Master Theses & Projects (FEDU)

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    Supporting registered early childhood educators through online collaborative professional practice discussions (CPPD project)
    (2024-04-01) Hope, Ashley; van Oostveen, Roland
    This study examines the digital competence and technology use of a small sample of Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) in an attempt to gauge their readiness for fully online professional learning. A multi-phase mixed-methods approach was used to gather data on RECE digital practices. Findings suggest that fully online collaborative discussions meet RECEs' professional learning needs despite identified gaps in their digital awareness. Participant experiences highlight the importance of considering emotional intelligence, social interaction, technological awareness, and personal adaptability when designing fully online professional learning experiences for RECEs. The study positions fully online learning communities (FOLCs) as a solution to the logistical challenges of professional learning due to their ability to offer RECEs flexibility and continuous support. However, it is recommended that future investigations explore how FOLCs can support RECEs in completing their CPL portfolios to close the training and compensation gap in the sector.
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    Enhancing early mathematical professional learning with fully online learning communities (FOLC) and collaborative action research
    (2024-02-01) Branch, Jessie; van Oostveen, Roland
    Early math skills are fundamental to children’s development and significantly impact later academic success. The purpose of the study was to examine how collaborative action research (CAR) in fully online learning community (FOLC) environments affects RECEs’ early mathematical knowledge and instruction. The study used a mixed-methods approach consisting of the phase one surveys and phase two workshop and interview sessions to seek evidence related to the research questions. The surveyed RECEs possessed average digital competence concerning processes congruent with everyday practices. Findings suggest CAR as a potential mechanism for RECE professional learning as it provides opportunities to connect with others on issues related to one’s practice. Additionally, FOLC environments, emphasizing equitable, learner-centred experiences, provided participants with an accessible space for discussing authentic problems and solutions to achieve transformative learning.
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    Exploring flipped classroom instructional design in health sciences
    (2024-04-01) Banks, Laura; Kay, Robin
    The effectiveness of the flipped classroom in undergraduate studies has been studied, however, limited research has been conducted on instructional design. This study explored student satisfaction related to the instructional design of a flipped classroom in human anatomy and physiology courses at Ontario Tech University. One hundred forty-six students enrolled in first- and second-year courses completed three surveys on their flipped classroom experiences. Most survey respondents positively perceived the asynchronous lecture videos, asynchronous lecture video interactions, and flipped synchronous classroom activities. A large effect size was observed, with Year 2 students reporting significantly higher satisfaction than Year 1 students in viewing pre-recorded lecture episodes, lecture episode quantity, and duration. Differences between Year 1 and Year 2 students may be rooted in cognitivism, social constructivism, cognitive load, and metacognition principles. Future research is warranted to explore the influence of other demographic variables on student satisfaction in a flipped classroom design.
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    “Can we keep blogging?”: Analyzing blogging in a grade six classroom as a trauma-informed practice for students and educators
    (2024-02-01) Allum, Heidi M.; Laffier, Jennifer
    Trauma-informed practice is a high-profile term in education, with multiple definitions and implementation strategies for classroom practice. Through phenomenological and case study methods, this study examines how one teacher uses blogging as a trauma-informed practice micro-move. Through blogging, trauma-informed practices address student safety, choice, and empowerment. The teacher changed trauma-informed practices based on student feedback from students' blogs. Results showed that blogging could be a trauma-informed practice. The teacher made subtle, yet powerful, changes in practice based on student feedback through blogging. More research is suggested for implementing trauma-informed micro-moves in the classroom and their impact on student well-being.
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    Volunteer educators' perceptions of mentorship involvement: grades 9-12 robotics
    (2023-12-01) Walsh, Katlin; Hughes, Janette
    As non-educators increasingly support volunteer-based STEM programs, adopting pedagogically aligned mentorship training is required to support developing and retaining subject-specific mentorship practices and volunteer engagement with equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM communities. This research aimed to understand how informal educators develop their personal mentorship practice and investigate volunteer’s understanding and engagement with equity, diversity, and inclusion within competitive FIRST robotics competition teams. Using a qualitative, collective case study, eight volunteer mentors participated in virtual interviews, using constructed personal artifacts for self-reflection and presentation, concluding the 2021-2022 mentorship season. A conceptual framework of constructionism, project-based learning, and communities of practice guided this study, using an inductive thematic analysis process to interpret the findings. The study's results highlight that artifacts guided mentors’ communication related to mentorship as a practice and increased acts of authentication through subject-specific language.
