Research Projects

Mobilizing A Global Citizenship Perspective with Educators: Curriculum Development, Equity and Community Partnerships

2011-2012

Project funded by KNAER Grant ($ 93,700)

Recent education program initiatives and curriculum (e.g. Character Development Initiative; School Effectiveness Framework; Equity & Inclusive Education Strategy; Social Studies & Science Curriculum) in Ontario call for school boards, principals and teachers to draw on emerging evidence-based knowledge to ensure every child and youth in Ontario schools see themselves as included, successful, as having a sense of place and an understanding of global citizenship and environmental stewardship. These initiatives lend strong support to the assertion by Mundy et al. (2007), that “there has never been a better time to pay attention to global education in Canadian schools” (p. 1). Developing a Global Perspective for Educators (DGPE) at the University of Ottawa together with its school board and NGO partners, is well positioned to take a leadership role in ensuring classroom teachers are supported to acquire evidence-based practices for developing a global citizenship perspective that addresses teaching and learning, student engagement and equity priorities.

In this project we (Sharon Cook (global cohort coordinator), Tracy Crowe (project manager), Lisa Glithero (project coordinator), Rita Forte (RA), Katrina Isaacson (RA), Ruth Kane (program evaluation consultant), Brian Kom (RA), Joanne Lauzon (RA), Lorna Mclean (GERN director and program evaluation consultant), Nicholas Ng-A-Fook(project lead)) build upon existing partnerships with Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), NGOs and the Centre for Global and Community Service (University of Ottawa) to extend and mobilize evidence-based research, curriculum design and assessment, critical pedagogy and resource development that will support teachers to meet curricular goals in elementary and middle school classrooms. Since 2002, the DGPE group has served as a knowledge mobilization and dissemination portal for the educational materials developed by local, national and international NGOs. We have worked collaboratively with NGOs, integrating “evidence-based best practices” associated with curriculum design (principles of backward design) and classroom assessment (as, of and for learning) and inclusive education, to translate their educational materials into lesson and unit plans that take up the Ontario curriculum expectations across the different subject areas (see www.developingaglobalperspective.ca).

In 2008 we created the Global Education Research Network (GERN) to institutionalize and support the conduct, mobilization and dissemination of research on global education. Our research illustrates how developing a global citizenship perspective makes a significant difference in the formation of pre-service teachers’ overall competencies in terms of engaging and preparing Ontario children and youth for the social, cultural and economic expectations of the 21st Century. Consequently, GERN is well positioned along with our partners to play a key role in assisting KNAER with the mobilization of research on developing a global citizenship perspective in relation to teaching and learning, student engagement and equity. In turn, the funding provided by KNAER will enable us to extend our reach beyond student teachers into our partner school boards and school classrooms of practicing teachers. Through the creation of professional learning community teams of lead teachers, researchers and student teachers, we will work with the OCDSB and the OCSB to mobilize knowledge into experienced teachers’ classrooms and existing board programs. We commit to working with our partners to develop, implement and evaluate the following project deliverables:

  1. Create a steering committee comprised of core DGPE faculty members and members of participating school boards, NGOs and teacher-candidates to oversee the design, implementation and evaluation of the project;
  2. Establish collaborative professional learning community teams comprised of educational researchers, lead teachers and pre-service teachers enrolled in the 2011-2012 DGPE cohorts;
  3. Facilitate two 2-day conferences and two 1-day workshops at the University of Ottawa for both the participating lead teachers and pre-service teachers;
  4. Work with the professional learning community teams to develop classroom-ready teaching materials and web-based resources that are aligned with the Ontario curriculum expectations and address goals of current school board programs (e.g. Character Development Initiative, 2008; School Effectiveness Framework, 2010; Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, 2009);
  5. Draw upon “best practices” and Ministry policy guidelines for the 21st century (backward design, assessment for, of and as learning, differentiated instruction, inclusive education and integration of 2.0 technologies to teach global education); and
  6. Evaluate the overall project in terms of its impacts of mobilizing knowledge, enhancing teacher confidence and practice and as collaborative partnership with local school boards and NGOs.

The steering committee will oversee the dissemination of the different educational products developed by the professional learning community teams through the 2nd conference at the University of Ottawa (February 23, 2012), in schools, through lead-teacher workshops with colleagues in clusters of schools and via the DGPE website. We will also invite the university and local media outlets to showcase different elements of the project.

