Samson Nashon


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Dr. Nashon's genuine care and support is truly admirable. He believes in supporting and educating the whole person by caring for their wellbeing and intellectual development. I am truly thankful for his support.

Kshamta Hunter (2018)


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Kenyan national teachers teaching in schools in a long-term refugee camp : addressing education crisis in the refugee camp (2023)

Access to schooling for children and youth in long-term refugee is a right and necessity. Kenya is host to refugees living in Dadaab, one of world’s largest long-term refugee camps. Although there are trained and untrained refugee teachers working in Dadaab camp schools, among them, are non-refugees Kenyan nationally trained teachers. Very little is known about these teachers’ experience teaching in the complex context of a refugee camp. This study investigates and reports accounts conveyed in narratives of non-refugee Kenyan national teachers’ pedagogical perspectives and living experiences in Dadaab refugee camp. Nine Kenyan national teachers participated in this study. Principles of narrative methodology were applied to collect data, which involved in-depth and semi-structured interviews. The study employed an Afrocentric lens centering African humanistic philosophy of Utu/Ubuntu as a framework to read and better understand the teachers’ context and their stories. The study investigated the following questions: i) What are the Kenyan national teachers' narratives of teaching experiences and implied meanings, understandings of the relationship between education in refugee camps and host communities? ii) What aspects of the narratives are in concert or conflict with the Afrocentric value of Utu/Ubuntu (you are because I am; I am because you are)? iii) What implications might the study’s findings have on global conceptualization of refugee education? A summary of the key study findings indicate that national teachers: 1) considered Dadaab as a non-family zone and risky place; 2) perceived Dadaab as place steeped in cultural and religious complexities; 3) appreciated Dadaab schools for offering noble opportunities for instructional skill deployment, refinement and retooling expertise; 4) noticed the only educational incentives and scholarships slipping away due to students’ low academic performance, manifested in panic and depression among students; and 5) considered teaching as a humane act. These results provide deep insights into how non-refugee teachers experience teaching in a refugee camp and the implications for the ways educational issues need to be addressed within refugee camps from national teachers’ perspectives.

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The meaning of home : untold stories of people from Dadaab Refugee Camp studying at Canadian postsecondary institutions (2023)

The movement from one’s homeland, especially in cases of forced migration and displacement, is often accompanied by intense feelings of unexpected dislocation along with the demands of adjusting to an entirely new environment. The meaning of home is complex for all of us, however for people in refugee situations it is further complicated through its multiple and contradictory meanings. This research considers the meaning of home and how this may shift once people leave the turbulent setting of refugee camps and resettle in new places. This study employed narrative inquiry with five participants who lived in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya and came to Vancouver, Canada for post-secondary education. Although each participant’s meaning of home is distinct and unique, analysis of the data revealed three shared themes:1) Permanency or fluidity of home is constructed as related to traditions and lived experiences.2) Home is understood in terms of peace, safety/security and freedom.3) Home and ancestral place are not mutually exclusive. Decolonization theory from the perspectives of Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire was used within the context of forced displacement as the theoretical framework. Decolonization theory is important and necessary at different levels of migration governance to establish non-exploitative relationships instead of replicating structures of oppression. Decolonization is not an end point but a life-long process requiring constant dismantling and re-creation. We don’t always get to decide where we call home, and many times it is others who decide. Our feet may leave a place, but not always our hearts. Even though we often don’t think about it, home is an important concept that is associated with the sense of belonging, not only in physical terms, but also in terms of security, comfort, inspiration, hope and peace. Each person’s meaning of home will be unique and connected to different experiences that are embedded within their heart, mind and lived practice. No matter how one defines their home, in the end, it also very much defines us.

