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

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The Professional Learning Experiences of Non-Mathematics Subject Specialist Teachers: A Descriptive Study

Date created: 
2017-08-17
Abstract: 

Certified teachers in British Columbia (BC) schools can be assigned to teach secondary mathematics without having a major, minor, or formal background in mathematics. This is known as out-of-field teaching. These non-mathematics subject specialist teachers (NMSSTs) must learn or relearn the subject matter of mathematics to teach secondary mathematics. This study investigates what professional learning activities NMSSTs participate in to gain subject matter content knowledge in mathematics, which activities these teachers believed best facilitated the acquisition of subject matter, and which they believed helped them to teach secondary mathematics better. This was a descriptive study using survey methods. Sixteen professional learning activities were considered. The survey questionnaire was distributed and completed online. Sixty-two NMSSTs completed the survey in full. Most learned the subject matter autodidactically from teaching secondary mathematics, referring to textbooks, or going online. However, formal learning activities such as completing a graduate degree in mathematics or a mathematics-related field best facilitated the acquisition of the subject matter and helped in teaching mathematics better. Other findings include the following: learning from an expert in the field was highly valued; professional learning days were not highly valued but frequently participated-in; the perceived level of subject matter content knowledge of those who completed a graduate degree and those who did not were the same; the NMSST characteristic of perceived level of subject matter content knowledge did not influence participants in this study to self-identify as mathematics subject specialists. Recommendations for practitioners included not learning the subject matter in isolation and to find a mentor. Recommendations for school leaders were to redesign professional development days and to consider purposeful teaching assignments. Recommendations for future research were to develop a self-assessment tool and to implement a study on subject matter acquisition of NMSSTs in a master of mathematics education program. Recommendations for policy-makers included providing alternative professional development opportunities for teachers and setting standards for NMSSTs to help them self-assess their subject matter content knowledge in mathematics.

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

Occasioning flow in the mathematics classroom: optimal experiences in common places

Date created: 
2017-06-28
Abstract: 

This research looks at several mathematics high-school classrooms through the lens of Csíkszentmihályi’s flow theory: optimal matching of skills and challenge, clear goals and feedback, loss of temporal awareness, intense concentration, a sense of control, merging of action and awareness, loss of self-consciousness and autotelic experience. The study focuses on creating and maintaining the flow experience in students. In order to uncover successful pedagogical interventions, the students are surveyed through questionnaires and interviews. The study discusses the crucial role of collaboration and of mathematical tasks in occasioning the flow experience, how students differ in experiencing flow, and how they learn to seek and re-create the flow experience. The study also examines the students’ unfavourable perception of textbooks, the students’ negative experiences of boredom and apathy, and the precarious relationship between teacher flow and student flow.

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

Effectiveness of Targeted Feedback towards Rhythm Sightreading in University/College-Level Music Education Contexts

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-08-10
Abstract: 

Achieving fluency in sightreading—particularly rhythm reading—is often cited by researchers as a universally problematic aspect of formal music education. Music teachers and students also widely recognize sightreading as a challenge to learn. A review of the literature revealed that sightreading ability is typically assumed by educators to develop naturally in students through the accumulation of experience in general musicianship, rather than given attention as a stand-alone component of instruction in formal music curricula. Overall, there is not an immediately clear answer as to what kind of practice or instruction can help improve sightreading most effectively. This study employed a simple experimental design to compare rhythm sightreading pre- and posttest errors between a group that practiced rhythm sightreading daily for one week, and a treatment group in which participants practiced daily and received expert feedback. Findings showed that the treatment group had statistically significant rhythm sightreading performance improvement over the course of the study, while the practice-only group did not.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dr. Kevin O'Neill
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Past Expectations, Current Experiences, and Imagined Futures: Narrative Accounts of Chinese International Students in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-07-06
Abstract: 

The internationalization of higher education has led to the influx of Chinese international students in Canada. The literature on these students usually addresses the factors that drive them to Canada, their learning experiences, and the impact of the stereotypical constructions of “Chinese learners” on their language learning. But the literature does not connect the current learning experiences of these students to their past back in China and the futures in their imagination. This narrative study investigates the English learning and IELTS test-taking experiences of ten Chinese international students before and after they came to Canada to find out how their past and present experiences and imagined futures are interconnected in shaping their identities. In analyzing the storied, shared, and envisioned experiences of ten participants, I found that they came to Canada to escape Gaokao and learn English for a better future. While in Canada, they experienced tensions between learning in an English language Pathway Program and in university disciplinary classrooms, between learning in homestay and church settings, and navigating their identities of being Chinese, being Chinese international students, and being transnational. IELTS related stories showed that they observed discrepancies between the test-tackling strategies and their university learning, misconstrued IELTS preparation as English learning, and challenged the power of IELTS in shaping their English learning experiences and themselves as English learners. Drawing on Bourdieusian perspectives, sociocultural theorizing, Darvin and Norton’s (2015) investment model, and Chinese Ti-Yong logic guiding language learning, my analysis suggests that the current learning experiences of these students should be considered holistically with their past and future taken into account. The data reflects how the gate-keeping IELTS test has affected their perceptions about learning English, emotions, and identities as test-takers. The study brings implications to the systematic contradictions in the education system in China dominated by Gaokao as a compulsory exam for university admission, and the need for universities in Canada to view international students holistically as individuals with histories, and as complex subjects with flexible and multiple identities. Institution- and discipline-specific measures of supporting international students and faculty members working with them are suggested.