To learn more about this innovative project visit the following website:

http://www.developingaglobalperspective.ca/gern/

Making Digital Histories:

Virtual Historians, Historical Literacies, and Education

2011-2013

In 2010, Mark Zuckerman was chosen as Time Magazine’s person of the year. By 2012 Facebook will have an estimated 1 billion users worldwide. Emergent 2.0 web technologies such as Facebook, MySpace, and Google are changing the ways in which humans both interact and communicate with each other over the Internet on personal computers, IPods, and Smartphones. Up until the digital revolution of the 1990s, communication was slower and information harder to find and retrieve. Now, the explosion of the Internet has brought with it an amazing mass of information, being generated at an astounding pace. Even domains of knowledge such as history have been affected directly by the digital revolution. Instead of searching for old scraps in archives, historians are now confronted by an overwhelming amount of sources, and what is worth preserving needs to be decided as people go along. The multiple types of technological skills and literacies Canadian citizens must now learn in order to acquire information, to complete school degrees, or to secure employment have changed radically since the time of the Industrial Revolution. Ministries, school boards, and teachers across Canada are in the midst of restructuring their systems, updating their physical infrastructure with wireless technologies and SMART boards, revising their curriculum guidelines, as well as experimenting with the pedagogical practices necessary to address the societal, cultural and technological demands of the 21st century. However within the contexts of educational research there is still relatively little experimental research on how teachers and students, within a specific subject area like history for example, are developing the necessary curricular and pedagogical strategies for responding to the new demands of the current digital media integration across the public school system. Therefore, this Making Digital Histories pilot initiative seeks to examine how educational researchers and pre-service teachers can utilize the various digital media available to develop the necessary innovative research methodologies, teaching practices and respective digital literacies to critically consume, produce and disseminate historical knowledge on the Internet. Cognizant of these sweeping societal, cultural and technological changes, the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa has established the Faire de l’histoire: Récits et mémoires collectifs en éducation/Making History: Narratives and Collective Memory in Education Educational Research Unit. This bilingual Research Unit seeks to strengthen links between educational researchers and teachers in the public schooling system and to address critical issues in the field of history education that have regional, national and international impacts. Our Research Unit aims to make significant contributions to the overall mandate of research organizations like SSHRC by bringing together educators from across Canada to assess and improve the digital processes for conducting research and disseminating historical knowledge within the context of history education. To do so, we propose to take up the following two initiatives: 1) Work with pre-service teachers at our Virtual History Lab to study the digital practices and historical literacies they employ to construct historical knowledge; 2) Collaborate with pre-service teachers at our Digital Oral History Lab utilizing digital storytelling software to produce digital oral histories with elders from the Outaouais region. This pilot initiative promises to contribute “insight” in terms of what integrating digital media can bring to history education, and what such processes of historical thinking can bring to future digital practices and literacies associated with constructing Canadian history.

SSHRC Insight Grant ($ 73,500): Nicholas Ng-A-Fook (PI) and Stéphane Lévesque (Co-PI)

Engaging Youth Activism (2008-2010)

Funded by Council of Ontario Directors of Education ($ 61,500)

Engaging Digital Youth Activism

The failure of schools and after-school programs to address the media as predominant language of youth today, or to recognize the social and cultural contexts in which students live, has resulted in a profound disconnect. It’s a disconnect that occurs between the experiences that most students have during their time in school and those they have during their time outside school. Until corrected, this disconnect will lead to the increased alienation of low-income urban youth from the dominant social, political, and economic mainstream. (Goodman, 2003, p. 2)

Curriculum needs to reflect the interests of youth who are disengaged with the official content and school programming. (Bosacki et. al., 2006, p. 372)

Students are bombarded daily with print, visual, and digital media. Whether it is on a billboard, listening to an iPod on the way to school, or text messaging a friend during class, youth culture is wired into these multiple forms of media literacy. However, the school curriculum often fails to address and/or incorporate the media literacies youth already experience daily outside of school. Instead, many students are asked by teachers to communicate their knowledge and understanding through a standardized literacy of writing and reading in English through for example the manipulation of digital Word processing software.