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Urban youth sustainability leaders’ leadership competencies in engaging transformative social innovative solutions for local wicked problems (2023)

The complex and wicked problems of our uncertain and changing world has necessitated a need for education to foster awareness of the consequences of the global trends and equip youth with key leadership competencies to navigate and tackle the challenges. This requires inquiry into what urban youth consider to be critical in terms of their response to unfolding wicked problems. This study investigated how urban youth sustainability leaders engaged in mobilizing local efforts to generate solutions to local wicked problems, and the leadership competencies they deployed to mobilize creativity for innovative solutions. The study was guided by the following three key questions: 1) What is the nature of wicked problems which urban youth sustainability leaders in north and south global contexts engage to create socially innovative sustainability-oriented solutions? 2) What are the leadership values, skills and knowledge that manifest during the process of social innovation used in solving these wicked problems? 3) How do analyses from this study, inform, and extend our understandings and practices regrading sustainability education?Investigation of these questions employed principles of interpretive phenomenological methodology, with interviews being the key source of data. Select groups of urban youth sustainability leaders from Global North (Vancouver, Canada) and South (Delhi, India) were interviewed about the nature of wicked problems in their locality and how they went about mobilizing efforts to create locally based social innovative solutions. Analysis of the data corpus revealed that the nature of wicked problems was seen as systemic, complex, intersectional, political, and dynamic. The results include a set of 15 key competencies needed throughout the process of sustainability social innovation that urban youth sustainability leaders employed, and deemed necessary, to solve the local wicked problems. Grounded in Transformative Learning Theory and informed by the data corpus, this study’s analysis proposes a Transformative Sustainability Learning (TSL) model for sustainability competence development in youth. The model situates self-transformation as a central tenet for social transformation and is reinforced by three methods that are critical to cultivating the competencies often needed for the complex and wicked sustainability challenges – values clarification, discourse, and reflection.

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Effect of computer simulations on female students' motivation for and engagement with physics learning: a case of secondary schools in Tanzania (2022)

The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of computer simulations on female students' motivation for and engagement with physics learning in Tanzanian secondary schools (Form 2, grade 10). The case study design was based on interpretive mixed methods (n=265, 154 male, 111 female). The students’ views before and after the computer simulations were elicited by completing an adapted Student Satisfaction and Self-Confidence towards Motivation in Learning Science (SSSC-MLS) instrument. The six teachers whose students participated in the study were interviewed along with a sample of students (n=48) at pre-and post-simulation intervals. Both female students’ and teachers’ initial anticipations for the new approach affected engagement and heightened task value, hence motivation to learn. Quantitative Factor Analysis was employed to identify components that best explored pre- and post-simulation views/perceptions (n=265). Four key factors or themes were found: 1) Satisfaction and confidence in computer simulation as a technology for learning; 2) Fear of performing physics tasks due to traditional approaches to teaching/learning; 3) Individual perceptions and values in learning physics; and 4) Using active strategies in learning physics concepts. Qualitative Thematic analysis was employed to identify effects of the simulations. Four themes emerged: 1) Computer simulations enhance confidence in females’ learning; 2) Perceptions influence females’ learning; 3) Relevance improves understanding; and 4) Motivation and engagement improve learning. Findings from this study show that female students were satisfied with the simulations since they were able engage in various interactive ways including experimenting, problem solving, analyzing and interpreting results, and reporting findings to understand physics concepts. Findings also indicate that employing computer simulation does not guarantee canonical knowledge construction among students if the teachers’ understanding of how female students’ socio-cultural background might shape their learning experience is inadequate or limited. Recommendations include: 1) Focusing on all students’ (not only females’) learning outcomes following a simulation approach for all science subjects at the Form 2 level; and 2) Extend Eccles’ (2007, 2008) work and conduct further research on parents’ familial beliefs and influences on achievement and motivation for female learners in STEM disciplines in Tanzania and other Sub-Saharan countries.  

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Wonder and elementary science: rekindling a sense of wonder in a methods course (2021)

No abstract available.

