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

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A Short History of the Institute for Environmental Learning at Simon Fraser University

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-04-03
Abstract: 

This paper outlines the creation and evolution of the Institute of Environment Learning at Simon Fraser University from 2006 to 2016. From its inception in 2006, as the BC Working Group and Network on Sustainability Education, to obtaining RCE status in May 2010 and to be formally approved as a research institute by the Simon Fraser University Senate later that year, the goal of the educators involved was to develop and support research on environmental learning in communities, schools and post secondary institutions throughout the province of British Columbia. Along the way, members have gone in different directions and as a participant in this process; I have documented this narrative in this paper to help bring parties more closely together again and have also recommended governance, operational and fundraising model for the institute for the same purpose.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Senior supervisor: 
David Zandvliet
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Ed.

The Garden as Co-Teacher: Renewing, Regenerating,Reconnecting

Date created: 
2016-06-27
Abstract: 

Much of the research on school gardens has focused on health benefits and academic outcomes. This thesis explores the possibility that teaching with, and within, the living web of a garden embodying permaculture ethics may offer further possibilities for learning, growth and transformation. Methodologically, it is centered around four narrative case studies of individual students enrolled in successive offerings of a Sustainable Agriculture 12 course situated in an alternate high school program in Vancouver, BC. As the teacher of the course, I also trace my own unfolding understanding of and relationship with the school garden, whose meaning for the students (and myself) was transformed by the introduction of chickens during the launch of the course, followed by the development of the composting system, the expansion of the beds, and the adaptation of the school’s cooking program to take advantage of the eggs from the chickens. Interviews with the students led to the identification of themes of belonging (both working with and caring for others), nourishing growth, and renewal in and through community. Their growing awareness and understanding of the web of relationships among the garden’s more-than-human inhabitants, and their experience of themselves as positively contributing to that web through their care for the chickens, plants and soil, were accompanied by significant advances in their psychosocial well-being. Analyzing this process as movement between “nested domains” of social and personal ecologies helps to frame the teaching and learning process in ecological terms. Hermeneutically, the garden was revealed as a “co-teacher” capable of opening up a “third space” between the institutional classroom setting and the urban backdrop of the students’ lives. It also had a powerful influence on my own pedagogy and my capacity to recognize and support processes of renewal and regeneration. Overall, the study points to ways that teaching can itself become more “ecological” when it is brought into meaningful and caring relationship with self-renewing living systems.

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

The Shaping Influences of 'A Capable Person:' A Narrative Research of Elders' Stories of Raising Children to Inform Aboriginal Education in the Northwest Territories

Date created: 
2016-07-29
Abstract: 

Storytelling, oral traditions, land-based legends, and ancient cultural and spiritual teachings enliven the narratives of many Northwest Territories (NWT) Aboriginal Elders, revealing northern story lights for those who choose to experience them, learn and make meaning from them. I chose to follow twelve NWT Elders’ story lights, and took a two-year journey with them to learn about the phenomenon of ‘a capable person’ from their Indigenous perspective. Through a narrative research approach, I articulated my purpose to identify and examine the influences that guide the growth and development of ‘a capable person.’ By drawing from NWT Elders’ personal life-experience narratives of raising children and relationality, four shaping influences emerged that allowed me to develop a re-interpreted lens from which to view contemporary Indigenous pedagogy and practices in order to inform Aboriginal education in the NWT. Through reflective analysis and research ceremony, my conceptual framework arose, revealing the processes of raising children as similar to raising an Indigenous tipi. The four structures of the tipi made up the framework that sought to bring meaning to the overall shaping influences that guide the growth and development of ‘a capable person’ as follows: 1.The circle shows the grounding influences, 2.The triangle (or tripod) raises the relational influences, 3.The spirals reveals the recurring influences, and 4.The “canvas” illustrates the outside influences. Findings from this study were based on the narrative accounts of the NWT Aboriginal Elders, which were presented in two parts: through a story-based approach of restorying with Elders’ biographies and photographs, and through thematic development. By interweaving the Elders’ stories with my own experiences as an Aboriginal educator and leader, and through the emergent story themes, this re-interpreted lens is presented, highlighting the need to reach and engage Aboriginal children, families and communities in contemporary schooling. As such, this study shows that by paying attention to the grounding, relational, recurring and outside influences that guide the growth and development of ‘a capable person,’ these shaping influences can lead to a new approach to pedagogy and practice needed to create the conditions for transformation in this new century of Indigenizing education in the NWT.

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

Minorités (in) visibles et leadership dans l’enseignement supérieur au canada: les expériences des leaders d’origine africaine

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-05-19
Abstract: 

L’objectif de notre recherche est, dans une visée compréhensive, de documenter l’expérience de leadership des minorités (in)visibles dans l’enseignement supérieur canadien, en prenant l’exemple spécifique des Africains noirs, pour questionner l’ouverture à la diversité linguistique, ethnique et culturelle de l’enseignement postsecondaire canadien. L’étude permet d’explorer les défis et les opportunités de ces leaders noirs, d’appréhender leurs parcours socioprofessionnels, de souligner les facteurs qui leur ont permis d’atteindre ces postes à responsabilités. Les résultats de la recherche ont mis en exergue le fait que les défis sont de taille pour l’université canadienne qui, en ce début de 21ième siècle, peine encore à s’ouvrir à la diversité ethnique et culturelle, et ce, malgré la loi et la politique du multiculturalisme canadien des années 1980.

