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

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Real-World Applications in Math Class

Date created: 
2016-10-18
Abstract: 

Calls to connect school mathematics to applications in the real-world are ubiquitous. I examine the experience of senior high school students as they encounter a student-centred real-world application task applying logarithms and exponential functions in a murder mystery context. I observed students through the task, analyzed their written solutions, and administered a follow-up questionnaire. Four case studies illustrate the range and nuanced experiences of students completing the real-world task. During the real-world task students experienced prolonged motivation, they made sense of abstract mathematics through the context of the task, and they benefited from group interactions. This empirical study provides support for the claimed benefits from the literature for the inclusion of real-world applications in the teaching and learning of secondary mathematics.

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

Language ‘as’ Element: The Sentient Registers of Communicative Practice

Date created: 
2016-11-16
Abstract: 

Facing the challenges to elementary and secondary education in the 21st century requires teachers as well as students, support staff, parents, administrators, academics, and the broader community to confront deeply held assumptions. To address these challenges, schools need to be places where meaningful and sustaining conversations unfold. How we speak to one another becomes my entry point into this societal endeavour we call ‘education’. In this investigation I set out to form a language-based epistemic lens through which future research can study how communicative practices aid or impede educational processes. This investigation draws on philosophy of language and phenomenology. In particular, I look at the ideas of J.L. Austin, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Maurice Merleau- Ponty. The main body of this work is divided into three parts. Part one problematizes the concept of language in order to flesh out its life, to see language qua language in the making. Part two is an extended discussion of Austin’s How To Do Things With Words, Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and Merleau-Ponty’s The Visible and the Invisible that scaffolds an understanding of language as an animating force behind what we call ‘life’ and ‘reality’. Part three is a set of expressions of the ideas about the elementality of language developed in this dissertation: first as an exploration of subjective registers of language; second as a fictional dialogue representing my own cognitive shifts in this doctoral dissertation; and third as a reflection on the implications of language sensitivity on education. Together these parts demonstrate that living language is not so much a concept as an action, a human activity in the confirmation of what is real, what is meaningful, what is life itself. The findings of this dissertation do not bring closure to the subject of language but rather bring into the open the subject itself, that it is in the possibilities that the ground of our beliefs is formed.

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

Teaching teachers: A look inside professional development

Date created: 
2016-12-01
Abstract: 

Extensive research has been conducted on student learning, and pre-service teacher learning inside the classroom, but this is not the case with in-service teachers engaged in learning opportunities provided by professional development.In this study a framework was developed to analyze and provide a description of a professional development session as it occurred. The researcher makes use of the phenomenological perspective, to analyze the ‘lived experience’ of professional development sessions and describe teachers’ reactions to a variety of approaches and activities. As a result of her analysis of professional development sessions, the researcher brings forward some important elements to consider like mood, motives, wants, and who is carrying the flow of the conversation (flux) during the sessions. The researcher also focused on engagement, and how, through engagement, teachers show their motivation, wants, moods, needs and learning. To represent the phenomenology of professional development in a way that was succinct and useful, the researcher developed the idea of scenarios for her analysis. A scenario is defined as a unit of exchange, where the professional developer has a plan, and in accordance with it, s/he introduces or presents an idea or task. This action is taken in by the teachers, and the teachers then respond. Communication is not perfect, the original idea passes through the teachers’ ‘wants-motives-mood’ filter, so what the teachers take out of what the professional developer presents to them is not necessarily what the professional developer expects, given that the response the professional developer receives also passes through her/his ‘wants-motives-mood’ filter. The unit is completed when the professional developer takes in the response and sees a need to re-direct. By dividing activities into scenarios, and then focusing on each of its components, the analysis was considerably simplified. The researcher was able to find units of meaning, and significant themes emerged from the analysis: how teachers use the teacher guides, how previous practice can play a role for change, and how a teacher’s resistance can interfere with the learning of others.

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

Learning experiences during postgraduate studies in the sciences: Exploring variations and outcomes

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-10-05
Abstract: 

This dissertation documents a range and variation of postgraduate science students’ experiences in terms of degree experiences and post-graduation outcomes from a Workplace Learning perspective. Study one is a narrative study of six Canadian science doctoral students over two and a half years. Narrative analysis of data, including logs and interviews, identified three case-pairs related to overall affordances/supports received and anticipated career outcomes. They were termed: positive-professional, positive-academic, and challenging-uncertain. Three affordances of interest were also identified across the cases: research projects, supervision, and colleagues. Variations in affordances and their relationship to the case-pairings were explored. Study two is a mixed-methods study of the experiences of nine Canadian science doctoral students at two institutions over four years. Narrative analysis of data including logs and interviews resulted in three case-groupings related to career outcomes/outlooks: positive outcome, positive outlook, and uncertain outlook. Quantitative analysis of the logs identified three metrics which related to these outcomes/outlooks: number of publications per year, percentage of logs reporting research difficulties, and percentage of times supervisory help was received when needed. The relationship between these metrics and the case-groupings were then explored thematically. Study three is a primarily quantitative study that examines the experiences of thirty-six masters and doctoral students across the UK. The data were comprised of surveys and follow-up interviews. Principal components analysis and Spearman correlations were used to analyse the surveys. This analysis resulted in multiple factors, including two project descriptions based on the subject of study: social-case and cognitive-physiological. In turn, each related to a pattern of research practices (e.g., quantitative, qualitative) and affordances (teamwork, supervision, mentorship) more typically described for the social sciences and the sciences, respectively, as opposed to one broad set of practices and affordances across the discipline as has been more commonly described. Interviews were used to contextualise these findings.

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

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.