Ecological literacy, environmental ethics and contextual conceptions of education: the case of Shia people of Fashapooyeh village, Tehran county, Iran (2020)

The main questions addressed in this study are in the domains of ecological literacy, environmental ethics and contextual conceptions of education. Hence the study uses the case of Shia people of Iran and their environmental ethics to investigate the trans-historical realities in conceptualizing science-humanism in association with dominant notions of nature, the environment and ecology. In particular, special focus is directed at understandings and practices associated with environmental education in the context of local Shia people in Fashapooyeh, a traditional village in the county of Tehran in Iran. Major cultural ways of education existing in this context were explored, and their relation to contextual ontologies were examined. Thus, methodologically, the study employed articulation of dis-orientalising strategies in order to avoid oriental dogmas with respect to the particular context of the study. In this way, interpretive analytic case study methods, which drew heavily on critical ethnographic methods of field observations and interviews, were used in data collection. Revelations from the analysis of the data corpus include 1) among Shia people, actions towards/about/for/with nature are governed by ethics of religion, and they are governed by the Shia conception of humanism; 2) Everyday life schedules are interestingly governed by key calendar markers where contemporary discourses are a function of interaction between Indigeneity and modernity; 3) The Shia understanding of life is in close relation with understanding the order of nature, and that Shia identity and environmental health practices are not mutually exclusive. The findings challenge the current dominant concept of ecological literacy and its foundational preoccupation of nature, the environment, cosmos citizenship, balance and specifically the notion of literacy. These findings or revelations suggest new perspectives on conceptualizing ecological literacy in relation to ontological approaches to contemporary cultures. The outcomes challenge current dominant approaches to the concept of sustainability, and offer insight into how we might re-conceptualize and teach sustainability as a way of life grounded in their relative contextual ontologies. In the realm of Indigenous studies, the findings suggest processes of theorizing and analyzing research in respect to their particular contextual ethics and ontologies.

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Status and use of information communication technology in Uganda secondary schools: teachers' competencies, challenges, dispositions, and perceptions (2020)

This study explored teachers’ competencies, dispositions, perceptions, and challenges in selected secondary schools in Mbale district of the Republic of Uganda. Two research questions were investigated: 1) What do teachers in Uganda perceive to be the necessary ICT competencies and dispositions in order to implement the high school curriculum? 2) What do teachers perceive as challenges to implementing ICT in curriculum and instruction? Within a sequential explanatory mixed methods research design, 243 teachers were surveyed and nine were interviewed and observed in classrooms. Exploratory factor analysis loaded six significant factors: (1) Computer use as competency indicator (α = .89); (2) Communication enhancement (α = .76): (3) Effective mediator of teaching and learning (α = .73); (4) Drafters and preparatory tool (α = .72); (5) Performance indicator (α = .64); and (6) Computer-centred pedagogy (α = .59). Computer use as competency indicator was the best predictor of the teachers’ perceptions. Qualitative thematic analysis yielded six major themes: (1) Competencies in ICT Use Depend on Training Received; (2) ICT Use is Enhanced by Teacher Characteristics or Identity; (3) ICT Use Depends on Availability of ICT Infrastructure; (4) ICT Use is Beneficial to Lesson Planning and Instruction; (5) Teacher Collaboration through ICTs has Implications for Performance; and (6) ICT-enhanced Pedagogy Requires Extra Effort and Time. Teachers indicated their competencies were hampered by the lack of technology training and adequate trainers. Teachers also indicated: resources in general were needed at the schools to enable them to integrate ICTs; and IT departments were sometimes hindrances to their efforts to adopt technology. Teachers also agreed that at times they did not use technology because it would take too much time. Implications for practice and policy touch on six main areas: (1) Enhancing classroom uses of technology; (2) providing technology training; (3) providing technology infrastructure and resources; (4) providing time; (5) modifying the school curriculum; and (6) adopting technology plans for schools. Findings suggest the Uganda government needs to commit significant funding to equip schools with resources. At the same time, findings indicate that availability of technology resources does not guarantee teacher change or student learning.

