Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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This collection contains digitized SFU theses except for those theses submitted within the last 12 months. If you cannot find the thesis you are looking for please search Recently Submitted Theses as it may be a recently submitted thesis and thus not yet available in Summit.

There is no going back: The case for starting over with conditional sentences

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-06-28
Abstract: 

The life of conditional sentences of imprisonment in Canada has been, to say the least, turbulent. Introduced in 1996, it was not long before restrictions were placed on their use—first in 2007 and then again in 2012. To add insult to injury, the sanction was found to have essentially failed in meeting its primary objective (of prison reduction) in two studies released in 2019. In many people’s minds, this less-than-stellar performance as a prison alternative signaled the inevitable end to this sentencing option. Yet, despite the many challenges, recent (2021) developments suggest that predictions of its imminent death may have been premature. Indeed, a resurrection of sorts may be on the horizon, brought about either through jurisprudence (Sharma) or legislation (Bill C-22). Having said this, any hope of long-term salvation will require serious analysis of its failings and deep reflection of workable remedies. This study proposes to carry out this task. To this end, it employs a mixed-methods design (quantitative court and survey data as well as qualitative interviews with judges) to explore the use of conditional sentences in British Columbia, the province that appears to have had the least success in terms of using the sanction as a true prison alternative. The many challenges of conditional sentencing (e.g., flawed statutory construction, lack of public education, inadequate funding, etc.), are highlighted through a thematic analysis of the data. The phenomena of net-widening and circumvention are each explored as possible explanations for the apparent stability of imprisonment rates over the decades, notwithstanding dramatic swings in Canadian penal policy. Most notably, the application of conditional sentences to offenders who would not otherwise have been facing jail is linked to a rejection of the sanction as a term of imprisonment and/or its appeal as a form of “robust probation.” The future of conditional sentencing in Canada is considered and an argument is made that simply removing the restrictions introduced in 2012 fails to acknowledge or address the sanction’s many flaws. Indeed, if the challenges of conditional sentencing are not resolved, there may be little reason to believe that the sanction will fare any better than it did in its earlier (pre-2007/2012) life.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David MacAlister
Cheryl Webster
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Accessibility and Aldus@SFU: Exploring multiple avenues of access for digital exhibits and academic research

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-08-10
Abstract: 

This report analyzes four different avenues of accessibility as they pertain to digital exhibits and academic research. Using Simon Fraser University’s Aldus@SFU Digitized Collection as a case study, this report looks at accessibility through the avenues of digitization, openness, publicness, and functionality to break down the current and future needs of diverse audiences. While accessibility is a complex topic, this report breaks down the needs of several different user groups and outlines what can be done to fulfill those needs and create content that is universally available and accessible.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Hannah McGregor
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: Publishing Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Pub.

Seeking Iranian national identity: An examination of the photography exhibition, Looking at Persepolis: the Camera in Iran, 1850-1930

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-05-26
Abstract: 

This thesis investigates Looking at Persepolis displayed at The Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver. This study examines how the exhibition reproduces an Orientalist lens and their stereotypical representations of Iran by showcasing selected photographs. Additionally, it considers their meaning in the contemporary context of Vancouver’s Iranian diaspora. Based on the three levels of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1995), this thesis examines the exhibition at a macro, meso and micro level. The macro-level examines the discourse of Iranian national identity in relation to the socio-cultural practices that facilitated the nation-building project of Naser al-Din Shah (1848-1896). As the thesis argues, Persepolis signified “Persian-ness” (Dabashi, 2007) in the construction of the nation’s “collective imagination” (Anderson, 1983). Subsequently, the thesis examines the discursive practices of early photography in Iran, particularly European photography, in the context of colonialism and the Shah’s photography institutions at a meso-level. It explores the institutional and political practices that influenced the production and consumption of photographs of the four European photographers highlighted in the exhibition. The micro-level examines The Polygon’s use of these photographs to signify Persian-ness. I argue that the exhibition presents an ideal ancient civilization that encompasses a “nostalgic culture” of Iranian nationalists, especially in the diasporic community (Naficy, 2001). By juxtaposing the portrait of the Naser al-Din Shah with the photographs of Persepolis, the exhibition becomes infused with a form of Iranian nationalism that is problematically tied to longing for Iran’s monarchial system. I conclude while there was an attempt to distance the image of the Iranian diasporic community from negative Western media images of the Middle East by showing photographs of the ancient site of Persepolis, the use of European photographs in the exhibition facilitates the reproduction of the same power relations between the Orient and the Occident that this thesis critically examines.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kirsten McAllister
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Seattle Consent Decree: Excessive or effective force in police reform?