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

On the limitations of Singapore's conception of education and the question of the ideally educated citizen

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-27
Abstract: 

This dissertation attempts to explore Singapore’s conception of education through an examination of key government documents and speeches in order to show the impact and influence of education progressivism and constructivism in Singaporean classrooms. I describe the conception of the (ideally) educated citizen that underpins Singapore’s “ability-driven” model of education and more recently, the “student-centric, values-based” phase of education. I also explore the dichotomy of individual versus community, and citizen as object to be created and subjects to be realised in the Singapore narrative. How limiting a particular conception of education is, in this case progressivism, and how it may run counter to the government’s ideally educated citizen, are the main questions this dissertation attempts to address.In the case of Singapore, by disregarding the individual in a fundamental sense, yet projecting a concern for the individual in an education premised on the constructivist paradigm, the conception of the “ideally” educated citizen is fairly easily theorised, conceived and implemented. However, the realisation of this ideal rests on unstable ground due to the lack of attention paid to questions on the purpose of education and the citizen as subject not object. While constructivist principles are adopted sincerely, the implementation has been somewhat simplistic and unrealistic in the realm of the pre-determinist nature of society and politics in Singapore, creating a disconnection between the ideal and actual educated citizen.

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

Principal beliefs, experiences, and barriers to involvement with student teachers during the practicum component of initial teacher education programs

Date created: 
2017-05-08
Abstract: 

Numerous research studies have investigated the significance of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs and their practicum in preparing student teachers. The role played by the traditional triad of faculty associate, school associate and student teacher has been studied extensively. However, the principal’s role in the student teacher’s school-based practicum, is often neglected. This study fills that gap and provides Canadian-based data on principal beliefs, self-reported involvement and barriers encountered in their support of student-teacher learning.Principals’ beliefs regarding their role in supporting student-teacher learning during the school based practicum were studied, as well as principals self-reported practices to support student-teacher learning, the barriers they encountered and strategies they utilized to overcome these barriers. A sequential explanatory mixed method design was used with initial data obtained through a survey of principals (N = 62) beliefs and practices in relation to the practicum. Results showed that the principals believed they could and should play a greater role, than is currently expected, but that they encountered various barriers to that involvement.Six principals who saw themselves as having a duty and a unique opportunity to support student-teacher learning were selected for semi-structured interviews to further examine their beliefs, practices and barriers. Specifically, they felt that they could work more closely with members of the ITE triad to connect student teachers to others in the school community who could enhance their learning during the practicum, and believed that such experiences would also prepare student teachers for, and incline them towards, collaborative professional relationships that would support ongoing learning throughout their careers.Based on these findings, advice is offered for school districts, university ITE programs, and principals to improve student-teacher learning experiences through more intentional and extensive involvement of principals in practicums.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dan Laitsch
Bruce Beairsto
Department: 
Education: Educational Leadership
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Discord and dissonance: Living through and learning from a teacher educator’s memories

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-07-27
Abstract: 

This thesis presents the memories of my experiences as a teacher educator in a variety of teacher education programs. In the context of a “kaleidoscope of notions” informing practices in teacher education, several issues persist: conflicting aims between programs and practicums, a lack of culturally responsive pedagogy and weak epistemological or content literacy. In response, teacher educators are called to research their own practices as sites for developing conceptual clarity about teaching and learning. Thus, this study aims to examine my experiences as a teacher educator in order to develop knowledge about practice and reveal insights into the complex nature of teaching prospective teachers. Using self-study research as the primary approach, theoretical inquiry (to frame my questions) and singular case study (to define each experience as particular and unique), I examine a collection of memories, written as memory reflections, of my life as a teacher educator. In selecting these memories, I attend to discordance and dissonance in my learning as a teacher educator and include experiences of teaching that are at times jarring, unsettling, yet provocative and informative. The memory reflections are a composite of narrative, reflective and authentic accounts of my practices with student teachers and colleagues. Drawing from authority of experience and critical reflection, I analyse the memories of discordant experiences and develop: a) understandings about the nature of self-study research; b) knowledge about teacher education practices; and c) assertions regarding learning from experience. The outcomes of this study include the articulation of my practice as an array of pedagogical orientations and the conceptualization of a recurring cycle of discordance as a heuristic for learning from experience.

