Master of Education: Secondary Education Final Projects

Description: Course-based M.Ed. students in the Department of Secondary Education are required to complete a final inquiry project at the end of their Master's programs. M.Ed. projects are governed by three underlying principles: 1) the exploration of an inquiry question of academic and professional interest. 2) the creation of knowledge as a result of the inquiry. 3) the dissemination of knowledge to the appropriate audiences. Departmental contacts are the Graduate Coordinator and/or the Graduate Programs Administrator.
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  1. Enhancing the Oral Fluency of English Language by Applying Task-based Language Teaching in China [Download]

    Title: Enhancing the Oral Fluency of English Language by Applying Task-based Language Teaching in China
    Creator: Wan, Wenxia.
    Description: Given that English has achieved a dominant status as an international language, the Chinese government has been exerting much effort to improve the whole nation’s proficiency in English. However, it has been found that learners are still experiencing great difficulty in speaking English fluently, though they can listen, read and write English as a foreign language without any hindrance. The major indicator of the low speaking proficiency is “dysfluency” in speaking. Under current prevailing traditional teaching methods in China, it is difficult for learners to develop oral fluency, because these methods focus primarily on grammar and accuracy rather than oral fluency. Therefore, a meaning-focused method, task-based language teaching (TBLT), is proposed in this project, as a way to improve learners’ oral fluency in China. TBLT is not a new concept in China. In fact, it has been advocated in the Chinese national curriculum innovation by the Ministry of Education since 2001. However, TBLT as a language teaching method is still far from being successfully implemented into the curriculum design and into daily classrooms. The purpose of my project is to build a correlation between TBLT and oral fluency in order to justify the positive effects of this government-advocated method on oral fluency, and to provide corresponding suggestions in terms of the challenges confronted by teachers when implementing TBLT in China. In all, this project not only embodies significance for my personal development as a teacher, but also serves to contribute to the EFL (English as a foreign language) teaching field in China. I will apply a synthesis methodology based on a review of related literature to address five aspects of TBLT: the definition of “task” in TBLT, reasons TBLT is important for second language acquisition, how it will enhance the fluency of English speaking, the application of TBLT in China, and the challenges confronted by language teachers in China. Although TBLT is efficient in second language acquisition, researchers have found that the application of TBLT in China is not ideal, with teachers still sticking to traditional teaching methods. In this paper, two main factors impeding the implementation of TBLT are addressed: national examinations and teachers’ lack of understanding of TBLT. In order to solve the challenges arising from the two aspects mentioned above, some research-based suggestions on teacher education in China are also provided in the paper.
    Subjects: TBLT
    Date Created: 2017/07/12
  2. Fostering EFL Students’ Intercultural Communicative Competence, Learner Autonomy and Speaking Fluency through Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) [Download]

    Title: Fostering EFL Students’ Intercultural Communicative Competence, Learner Autonomy and Speaking Fluency through Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC)
    Creator: Shimiao Zhu
    Description: Teacher-centered and grammar-oriented Chinese College English Education faces new challenges in the context of 21st century world globalization, including the fact that most EFL students find it difficult to efficiently interact with native speakers even though they get high marks in the College English Test. Moreover, Chinese EFL educators put more emphasis on improving student’s linguistic competence rather than their pragmatic competence in the target language. Furthermore, the Confucian educational philosophy, which greatly influences Chinese students’ learning styles, is characterized by a teacher-orientation, passive knowledge gaining, memorization as well as repetition and receptiveness, which neglect students’ communicative competence and oral fluency. In addition, Chinese learners are taught to maintain a hierarchical but harmonious relationship with their instructors. They show deep respect for teachers and are not encouraged to challenge them or their textbooks and classics, which are viewed as the source of authoritative knowledge. As a result, students’ critical thinking does not develop and the teacher-centered classroom mode hinders their learning independence, which plays a crucial role in foreign language education. Further, Chinese students tend to study individually rather than cooperate with others to solve problems and Chinese EFL educators find it difficult to involve students in group discussions due to the large class sizes. In this sense, with the development of the world wide web, Computer-mediated Communication (CMC) is viewed as a catalyst towards promoting students’ language proficiency beyond constraints of time and space. Hence, this study mainly explores how CMC can improve learners’ intercultural communicative competence, learning autonomy, speaking fluency and participation. The result of the literature review indicates that CMC contributes to improving students’ communicative competence, learning autonomy and oral fluency in authentic interactive contexts.
    Subjects: Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), Intercultural Communicative Competence, Learner Autonomy, Speaking Fluency, Chinese College English Education
    Date Created: 2017/07/08
  3. Mathematics and the English Language Learner [Download]