This is a joint community service-learning project between the Council of Ontario Directors of Education, Community Service Learning Project and Professor Nicholas Ng-A-Fook, Dr. Linda Radford, and Tracy Norris at the Faculty of Education of the University of Ottawa, and an adaptive high school. Drawing on the larger Character Development ministry initiatives this action research project seeks to engage grade 9 and 10 students, who currently have poor attendance records, low credit accumulation, low self-esteem, experience sociocultural marginalization from the school curriculum, and/or are deemed “at risk” by the irrespective student success team. This experimental program is currently taking place with students enrolled in a grade 10 Communications Technology course at a vocational high school.

This program is designed to reflect and target the specific Character Development goals set by the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat of the Ontario Ministry of Education.

  • Improving students’ attendance;
  • Fostering a sense of community and safety;
  • Creating spaces with students for their voices to be heard;
  • Validating multiple representations of students’ literacies; and
  • Becoming politically engaged citizens.

The project also seeks to disrupt the various ways in which the institution of schooling situates and defines the concept of literacy and in turn determines “what” and “who” counts as being literate within school context. Therefore this project seeks to understand the various ways teachers can integrate students’ interests into its curricular designs and in terms of how the curriculum is then experienced with students. It also seeks to understand the curricular and pedagogical effects that integrating emergent technologies in a classroom setting have in terms of disrupting traditional conceptions of students’ production of literacies within the context of schooling.

Click here to read a more thorough description of this project: Empowering Marginalized Youth.

For sample unit plan created and published by Tracy Norris and Nicholas Ng-A-Fook click here: My Digital Identity

Associate Members

Linda Radford is an associate member of A Canadian Curriculum Project. She is currently a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa. Her journey within the field of teacher education began in 1991 when she studied with Ursula Kelly at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Having just completed her Master’s thesis at Dalhousie University on the value of regionalism in Canadian literature, she found Kelly’s introduction to a critical literary pedagogy as a transformative framework that inspired her own teaching of literature with a wide range of student populations from the elementary to the college level. Curious about the dynamics of resistance in reading and learning about difficult knowledge, Radford began another adventure of insight by taking courses with Deborah Britzman and Alice Pitt at York University. Inspired to further explore readings’ inner drama, in the fall of 2000, she began he PhD in Education with Judith Robertson at the University of Ottawa. Her doctoral dissertation, which received numerous awards such as International Reading Association, Canadian Association of Teacher Education and Truda Rosenberg Scholarship for Research on Discrimination, explored questions of aesthetic provocation and beginning teacher’s reading practices and offers a model of how objects of the curriculum can be used to discuss the implications of identification within the framework of learning to teach others to learn.

Since completing her doctorate, Linda Radford has been teaching a variety of courses at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education. As co-investigator, she has been working with Nicholas Ng-A-Fook on a media studies, social action research project entitled Engaging Youth Activism, which explores the use of 2.0 technologies with ‘at risk’ learners who struggle with traditional literacies and also explores the challenges new technologies bring to our changing understanding of youth’s relation to fiction. Working with Grade 10 classroom English teachers to develop and support differentiated instruction in order to help foster open learning environments where students can engage and perform multiple literacies, Linda Radford has been working to support the aim of this curriculum project – to empower the lived experience of students at school and encourage advocacy by and for these historically marginalized youth. From this research, she plans to turn her attention to a new project on how digital storytelling is being played out in the classrooms and how teachers can explore its democratizing potential.

Additionally, as an educational consultant, she has been working with a team from the research firm Contentworks for the Qikiqitani Truth Commission to examine the impact of government decision-making on Baffin Inuit in the 1950-75 period. The findings will become part of the Qikitani Inuit Association’s archive and augment cultural sensitivity of the current issues facing the Inuit by describing their recent past and the many challenges they endured as a nation.

Graduate Student Research Projects

The following graduate students’ curriculum theory projects were either completed and/or are ongoing under the supervision of Professor Nicholas Ng-A-Fook.

