Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Indigenous Knowledge in Contemporary Public Education
This study provides important perspectives and guidance for educators in Ontario to assist in integrating Indigenous content into public education programs – both in schools and other community educational settings. It explores how Indigenous worldviews provide unique insights for holistic education and learning how to live sustainably in place. The study also focuses on approaches to education, comparing Eurocentric and Indigenous philosophies and pedagogies, as indicators of differing value systems. Through a combination of literature review and personal interviews with eleven influential Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators in the Peterborough area, the study explores the potential for Indigenous perspectives to enhance the wellbeing and personal learning journey of all students, regardless of their backgrounds. The research concludes with recommendations for educators on how to begin integrating Indigenous Knowledge throughout programming in appropriate, respectful ways that celebrate diversity, develop positive relationships and build healthier, more sustainable communities. Author Keywords: Education, Environment, Indigenous Knowledge, Pedagogy, Reconciliation, Worldviews
Factors Influencing the Prioritization of Sites for Conservation on Private Land in Southern Ontario
Conservation organizations use strategic prioritization methods to order complex environments, evaluate landscapes, and distribute efficiently resources for conservation. This study explores how strategic prioritization decisions are made, drawing on a case study of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). This thesis identifies the factors affecting prioritization and their influence on the public perception of the NCC. The case study revealed that the NCC utilizes comprehensive science-based methods when prioritizing for conservation but its methods are also influenced by the 'opportunity function' (funding, threats, public/political support). How these factors are communicated depends on the audience (e.g. NCC Conservation Blueprints stress the scientific value of the environment; the NCC uses its media sources to emphasize the human-environment connection). These differences indicate the multi-dimensional nature of planning for conservation, its links to values emerging from science, politics, and society, and the need for collaborative conservation efforts and earning and maintaining public trust. Author Keywords: biodiversity conservation priorities, collaboration, Nature Conservancy of Canada, opportunity function, private conservation organizations, science-based conservation
What Nature is Best?
Connecting with nature benefits human and environmental health, however it is unclear whether certain types of nature influence people differently. Research has primarily focused on green spaces (vegetation-rich areas), but recent cross-sectional studies suggest that green spaces with blue space (natural water elements) may have additional well-being benefits. A quasi-experimental design compared the effects of green spaces with or without water on mood and environmental concern. Students (N = 193) were randomly assigned to walk along campus green (drumlin) or blue (river) spaces. Both walks improved students’ mood, especially for those who had a stronger preference for the area. Students in both conditions reported more sustainable behaviours when followed up one week and one month later, but decreased in nature contact and well-being. These findings highlight the challenges of promoting regular nature contact as a mood regulation strategy. Implications and future directions are discussed. Author Keywords: blue space, green space, nature connectedness, well-being
Enhancing interpretive trails with technology
Enhancing interpretive trails with smartphone technology may enrich the visitor’s educational experience by stimulating deeper engagement and enjoyment that will improve immediate knowledge and help promote the development of environmental literacy. This connection between technology and environmental education can only be considered successful if enhanced enrichment and educational value is found in the integration. Currently there is a substantial gap in research on the incorporation of technology into an interpretive trail experience. For this study, information on the local fauna and flora was produced and linked to Quick Response Codes (QR codes) installed along an outdoor trail. The QR codes were designed to be read using the participant’s personal smartphone. Immediately after completing the trail participants could volunteer to describe their smartphone-led experience through a self-administered cross-sectional questionnaire offered in hard copy at the study site. A non-experimental quantitative research methodology was employed to evaluate the survey data and determine the educational and enjoyment value of the experience. This research is of potential benefit to educators of science, technology and the environment. The research may also assist parks and recreation facilities wishing to offset the costs of building and maintaining traditional interpretive trails by eliminating the need for the printing of booklets, maps and signage. Author Keywords: education, environment, interpretive trails, science, smartphone technology
review of the first- and second-year experience of a group of Trent University students admitted below admission requirements
This study used qualitative research methods to explore the first- and second-year experiences of Trent University students who were admitted below admission requirements in September 2015. Through review of an on-line questionnaire completed by 13 students and two-rounds of semi-structured interviews completed by 5 students, information was gathered on the students’ experiences, specifically regarding self-efficacy for academic achievement, self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, locus of control, student engagement, and sense of belonging. The major findings of this case study were grouped into four driving themes: self-awareness as a learner, goal-setting and motivation, the Trent community, and course experience. Participants of the study felt that the inclusive social and learning environments at Trent University enhanced their sense of belonging within the university community. These findings are not meant to be generalized, as they arose from this specific group of students at Trent University. Author Keywords: first-year experience, locus of control, post-secondary, self-efficacy, sense of belonging, student engagement
Farmer knowledge exchange about climate change adaptation in the Peterborough region of Southern Ontario
Agricultural adaptation is a significant component of the larger challenge humans face in adapting to the impacts of climate change. There are extensive studies of agricultural adaptation, however little is known about how farmers in Ontario share knowledge about effective adaptation practices. This qualitative research study contributes to the understanding of the educational context within which Ontario farmers meet the demands of extreme weather on their farms. The research investigates how farmers exchange knowledge about climate change adaptation. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted in the context of a grounded theory research approach and coded according to the systematic design. Results suggest that knowledge transfer is two-fold: farmers adapt to stresses through experimentation and engage in knowledge exchange through informal and non-institutional formal education. This study outlines the mechanisms by which adaptation and knowledge transfer occur. Implications of the research are discussed in relation to academic literature and policy. Author Keywords: agricultural adaptation, Climate change, education, farming, grounded theory research, knowledge exchange

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