Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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
Experiences of Five Undergraduate Academic Advisors in Ontario Universities
This study used qualitative research methods to develop an understanding of the landscape of undergraduate academic advising in Ontario universities as well as deeply explore the experiences and practices of five full-time academic advisors. Phase one of the study consisted of a document analysis of Ontario universities' public-facing websites. Phase two of the study consisted of five interviews with five undergraduate academic advisors from four Ontario institutions. The findings of the study demonstrated a variable landscape of academic advising across universities with responsibilities of advising ranging from solely course selection to a much broader role inclusive of helping students navigate their educational journey. Additionally, a relationship between external influences including institutional mission and organizational structure, and internal influences including advisors’ values, beliefs, and theoretical knowledge was identified. This relationship informed current advising strategies. These findings were used to develop a praxis of academic advising as well as five promising practices. Author Keywords: Academic Advising, Practice of Advising, Strategies of Advising, Universities
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
History Majors During the Humanities Crisis
This qualitative case study explored the experience of members and associates of one university history department in order to examine the phenomena of choosing and working within the history major in the context of current declines in humanities enrolment. Drawing on interviews with 7 professors, 8 student majors, and 10 professional staff, it analyzed beliefs about how students should choose their majors, benefits of historical thinking, the current climate of crisis in history, and resources to support history students. Participants agreed that students should choose a major based on intrinsic factors and shared a common vision of the meaning and importance of historical thinking. However, participants experienced tension between these intrinsic values and extrinsic pressures regarding the humanities crisis and the efficacy of student-support resources. These results have implications for understanding pressures felt by current humanities students and for developing new resources to better support history majors. Author Keywords: case study, choice of major, historical thinking, history department, humanities crisis, student affairs
Teacher Efficacy as an Indicator of how Mathematics Educators Perceive the Value of Professional Learning Experiences
This study investigates the potential for a responsive model of professional development in mathematics education which acknowledges how teachers perceive the value of professional learning, and examines how those perceptions are connected to teacher efficacy. Three fields of educational research ground this study: (i) professional development strategies in mathematics education, (ii) teacher efficacy, and (iii) self-determination theory and andragogy. Data collection and analysis involved four detailed case studies and a cross-case analysis of similarities and distinctions among the cases, in an instrumental-multiple-case study design. Results suggest: (1) some characteristics of professional development were consistently designated as high or low value, independent of efficacy ratings, (2) other professional learning experiences were valued relative to the participants’ sense of efficacy at different times in their careers, and (3) characteristics of professional development designated as high value during periods of low efficacy were fundamentally teacher-centric, but during periods of high efficacy, they were fundamentally student-centric. Author Keywords: efficacy, mathematics education, mathematics teachers, professional development, professional learning, teacher efficacy
This Is It, I Guess
Queer youth are an at-risk group, with an incredibly high rate of harm and death as they grow into themselves. They are often advised to wait until they finish school to express their sexuality more openly, when they can leave to somewhere that is “better”, which in this context can mean safer, more accepting, or far away from friends and family who may reject them. Unfortunately, much of the media representation of queer people is regressive or stereotypical, usually involving the suffering or death of its queer-identified characters. It is telling that a recurring theme in queer stories is that empathy and understanding for queer people can only be attained through their suffering. Non-queer people do not have to suffer to be understood. In this thesis I discuss the potential of creativity in academic works, I examine queer stories that buck the trend of tragedy through queer and pop culture theory, and I write a queer young adult novel in response, featuring a self-actualized protagonist whose sexuality does not cause him pain or trauma. Author Keywords: creative writing, queer literature, queer protagonist, queer theory, queer youth, young adult literature
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

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