Kathryn Galvin (MA in Education):

Kathryn Galvin successfully defended her master’s thesis titled Environmental Education From a Postcolonial Perspective: Analyzing the influence of UNESCO’s discourse on the Ontario elementary science curriculum. Over the past three decades curriculum scholars have failed to address environmental education through joint local, national, and/or global research initiatives, leaving UNESCO as an underpinning force in legitimizing and institutionalizing environmental education globally. This critical discourse analysis examines the connection between UNESCO’s historical discourse on environmental education and the Ontario elementary science and technology curriculum. As a study grounded in curriculum theory, it leads to a nuanced understanding of the extent to which the local discourse reinscribes and/or subverts the global discourse on environmental education. The study also engages a postcolonial deconstruction of the discourse, exploring how the global and local discursive trends work to colonize or decolonize our relationship with the environment. This study reveals that what is important is not whether or not UNESCO’s dominant discourse on environmental education is reinscribed and/or subverted in the local curriculum. But, rather how both contribute to the complicated discussion on environmental education. This research was funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship grant.

Katrine Cuillerier (MA in Education):

Katrine Cuillerier successfully defended her master’s thesis titled Framing a Curriculum of Queered Performance(s): Problematizing the Language of “Tolerable” Queerness within Mainstream Classrooms. Her thesis explored among other things expressions and representations of heteronormalized gender and sexuality discourses constructed by a group of students and educators involved in a pilot program at an eastern Ontario vocational high school. These performances of stereotyped “queer identities” or “experiences” overpower and silence the performances of identities outside the “norm.” Moreover, by defining what “queerness” is through a heterosexual frame, the explicit school curricula often defines what is acceptable, and what is perceived as unwanted deviant queerness within the context of Catholic and Public schooling here in Canada. Within this study Katrine reiterated the students’ and educators’ responses, reactions and opinions on a range of queer issues through autoethnography and currere research methodologies. In turn, drawing on the theoretical works of Janet Miller, William F. Pinar, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler she analyzed her past and present reactions to social and cultural narrative framings of “queerness” within the classroom in order to inform the pedagogical strategies that one could possibly negotiate when taking up complicated conversations that challenge a “hetero/normal” matrix of the curriculum within the institutional context of public schooling. This research was funded by the Council of Ontario Directors of Education and a Claire M. Morris Graduate Scholarship.

Virginia Gluska (MA in Education):

Virginia Gluska defended her thesis Fiddling With a Culturally Responsive Curriculum in Northern Manitoba. She is currently conducting her field research in Northern Manitoba with the support of an Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) grant to study if fiddling with the school curriculum provides an educational space of empowerment for Aboriginal students. The discourse on education for Aboriginal people has long been limited to a curriculum of cultural assimilation often resulting in an erosion of self-esteem and disengagement. Consequently, this research puts forth narratives of how fiddle programs in northern Manitoba work as a culturally responsive curriculum that in turn address such curricular erosions. As a research methodology, Metissage afforded me pedagogical opportunities to weave the various perspectives of community members, parents, instructors, and former students into an intricate story that attempts to represent some of their social, cultural and historical experiences within the north. Braiding stories of the historical and present impacts of fiddle playing reveals the generative possibilities of school fiddle programs in Canadian Indigenous communities. In addition to building intergenerational bridges, the stories put forth in this thesis demonstrate how the fiddle has become a contemporary instrument of social change for many communities across northern Manitoba.

Gluska, V. (2011, November). The Meeting of Four Strings and A Bow. Shaping our Schools/Shaping our Selves, pp. 102-113.

Tasha Ausman (MA in Education):

In Indian Diasporic Films as Quantum (Third) Spaces: A Curriculum of Cultural Translation Tasha Ausman examines narrative articulations in the films Bend It Like Beckham, Bhaji on the Beach, and American Chai as a complicated conversation in relation to bicultural-identity construction in the Indian diaspora. Unpacking the way “desi” identities are managed in/as a quantum (third) space – one that is continuously shifting and deferred – the films exemplify how “desi” is a heterogeneous cultural “group” without a homeland from which to speak or to return. The narratives of these films are considered cultural translations that expose inter-generational culture-clashes in the spaces between Indian and Western cultures. Screenplay pedagogy was used as a methodology to (re)read analysis of the films, revealing the ways that different movies employ and reinscribe themes of the multicultural pastoral, the carnivalesque, and melodrama, respectively. This thesis concludes by opening up some of the places from which individuals enunciate their desi identities, including the possibilities for (self)reflection.