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International students' epistemologies and learning experiences in specially designed first-year chemistry courses (2019)

First-year university science courses are often challenging for a majority of students coming out of high school, with international students having even greater adjustment difficulties. This may be due to differences between the epistemologies held by the students and the epistemological expectations of the science courses. Active learning environments have different epistemological expectations than traditional lectures and international students may have inadequate prior experiences with this mode of learning science. Thus, an exploratory case study approach to investigate first-year international students’ epistemologies and experiences in their chemistry courses within the Vantage One Science Program was conducted. Vantage One Programs, which reside in Vantage College at the University of British Columbia, admits and offers first-year programs to international students from non-English speaking countries. The case study largely employed a mixed methods methodology that used both quantitative and qualitative tools for data collection. To assess the students’ epistemologies, the Epistemological Beliefs about Physical Sciences (EBAPS) instrument was administered three times during the program. The three data sets were analyzed using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis to determine dominant factors underlying the students’ responses to the items on the EBAPS, interpreted as a description of the key student epistemologies. Student grades from CHEM 121 and CHEM 123 courses were also collected and correlated with scores from the EBAPS questionnaire. Qualitative methods were used to examine students’ epistemologies and their views on their experiences. These methods included classroom observations, one-on-one semi-structured and task-based interviews and focus group interviews. The results indicate that some aspects of student epistemologies transformed over the course of the first year Vantage program while others aspects remained the same. When factors did transform, they transformed towards more canonical epistemologies. Transformations included valuing peers and oneself as a source of science knowledge and becoming more aware of the nature of science. Some of these transformations can be attributed to the pedagogy experienced in Vantage One Science Program, including the use of peer-learning pedagogy and inquiry-based learning. Both qualitative and quantitative data suggest that more canonical views are associated with positive study approaches, problem-solving strategies, and academic performance.

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Investigating effects of contextualized science curricular experiences on students' learning and their teachers' teaching in Tanzania (2019)

This study investigated the effects of contextualized science curricular experiences on students’ learning and their teachers’ teaching in a Tanzanian context. One hundred and eighty (180) students from a select secondary school participated in an 8-months science curriculum with at least one contextualized science lesson occurring once a week. Data was collected from May to December 2013 through mixed methods techniques. Descriptive statistics, principal component, and confirmatory factor analyses constituted the quantitative analytical methods. These were complemented by qualitative methods including thematic analysis, outcomes of which characterized the students’ and teachers’ experiences of contextualized science. Key findings revealed: i) The approach helped students to learn science in a more meaningful way compared to the traditional approach which promoted learning by memorization of facts and preparation for exams; ii) The approach helped students deepen their conceptual understanding including applications in various real-world settings; iii) Students considered the benefits of learning science in this way as being over and above the quest to finish the syllabus and pass exams; iv) Students’ experiences with contextualized science learning had implications on how their teachers interpreted and enacted the curriculum; and v) The approach stimulated collaborative learning and teaching among students, their teachers, and between the students and their teachers. The study’s findings also revealed three major reasons for teachers’ reluctance to use contextually based mediations in their every day science teaching. These included: i) The centralized, overloaded, and yet, rigid and strict nature of Tanzania’s syllabi; ii) Prior teacher preparation and schooling background; and iii) Dominant traditional paper and pencil mode of assessment and evaluation of students. The study’s findings have implications for curriculum and instruction as well as theory and future research.

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Teachers' perspectives on culturally diverse classrooms and responsive science and mathematics teaching (2018)

This study focused on investigating Kindergarten to Grade12 (K-12) teachers’ perspectives about the effects of students’ cultural diversity on their science and mathematics teaching and their perspectives and understandings of culturally responsive teaching. Largely informed by the principles of qualitative case study approach, this investigation employed phenomenographic methods including individual teacher interviews and informal observations of select science and mathematics classrooms for data collection and analysis. Participants included ten teachers from Vancouver, a major urban city in Western Canada.A synthesized theoretical framework of (trans-multi)culturally responsive education comprising of critical and transformational multicultural education perspectives and complementing notions of culturally responsive teaching served as a guiding lens to analyze and interpret the data. Two research questions were addressed: 1) What are K-12 teachers’ perspectives about the effect of cultural diversity on their science and mathematics teaching? 2) What are the teachers’ understandings of and perspectives on culturally responsive teaching as a viable strategy for teaching science and mathematics in their cultural diversity-rich classrooms? Key findings illustrate that: 1) teachers described students’ cultural diversity as a mosaic as well as a strength and a challenge; 2) teachers recognized the level of English language competency as one of the key systemic factors compounding the challenges associated with students’ cultural diversity; 3) lack of culturally relevant resources, support and training serve as an impediment to teachers’ successful integration of Indigenous knowledges in their science and mathematics classrooms; 4) teachers’ perspectives of science and mathematics, cultural diversity, and Canadian culture were full of contradictions; and 5) teachers’ understandings of culturally responsive teaching and its manifestation in their classrooms were diverse and full of conundrums.The findings have implications for future research on how teachers’ perspectives of students’ cultural diversity influence their expectations of culturally diverse students’ engagement and achievements, and their assessment practices in science and mathematics classrooms. The findings also demand further research focusing on whether teaching the content of science and mathematics limits teachers’ pedagogical responsiveness where they may merely “talk the walk” of multicultural education without realizing the actual potential of students’ and communal funds of knowledges in their diversity-rich classrooms.