    Title: Mathematics and the English Language Learner
    Creator: Tom Asquith
    Description: Increased immigration and a move for greater inclusion in Canadian English language mainstream classrooms has led to increased numbers of English-Language Learning (ELL) students in our core subject-area secondary mathematics classrooms. The increasing number of ELL students in these classrooms has led to an increased demand on behalf of their mainstream secondary mathematics teachers to make accommodations in how they approach these students. A lack of resources and literature summarizing the research relating to the instruction of ELL students in mathematics, and difficulties in accessing the available material relating to this topic by secondary mathematics teachers was thereby identified and deemed to be an area of need which should be addressed by this project. To make the information quickly and readily accessible, the author endeavoured to create a resource on the Internet, presented in the form of a blog. In preparing the blog, a database of 217 research articles (including some secondary resources) relating to the instruction and assessment of ELL students and the challenges they face in mathematics were gathered, compiled, coded and organized by theme. These themes were later used in the blog as a means of presenting the material in a clear, organized and detailed manner. In the review of the literature, the author presented several arguments which are summarized below. First, mathematics teachers need to be aware that ELL students are a group which are at risk of not completing secondary education. Second, the time needed for ELL students to master academic English is lengthy and should not be rushed by their mathematics teachers. Third, mathematics teachers need to be able to adapt to both the needs and the resources that ELL students bring to their classrooms – that is, each ELL student will be a unique case unto themselves bringing their own challenges and resources into the classroom. Fourth, the issues and idiosyncratic nature of the mathematics register poses unique challenges for ELL students and it is an issue that mathematics teachers need to be aware of when instructing ELL students. Fifth, alternative and tangible means of communication which can be used when instructing ELL students, outside of verbal language was considered and weighed by strengths and weaknesses. The benefits of cultural references and the dangers of educational tokenism were also addressed. Sixth, nonverbal language and the significance of contextual cues were identified as key factors when instructing/teaching mathematics to ELL students. Seventh, accommodations for mathematics exams were identified with simplified English and the use of glossaries or dictionaries were deemed noteworthy. Eighth, code-switching, language switching and exploratory talk were found to be important for ELL student progress in mathematics. Eighth, ELL students’ problems relating to reading in mathematics (especially word problems) were addressed – including vocabulary, syntax and visual cue issues. Ninth, a balanced approach lying between direct instruction and cooperative learning was found to be successful in teaching ELL students. Tenth, and finally, the importance of the role of parents and community in the success of ELL students in their mathematics classes was also identified. In conclusion, this project sheds some light on the neglected research area of mathematics education as it relates to the instruction of ELL students in the mainstream secondary mathematics classroom. Plus, the blog created may offer guidance to both mathematics teachers and researchers in the realm of mathematics instruction and classroom assessment of English language learning students.
    Subjects: English Language Learner, ESL, English as a Second Language, Mathematics, Secondary Education, Middle School, Junior High
    Date Created: 2017
  4. The effects of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme on schools: A systematic review of the literature [Download]

    Title: The effects of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme on schools: A systematic review of the literature
    Creator: Chelsea Androschuk
    Description: The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is a rigorous secondary curriculum offered in schools around the world. In Canada and the Unites States, the IB DP often runs additional to local curricula, is viewed as an added challenge, and is often treated as a high achievement program. Despite the popularity of the IB DP, its overall effects on schools and their populations remain only partially understood. This systematic review of the IB DP literature has the purpose of answering two questions. One, to what extent have the effects of the IB DP been represented and discussed in the literature so far? And two, what can we learn about the IB DP in Canada and the United States by looking at the effects of the program that have been studied in the literature so far? Thirty-five papers on the IB DP in Canada and the Unites States were included in this study. These papers were annotated and their findings were coded for the types of effects of the IB DP that they included. These types of effects were qualitatively grouped into themes, and quantitatively analyzed for frequency. Based on the findings, the IB DP seems to positively impact academics and the college experience, but still has potential weaknesses in areas of school climate and non-academics. Issues of access for marginalized groups of students are not yet well enough studied or understood. Schools wishing to implement the IB DP for its benefits should also carefully consider its drawbacks and ensure appropriate supports are in place.
    Subjects: International Baccalaureate, Diploma Programme
    Date Created: 2017/03/24
  5. Protecting Minority Languages-A comparison between Cree in Western Canada and Cantonese in Southern China.pdf [Download]