Brian Kom (MA in Education):

In Tuning In to a Hit Parade Pedagogy Bryan Kom discusses how contemporary popular music is a ubiquitous social, cultural, and pedagogical force. Enabled by ever-evolving and -expanding technology, its songs and lyrics are transmitted into our most public and private spaces. For this study, he presents the Billboard music charts as a functioning pedagogy and curriculum. Riffing on Richter’s denkbilder, Aoki’s curricular worlds of plan and lived experience, Giroux’s public pedagogy, and Giroux & Simon’s theorizing on youth culture, he sounds out messages and motives embedded within the hit parade pedagogy. DJing a methodology of qualitative inquiry, autoethnography, and free association, in this thesis he listens closely to chart-topping songs by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and P!nk that feature themes of marginalization, and consider the paradox presented by the juxtaposition of their popularity and subject matter. Brian suggests that this playlist legitimizes and perpetuates its listeners’ marginalization, running counter to its supposed intent to galvanize and inspire. Before signing off, he asks us to reconsider the implications for school-based educators and pedagogy in regard to engaging marginalization, particularly the notion of implementing a curriculum with which students may participate and sing along.

Major Research Papers:

Jessica Azevedo: The 2009 draft of the Ontario Ministry of Education’s secondary level ‘Gender Studies’ course is currently undergoing review. Consequently, What Is Liberatory in Feminist Theory Might Be Limiting When Administered On Paper is a major research paper that facilitates a (re)reading of this draft with and against the Miss G__ Project’s ‘course objectives’ and ‘suggested topics of study’ put forth on their respective website. To do so, Jessica Azevedo uses an intersectional and interlocking antiracist postcolonial feminist theoretical framework to analyze both the strengths and limitations of this first draft in relation to the feminist tenets proposed by the Miss G__ Project. In turn, she employs this theoretical framework to critically deconstruct the ways in which this draft of the policy document represents various social issues.  Within a standardized Euro-Colonial white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchal framework, the Miss G__Project envisions this course to challenge oppression in and through the school curricula. Thus, she utilizes this study to examine how ‘discourses of domination’ circulating within such a framework can foster the institutional appropriation of Miss G__’s feminist politics as an alternative discourse throughout this particular course draft.

MA Committee Member:

Poaching in The Landwash: An Interrogation of Cultural Meaning In a Reading Group from St. John’s, Newfoundland

Involved as it is with language, reading is an always-ambiguous endeavour. In this qualitative foray into the otherness of textual desire, David Lewkowich examines the human geography of reading through the articulations of a reading group in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I also dwell in the collective dynamics of a pedagogy of place—moving through the landspaces of Newfoundland, poeticizing the relation between reading and subjectivity. As a borderline work, this study illustrates that reading in the meeting place of dialogic engagement creates a text of infinite possibility, through which readers write on and write from their social constructions of cultural meaning.

In Responsible Stewards of the Earth: Narratives, Learning, and Activism Ashley Lima studies what the engagement in environmental activism can offer valuable insights into how Ontario’s young people come to be responsible stewards of the earth. This research seeks to understand the narrative complexities put forth by teachers and students (Gr. 11-12) about the influence school plays for environmental activists. The teachers’ involvement with activism is mediated by students and the social networks that support their actions. The students’ involvement in action is influenced by teacher mentors, learning about/in the environment, and having a venue for activism. These findings suggest that in order to live up to Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow schools should be seeking to have at least one environmentally literate teacher who wants to provide students with a venue for action. To assist the teachers and students with activism, there needs to be support for environmental action initiatives from the school administration and the community.

Literacy on lockdown: An ethnographic experience in English assessment:

Nisha Toomey explores literacy as a medium for deepening student’s awareness of their world and the impact of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Standardized testing is analyzed as a fundamental paradigm to our school culture. Ethnography is explored as a method for describing one group of students and their teacher as they prepare for the OSSLT. The findings conclude that the test occupies time, dominates definitions of literacy and undermines student and teacher agency. The conclusion considers reasons for why we seem to accept a testing paradigm that may be a direct affront to democratic practice in schools. Winner of the 2013 LLRC Master’s Thesis Award.

(Un)Compromising/In Tension: Critical Pedagogy and the Academy:

In asking about the experiences of professors embodying and enacting tools of critical pedagogy, Taiva Taigler seeks to explore strategies of resistance to the hegemony of neoliberalism in the Academy. This research focuses on the Canadian university as characterized by neoliberal logic and the hierarchical practices of capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism. By exploring the themes of neoliberalism, violence, tension, critical pedagogy, and anti-oppression, that are in turn rooted in personal testimony and lived experience of educators, this study seeks to challenge normative systems of knowledge production to expand and explore subjugated knowledges. What is at stake is developing strategies that may be cultivated and documented as critical pedagogical tools that work toward collective imaginings of resistance.