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Rethinking the growth mantra: an exploration of the post-normal world of declining conventional fossil energy (2017)

This dissertation represents a meta-survey of evidence projecting a future of conventional fossil energy decline, and the rapid disappearance of highest quality conventional energy sources. Evidence also suggest that increasing costs of fossil fuel production and declining energetic quality of replacements, point to a growing uneconomic cost of fossil fuel consumption. This indicates the need to challenge the benefits of continued fossil fuel consumption due to the growing devastation on humanity associated with accelerating global climate disruption. Resistance to transitioning away from fossil fuel consumption is documented, with major corporations continuing to promote continued fossil energy consumption using multiple think tanks and political agencies. This dissertation supports the findings of the original 1973 Limits to Growth models projecting an end to the modern “Business as Usual” (BAU) industrial age civilization from two aspects: growing resource depletion, and the expected decline of industrial and services per capita. Evidence indicates that dedicated efforts to continue BAU fossil fuel consumption could end in the collapse of energetic structures essential to industrial civilization, leaving humanity in an energy impoverished position struggling to adapt to increasing global climate disruption. This evidence suggests that the education and knowledge developed in a civilization, where nearly everything created in past generations of increasing fossil fuel consumption risks redundancy in a new ontological world of learning to live with declining per capita energy. This transdisciplinary dissertation surveying these emerging trends in petroleum geology, energy related economics and climate science, collectively dictate that a post-carbon future and the changes that accompany it is one that educators must not ignore.

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Teacher Candidates' Imaginative Capacity and Dispositions Toward Using ICT in Practice (2016)

The study investigated the relationship between instructional discourses in a pre-service teacher education program and teacher candidates’ subsequent plans to use ICT in their professional practice. Teacher candidates’ dispositions, in terms of comportment and composure, were seen as indicative of the quality of their relationship with ICT. Teacher candidates’ manifestations of these dispositions, in terms of ICT imaginative capacity, were seen as indicative of the characteristics of their use (what they had the capacity to imagine and the capability to implement). Manifestations of dispositions were described as displays of ICT imaginative capacity. The setting for the study was a post-baccalaureate two-year teacher education program in a large regional university in western Canada. Participants in the study were comprised of a thirty-eight member cohort of teacher candidates in the first year of their two-year program. A sub-group of teacher candidates was self-selected from the cohort and participated in a research intervention. This study adapted a social constructivist theoretical framework complemented by an enactive analysis of social interactions examining communicative events from the teacher education program. An interpretive case study methodology collected data from teacher education classes, teacher candidate questionnaires, and focus group discussions. These three datasets were analyzed and interpreted to explore relationships between instructional discourses and teacher candidates’ dispositions toward using ICT. Findings document teacher candidates’ dispositions toward using ICT as demonstrated by their capacity to imagine using ICT and their capability to implement these imaginings in practice. Conclusions suggest a need for further research into “ecologies of learning”. Recommendations also include a need to investigate instructional discourses with regards to developing ICT imaginative capacity and imaginative capability. The need to develop imaginative capacity extends beyond when, where, why, how, or what ICT teachers learn to use in practice.

