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

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The experiences of first-generation Punjabi students at Simon Fraser University

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-16
Abstract: 

The purpose of the study was to develop a deep description of the experiences of first-generation Punjabi students who have no familial history of Canadian postsecondary education, in order to understand their challenges, their support systems, their community and their overall experiences with postsecondary education. Bourdieu’s (1977a, 1986) social reproduction theory was used as the conceptual framework using descriptive case study methodology to answer the research question: What are the experiences of first-generation Punjabi students at Simon Fraser University? The interview conversations explored the navigation of multiple worlds, notably the family environment, the university environment, and the Punjabi community. The conversations described the navigation of experiences that inform students' experiences as first-generation Punjabi university students. Core experiences with navigation of race and ethnicity, gender, role as a university student, role within the Punjabi community, and role within family represent multiple and intersecting dimensions significant to students' experiences as first-generation Punjabi university students. The findings show first-generation Punjabi university students negotiated Punjabi values and expectations, Canadian values and expectations, university and family responsibilities, pioneering postsecondary education, responsibility to give back to family and the Punjabi community, and pressure to uphold family honour. Living at the connection of numerous worlds, including experiences as the first family member to attend university and engaging both in Punjabi culture and in Canadian culture. Participants associated five strengths with being first-generation Punjabi university students: family, Punjabi culture, immigration, support network—before university and during university, and a strong sense of seva (i.e., selfless service). This study has implications for theory, research, and practice in Canadian postsecondary education. This research supports the need for university services tailored to students who are the first in their family to attend university.

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

Automatic identification of knowledge transforming content in argument essays developed from multiple sources

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-25
Abstract: 

Developing skills to transform information mined from multiple sources for argumentative writing may help students to articulate convincing evidence for their claims and increase domain knowledge. To successfully engage in knowledge transforming, writers need to strategically select and combine multiple cognitive and metacognitive processes. Many post-secondary students, especially novice writers, struggle to transform knowledge when drawing on multiple sources for essays. External support is needed. As a first step toward developing software that scaffolds knowledge transforming in writing, this study investigated how to identify sentences representing knowledge transformation in argumentative essays. A synthesis of cognitive theories of writing and Bloom’s typology identified 22 linguistic features to model cognitive processes in knowledge transforming, making a methodological contribution to research on multi-source based writing. These features were used as independent variables in a predictive algorithm trained to predict a sentence’s writing mode as knowledge-telling or knowledge-transforming. A corpus of 38 undergraduates’ essays was examined using this algorithm and a coefficient of knowledge transforming was computed for each essay. Two thirds of all evidential sentences were knowledge-telling indicating undergraduates mostly paraphrase or copy information from sources rather than deeply engage with the source material. Eight linguistic features were important predictors of whether an evidential sentence tells or transforms source knowledge: relative position of an evidential sentence in a paragraph, absolute distance between an evidential sentence and the most recent argument, incidence of low- and high-accessibility anaphoric devices, incidence of rhetorical connectives that indicate reasoning, content-word overlap between the evidential sentence and source text, semantic overlap between evidential sentence and preceding/succeeding argument, and semantic overlap between evidential sentence and source text. The machine learning algorithm accurately classified nearly 3 of 4 evidential sentences as knowledge-telling or knowledge-transforming, offering potential for use in future research. The coefficient of knowledge transforming positively but weakly correlated with essay scores assigned by the course instructor. This contrasts with a view that knowledge-telling texts often fail to fulfill writing task requirements.

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

What is social justice?: Implications for the field of education

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-11
Abstract: 

In the field of education, there is currently much enthusiasm for social justice and a popular education movement, Social Justice Education (SJE), based on advancing this ideal. However, efforts to achieve social justice in and through schooling are undermined by a lack of clarity regarding the meaning of the term. Educators and educationists use the term nebulously and frequently as justification for diverse and even opposing programs, the merits of which are impossible to investigate absent conceptual consensus. Little attention has been devoted to clarifying concepts that underlie the SJE movement. The primary aim of this dissertation, therefore, is to answer the question “What is social justice?” and a secondary aim is to examine the question “What is the relationship between social justice, education, and schooling?” Because there currently are multiple and competing philosophical accounts of social justice, these questions were investigated historically, guided by Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics. The historical emergence and development of social justice over the past three centuries is examined. I have argued that the concept and practices of social justice are interwoven with the history of liberal thought. Based on this historical account, Nancy Fraser’s principles of social justice and Martha Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach are offered in the present work as the best ways of thinking about social justice, with implications for educational policy and practice. Education has been central to the liberal project and given social justice’s association with liberal ideals, it is unsurprising that social justice and schooling have come to be associated with each other. However, current support for SJE in the field of education is premised on the notion that realizing social ideals is an aim of schools, which, paradoxically, undermines the end it is designed to achieve. As an alternative, I have suggested that educators take up the view of early liberal theorists who considered quality schooling a result of social justice (and not the reverse).