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-06-16
Abstract: 

The main objective of this research project was to evaluate and critically analyze the United States Department of Justice’s (USDOJ) effort to reform the Seattle Police Department through the use of a “Consent Decree,” pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. Section 14141. By examining the history, origin and use of Section 14141 with respect to other jurisdictions in general and Seattle in particular, an understanding of the effectiveness of this externally mandated reform effort emerged. Data compiled from interviews, court filings, public reports and media accounts support the conclusion that substantive, sustainable reform has been achieved as a result of the adoption of the federal Consent Decree between the City of Seattle and the USDOJ, at least as it relates to updated policies and practices involving police use-of-force, “stop and frisks,” and biased policing, as well as investigations of uses-of-force and reviews of those incidents. However, questions remain as to the long-term effectiveness of the reform effort on the culture of the Seattle Police Department and its ability to sustain the reform efforts into the future. Further, the data support that there is great potential for future DOJ externally-imposed reform efforts to be successful if the USDOJ enhances its efforts to engage in a holistic approach to police reform and if the DOJ uses police use-of-force theory in its application and enforcement of Section 14141 investigations, findings and litigation efforts. The research also indicates benefits to USDOJ reform efforts through the creation of a new “Police Reform Section” within the Civil Rights Division to replace the USDOJ’s reliance on its Special Litigation Section to enforce Constitutional policing on a systemic level within the United States.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David MacAlister
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

ChatrEx: Designing explainable chatbot interfaces for enhancing usefulness, transparency, and trust

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-07-16
Abstract: 

When breakdowns occur during a human-chatbot conversation, the lack of transparency and the “black-box” nature of task-oriented chatbots can make it difficult for end users to understand what went wrong and why. Inspired by recent HCI research on explainable AI solutions, we explored the design space of explainable chatbot interfaces through ChatrEx. We followed the iterative design and prototyping approach and designed two novel in-application chatbot interfaces (ChatrEx-VINC and ChatrEx-VST) that provide visual example-based step-by-step explanations about the underlying working of a chatbot during a breakdown. ChatrEx-VINC provides visual example-based step-by-step explanations in-context of the chat window whereas ChatrEx-VST provides explanations as a visual tour overlaid on the application interface. Our formative study with 11 participants elicited informal user feedback to help us iterate on our design ideas at each of the design and ideation phases and we implemented our final designs as web-based interactive chatbots for complex spreadsheet tasks. We conducted an observational study with 14 participants to compare our designs with current state-of-the-art chatbot interfaces and assessed their strengths and weaknesses. We found that visual explanations in both ChatrEx-VINC and ChatrEx-VST enhanced users’ understanding of the reasons for a conversational breakdown and improved users' perceptions of usefulness, transparency, and trust. We identify several opportunities for future HCI research to exploit explainable chatbot interfaces and better support human-chatbot interaction.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Parmit Chilana
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Computing Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Converter based electrochemical impedance spectroscopy for fuel cell stacks

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-03-19
Abstract: 

Fuel cells are important devices in a hydrogen-based chain of energy conversion. They have distinctive advantages over batteries with their higher energy density and faster refueling speed, which make them attractive in stationary power supplies and heavy-duty vehicles. However, the high cost and low durability associated with modern fuel cells are still hindering their wider commercialization. Besides developing more reliable and lower cost materials and advanced assemblies of cells and stacks, a practical and effective diagnostic tool is highly needed for fuel cells to identify any abnormal internal conditions and assist with maintenance scheduling or application of on-board mitigating schemes. Conventionally, linear instruments were used for fuel cell EIS, however, limited to single cells or short stacks only as a laboratory testing method. With recent developments, EIS enabled by switching power converters are capable of being applied to a high-power stack directly. This approach has the potential for practical field applications such as a servicing tool for fuel cell manufacturers or an on-board diagnostic tool of a moving vehicle. Previous works on converter based EIS have made a few different attempts at conceptually realizing this solution while several significant issues were not well recognized and resolved yet. As such, this thesis explores further on this topic to address the flexibility of EIS perturbation generation, the perturbation frequency range, and the linkage between fuel cell EIS requirements and the converter design to push for its readiness for practical implementations. Several new solutions are proposed and discussed in detail, including a total software approach for existing high-power converters to enable wide-frequency-range EIS, a redesign of the main dc/dc converter enabling wide-frequency-range perturbations, and a separate auxiliary converter as a standalone module for EIS operation. A detailed analysis of oscillations brought by converter based EIS in powertrains is also presented.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jiacheng Wang
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Sensemaking with learning analytics visualizations: Investigating dashboard comprehension and effects on learning strategy

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-07
Abstract: 