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    Mastering tribunal forms: teaching students in law-related programs using public legal education and information
    (2024-01-01) Smith, Sandra K.; Hunter, Bill; Campbell, Brian
    Law clerks and licensed paralegals in Ontario prepare standardized tribunal-issued forms, such as those for the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), on behalf of their clients. Training paralegal candidates and law clerk students to produce these complex forms is a core part of their education in residential landlord and tenant law courses in Ontario’s community college programs. The LTB and Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) have created resources to assist the public to complete the forms without the assistance of legal professionals. The purpose of these resources aligns well with the learning outcomes of the curricula for educating law clerks and paralegals, in that the goal of both is to facilitate the production of complete, accurate and effective documents that can commence a claim before the Tribunal. This study examines the challenges that students in a community college encounter in learning to complete the forms; proposes that the age, languages spoken, and educational background of the students affect their success; and suggests that resources used by the public can support students as they learn.
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    Co-designing instruction in virtual learning environments using AI
    (2023-12-01) Ganesh, Aishwarya; Hunter, William
    The literature was explored to determine how artificial intelligence (AI) systems and algorithms are currently being used in the co-design of learning within virtual learning environments. Through the analysis of literature, the study aims to retrieve multiple methods of AI assistance to ease or uplift the educator’s role in online learning design. The study determined a variety of themes that determine methods of AI use in online instruction, such as prediction, providing feedback, adaptive learning, and providing visualization of student data on learning management systems (LMS). The study also determined the importance of a repository of various student data input in AI algorithms, and the collaboration of educators and experts in the process of using AI systems. The key implications suggest the importance of bridging feedback immediacy and formative approaches to improving student performance in online environments. Furthermore, the study also determines the changing roles of stakeholders in the education process. Finally, it also suggests the potential to create a multifaceted AI system and an effective LMS that supports such features.
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    Instructional design and development tools for online adult education: a literature review
    (2023-12-01) Elbaghdadi, Ziad; Hunter, William
    This paper examines the intersection of online learning, adult learning theories, and instructional methods in adult education. Through a comprehensive literature review, it analyzes prominent adult learning theories and models, emphasizing their implications for designing effective learning experiences. The study also explores adult learners' unique characteristics and needs, addressing key features such as self-directedness, experience, intrinsic motivation, and external factors influencing learning. Additionally, the paper discusses instructional design methods for online adult learners and identifies key principles, including the importance of feedback, engagement through collaborative activities, and personalized learning experiences. The analysis covers experience-based learning, scaffolding, blended learning models, and the role of technology, with a focus on learning management systems. The study also explores the significance of online communities of practice for collaborative adult learning, emphasizing factors influencing engagement and success. Overall, the findings provide valuable information for educators, instructional designers, and researchers seeking insights into online education for adult learners.
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    Ontario Ministry of Education’s Policy/Program Memorandum 140: a review and critique of current resource allocation and practices for supporting autistic students in elementary classrooms
    (2023-12-01) Conway, Kathleen M.; Power, Rob
    A review of recent literature on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and alternative evidence-based therapies for autistic students, as well as data extracted from Ontario school boards’ recent financial reports. Information from this review is used to conduct a critique of Ontario's Policy/Program Memorandum 140 (PPM 140) by scrutinizing current funding models to determine whether they allow the policy to be implemented in a way that facilitates execution of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) methods that align with best practice recommendations. The critique determines that most of Ontario’s school boards are currently underspending from their Behaviour Expertise Amount (BEA) allocations, which are intended to fund ABA training for educators, ASSD programs for students, and school board hiring of behaviour experts. Data reviewed as part of this critique revealed that half of Ontario’s school boards employ two or fewer full-time behaviour experts. Based on best-practice guidelines, this behavioural expert-to-student ratio makes the mandated requirement of integrating ABA methods into the IEPs of students unsustainable and likely means that autistic students are not receiving the required support. Underspending in ABA training for educators indicates that limited teacher-focused educational opportunities are available, creating a divide between policy and practice. The current approach to PPM 140 in Ontario schools renders genuine and authentic application of ABA principles difficult, if not impossible, to implement and indicates a need for improvements moving forward. This critique and review of the literature reveals that PPM 140 could be more efficient if new oversight and monitoring protocols could be developed, including standards and quality indicators used to establish training requirements for education staff, behaviour expert hiring practices that align with board enrollment numbers, and accessible data collection protocol to monitor implementation and to measure student outcomes.
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    The challenges and benefits of assistive technology and educational programs for educators, caregivers, and youth with multiple exceptionalities/special needs
    (2023-08-23) Ivan, Paula M.; Hunter, William J.
    Assistive technology (AT) is a process that provides opportunities for youth with multiple exceptionalities/special needs to learn, grow, and discover meaningful avenues in order to navigate through an evolving digital world. A growing body of research literature suggests that when assistive technology is introduced into the educational curriculum by teachers, included in the educational system by stakeholders, and made accessible in the learning community; it has the potential to enhance digital literacy, language, and numeracy skills for youth with multiple exceptionalities/special needs. Assistive technology also has the potential to augment cognitive development, language development, social development, and physical development, while improving the overall well-being of youth with multiple exceptionalities/special needs. This systematic literature review is qualitative by nature and seeks to explore the broad question, “what are the challenges and benefits of assistive technology and educational programs for educators and families of youth with multiple exceptionalities/special needs in the educational system?”