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

Place-based and Technological Learning Environments which Reflect Indigenous Perspectives and Build an Ecology of Place

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-06-10
Abstract: 

This Masters thesis is a case study of a remote indigenous community off the north coast of British Columbia in a place called Hartley Bay. It focuses on the Gitga’at community school, called Hartley Bay School, and the intertwining of “Place-Based” learning environments with Technological learning environments. This study uses a mixed-methods approach and relies most heavily on both survey (PLACES and WEBLEI) and interview tools but also implemented a myriad of other triangulation instruments. The curriculum implemented was based on the BC Curriculum guides and utilized a cross-curricular approach. Hartley Bay School is a remote village school which has about 30 students. This study focused on a class of 7 students from grades 6-8. Students participated in the Lu lax kyook Ecological Monitoring Project which combined Science, Math, Socials, English, and Media Visual Arts curriculums. Lu lax kyook is an estuary about 5 minutes away from Hartley Bay on boat.

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

Technology disruptions and related problem solving experiences of mid-career elementary teachers

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-28
Abstract: 

Elementary teachers have increasing access to classroom digital technologies but barriers to classroom technology use continue to be reported. In this case study of one urban British Columbia school district, the researcher uses multi-case analysis to explore the experiences of 7 mid-career elementary school teachers who are implementing digital technology in their classrooms. Findings indicate that disruptions continue to necessitate the use of problem solving strategies and supports by teachers. Further, teachers’ choice of problem solving techniques does not always ensure continued use of the technology they incorporate into their plans. The discussion examines some of the more common disruptions reported by teachers and how context shapes the success with which they address disruptions.

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

Students’ Cultural and Personality Factors as Predictors of their Asynchronous Online Discussion Behaviours

Date created: 
2016-08-15
Abstract: 

This study investigated the predictive relationships between cultural/personality factors and online speaking behaviours. First, when reporting online discussion behaviours, previous studies often emphasized the collective group processes, minimizing the individual perspective within the group. The current study conceptualized and tested several individual communicative acts of online speaking behaviours as outcome variables. Individual communicative acts will help us identify the inner workings of group processes that will expand our understanding of discussion behaviours in nuanced ways. Second, previous studies relied heavily on demographic characteristics to predict online discussion behaviours. Often, studies used the citizenship of students as a proxy for cultural characteristics and assumed their online discussion behaviours to be monolithic across the collective, ignoring their individual differences. These concerns were addressed by directly assessing cultural values and personality traits that were hypothesized to be causally proximate to online speaking behaviours. The current study used specific scales to directly measure those factors at an individual level--something that has often not been considered in previous studies. Finally, multilevel modeling procedures were used to predict relationships between cultural/personality factors and online speaking behaviours. It is important to account for group interactions in online discussions, but was often neglected in previous studies. Results of the study confirmed that a student’s level of certain cultural/personality factors (conscientiousness, agreeableness and low context- based cultural values), significantly predicted multiple online speaking behaviours. Results also documented several interaction effects between collectivistic values, individualistic values and openness to experience traits, with students’ local discussion groups on multiple online speaking behaviours. Extroversion, low power distance, and neuroticism were identified as potential predictors for future exploration. In conclusion, results of the study confirmed cultural and personality factors to be useful predictors of online speaking. Personality traits in general directly predicted several online speaking behaviours. However, cultural values did not. Further, the local discussion group context of students significantly moderated cultural and personality factors in predicting online speaking behaviours.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alyssa Wise
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Observations in a Thinking Classroom

Date created: 
2016-08-12
Abstract: 

A Thinking Classroom is a classroom where students are engaged collaboratively in tasks designed to help with learning new concepts. It is a classroom where students are guided by the teacher and actively seek understanding from each other. Current research on Thinking classrooms is prescriptive in describing strategies for teachers to implement in order to break down existing classrooms norms and put in place new norms that are conducive to students working together and solving problems. I have implemented such a Thinking Classroom and in this thesis I look at what students and teachers are doing in a Thinking Classroom. Through analysis of classroom video, conclusions indicate that high mobility of students and ideas, autonomous behaviour in students, and a significant amount of class time spent on tasks were some of the observations that were noticed in a Thinking Classroom.

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

Pedagogical efficacy of argument visualization tools

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-07-27
Abstract: 

The purpose of this research was to investigate the instructional effects of argument visualization tools (AVTs) by developing and evaluating the use of a tool called the Dialectical Map (DM). In a laboratory experiment, each of 125 participants was randomly assigned to one of three groups: a DM Group that studied with the DM and received training on argumentation concepts, an Argue Group that received argumentation training only, and a Control Group that received no training and did not use the DM. Pre-test data were collected on participants’ basal free-recall ability and judgment of learning. After studying an expositional text on fracking, participants gave a judgment of learning and were tested on critical thinking, recall and comprehension, and argumentative writing. Studying with the DM increased confidence in learning, recall and comprehension, and the use of argumentation in a writing task. In addition to the laboratory experiment, three semester-long classroom implementations were conducted with undergraduate students. Both the instructor and students expressed positive attitudes with their DM experiences. Findings from this thesis provide an insight into prior research on educational benefits of AVTs and have instructional implications for incorporating effective AVTs, such as the DM, in classrooms. Future research will continue on gathering data from multiple settings to improve the design and applications of the Dialectical Map.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Nesbit
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Social Benefits of Digital Gaming for Older Adults: The Example of Wii Bowling

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-21
Abstract: 

This research study investigated whether playing a digital game, Wii Bowling, with others can enhance the social lives of older adults. Our research used a mixed methods approach. Quantitative results showed that participants’ perceptions of social connectedness increased and loneliness declined over an 8-week period. Qualitative results described participants’ positive perceptions of their interactions with others, conversations with family and friends, social connections, and the team experience relating to playing in the multi-week, multi-location Wii Bowling tournament.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Kaufman
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.