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

Teacher noticing of student mathematics: Lesson play experience

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-30
Abstract: 

Lesson play is a relatively new construct in mathematics education. Until now, it has primarily been used with prospective teachers in a university setting as an alternative to traditional lesson planning. In this study, the notion of a lesson play experience is introduced and explored as a professional development tool for practicing teachers. For this study, each of two teachers wrote a lesson play related to part of a mathematics lesson they planned to teach. Once the play was submitted, a pre-lesson interview took place in which the script was discussed. The two teachers were then observed while teaching the lesson, and finally a post-lesson interview was conducted. The results suggest that the lesson play experience can be an effective tool for inservice teacher professional development.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Rina Zazkis
David Pimm
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis (Education)) M.Sc.

Weaving with Trickster: Indigenous students making our place in science

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-30
Abstract: 

Indigenous peoples, the fastest growing population in Canada, remain significantly underrepresented in science related post-secondary education fields. This underrepresentation poses challenges for the goals of self-determination and equal participation in a society that is becoming increasingly specialized and technologically advanced. As a Métis-Irish teacher and learner of science, I frequently found myself at intersections of different worlds in my own education. Through this study, with guidance from the trickster Raven, I explored each of those intersections and their impacts on the experiences of other Indigenous science students. This study is best described as multiple layers of theory and practice woven together. In the first half of this dissertation, education research on student retention at post-secondary is woven into education research on school science curriculum. In the second half, the stories of seven Indigenous science students are woven together, along with my own story, weaving a sash of student experience. Informed by Lowan-Trudeau’s (2012) notion of the ‘spirit of métissage’, I examine student stories from the starting point of an assumption of similarity. Employing multiple styles of métissage (mixing or weaving) as the primary methodology of this study, I blend Indigenous storywork and self-study methodologies. The results of this study expose resonances with the literature in student retention and cultural relevance, along with resonances between student stories. Particularly compelling findings include that for many of the students interviewed, participating in Western science involved creating their own space between Indigenous and Western knowledge traditions. The students took great efforts to decolonize their own education, describing their (w)holistic worldviews as a strength rather than a liability, and making efforts to educate misinformed or even racist opinions from classmates and educators. This is evidence of the fact that the university has not yet achieved the decolonizing goal of creating safe educational spaces for Indigenous students. These Indigenous students found themselves tremendously supported by relationships with educators, family members, and Indigenous staff and peers, and repeatedly emphasized the importance of such connections to their success in post-secondary science. This is evidence of the primacy of relationship for many Indigenous students, and provides a starting point for members of the university science community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to support the success of these learners.

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

Students’ mathematical modelling behaviors: Strategies and competencies

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-23
Abstract: 

Mathematical modelling has recently taken the spotlight in mathematics education as a means to prepare students for the challenges they face in the modern world, and there have been numerous proposals on the modelling cycles describing students’ approaches to solve modelling tasks. Within these proposed modelling cycles, researchers emphasize the importance of building a real model to describe the real situation and the application of extra-mathematical knowledge to highlight the relationship between reality and mathematics. However, the concept of extra-mathematical knowledge and the process to establish a real model have only been described in broad strokes and these descriptions lack details. This thesis aims to add to the descriptions of extra-mathematical knowledge and the process to develop a real model based on empirical data by closely examining students’ mathematical Modelling behaviors. To achieve these goals, I administered two rudimentary mathematics complex tasks, a special type of tasks that present a complex situation but allow the audience to apply their well-worn tools in mathematics to establish a solution, to two groups of junior secondary school students. These tasks allow me to tip the balance of between reality and mathematics in mathematical modelling in order to focus on students’ modelling behaviors. With regard to the process leading to a real model, my analysis indicates that students hold different intentions in building a real model and these intentions affect the strategies they use and therefore their modelling process and the quality of their solutions deeply. In the analysis of these strategies, I also apply flow theory to understand these intentions. As for extra-mathematical knowledge, my analysis demonstrates that extra-mathematical knowledge is a multi-faceted, complex construct composed of various competencies, that contains different characteristics and can deeply affect students’ engagement with the tasks.