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

Descartes' Hostages: Mind and Observability in Education

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-06-14
Abstract: 

My purpose in this dissertation is to argue that given the relationship among the concepts of mind, knowledge, education and assessment, educators must pay more attention to our current view of mind. Educators use assessment practices, for example, to reduce complex, abstract concepts such as knowledge, understanding and mind because of a commitment to a particular view of mind. Further, to understand this relationship, mind’s primacy must be acknowledged. As there is significant debate about the idea of mind, examination of this debate must precede discussion of deep, conceptual problems in our learning theories, assessment practices and views of education. The primary concerns I will address in this dissertation, then, include:• The degree to which a particular view of mind frames the aim(s) of education, particularly framing what knowledge and understanding are and what assessment practices are best; and• That any view of mind inherits a problematic history and confused vocabularyTo address these concerns, the analysis will specifically include: • A brief historical account of mind from philosophy of mind• An examination of how metaphors of mind are used in an attempt to clarify mind• Thought experiments from philosophy of mind used as entry points to encourage new and deeper dialogue • A summary of informal discussions with teachers about views of mind, knowledge, education and assessment• An examination of the language from British Columbia, Canada’s new curriculum to more closely analyze the hold our current view of mind has on education • A discussion of the concepts of invisibility and visibility as they relate to the larger analysis of the mind-knowledge-education-assessment relationship

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

Pedagogy Without Bodies

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-05-25
Abstract: 

Educational theory today seems to be premised on a distributive thought; either on students’ bodies perceived as unified entities, as self-maintaining and ongoing forms that can be recognized and represented, or as with some post-humanist and new materialist accounts, as just this one entity, emerging and interconnected among a myriad of others in a world, understood as one organic and reproductive whole. This raises certain problems and certain questions, the solution of which presents us with specific tasks of thinking about curriculum planning, as well as ethics and politics in education. What is pursued is either a universal subject and his human right to be educated and skilled well enough to live well and to be a good and productive citizen (thus there ought to be generalizable and standardized elements of curriculum); or, there is a notion that we can only know subjects in their individuated and socially determined expressions, and thus curriculum is integrated as much as possible (bestowing individual differences in ability and access according to diverse social contexts), as is evident by the upsurge in individuated and differentiated learning plans tailored to each individual student. I argue that a different ethics is needed for the future of education and pedagogy if we are to think multiplicities beyond the world of man. By understanding life as virtual, it is possible to conceive of a pedagogy without bodies. Pedagogy without bodies as a concept (in Deleuze and Guattari’s sense) would be an orientation for educational thought where we would no longer begin with the image of a living, active, corporeal body, but would, following Claire Colebrook (2011), consider intensive forces that unfold life differently from that of the productive human. Pedagogy without bodies as a concept alludes to the incorporeal and material composition of sense which, I believe, is an important orientation for thinking philosophy of education, and curriculum in terms of dispersed, intensive and inhuman forces and processes intricate to any singular pedagogical event and its readability.

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

The clinical practice of embodied care: A phenomenological examination of physician-family interactions in oncological treatment

Date created: 
2017-05-16
Abstract: 

The purpose of this study was to explore family caregivers’ interactions with physicians as they accompanied their loved ones through cancer treatment. Increasingly, family caregivers have assumed caregiving duties that were once the domain of medical professionals. It is natural, therefore, that family caregivers should seek guidance from the attending physicians in carrying out the multiple and complex responsibilities of cancer caregiving. Yet these interactions serve not just to communicate information and guide care-giving actions. They can be seen to be integral to the quality of care provided by virtue of the manner in which the physicians engage with the family members as a matter or course and in the most telling circumstances of cancer treatment. My aim has been to document how and to what extent the interactions between physicians and caregivers are conducive to a compassionately extended framework of cancer care. This hermeneutic phenomenological study is based on in-depth interviews with five caregivers. Five major themes emerged from the participants’ stories: seeking presence–finding absence; feeling bereft–turning away; turning towards–gestures of presence; to give; and words from the family–a practice of embodied care. The interview data comprising this study has been composed as an extended narrative of how gestures, intonations, facial expressions and stances can be perceived as being crucial to helping family members feel integral to their loved ones’ cancer treatment. They spoke of the power of small, everyday, gestures to create a space of presence. While the participants also spoke of many neglects and indifferences, they also identified physicians who unceasingly gave of their time to be physically and emotionally available to family caregivers of their cancer patients. These physicians were seen to offer the gift of compassionate presence which sustained caregivers and physicians alike throughout the cancer journey. This study holds recommendations for how the space of medical care can be more compassionately defined and where the suffering of the patient, the accompanying family, and the physician can be recognized. Suggestions for transformational healing practices for physicians, allied health professionals, and the family caregivers themselves are discussed.

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