Conjonctures et pratiques associées à l’inclusion et la réussite scolaire des élèves réfugiés : conceptions de directions d’école élémentaire de langue française en Ontario

Dans ce projet de thèse Michelle Thibault prends compte du nombre grandissant de nouveaux arrivants accueillis dans les écoles de langue française en Ontario. Conscients des besoins particuliers en matière d’apprentissage et d’inclusion de ces élèves, le ministère de l’Éducation de l’Ontario (MÉO) a mis sur pied en 2010 une version révisée du Programme d’appui aux nouveaux arrivants (PANA) qui se veut un curriculum d’étude alternatif au programme régulier afin de permettre à ces élèves de combler rapidement les retards scolaires et d’assimiler des éléments propres à la société canadienne francophone. Cette initiative du MÉO ne tient toutefois pas en compte les besoins académiques et sociaux parfois criants des élèves issus de familles réfugiées. Notre recension des écrits se base sur les publications de chercheurs ayant étudié les facteurs pouvant avoir un impact négatif sur les chances d’inclusion et de réussite des élèves réfugiés dont : de grands retards scolaires (Woods, 2009 ; Olliff et Couch, 2005), une faible maitrise de la langue d’enseignement (Vang, 2005 ; Matthiews, 2008 ; Christopoulou et Leeuw, 2008) un risque de syndrome de stress post-traumatique (Diallo et Lafrenière, 2007 et Husain et al., 2008), l’incompréhension des différences culturelles (Matthiews, 2008; Davies, 2008; Abdhallah-Pretceille, 1996) et des écarts entre l’école et la famille (Tousignant, 1992; Mc Andrew, 2001; Terrisse, Trottier et Chevarie, 1994). Parmi les facteurs de protection recensés, notons le rôle de l’école et de la direction scolaire, l’évaluation diagnostique et le suivi, les compétences interculturelles des intervenants scolaires, l’engagement des parents et le partenariat avec la communauté ainsi que favoriser l’expression de l’élève. Notre recherche se base principalement sur un cadre théorique tiré du modèle des expériences pivots de Bibeau et al. (1992). Ce modèle expose sept pairs de conjonctures protectrices ou fragilisantes à la résilience des familles réfugiées. Les vingt-trois pratiques répertoriées auprès de cinq directions scolaires et des deux professionnelles en éducation de l’Ontario francophone sont analysées et regroupées à la lumière de ces conjonctures. Notre analyse de données a permis de faire ressortir les pratiques susceptibles d’avoir un plus grand impact sur les chances d’inclusion et de réussite des élèves réfugiés. Parmi ces pratiques, notons le Comité d’appui qui rejoint l’ensemble des conjonctures. Nous avons identifié trois écoles où les pratiques mises en place par les directions permettent de toucher aux sept conjonctures. La seule conjoncture qui semble échapper aux deux autres écoles est celle de la sécurité. Par notre notre revue de littérature et nos données recueillies sur le terrain, nous avons pu enrichir le modèle des expériences pivots de Bibeau et al. (1992) afin de l’adapter particulièrement aux enfants d’âge scolaire issus de familles réfugiées. Finalement, l’analyse de l’ensemble des données recueillies dans le cadre de cette thèse a permis de présenter un bon nombre de recommandations autant pour les directions scolaires que pour les conseils scolaires et le ministère de l’Éducation de l’Ontario.

A Theatre for Change: Applying Community Based Drama Practices into Ontario Middle Schools:

Teachers have an undeniable influence on youth, on whose shoulders tomorrow rests. It is vital for teachers to be conscious of their role in both the local and global community in order to facilitate occasions for students to develop a sense of global consciousness. By imparting to students the desire to learn and to explore their interactions with things, people and experiences, and actively pursue knowledge, they develop critical literacy skills required to both acquire understanding and be(come) understood. Through this research study, Kiersten Harrison examines the implications of applying David Diamond’s community drama work called Theatre for Living, as an effective and critical literacy practice to enhance social conciousness within a middle school, is assesssed. The program was implemented in a split grade 7/8 and grade 8 classroom in southwestern Ontario. The study exemplifies for educators a practical yet significant step for initializing and developing a broad sense of awareness in students; that is the sense of global consciousness.

