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

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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.

Concepts for an enactive music pedagogy: Essays on phenomenology, embodied cognition, and music education

Date created: 
2017-05-10
Abstract: 

This thesis consists of an introduction and seven essays that develop possibilities for philosophy of music and music education through the lenses of phenomenology and the ‘enactive’ approach to mind. The phenomenological-enactive perspective presents a compelling alternative to dominant information-processing or so-called ‘cognitivist’ models by embracing an embodied and relational understanding of perception and cognition. It therefore offers new opportunities for exploring the nature and meaning of music and education that have both ethical and practical implications. While the essays may be read as stand-alone pieces, they also share a number of concepts and concerns. Because of this, they are organized into four parts according to the general themes they develop. Part I provides a general introduction to the basic ontological questions that motivate the essays. Here I discuss my path as a scholar, introduce the phenomenological and enactive perspectives, and briefly consider how they align with pedagogical theory. Building on these concerns, the following essay adopts a ‘critically ontological’ orientation. It draws out a number of reductive assumptions over the nature of music, education and what human being and knowing entails. In response, it posits a general framework for a music pedagogy based in enactive bio-ethical principles. Part II explores the nature of musical experience in more detail. Here knowledge in embodied cognitive science is developed towards an enactive approach to musical emotions, and to reconsider the problematic notion of (musical) ‘qualia’. Part III discusses practical applications of phenomenology for music and arts education––first in the context of private music instruction (drumming pedagogy), and then through the development of multimedia arts- inquiry projects. Part IV draws on enactivism to explore the deep continuity between music, improvisation, and the fundamental movements of life. The first paper suggests possibilities for curriculum development and self-assessment in improvisation pedagogy. The concluding essay brings together many of the insights discussed in the previous papers––recasting them in light of Eastern philosophy to reassert the relational, holistic, and “life based” understanding of mind, music and education that lies at the heart of an enactive music pedagogy.

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

An exploration of academic department chairs in British Columbia public colleges

Date created: 
2017-05-03
Abstract: 

The overriding goal of this mixed method study was to contribute to the relatively small documented body of literature on BC public college chairs by providing a descriptive account of the chair position and chair people from the perspective of the people performing the chair role and from an analysis of college documents and faculty collective agreements. The specific purposes were: 1) to gain an understanding of the position of academic department chair; 2) to gain an understanding of the people who perform the role of academic department chair in BC public colleges; 3) to identify and describe the challenges and successes experienced by chairs in BC public colleges; and 4) to explore strategies to improve the position of chair in BC public colleges. Publicly-available government policy documentation, chair job descriptions, and faculty collective agreements of all 11 BC public colleges were analyzed. In addition, all 11 public colleges were invited to participate in an online survey consisting of 76 fixed-format and open-ended questions. Ten colleges participated with a response rate of 53.4%, representing 125 chairs of the 234 chairs serving at the 10 colleges. Survey responses were analyzed applying Kahn’s et al. (1964) Organizational Role theory and Mintzberg’s (1979) theory of Professional Bureaucracy as a theoretical framework. Four main conclusions, each one corresponding to each of the four main purposes, emerged from the study: 1) the chair position in BC public colleges is a joint faculty and administration temporary position, assigned with multiple tasks and roles that guide the chair person in serving students and faculty; 2) BC public college chair people are leaders with no official authority who are guided more by altruistic motives rather than by self-serving financial motives and/or career ambitions; 3) the inherent nature of the chair’s dual role and the professional bureaucratic nature of post-secondary educational institutions prevent the elimination of all role conflict experienced by BC public college chairs but it is possible to reduce or eliminate four of the six types of role conflict; 4) strategies to improve BC public colleges’ chair position include a reduction in chairs’ work load, a plan to improve communication and educate members in the chair’s role-set about both the dual role of the chair position and the professional bureaucratic nature of public colleges.

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

A multiple case study of points of tension during TESOL teaching practica

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-11
Abstract: 

Becoming a teacher involves more than the acquisition of a new set of skills and knowledge. It involves a change in one’s identity, and this change seems affected by tensions experienced during the teaching practicum. This multiple case study explores the points of tension experienced by 18 student teachers during practicum in a TESOL Certificate program in order to better understand transformations in one’s identity when one becomes a teacher. The study aims to address two questions: “What are the points of tension experienced by student teachers during their practicum and what are the discourses they engage in to talk about these tensions?” and “How can curricular and methodological changes in a TESOL program support the emergence of a transformational discourse when experiencing tensions?” The study uses a theoretical framework that conceptualizes the location of becoming a teacher in Bhabha’s (1998; 2008) Third Space, explores and extends Mezirow’s (1990; 1991; 2000; 2012) system of Transformational Education, and makes use of Bakhtin’s (1968; 1981) notions of dialogism and chronotopes of time, space, and threshold as constructs for creating, collecting, and interacting with the data. Freire’s (1970; 1974; 1992) notion of power underlies all aspects of the study from exploring the implications of inhabiting the role of teacher-as-researcher (Zeni, 2001) to the avoidance of prescriptive outcomes in program design. The study involved the collection of written and video data from three cohorts of student teachers throughout their four-month TESOL certificate program. A dialogical approach was applied to the analysis of the data that interweaves the experiences of the teacher-as-researcher with the experiences of the participants. The results indicate that student teachers experienced personal, interpersonal, knowledge, cultural, pedagogical, and methodological tensions, but more significantly, four discourses (blaming, explaining, questioning, problem-solving) were identified and explored for their transformational potential. The outcomes of the study indicate that some of the above discourses are more transformational than others. Suggestions and examples for developing a TESOL teacher education practice that provides time and space for transformational discourse to emerge are presented.

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

Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Learning Outcomes: Two Systematic Reviews

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-12
Abstract: 

Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) are computer programs that dynamically model learners’ psychological states to provide individualized instruction. ITSs have been developed for diverse subjects to help learners to acquire domain-specific, cognitive and metacognitive knowledge at all educational levels. In this thesis, I report on two studies conducted to examine the current state of the ITS field. The first study is a meta-analysis conducted on research that compared the outcomes from students learning from ITSs to those learning from non-ITS learning environments. It examines 107 studies, published prior to 2013, with a total of 14,321 participants. The results show that ITSs outperform teacher-led, large-group instruction (g = .42), non-ITS computer-based instruction (g = .57), and textbooks or workbooks (g = .35). However, no statistically significant difference was detected between learning from ITS and learning from individualized human tutoring (g = -.11) or small-group instruction (g = .05). The second study evaluates research on the relative effectiveness of Bayesian networks in constructing student models in ITSs, which involves 143 studies published between 1992 and 2014. The study explores how Bayesian network was adopted to support the development of student models, relative to its strengths and weaknesses in investigating learning constructs and their contributions to the effectiveness of BN student modeling. A number of implications are drawn with respect to the application of BN in ITS design. Both reviews provide evidence that ITSs are relatively effective tools for learning. Furthermore, ITS researchers are invited to reconsider three fundamental research questions that have been examined since the emergence of ITSs and how they contribute to and constrain advances in effective ITS design in light of developments in artificial intelligence research. Finally, recommendations for future research directions are provided to researchers in the ITS community.

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