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Investigating Undergraduate Students' Metacognitive Transformations in an Introductory Organic Chemistry Course (2015)

Recently, there has been a considerable number of curricular and pedagogical reform efforts in undergraduate science education to shift from traditional methods of lecturing and assessment to more active, learning-centered environments. While these shifts have introduced significant improvements in students’ conceptions of and engagement with science, the importance of how students learn science is often overshadowed. More specifically, there exists a need to address and enhance students’ metacognitive knowledge and regulation to assist them in effectively monitoring, evaluating, and planning their learning. This study investigated the catalysts that influenced students’ metacognitive transformations in an introductory organic chemistry course for biological science majors. A case study approach employing a combination of surveys, classroom observations, and interviews was used to investigate: 1) the catalysts (and their characteristics) influencing students’ metacognitive transformations; 2) the role of social environments in these transformations; and 3) the supports/barriers various groups of students perceived as influential to their metacognitive transformation. Analysis of the data corpus suggested performance-based assessment methods as the most influential to students’ metacognitive transformations and as overshadowing the resources designed to enhance students’ metacognition and self-efficacy. Despite the desire to engage students with their learning, the results from the SEMLI-S (Self-Efficacy and Metacognition Learning Inventory – Science) survey revealed a significant drop in students’ ability: to connect constructively with the course material; to effectively monitor, evaluate, and plan their learning; and to be confident in their ability to succeed in the course. Students attributed their lack of prerequisite content and metacognitive knowledge and the overwhelming quantity of course content as constraining their ability to actively engage in their learning. Some students, however, successfully employed metacognitiveiistrategies and offered explicit descriptions of how and why they developed and/or adapted their learning strategies prior to or during the course of the semester. This study also provided insight into how students perceived and negotiated their learning, both individually and collaboratively. The findings from this study have implications on how undergraduate science curriculum and pedagogy might embrace learner-centered pedagogies to enhance students’ metacognition and self-efficacy.

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Ugandan Students' Perspectives on the Spread and Prevention of HIV/AIDS: Cultural Practices and Education (2015)

My study investigated perspectives that underlie Ugandan high school students’ understandings of the spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS and how they influenced by cultural practices. I adopted an interpretive case study approach that employed mixed methods, guided by the sociocultural and practice theoretical frameworks. Data were collected on students from seven select schools in central Uganda over 12 weeks. The students participated in the study by completing an adopted HIV/AIDS knowledge questionnaire with a transformed scale from True/Fase to Likert before and after experiencing HIV/AIDS lesson instructions. The questionnaire served as a stimulus to evocation of the students’ perspectives. These perspectives were extracted from the questionnaire data using Principal Component Analysis. Results revealed five key perspectives: Perceptual and behavioural risks associated with proximity to HIV/AIDS victims; Hygienic practices; Behavioural/practice causes and transmission of HIV/AIDS; Predictive, preventive and transmissive knowledge of HIV/AIDS; and Naïve notions of prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. These perspectives were further interrogated through qualitative methods including classroom observation and focus group interview/discussions. After HIV/AIDS-focused lessons, a similar analysis on the after lesson questionnaire data also revealed that underlay students’ understandings of the spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Three of the pre-lesson perspectives persisted while two (Hygienic practices and Behavioural/practice causes and transmission of HIV/AIDS) collapsed, with two new ones (Taboo-like prescriptions of knowledge of infection) emerging in the after lesson experience analysis. Also a realization emerged among the students of the greater risk of HIV/AIDS infection if they subverted the cultural norms. It became noteworthy that the students communicated their understandings metaphorically, which often conveyed unscientific understandings about the spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS. The study’s findings have critical implications for policy and the way curricula and instruction are interpreted and enacted in the classroom.