    Title: Protecting Minority Languages-A comparison between Cree in Western Canada and Cantonese in Southern China.pdf
    Creator: Yanbo Yang
    Description: Both China and Canada are multilingual and multicultural countries. According to the United Nations (UN) independent expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák (UN News Centre, 2013, online), “Language is a central element and expression of identity and of key importance in the preservation of group identity. It is particularly important to linguistic minority communities seeking to maintain their distinct group and cultural identity, sometimes under conditions of marginalization, exclusion and discrimination.” Cantonese, as one of the most important minority languages in China, is viewed with conflicting perspectives on its status. On the one hand, the public believe that the promotion of Mandarin affects the transmission of Cantonese. On the other hand, the state released the policy for language revitalization, but it was not yet followed by specific plans. By comparison, in order to develop Cree, one of the most influential Indigenous languages, Canada is making efforts to revitalize it in terms of education programs and community engagement. Thus, based on a comparison between two countries, combining with the author’s life and learning experience, the rationale of the paper is to investigate the revitalization of Cantonese and to propose some concrete actions that could be taken. The two research questions under consideration are: 1. What differences are there between China and Canada regarding their attitudes towards Cantonese and Cree, respectively? 2. To promote Cantonese, what might China learn from Canada? The author synthesizes relevant literature to conduct the comparative research. The paper begins with some background information on Cantonese and Cree. Next, an item-by-item comparison is made in the three categories of language policies, public attitudes and educational programs. Finally, the author suggests a language revitalization plan from the perspective of community engagement and language programming. To be specific, two models from the FNMI Collaborative Framework and the Northland Community Engagement Framework were firstly applied to China’s context to increase community engagement. Next, the author employs a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to make a language planning with a detailed analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, then creates an action plan from the perspectives of curriculum development, community research and planning, combined regional and virtual schools, orientation program, building a Centre for Cantonese learning excellence and governance. However, in spite of the many aspects which lead Canada to be a role model for China in revitalizing Cantonese, Canada is still facing some challenges in Indigenous language development. Therefore, the limitation of the research is also discussed.
    Subjects: Minority language, Cantonese, Cree, Language revitalization
    Date Created: 2016
  6. Inner Moral Character Flowing Into Outward Actions: Reflections on What Confucianism Can Contribute to Global Citizenship Education [Download]

    Title: Inner Moral Character Flowing Into Outward Actions: Reflections on What Confucianism Can Contribute to Global Citizenship Education
    Creator: Jingwen Niu
    Description: There has been a growing interest in links between traditional wisdom and education. This research project is an attempt to explore how and whether concepts in Confucian philosophy can fit into different themes of citizenship in North America with regard to what a good citizen should be. The research project described in this final M.Ed. project makes efforts to combine traditional wisdom and research on modern citizenship education and to extend understanding of what a good citizen might be so as to support educators in finding a new way to think about citizenship education. It is worthwhile to reconsider the question of what a good citizen should be and whom they should serve. By conducting a document analysis of citizenship education research in North America and China, main themes and concepts of what a good citizen should be are synthesized through comparing and contrasting key ideas identified in the literature. Based on those concepts, I provide an alternative interpretation of Confucian philosophy related to being a good citizen. First, scholars in North America emphasize the relationships between individuals and others. It shows a stratified model: individual-community-world. Self and family are missing between individual and community. Before a person connects with community, one first belongs to oneself and family. Confucianism can fill this gap because it emphasizes the way of dealing with relationships in one’s inner heart, in self and others, and in one’s family. Second, research explicitly shows that attitudes and values are an important part of citizenship education in North America. At this point, Confucianism provides significant civic norms, which can enrich the understanding of citizenship education. By combining traditional Confucian philosophy and modern citizenship education, the concept of “citizen” becomes more than possessing civic rights, privileges, participating in elections, or being a recognized subject of a state. Unearthing the meaning of citizen in North America and the meaning of Junzi君子(exemplary person/gentleman) in Confucianism, not only provides another way of thinking about citizenship, but also builds a better understanding of what a good citizen should be in the modern world.
    Subjects: citizens
    Date Created: 2016/10/31
  7. Grading with Compassion: Transposing the Tensionality of Lived and Planned Assessment [Download]

