Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Achieving Equity in Mathematics Education
Little thought is given to how equitable mathematics would better the lives of those marginalized, or how the increased inclusion of marginalized voices improves the practice of mathematics. The purpose of this narrative research is to explore students’ voices and analyze aspects of math identity: the reported beliefs and practices of a group of elementary urban students who identify as Black/Brown. Understanding voice through counter-narrative is a methodology for the equitable practice of teaching/learning mathematics. CRRP describes participants engaged in the metacognitive task of writing untold stories as it relates to their beliefs, practices, and experiences in mathematics learning. The findings offer meaningful and appropriate insights to math educators about student competency, belongingness, and agency. Keywords: Black and Brown, marginalized students, student engagement, math identity, mathematical competence, sense of belonging to mathematics, mathematical agency, gateway, gatekeeper, fixed mindset, growth mindset, STEM pipeline, counter narrative. Author Keywords: Black and Brown, marginalized students, mathematical competence, math identity, sense of belonging to mathematics, student engagement
Academic Procrastination, Self-Regulation, Anxiety and Personality (ASAP)
Academic procrastination is analogous to a common cold: pervasive and with no established cure. Students experience repercussions that are not inclusive to academic performance, but rather, are experienced across mental, physical, social and emotional domains as well. While this necessitates treatment, much of the behaviour has yet to be explained. In the current study, a state approach was integrated to explore procrastination in terms of the Yerkes-Dodson paradigm. Procrastination was hypothesized to arise for one of two reasons: students are either too low or too high in anxiety. A sample of 847 Ontario undergraduate students completed measures of procrastination, state-anxiety, personality, and self-regulation. Results suggest 88% of students procrastinate regularly, and contrary to what was hypothesized, procrastination and anxiety were linearly related. Independent t-tests establish that relative to non-procrastinators, procrastinators are significantly more emotionally and biologically dysregulated and less socially integrated. Factor analysis demonstrated three central reasons contributing to procrastination, which were used as the basis to establish types of procrastination: social (n=61), self-doubt (n=70) and low-energy (n=76) procrastinators. Results indicate divergences across procrastination type with respect to personality as well as biological, affective and social domains. Findings also inform that the expression of procrastination, varies across student. Overall, findings suggest that academic interventions should acknowledge and address the variability among procrastinators. Author Keywords: ACADEMIC PROCRASTINATION, ANXIETY, PERSONALITY, SELF-REGULATION
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
“It's like getting a new car without the manual”
This study explored teacher infusion of Indigenous curriculum content through interviews with ten non-Indigenous teachers of social studies and history. The interviews centered on teacher perceptions of preparedness to implement Ontario’s recent TRC curriculum revisions, which include more about the contributions, histories, cultures, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples. A brief analysis of Ontario’s First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework is included, alongside critiques of the Eurocentrism at the heart of education systems. The interviews revealed that many of the teachers were committed to Indigenous education and learning more, but they felt unprepared and lacked resources to teach Indigenous curriculum content with confidence. This study highlighted the critical role of settler teachers in Indigenous education and the importance of teachers undertaking settler unsettling in order to be effective and appropriate in Indigenous curriculum delivery. Individual changes must occur alongside educational system decolonization with a particular focus on teacher preparation. Author Keywords: cognitive imperialism, Indigenous Education, Ontario, settler educator, settler unsettling, TRC curriculum
Hoop Dance Project
This dissertation explores a 2017 elementary school Hoop Dance project that was organized by a white music teacher, and taught by an Indigenous artist in Peterborough, Ontario. It aims to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, numbers 10 and 63, which ask the federal government to sufficiently fund legislation that incorporates the following principles: “… developing culturally appropriate curricula” (p. 2), and “building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” (p. 7). The dissertation asks the question: In what ways will a seven-week Indigenous Hoop Dance Unit, taught by an Indigenous performing artist and facilitated by a white school teacher, contribute to reconciliation in an elementary school classroom in Ontario? I am the teacher in this study and have worked at this elementary school for five years. Throughout the project, I acted as facilitator, participant, and researcher, while Indigenous dancer and instructor Beany John planned and delivered the Hoop Dance content. Theoretically, the dissertation is organized around the Anishinabek seven grandmother/grandfather teachings, as taught by Ojibwe/Odawa educator and author Pamela Toulouse (2011). I believe that these seven traditional teachings are a meaningful basis upon which to build the project, not only because they inform Indigenous knowledge in the arts, but also because frequent reflection and referral to the teachings help remind me to remain connected to the “higher” purpose of the research throughout the project, which is to further the reconciliation process in Canada, and more broadly, to benefit society. Regarding methodology, I use arts based research (Leavy, 2015) and a constructivist grounded theory analysis, which embraces the subjectivity and positionality of the researcher (Creswell, 2012). The overall conclusion of the dissertation is that although the Hoop Dance project did not significantly address issues of Indigenous sovereignty in education nor our shared inherited legacy of colonial harm, it was a constructive step in the reconciliation project, largely due to the contributions of Beany John, whose teaching gently unsettled conventional educational practice at our school. Author Keywords: Arts Education, Hoop Dance, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Truth and Reconciliation
Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Globality
In this thesis, I use “Trump’s Wall” between Mexico and the US to resist Eurocentrism and the challenges Eurocentric pedagogy poses to the research-practitioner. In my method, I reimagine C. Alejandra Elenes’ borderlands theory as a zone of empowerment within a multicultural Canadian classroom, and braid it in a hybrid assemblage with the rhizome. The “rhizo-borderlands” assemblage uses selected field notes gleaned from my teaching practice to develop themes of a critical pedagogy of globality in personal, local and international dimensions. These are further braided with a “day-in-the-life” narrative of a fictionalized student (Ellie) who navigates her way towards a world literature classroom where the focus is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This assemblage affirms my belief that teaching and learning provides a context where students become “border crossers” and navigate points of intersection between their local and global selves, in order to develop intercultural competencies. Author Keywords: Action Narrative, Critical Pedagogy, Rhizomes
