assess, and intervene when high-risk behaviours occur within an institution and prevent future violence. BITs have been in operation in the United States for over a decade and, thus this study sough to understand to what degree Canadian institutions have implemented teams. Subsequently, this study was designed to understand the experience of those who serve on such teams and their perceptions of the effectiveness of the practice. This multi-staged mixed methods study distributed online surveys, adapted from previous American surveys (Gamm, Mardis, & Sullivan, 2011; Van Brunt, Sokolow, Lewis, & Schuster, 2012), to all English-speaking institutions in Canada and a representative sample of team members were interviewed. All results were analyzed using the social ecological model which is a recommended approach when conducting effective violence prevention work. Nearly 75% of Canadian institutions have implemented teams, which had been in operation for an average of just over four years. It was found that the larger an institution the more likely the institution was to have a team. The characteristics of Canadian teams did not differ drastically from the characteristics of United States teams with the exception of team function and meeting frequency as Canadian teams had adopted a practice of co-leadership. Without question, team members described the BIT process as being an effective way to address problematic student behaviour as a method to prevent campus violence. Team members attribute the effectiveness to the inclusion of multidisciplinary perspectives within the membership of the team and how the backgrounds of each team member enhanced the ability of the team to appropriately assess and achieve a successful outcome. Despite the process of behavioural intervention being described as effective, team members articulated substantial challenges they experience in conducting their work: (a) team issues, (b) institutional issues, (c) case complexity, and (d) legal/policy issues. Team members also described how participating on a BIT team can have negative impacts on the individual professionally as a result of the additional workload associated with participating on the team. Team members described being negatively impacted personally as the work of BIT caused: (a) stress and fear, (b) interpersonal issues as a result of difficult team dynamics, and (c) negatively skewing their perceptions of the amount of distressed students within the institution. These negative impacts were countered by the overwhelming positive benefits that team members experienced as a result of their participation on a BIT team. Team members described professional benefits as: (a) trusted peers, (b) new skills, and (c) a greater sense of fulfilment within their role within the institution. Overall, team members described participating on a BIT team as enjoyable and held a strong belief that the work of BITs makes a difference within their campus community by maintaining a safe environment and how the work positively affects the student of concern by permitting them to continue their studies.

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

Experiencing mathematics through problem solving tasks

Date created: 
2018-05-07
Abstract: 

Learning through problem solving is an old concept that has been redeveloped as a valuable strategy to teach mathematics. Many teachers feel a tension between the value of teaching through problem solving and the necessity of teaching a prescribed curriculum , often resulting in minimizing the time students spend on genuine problem solving. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the extent that a mathematics student encounters curriculum while working freely on problem solving tasks. A student in a Pre Calculus and Foundations Math 10 course, which already had a culture of thinking and problem solving, was observed for a 1-month period to see what mathematical content they engaged with through problem solving. Observations, photographs, and notes were taken about the tasks and the mathematics that the student encountered during problem solving each day. The variety of tasks was very broad to prevent students from assuming a problem solving strategy based a current unit of study. Through analysis of the content one student engaged with, it was found that almost the entirety of the Pre Calculus and Foundations 10 prescribed learning outcomes was encountered in addition to both a review of some curricular content from Math 6 through Math 9, as well as exposure to curricular content from Math 11 and 12.

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

Enhancing post-secondary student support and retention: Lessons learned from the storied lives of former first year BDSc students

Date created: 
2018-05-23
Abstract: 

Student retention remains one the most widely researched areas in higher education. However, there exists a paucity of research that has examined student retention through the lens of first-year students who have been dismissed from their institution, particularly within Canadian health-related undergraduate programs. Using a qualitative narrative inquiry, this study explored the lived experiences of 10 former first-year students in the University of British Columbia’s Bachelor of Dental Science (BDSc) program. Informed by Braxton and Hirschy’s (2005) model of student departure for commuter students, goals of the study included investigating students’ experiences as they transitioned into their first year in the program, the influencing factors that contributed to students’ academic performance and subsequent dismissal in their first year of study, and the support mechanisms and resources needed for entering students. Individual interviews were conducted at two separate times with each participant to better understand their challenges and needs as they entered and transitioned through their first year of university. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim to facilitate the thematic coding of emergent themes. Narrative analysis involved an examination of participants’ experiences related to temporality, place, and sociality accomplished through coding, member checking, and researcher memos. Academic under-preparedness, large university class sizes, challenges connecting with faculty, and external influences were identified as factors that contributed to participants’ unsuccessful academic outcome. The social environment for participants was strongly tied to classroom life. Academic learning communities successfully facilitated the establishment of close friendships and feelings of social integration. Disconnection with many faculty members resulted in participants feeling academically not integrated and contributed to lower levels of perceived institutional commitment to student welfare which negatively impacted students’ ability to progress. The existing university student services departments and support resources were under-utilized. Lessons learned from this research have resulted in a greater appreciation for the role that an institution has in supporting its students. Participants’ lived experiences and suggestions have informed recommendations for policy and practice that may assist the BDSc program, the university, and other institutions of higher education in developing more robust, accessible, and visible programming to support student success.