In the provision of just-in-time feedback, student-facing learning analytics dashboards (LADs) are meant to aid decision-making during the process of learning. Unlike summative feedback received at its conclusion, this formative feedback may help learners pivot their learning strategies while still engaged in the learning activity. To turn this feedback into actionable insights however, learners must understand LADs well enough to make accurate judgements of learning with them. For these learners, LADs could become an integral part of their self-regulatory learning strategy. This dissertation presents a multifaceted examination of learners’ sensemaking processes with LADs designed to support self-regulatory learning. The in-situ studies detailed therein examine learners’ understanding of the data visualized in LADs and the effects of this understanding on their performance-related mental models. Trace data, surveys, semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews, and retrospective cued recall methods were used to identify why, when, and how learners used LADs to guide their learning. Learners’ qualitative accounts of their experience explained and contextualized the quantitative data collected from the observed activities. Learners preferred less complex LADs, finding them more useful and aesthetically appealing, despite lower gist recall with simpler visualizations. During an early investigation of how LADs were used to make learning judgments in situ, we observed learners’ tendency to act upon brief LAD interactions. This inspired us to operationalize gist as a form of measurement, describing learners’ ability to make sense of a LAD after a brief visual interrogation. Subsequent comparisons of the accuracy and descriptiveness of learners’ gist estimates to those of laypeople repeatedly showed that laypeople were more apt than learners to produce accurate and complete gist descriptions. This dissertation culminates in a final study examining the evolution of learners’ mental models of their performance due to repeated LAD interaction, followed by a discussion of the contextual factors that contributed to what was observed. Trends observed across this work suggest that learners were more apt to “get the gist” with LAD after repeated interaction. This dissertation contributes a novel method for evaluating learners’ interpretation of LADs, while our findings offer insight into how LADs shape learners’ sensemaking processes.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Marek Hatala
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The effects of sediment organic carbon and chemical residence time on the acute toxicity of sea lice chemotherapeutants to benthic invertebrates

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-03-25
Abstract: 

Chemotherapeutants are commonly used to manage sea lice outbreaks in salmonid aquaculture. Among the classes of chemotherapeutants used are avermectins; these tend to persist in the sediments underneath salmon farms and may directly impact nearby benthic fauna of marine ecosystems. The present study sought to determine how two environmental factors – namely, sediment organic carbon (OC) and chemical residence time – can modify the toxicity of emamectin benzoate (EB; formulation: Slice®) and ivermectin (IVM) in two species of benthic invertebrates: the amphipod Eohaustorius estuarius and the polychaete Neanthes virens. In both species, sediment OC significantly reduced toxicity, an effect that was more pronounced for IVM and combination exposures. Four months of chemical residence time reduced toxicity in E. estuarius but did not affect toxicity in N. virens. This research provided novel insight into the effects of two environmental factors that potentially impact avermectin toxicity in nontarget species underneath salmon farms.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Supervisor(s): 
Chris Kennedy
Department: 
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.E.T.

Evaluating long short-term memory networks for modeling land cover change

Date created: 
2019-08-14
Abstract: 

Land cover change (LCC) can be viewed as dynamic complex systems which require relevant relationships to be encoded when represented within various modeling approaches. Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs), specifically the Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) variant, belong to a category of Deep Learning (DL) approaches best suited for sequential and timeseries data analysis, thus suitable for representing LCC. The primary objective of this study is to examine the capacity and effectiveness of LSTM networks for forecasting LCC given varying geospatial input datasets with feature impurities. Using synthetic and MODIS land cover datasets for British Columbia, Canada, results demonstrate the sensitivity of LSTM models to varying geospatial input dataset characteristics. Geospatial datasets with finer temporal resolutions and increased timesteps yielded favourable results while coarser temporal resolutions and fewer timesteps were affiliated with less successful outcomes. This thesis research contributes to the advancement of automated, data-driven DL methodologies for forecasting LCC.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Suzana Dragicevic
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Quantifying carbon cycle feedbacks under negative CO2 emissions

Date created: 
2021-07-09
Abstract: 

Land and ocean carbon sinks play a major role in regulating atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate. However, their future efficiency depends on feedbacks in response to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate. Since negative CO2 emissions technologies (NETs) are a key mitigation measure in emission scenarios consistent with global climate targets, understanding carbon cycle feedbacks under negative CO2 emissions is essential. This thesis investigates carbon cycle feedbacks under positive and negative CO2 emissions using an Earth system model driven with idealized scenarios of increasing and decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Results suggest that carbon cycle feedbacks differ under positive and negative emissions, independently of the specific approach chosen for their quantification. The findings of this thesis provide insights into the approach best suited to quantify carbon cycle feedbacks under negative CO2 emissions, and into the role of these feedbacks in determining the effectiveness of NETs in reducing CO2 levels.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kirsten Zickfeld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.