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    Stressors in early learning environments and their impact on the mental health and well-being of early childhood educators
    (2023-08-04) Probert-Gilhooly, Melissa; Jacobs, Brenda; Petrarca, Diana
    Early childhood educators (ECEs) are experts in early learning for young children. This study aimed to identify the stressors ECEs experience in the early learning sector and their impact on the mental health and well-being of ECEs. Using a mixed-methods approach, an online questionnaire was administered using Facebook to gather data on Google Forms. One hundred ECEs, ranging in age from 18 to over 60, responded to the survey. The findings revealed that many ECEs felt they did not have sufficient education or support to effectively cope with the stressors experienced. The results of this study indicate the need for enhanced education and support systems to promote the mental health and well-being of ECEs working in the early learning sector.
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    Exploring the impacts of media use in the classroom and trauma
    (2023-08-01) Westley, Madison; Laffier, Jennifer
    Research has repeatedly shown that media can create trauma responses in viewers, but little has explored how classroom-based media can adversely affect students’ wellbeing. There is a significant gap in trauma-informed training for educators, and teachers do not feel equipped to support students with a history of trauma or implement trauma-informed care principles. Therefore, this qualitative study sought to contribute to this gap by investigating the impacts of media used in classrooms on trauma responses in students to inform trauma-informed care practices for educators using media. Data was collected from social media to analyze the lived experiences of students who have had adverse reactions to media shown in classes. Findings demonstrated that media in classrooms can elicit trauma responses in students. Problematic topics were explored, as well as trauma-informed recommendations that can be used to inform educator pedagogy and trauma-informed care training for teachers using media as a teaching tool.
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    Exploring the perceptions and concerns of Canadian international students (IS)
    (2023-07-01) Parmar, Nagina; Hunter, William; Stokes, Joe
    Higher education institutions may not fully understand the challenges faced by international students (IS), such as housing, mental health, and discrimination. The present study looked at factors that influence IS’s decision to study abroad, using a push-and-pull framework. The study began after approval from Ontario Tech and Toronto Metropolitan University ethics boards. 95 students completed an online questionnaire and 10 were interviewed for more details. Our findings suggested various factors, which can either attract or deter IS, and impact their decision to pursue their education in this country. Information collected will be used to shape policies and practices at participating universities.
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    The evolving role of online assessment as a steering mechanism for 21st-century learning
    (2023-08-01) Lean, Graham; van Oostveen, Roland
    Framed by Jürgen Habermas’ theory of society as being constituted of systems and lifeworlds, this project aims to critically analyze the recent academic literature on online assessment in higher education. Through a metasynthesis template analysis, the research in this project intends to uncover themes that help elucidate what informs assessment design, development and implementation in online learning and the impacts this has on teaching and learning. The findings suggest that online assessment in higher education is geared towards instilling 21st century learning skills through more formative assessments. However, somewhat paradoxically, the desire to instill these skills and satisfy institutional imperatives is leading to the closer monitoring of student learning and activity through assessments. These developments in online learning are contributing to the changing roles of teachers and students, with the former entailing a focus on facilitation, or management, and the latter an emphasis on self-reliance. Nevertheless, there remain opportunities for collaboration and communicative action through online assessment practices.
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    Tension and possibility: navigating experiences in graduate studies through a/r/tographic currere
    (2023-04-01) Hynes, Katelin; Ruttenberg-Rozen, Robyn; Hunter, Bill
    This thesis is an artful act of resistance. Combining autoethnography, a/r/tography, and the method of currere to form an a/r/tographic currere, this work gathers narrative experiences in graduate studies. What is revealed are deep tensions in identity that are closely tied to experiences in schooling. Separated into four main parts, this thesis flows through visual and textu(r)al fragments to analyze and reflect on the past, present, and future. Fragments are analyzed through Biesta’s three functions of education (qualification, socialization, and subjectification) and synthesized toward a wider discussion of how living and learning in a knowledge economy has affected our educational experiences but our academic/teacher/researcher identities as well. To conclude, this thesis calls for deep reflection and action on the systems in which we learn, teach, and research and resistance of the consumerist relationship to education.