Ph.D. Committee Member:

Domestic Violence in Aboriginal Communities: A Context for Resilience:

Anita Olsen Haper’s research is a study of the perspectives of resilience by survivors of domestic violence (DV) in three Aboriginal communities. The Executive Directors (EDs) of the women’s shelters on these reserves were interviewed, as well as three DV survivors who were identified by the EDs. The meanings articulated by interviewees is intended to provide educators and those in anti-violence efforts with an increased understanding of resilience as defined by Aboriginal DV survivors. The interpretations that were voiced are different from those that are understood according to prevailing Western tradition. Among Aboriginal populations, internally-derived perspectives of resilience, I contend, are foundational in developing curricula aimed at reducing DV and its traumatic manifestations. DV is often deceptively and simplistically construed as the conduct and dynamics of two people within a home. However, my investigative study that includes a comprehensive literature review, exposes the fallacy of this assumption as it pertains to Aboriginal communities: DV has historic origins that are strongly grounded in colonialism. DV is, as well, socially constructed in power hierarchies that sustain patriarchal supremacy, and a devastating social and psychological plague in all reserve communities. My research recognizes that community-based interventions in Aboriginal communities can only be effectively operationalized with the knowledge of the intricacies of colonialism as they pertain specifically to DV. Drawing on traditional beliefs and community principles such as meaningful participation, integration of cultural and spiritual practices, recognition of historical injustices by colonizing forces, consensus-derived decision making involving women and youth all help inform educational offerings about the actionable content and delivery of resilience teachings.

Encouragement, Enticement, and/or Deterrent: A Case Study Exploring Female Experience in a Vocational Education Training (VET) Initiative in Northern England

In this case study Sandra Parris examines how a group of young girls at a secondary school in northern England made sense of their participation in a gender specific vocational education initiative designed to encourage female interest in skilled trade education and professions. The investigation consists of a qualitative case study that included ‘practical’ and historical components. On the practical side, the study looked at a gender specific initiative (girls only) aimed at Year 9 students (12-14 years old) at Garden Road Community and Technology School. The one-day sessions were held at local area colleges or vocational education and training (VET) training facilities and covered skilled trade fields that are traditionally male-dominated (e.g. automotive, construction and engineering). My methodology for the study consisted of two data sources, interviews and a review of public VET policy-related documents. The data was gathered using two methods, with individual and group interviews as the primary one, and public VET policy-related document analysis as the secondary one. In total, 13 current, 2 former and an additional 2 formerly registered (now graduates who decided to pursue non-traditional vocational education and professions) students at the school were interviewed. Beside former and current students, interviews were conducted with 2 instructors and 1 senior administrator at the school. The selection of government policy-related documents covered 2002 to 2011.

The study is framed by a feminist informed genealogy that invokes Foucault’s (1990) notion of ‘biopower’ and Pillow’s (2003) notion of the ‘gendered body.’ Meanwhile, Ted Aoki’s (2003) concepts of curriculum-as-plan and curricula-as-lived are used to analyze and discuss the review of UK government policy-related documents and participant narratives. The theme-based presentation of student narratives centred on the girls’ understanding and experience of: the session process and content; gender; non-traditional VET as educational and occupational options; and the impact of the sessions on their educational and professional choices.

The student narratives suggest several things that relate to their understanding of gender and non-traditional VET. First, the sessions proved to be both interesting and informative and students expressed an interest in taking part in more (and) varied gender-specific sessions. Second, traditional constructions of gender and gendered behavior are commonly used in job-related discourse as evidenced by the use of the terms ‘boys jobs’ and ‘girls jobs’ among the students. In addition, students had limited opportunities for exposure to non-traditional VET education and professions; and what knowledge they do have is generally dependent upon family knowledge and experience in the area. From a document review standpoint, the findings show that government commitment in terms of interest and financial backing for VET has been inconsistent. Resultantly, schools are left to identify and maintain a range of community-based partnerships that may not always see gender segregation in VET as a major concern.