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Physics teachers and China's curriculum reform: the interplay between agency and structure (2014)

This study explored how individual and collective agencies among physics teachers in a select high school were enabled and constrained in the context of the on-going curriculum reform in China. Human agency as used in this study was informed by five perspectives: Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory; Giddens’ Structuration Theory; Giroux’s critical pedagogy; Seixas’ historical consciousness; and Davies’ feminist and poststructuralist perspective. The study employed autoethnographical methods including observation, interviewing, the researcher’s and teachers’ reflective journaling, and data collection through the researcher’s involvement with various school activities which took place in one high school. The analysis of the data corpus employed portraiture and constant comparative method. The portraits of the researcher and selected teachers depicted their agencies in terms of origin, motivation, shape, and negotiation. The findings included: 1) individual teacher agency was significantly influenced by history, currency, moral standards, and students; 2) collective agency was shaped by structural changes, leadership and modern technology; and 3) collective teacher agency created the demands for individual teachers’ professional development, a conducive culture for teacher collaboration, and concrete examples that teachers could constantly refer to, reflect upon, and learn from for reform implementation. These results offer important insights for understanding how physics teacher agency is manifest in the on-going curriculum reform in China. Further, the study offers a clear understanding of the influences underlying physics teachers’ agency deployment as they engage with the curriculum reform process. Finally, this study’s findings justify a case for preparing physics teachers on how to deploy both individual and collective agencies in the face of the complicated social structures and ultimately shed light on the desired curriculum decentralization in China.

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From campus to classroom: a study of elementary teacher candidates' pedagogical content knowledge (2012)

In this study, I explored a cohort of elementary teacher candidates’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and how it was influenced before, during, and after participation in a science methods course and extended practicum experience in a 12-month teacher education programme at a University in Western Canada.I adopted a case study approach that employed a mixed methods perspective to investigate the effect of the science teaching methods course and extended practicum on the participants’ PCK. I administered a non-disguised, self-enumerated, online questionnaire to assess and interpret the candidates’ PCK. I also elicited and interpreted their views on their experiences through semi-structured interviews using phenomenographic methods. My findings indicate the students who entered the program and participated in the online questionnaire had a PCK level of 7 out a maximum of 11 (M=7.1431, SD=1.07794). The teacher candidates I interviewed believed they possessed awareness of PCK from prior experiences including being science students at both elementary and secondary levels and during volunteer experiences. At the end of their science teaching methods course, teacher candidates participating in the on-line questionnaire scored a PCK level of 8 out of a maximum of 11 (M=8.0719, SD=1.03280); those interviewed attributed their increased PCK level to working with their science methods instructor in the Teacher Education Programme. At the end of the extended practicum, the same teacher candidates were again surveyed by completing the same online questionnaire. Analysis and interpretation of their responses indicated their PCK level as having dropped to 7 out of a maximum of 11 (M=7.0783, SD=0.72437). My analysis of the follow-up interviews with the teacher candidates showed that their relationship with the school advisor and the real world teaching experience of the practicum influenced the drop in PCK. My research provides insight into teacher candidates’ PCK as they progress through a 12-Month Teacher Education Programme. It illustrates that experiences including time spent as science learners in elementary and secondary classrooms, during volunteer experiences, gaining admission into a teacher education programme, interacting with experts in teaching methods, and immersion in the real-world teaching context of the classroom are powerful factors in teacher candidates’ PCK.

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Professional Development of Four Grade 10 Biology Teachers in Singapore - The Learning Study Approach (2011)

Despite the importance of genetics as a school curriculum topic and its increasing application in everyday life, and despite challenges teachers face teaching genetics, a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that draws upon selected theories of learning may not always be readily available for teachers. In the context of Singapore, this is exacerbated by potential unfamiliarity with the newly implemented genetics curriculum, and how there also appears to be a lack of appropriate teacher professional development programs. What is noteworthy is that these challenges are similarly shared by teachers elsewhere. A study was framed to investigate how teacher collaboration could be utilized to alleviate, if not overcome, these challenges. Through a learning study framework, four collaborating Grade 10 biology teachers employed the theory of variation to manage and overcome the challenges of teaching the new genetics curriculum in Singapore. A learning study amalgamates teacher collaboration, teacher reflection, teachers researching into their classrooms and the employment of a theoretical framework. This study seeks to answer the research question “How does Singaporean teachers’ participation in a theory of variation-framed learning study affect their learning about their own pedagogy?” The thesis reports a phenomenographic analysis of the different ways the teachers experienced learning during collaborative endeavors, revealing the complex nature of teacher learning – complex ways of curriculum interpretation, lesson planning and implementation, and evaluation of teaching practices. The impact of the learning study on teachers’ pedagogies and professional development was also elucidated. Consequently, the experience of increased clarity and coherence in terms of curriculum interpretation, demonstration of ownership and authentic lesson planning manifested during the enactment of theory-guided lessons. The experience of collaborative inquiry into teachers’ own teaching practices also led to the generation of new insights on teaching, as well as shifts in their beliefs about teaching and learning. The results support (1) the use of learning study as a professional development approach to enhance students’ learning and to encourage teachers to develop their own curriculum; (2) the use of theory of variation as a framework to organize, implement and analyze teacher learning.