    Title: Grading with Compassion: Transposing the Tensionality of Lived and Planned Assessment
    Creator: Erin Ochoa
    Description: Growing anxiety, disconnection with the environment, and the prospect of school and work as endless competition seem to characterize some of the more damaging elements of contemporary society. In an educational system that overvalues competition and compartmentalization, where are the spaces for teachers to demonstrate care? In this paper, within the local landscape of teaching as mapped out in current curriculum documents provided by Alberta Education, I consider the pedagogical and ethical obligation of tending to the student-teacher relationship as one of care. Through an autoethnographic examination of memory and curriculum towards a teaching practice of care and forgiveness, I examine past encounters with the emotional work of assessment in order to map the culture and place of assessment in the ecology of English Education, particularly as guided by the Alberta Senior High English Language Arts Program of Studies. Through this research, I have gained insight into the possibilities of care and mindfulness as a Senior High English teacher, operating within the current constraints of the contemporary educational system.
    Subjects: Mindfulness, Assessment, Ethics of Care, Autoethnography, English Language Arts, High Stakes Assessment
    Date Created: 2016/8/15
  8. Inviting the Body into the Classroom [Download]

    Title: Inviting the Body into the Classroom
    Creator: Megan Davey
    Description: This project explores the body as a way of knowing in an educational dance classroom. The purpose of this research is to demonstrate the importance of acknowledging and fostering the body in education, and to offer teachers a means for inviting the body into their classrooms through activities. This research resides in an animated paradigm, which conceives the world as organic, alive, and in flux. Here both the body and the unconscious are valued. Using C. G. Jung’s theories of analytical psychology, focusing on active imagination and the unconscious, along with the educational philosophies of Alfred N. Whitehead, where bodily feelings and experience are crucial for learning, bodily awareness is proposed as another way of knowing, and thus should be invited into and fostered within the classroom so to enhance student learning. From an educational perspective, the body is alive and so an active part of learning. The body is central to our lived experiences, connecting past to present, even future, and according to Jung, it too reveals the unconscious. The body is always apprehending and sensing the world, but it is not until one acknowledges these felt sensations, and explores them further, that awareness is developed. In using the guiding theories of Whitehead, Jung and some of Jung’s key students: Joan Chodorow, Judith Harris, Mary Starks-Whitehouse, Tina Stromsted, and Marion Woodman, I develop a teacher resource, in the form of activity cards, so to invite the body into the classroom. There are 16 cards divided into 3 categories: “Getting into the Body”, “Body Activities”, and “Grounding” cards. The cards are presented in a specific order, conducive to the process. The aim of each category of cards is to assist students in developing deep listening practices by quieting the mind and bringing awareness to the body through the “Getting into the Body” cards, to engage in a dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious with the “Body” cards, and to return awareness from the body and the inner world back into the space, grounding and rooting the individual with the “Grounding” cards. There is also an instruction manual to assist teachers in presenting the cards to their students. By selecting, creating, and presenting these cards, knowing with the body is made more accessible for teachers to support their students. What arises from my research is that the body plays a significant part in learning and when given the opportunity it can reveal one’s character, desires, hopes, and history. By acknowledging the body in the classroom students become more aware of the continual responses of the body and in turn develop a greater sense of self and even well-being. When teachers provide embodied learning opportunities for students, in the circumstances of their actual life, learning becomes meaningful and valuable for the individual. As we begin to understand ourselves as “bodily,” our relations with one another, tree, bird, vegetable, and building, may start to reflect this respect and care. Keywords: active imagination, analytical psychology, animated paradigm, bodily awareness, body as knower, dance classroom, depth psychology, education, unconscious
    Subjects: Bodily Awareness, Education, Dance Education, Analytical Psychology, Animated Paradigm, Body as Knower, Depth Psychology
    Date Created: 2016/08/16
  9. The Comparability of Standardized Paper-and-Pencil and Computer-based Mathematics Tests in Alberta [Download]