The significance of this study rests in the presentation of the girls’ ‘lived curriculum’ and ‘gendered’ experiences as points that can offer insight into what transpires within vocational education initiatives and settings. Furthermore, from a feminist perspective the research also highlights the continued need to work with schools on how gender is Encouragement, Enticement, and/or Deterrent presented, discussed and understood among students. Failure to consider the gendered nature of discourse about education and professional options that takes place within school and class settings limits students’ perspectives about what is available and possible.

Voguing the Veil: Exploring an Emerging Youth Subculture of Muslim Women Fashioning a New Canadian Identity

The population of 2nd generation Canadian-Muslim women who choose to veil, or wear the hijab, is steadily increasing. Rather than inquire why these women choose to do so, this study explores how Muslim youth use the veil as a fashion accessory. Guided by research questions that focus on the representation of the veil in popular culture, Saba Alvi explores the veil as a sign as the women negotiate ‘being Muslim’ and ‘being Canadian’. Informed by a cultural studies conceptual framework, veiling in fashionable ways, or, ‘voguing the veil’, is explored as a form of ‘public pedagogy’ (Giroux, 2004). Using an Advocacy and Participatory methodology, the four women and myself engage in a collaborative inquiry examining meanings behind how we vogue the veil. Through a series of interviews, focus groups and journal entries accompanied by personal photographs (photovoice), the women and I co-construct narratives around their identity as women who veil in ways that contest dominant discourse. Together we explore the impact of constructs such as beauty, femininity and sexuality on our identities as Muslim women who veil in Canada. Co-constructing participant case studies permits readers “access to the world from the view-point of individuals who have not traditionally held control over the means of imaging the world” (Berg, 2007, p. 233), at many times surprising and contradicting what is ‘known’ about the veiled Muslim woman. The findings reveal themes that deeply impact how the women choose to veil. These themes include the strategies the women use to employ their veils as a means of agency and how, within and through different pedagogical spaces, the women’s performances and performativity of the veil shifts. The women in the study demonstrate that by ‘voguing the veil’, they are in fact attempting to transform the meaning of the veil as a marker of Canadian Identity. Using the voices, photos and narratives of the four women I argue that through ‘voguing the veil’ these young Muslim women are actively entering into and creating spaces so to be seen as an integral part of Canadian society and as such can be recognized as an emerging subculture.

STRUCTURAL ASSESSMENT OF KNOWLEDGE FOR MISCONCEPTIONS IN THE DOMAIN OF PHYSICS:

Unlike textual description, pathfinder network (an algorithm that results in a kind of concept map) provides a visual way to describe the knowledge structure of a student. It often provides a clear measure of the student’s understanding and highlights the student’s misconceptions. The traditional approaches of assessment such as multiple-choice questions and word problems often fail to identify these misconceptions. Gul Shahzad Sarwar carried out the following steps were carried out for this study.

  1. The study assessed the knowledge structures of grade 11 physics students of a public high school of Ottawa and their instructor using pathfinder networks. The work concept (a subset of links around the concept of work) in the students’ pathfinder networks was compared to the work concept in the referent network and the similarity between them was calculated.
  2. During the intervention phase of the study, individualized instructions and exercises based on the misconceptions about the concept of work, shown by their knowledge structures, were given to the students.
  3. The study again assessed the knowledge structures of the students for a change in work concept in their pathfinder networks by comparing it with the referent network. The study also analyzed the control concepts of “mass” and “gravity” in the pathfinder networks of the students and found no significant change in those.

In addition to pathfinder networks’ utility as a global measure of conceptual knowledge of the students, which is useful for summative assessment, this research is a step forward to provide evidence that an individual node in the pathfinder network can be explored to study a particular concept in the network. Therefore, the research demonstrates the potential utility of pathfinder networks for formative assessment. This offers the possibility of providing the students with extremely comprehensive feedback.

Results revealed that the similarity index of work concept in the pathfinder networks of the students increased from pre- to post-intervention phase. Most likely, the major reason for this change was that individualized instructions were given to each student about the concept of work which stimulated and probably changed some of their misconceptions. To address validity, the similarity indices of mass and gravity concepts in the pathfinder networks of the students were also checked for improvement. The result shows that there is no significant improvement in mass and gravity concepts as the individualised instructions were not given to the students about mass and gravity concepts. Findings support the use of structural assessment of knowledge with pathfinder scaling technique for formative assessment as a way to enhance learning.