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    An exploration of burnout and compassion fatigue in ABA providers in an online forum
    (2023-04-19) Reiterer, Michelle; Laffier, Jennifer
    Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ABA providers develop treatment programs and face occupational hazards. This exploratory, qualitative research examined: 1) “How do ABA providers express experiences of burnout and compassion fatigue (CF) in an online community” and 2) “How do ABA providers receive feedback and support from these expressions”. Data sources were posts on the social media site Reddit, analyzed using directed content analysis. The findings suggest that providers expressed experiences through (a) direct expressions of burnout and CF, (b) seeking support and advice from others, and (c) identifying symptoms of burnout and CF. They received feedback and support by (a) suggestions for resources or coping, (b) sharing similar experiences, (c) validation, (d) negative or dismissive responses. Recommendations include the development of psychoeducational programs to support the mental health of providers and continued research on how providers utilize social media for self-care.
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    Conceptual videos in mathematics: theory to practice
    (2023-03-01) Allen, Rachel K.; LeSage, Ann
    This project begins by providing an overview of the research on the purpose and criteria for creating quality educational videos and the development of a conceptual understanding of proportional reasoning. The paper then shifts from theory to practice, illustrating how I used research to create a four-part video series titled Is it Proportional? Designed for middle school students, the videos demonstrate identifying and solving proportional and non-proportional situations. The videos are analysed through the lens of technological design, content and pedagogical choices, focusing on the practical application of theory. The issues and successes of putting research into practice are critiqued, finding potential for conceptual videos in the middle school classroom, with a need for content and pedagogical understanding and acknowledgement of barriers such as time and access to technology.
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    AI Adventure Camp: developing critical thinking and ethical artificial intelligence literacy through design fiction and digital constructionism
    (2023-04-01) Butler-Ulrich, Tess; Hughes, Janette
    Artificial intelligence is an increasingly influential aspect of our lives. From GPS to Siri and Amazon Echoes, our data is collected, stored, and analyzed throughout the day. Despite the ubiquity of AI, most STEM curricula omit the social and ethical dimensions of interacting with AI and instead focus on developing digital skills, such as coding and programming. This may lead to a disparity between critical thinking and technical competency. It is urgent for youth to develop a balanced understanding of AI and the biases it can propagate to develop equity in STEM and propel comprehensive AI literacy in youth that blends technical competencies with critical thinking. Using the graphic novel Meehaneeto as a vehicle for these conversations, AI Adventure Camp aimed to facilitate conversations surrounding understanding the deeper implications of ethical and critical AI use through graphic novel narrative and building technical competency through coding challenges. This thesis explores the shifts in thinking that occurred over the course of the camp and examines the design challenges and successes of the first iteration of AI Adventure Camp.
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    A comparative study of braille as a tactile orthography with the auditory orthography oval to teach reading to preliterate, English as an additional language, adult learners who have visual disabilities
    (2022-12-01) Strutzenberger, Michelle J.; Eamer, Allyson
    The purpose of this study was to investigate the affordances of the tactile orthography of braille in comparison with the newly developed auditory orthography of OVAL for teaching reading to preliterate, English as an Additional Language, adult learners who have visual disabilities. Seven adults who have visual disabilities, who learned braille after the typical reading development stage, that is, after the age of 10, and who are learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) joined the study from six different countries. The mixed-methods research assessed OVAL audeme retention after a period of training, surveyed and interviewed the participants on their attitude and perspectives towards both orthographies, and included observations by a certified braille and EAL instructor. Results showed a 71.29% average level of accuracy for OVAL audeme retention among the seven participants. For two participants, a comparison between OVAL audeme and braille letter retention yielded the following results: 100% for OVAL and 44.50% for braille. Survey and interview responses showed participants holding mixed views on the potential in OVAL. From the certified braille and EAL instructor perspective, both OVAL and braille meet the identified criteria and considerations of beginner reader programs for preliterate, EAL adults who have visual disabilities, although OVAL as an auditory orthography holds the potential to reduce at least some barriers and challenges inherent in a tactile orthography.
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    Guiding pre-service teachers to making
    (2022-12-01) Lam, Margie S.; Hughes, Janette
    As our society becomes further driven by technology, schools need to consider adopting student-centered maker pedagogies that harness the capabilities of technology while disrupting traditional teacher-centered learning. This research aimed to understand how a progressive guided to self-praxis approach learning maker pedagogies can impact pre-service teachers’ confidence and competencies and influence their teaching practices. Using a qualitative, interpretive case study, a small cohort of pre-service teachers participated in a three-phased, 20-hour Maker Lab internship. A four-tiered conceptual framework guided this study which used an iterative abduction analysis process to interpret the findings. The results of this study highlight that these guided approaches with a community of learners supported pre-service teachers’ competency and confidence growth with maker pedagogical approaches. These approaches also positively influenced the mindsets and agentic perspectives of pre-service teachers. However, there were unique barriers in secondary schools that adversely impacted Intermediate/Senior pre-service teachers’ views on adopting maker pedagogies.