    Title: The Comparability of Standardized Paper-and-Pencil and Computer-based Mathematics Tests in Alberta
    Creator: Rolheiser, Delcy
    Description: This mixed-methods study examines the relationship between of the mode of test administration and the student test scores for a standardized mathematics exam administered in the province of Alberta. To determine how the results of the paper-and-pencil version of the 2013 Mathematics 9 Provincial Achievement Exam compare to the results of the identical computer-based version, the overall mean test scores, individual item difficulty values and item discrimination values from each version of the exam were compared. Using a significance level of .05, a two-tailed T-test for independent measures determined that the mean test score of the digital version of the standardized exam is significantly higher than the mean test score for students that completed the paper-and-pencil version. A Z-score analysis comparing the proportions of test-takers that answered each question correctly from each version of the exam determined that 21 items have significantly different item difficulties between the two test modes. Fisher’s r to z transformation calculations identified 2 items that have significantly different item discrimination values between the test modes. One item was identified as having performance differences in both the Z-score and Fisher’s r to z calculations. The number of questions identified for having significant differences between the paper-and-pencil test and the computer-based exam indicate that there may be a relationship between the mode of test administration and the difficulty of individual items. The ability of an item to discriminate between students with different ability levels in mathematics does not appear to be impacted by the mode of test administration. However, as demographic information about test participants was not collected as part of this project, definitive conclusions about the relationship between the mean test scores, item difficulty and item discrimination values and the mode of administration cannot be made. In an effort to determine patterns in the items that exhibit differences in item statistics, questions were categorized by the content domain, the cognitive domain, the structural components that may impact how test-takers view the item and the mathematical processes required to answer the question. The identified items represent all four content domains almost equally but a substantial portion of the items in the moderate complexity category (in the cognitive domain) exhibit performance differences. Items that require multiple arithmetic calculations, contain complex diagrams, or diagrams with missing measurements have been identified for having differences in item statistics more frequently than items that involve geometric manipulations or graphing on the Cartesian plane. However, more research is needed to better understand the relationship between the mode of administration and the performance of questions especially if items contain longer reading passages or combine multiple mathematical procedures. The results of the study also indicate that future comparative research studies need to examine if test-takers modify the strategies they use to solve questions on digital mathematics assessments to determine if a change in problem-solving strategies impact overall test scores or individual item statistics.
    Subjects: Comparability of test modes, computer-based testing, K-12 mathematics assessment, standardized exams
    Date Created: 2016/08/24
  10. Re-addressing High School Students’ Novel Needs: Choosing and Using Popular Young Adult Fiction in High School English Classrooms [Download]

    Title: Re-addressing High School Students’ Novel Needs: Choosing and Using Popular Young Adult Fiction in High School English Classrooms
    Creator: Amy Hough
    Description: This project offers designs for lesson plans, based on the popular young adult literature (YAL) and television series Pretty Little Liars (PLL), by Sara Shepard, in an effort to encourage grade 10 English teachers to use YAL that is popular with their students in their classrooms. The individual lesson plans—which can be used separately or mixed and matched to contribute to a unit plan—are based on positive identity formation, transactional reading, student-centered learning, multiple forms of representation and bidirectional learning between student and teacher. The lessons include: identity development as constructed in literature and high school life; analyzing character through found poetry; examining life (or lack thereof) without technology, an autobiographical challenge; comparing and contrasting literature and television; exploring fan culture and its effects on literature, television and film; and a final project in which students collaborate with the teacher to determine what their final project will be, how learning will be defined and how it will be represented. This masters’ project begins by drawing the reader’s attention to the notion that many texts chosen for study in the English classroom go unread because they fail to engage the students. A literature review follows detailing the classic English canon and studies conducted regarding its use and student engagement as well as the benefits of using YAL in the classroom. The literature review then looks at possible reasons why teachers aren’t bringing YAL into the English classroom, finally turning its focus on two areas of literacy research, silent sustained reading and the connection between literature and identity development. The literature review is followed by a description of the PLL books and the TV series, focusing on the differences between the two and the most salient factors in each medium. Reasons for choosing the PLL series for this project are explained, such as: pop culture tie-ins enabling students to take the role of experts in classroom; the plotlines offering excellent examples for a study of identity development; the (mis)use of technology; a TV counterpart; numerous allusions; insights into the opposite sex; and the idea that this series was chosen based on the psychology of the teenager rather than trying to guess what teens may find engaging. The type of teacher who may want to teach this unit is described as one who is willing to collaborate with students, is willing to let students develop their own meanings and one who is familiar with the series. It is intended the project will be disseminated via PLL fan sites.
    Subjects: English, language arts, high school, lesson plan*, YAL, young adult literature, popular fiction, Pretty Little Liars, youth culture, identity development, fan culture, student centered teaching, student centered learning
    Date Created: 2016