Reconceptualising the Heteronormative Curriculum Through Autobiographical Methodology - A Study of Heteronormativity within Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum Documents
This thesis is about the negative impacts on queer identities caused by the lack of diversity related to sexual orientation within Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum documents, both at the elementary and secondary level. Curriculum documents as well as policy documents are analysed and compared in order to address the lack of diverse sexual orientation representation within Ontario’s education system. The study is guided by the question: “who benefits from the current representations of sexual orientation in the curriculum?” This conceptual study advances autobiographical methodology and the concept of Currere in relation to queer theory that allows researchers to analyse their educational experiences throughout the course of their lives and then become agents of social change. The results of my personal curriculum analysis have shown that curriculum documents lack diverse sexual orientation representation and that this has negative impacts how LGBQQ people identify and on the course of their lives. Author Keywords: Curriculum, Homophobia, LGBQQ, Ontario Curriculum, Ontario Education, Sexual Orientation
Building Individuals, Building the Economy
This thesis explores the neoliberal governmentality approach to education for Northern economic development that was prevalent from 2006 to 2015, during Stephen Harper’s period as Prime Minister of Canada. Using a grounded theory approach, this thesis identifies three themes – Indigenous integration, education, and employment for labour force/ economic development – to direct an analysis on programs and funding supported by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. This examination suggests that Federal programming and funding encouraged neoliberal governmentality approaches to Northern development and education. Specifically, the former Government interest in developing an Indigenous work force to serve labour market needs is brought to light. Author Keywords: Economic Development, Indigenous Education, Labour Force Development, Neoliberalism, Territorial North
Reconciliation as Relationship
In 2015, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called upon Canadians to reconcile relationships between Settlers and Indigenous peoples in Canada. Education for reconciliation is one important element of this process. However, critical questions arise when education is undertaken by and for Settlers such as myself: Are our undertakings actually fostering reconciliation? According to whom? Drawing from reconciliation theory and decolonizing Indigenous methodologies, a reconciliation methodology is created to consider this question in the context of three reconciliation workshops for Settlers. Indigenous perspectives and pedagogies are prioritized. The emerging understandings of reconciliation as relationship and relationship as pedagogy reframe some prevailing Settler thinking about reconciliation, unmask latent assumptions linked to the colonial habits of mind and affirm the need for personal responsibility in the reconciliation relationship. The Indigenous norm of learning in-relation is found to be a powerful experience for Settlers participants offering valuable insights for reconciliation education in Canada. Author Keywords: decolonizing, education, Indigenous, relationship, Settler, Truth and Reconciliation
Mapping a Learning Trajectory and Student Outcomes in Unplugged Coding
This thesis reports the outcomes of a mixed methods exploratory study on young children’s spatial reasoning and mathematics involving unplugged (offline) coding with young children (JK-Grade 2). Intrigued by the increased push for coding in schools, teachers and researchers worked together in a collaborative research process to design a sequence of unplugged coding activities and document student thinking. Qualitative results include the mapping of a hypothetical learning trajectory for unplugged coding focused on location and movement, as well as an analysis of the computational, spatial and mathematical thinking in unplugged coding. The grid was found to be a fundamental spatial structure that supported student thinking across all domains. Quantitative data included a range of spatial and mathematics measures that were administered pre-post with a subsample of 55 students. Findings showed strongest gains in mental rotations/visualization and magnitude comparison, suggesting this as a promising area for further study. Author Keywords: Early Years, Learning Trajectories, Spatial Reasoning, Unplugged Coding, Young Children
Resistance Revisited
This study examines how student activism around the closure of Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School (PCVS), an inner-city school in a medium–sized Ontario town has influenced youths’ life experiences, views on power, political engagement, and personal agency. Following a critical narrative methodology, this qualitative study, conducted four to five years after the school closure, focuses on interviews with fourteen participants who were part of the high-school group Raiders in Action and explores both what they learned from their protest and its influence on their lives over the ensuing years. The study identifies the researcher’s subjective position as a teacher and an adult in solidarity with the group’s work. Critical pedagogy, critical youth studies, and feminist approaches inform the researcher’s perspective. This project is inspired by an image of young people as citizens who actively challenge and change educational institutions to create a more participatory democracy in our city, country, continent, planet. Author Keywords: critical pedagogy, critical youth resistance, neoliberalism, school closure, student activism, youth organizing
Disability-Mitigating Effects of Education on Post-Injury Employment Dynamics
Using data drawn from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Survey of Workers with Permanent Impairments, this thesis explores if and how the human capital associated with education mitigates the realized work-disabling effects of permanent physical injury. Using Cater’s (2000) model of post-injury adaptive behaviour and employment dynamics as the structural, theoretical, and interpretative framework, this thesis jointly studies, by injury type, the effects of education on both the post-injury probability of transitioning from non-employment into employment and the post-injury probability of remaining in employment once employed. The results generally show that, for a given injury type, other things being equal, higher levels of education are associated with higher probabilities of both obtaining and sustaining employment. Author Keywords: permanent impairment, permanent injury, post-injury employment


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