Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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