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

The impact of early adversity on mental health in young adulthood: Findings from the Romanian Adoption Project

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-26
Abstract: 

This longitudinal study is a part of the fifth phase of the Romanian Adoption Project and explored the impact of early adversity on mental health and behaviour problems in adolescence and early adulthood in a group of Romanian adoptees (N= 47; 22 males; mean age at assessment= 26.77) who were adopted to Canada in 1990/91 and have been followed in this project since early childhood. Behaviour problems in adulthood were assessed with parent reports on the Adult Behaviour Checklists (ABCL, Achenbach, 1997). In adolescence behaviour problems were assessed with the parent report form of the Child Behaviour Checklist (Achenbach, 1991). Mental health problems both in adolescence and adulthood were assessed using parents’ responses to 12 questions asking if adoptees had received any of a list of mental health diagnosis. The effect of duration of deprivation was examined by dividing adoptees into two groups based on time they spent in adversity pre-adoption; those who spent less than 4 months in adversity, and those who spent more than 8 months in adversity. Statistical analyses showed that in adolescence 34% of the sample had at least one mental health diagnosis and this number increased to 50% in adulthood. Levels of behaviour problems were relatively stable from adolescence to adulthood. Females had higher levels of Internalizing behaviour problems than males in adulthood, but no other gender differences were found. Adolescents with more behaviour problems were more likely to have a mental health diagnosis in young adulthood. Also, adoptees with more than one diagnosis in adulthood had more behaviour problems both concurrently and in adolescence than adoptees with one or no mental health diagnoses. Longer experience of early adversity prior adoption was not associated with either more mental health diagnoses or more behaviour problems at either 16.5 or 26.5 years of age.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Lucy Le Mare
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Learning foreign languages at school: Experiences and representations of teenage plurilingual learners of ethnic Korean heritage in Northeast China

Date created: 
2018-01-29
Abstract: 

‘Plurilingualism’ is a common phenomenon and an essential part in the lives of many people, while increased globalization makes the learning of languages more important than ever. However, the integration of learners’ multi-/plurilingual resources into the formal education system is still frequently questioned. Addressing this gap, this study aimed to explore strategies for better supporting increased learner diversity in today’s dynamic classrooms characterized by an influx of highly ‘mobile’ learners. From an educational sociolinguistic perspective especially based on plurilingualism and plurilingual competence as the main conceptual lens, it examined the complex relations between learners’ languages, identities and sense of agency, looking into how a new generation of secondary school students in a minority interlink language learning, academic success and career advancement while navigating various geographical and symbolic transitions. Employing a qualitative ethnographic visual research methodology, this four-year longitudinal study documented experiences and perspectives of twenty-two plurilingual youths learning Japanese or English as their foreign language (and L3) in a public ethnic Korean minority nationality school in Northeast China. Data collection methods included participant observation, field notes, screenshots of virtual communication records, photographs of written artifacts, and interview excerpts. With an emphasis on the essential role of the ‘multi’ (-lingual, cultural, and literacy resources) on the participants’ learning experiences, this study argues that learning foreign language(s) at school is a process of experiencing multiple identities. The study showed the very sophisticated competence and complex plurilingual practices that participants engage in their daily practices in and out the classroom. Key findings of this research suggest that student participants were actively learning, navigating, and transforming. Learning foreign/multiple languages strongly affected their life trajectories in three main areas: (i) contributed to enhance their understanding of languages as assets in learning and navigating life transitions; (ii) helped their development of a more nuanced (plurilingual) competence, along with an increased level of ‘mobility’ between multiple (linguistic, cultural, physical and virtual) spaces; and (iii) motivated their active engagement in multiple identity practices. This study highlights the need for action to actively develop educational strategies that capitalize on the ‘multi’ so as to empower all students.

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

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.