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

Wayfaring: A phenomenology of international teacher education

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-30
Abstract: 

Becoming human is at the heart of education worth the while. In an age of accountability, tensions arise between teachers, parents, and policy makers, each of whom express markedly different ideas of what is most educationally worthwhile. It is in teacher education programs, however, where I suggest that becoming human can be cultivated with a variety of ends in mind and where the overriding aim can be to enliven a more socially just world. I propose that international placements provide unique opportunities for fostering the kind of teacher identity formation that puts pedagogical relationality at the forefront of our personal, interpersonal, and social commitments. I seek to understand how international practica are experienced by student teachers. What unique characteristics, formative of pedagogical practices, does an international teacher education placement for pre-service teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, offer? Participant responses and my own stories reveal the phenomenon of discomfort as pedagogically transformative. Weaving these stories together as an account of teacher ‘wayfaring,’ I show how the discomfort experienced internationally can be very different from the way it is experienced in local and familiar teaching contexts. Discomfort in international teacher education ‘wayfaring’ offers the very possibilities for pedagogical growth that are in keeping with the fuller human becoming of students whose lives these novice teachers will touch.This phenomenological study contributes to the conversation about the importance of international placements in teacher education and the understandings gained have implications for programs locally and internationally. It addresses the tension expressed by those who describe their international placement as “the hardest” and “the best thing I’ve ever done.” I transpose dispositional leanings and learnings from time spent with a cohort of student teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico to the local settings in which I, as a school principal, am working in British Columbia. My commitment to phenomenological inquiry and a lean into discomfort have rejuvenated my liveliness and life practices as a traveller, educator, and researcher. Beginning teachers who embrace discomfort also learn that disruptions may well indicate something worth the while is happening that is worth leaning into. Their wayfaring can be pedagogically transformative.

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

Academic discourse socialization of culturally and academically diverse students: Exploring legitimacy of (non)oral participation in an international graduate program

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-30
Abstract: 

This study explores how a group of students from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds in a Canadian TESOL graduate program designed primarily for international students participate in class, how they perceive different modes of participation of other students in the class, and how this affects their academic socialization process. Through semi-structured qualitative interviews, I explore what are considered legitimate modes of (non) oral participation in their classrooms and what affects their academic discourse socialization. The study finds students develop and negotiate a variety of legitimate modes of participation, and the legitimacy of participation is fluid and contextual. That is, there is no definite mode of (non) oral participation that students need to perform for the participation to be perceived as legitimate by their peers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Roumiana Ilieva
Joel Heng Hartse
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Les pratiques de gestion des directions d'école pour l'amélioration des résultats scolaires des élèves dans un contexte d'éducation francophone minoritaire au Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-24
Abstract: 

Dans les écoles francophones en milieu minoritaire au Canada, assurer les apprentissages des élèves et le mandat communautaire contribue à une complexité accrue des tâches attendues des directions d’école. Des études sur les pratiques de gestion qui pourraient avoir une influence sur la réussite des élèves semblent alors justifiées pour mieux cerner les fonctions liées au leadership dans ces écoles. Reposant sur les conditions de l’école efficace et celle en amélioration continue, cette étude cherche ainsi à situer les pratiques de gestion des directions d’école dans une dynamique de changement organisationnel. Cette thèse a pour objectif de recueillir les perceptions des directions, des enseignants et des élèves de la huitième année d’écoles francophones d’une province de l’Ouest canadien sur des pratiques de gestion qui sont habituellement associées aux écoles efficaces et en amélioration continue. Cette recherche-intervention, où le chercheur a également été un acteur dans l’organisation, comprenait trois périodes d’échantillonnage en utilisant des questionnaires de type Likert sur un peu plus de deux ans. En général, les directions d’école montrent une grande confiance dans leurs pratiques de gestion tout au long des trois périodes d’échantillonnage. Les perceptions des élèves quant à l’environnement éducatif abondent dans le même sens que celles des directions d’école et des enseignants. Les participants indiquaient aussi que l’école était ordonnée et sécuritaire. Avec le temps, les enseignants affichaient une légère baisse dans leurs perceptions des pratiques de gestion de leur direction. L’étude montre aussi que les enseignants arborent un grand sentiment d’appartenance à leur école. Ils reconnaissent les directions d’école pour leurs pratiques de gestion lorsque ces dernières s’impliquent avec les élèves ainsi qu’avec les parents tout en assurant une gestion des comportements des élèves. Les résultats, bien que limités par le milieu dans lequel l’étude s’est déroulée, alimentent les réflexions des dirigeants des systèmes scolaires qui souhaitent appuyer le développement des pratiques des directions des écoles dans une perspective d’amélioration de la réussite des élèves.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Diane Dagenais
Marianne Jacquet
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Social connections are key: Experiences of immigrant women learning English as an additional language (EAL)

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-08
Abstract: 

Learning an additional language as an adult can be daunting and can present a variety of challenges for newcomers to Canada, including immigrant women. In order to highlight the learning experiences of immigrant women, I explore how some immigrant women learn EAL within a community located in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia, Canada and take into account various perspectives. In particular, I examine challenges they face and review how EAL programs and educators currently provide settlement support through a variety of programs and initiatives and provide further suggestions in order to optimize settlement. My methodology is qualitative and includes in-person interviews, classroom observations as well as personal reflections. My findings suggest that social connections are extremely valuable and beneficial in supporting language learning and settlement. Unfortunately, they may not be formally recognized as a central goal of all English language programs.

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