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Group work and metacognition : an exploratory case (2009)

This dissertation is about how learners bring metacognitive understandings of themselvesas learners into a group learning context. It is about metacognitive knowledge, skills andbehaviors and how these impact and are impacted by the learners' engagement with groupproblem-solving activity. For this study, group problem-solving activity is the importantinterface between the understandings an individual has about him or herself, including contentknowledge, and the social environment of a collaborative problem-based activity system, such asis common use in science classrooms. The process of using metacognition in a group setting ishow collective knowledge is built, and this study uses an activity theory framework to exploreinteractions within the groups that involve metacognitive knowledge, skills and behaviors duringgroup problem-solving activity.For this study, high school biology students who were studying invertebrate biology aspart of their Grade 11 Biology course attended a field trip visit to the Vancouver Aquarium,where they reviewed the major phyla of the intertidal zone. In-class follow-up activities extendedthe students' opportunities to engage with the general topic of ecology as it applies to intertidalmarine biology. Problem-solving activities were the focal point of the activity system asconceived through the theoretical framework for the study.Data gathering included paper records and digital video and audio from the problemsolvingactivities and a video review activity where the groups watched themselves while theywere solving problems. Subsequent focus group and individual interviews asked students toreflect on and elaborate the learning processes under way in their groups. The study gatheredrich, descriptive data of how met cognitive knowledge, skills and behaviors are brought into thegroup context for learning. Results from the study indicate that open-ended problems offeropportunity for engaging metacognition, and when these are brought into the group context, richpossibilities for developing new understandings arise. In the group, others' thinking and learningprocesses become objects for one's own metacognition. This is a key finding of the study.Implications are discussed for teaching and learning science, including the development ofproblems that engage learners on multiple levels so as to engage students' metacognitiveknowledge, skills and behaviors.

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Science Outreach Programs: Exploring Emotions, Science Identity, Attitudes, Motivations and Decision Making about Physics in Physics Competitions (2009)

No abstract available.

Kenya's Urban High School Teachers' Perceptions of Diversity: Implications for Curriculum Implementations and Pedagogy (2008)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Secondary science teachers' views on climate change education in British Columbia (2021)

As effects of climate change continue to manifest in serious impacts on human and non-human health and well-being globally, there is the urgent need for research into this climate crisis through an education lens. This necessarily implicates how teachers understand the issues involving climate change and the nature of climate change discourses in which they engage their students. Hence this study investigated secondary school science teachers’ views on climate change and how it is framed or should be framed within secondary school science curriculum and instruction. Investigating science teachers’ views is very important due to the fact that climate change is not sufficiently addressed in many secondary school science curricula and especially in the British Columbia Ministry of Education curriculum. Thus, by employing a qualitative interview method approach, six practising BC secondary science teachers were recruited to participate in a study that sought their views on climate change through a series of semi-structured interviews. The interview data were analysed resulting in key themes that characterised the teachers’ understanding of climate change and related issues and how they taught it. The key themes included: 1) participating teachers’ perspectives on climate change as shaped by their own experiences, their students and society; 2) participating teachers’ assessment of the current BC secondary science curriculum to be lacking on the methodology to teach and structure climate change content; 3) participating teachers’ views that enhancing student experiential and propositional knowledge on climate is the best way to effect change; and 4) participating teachers’ views that climate change topic is best understood by the students when it is taught through place-based pedagogies with an interdisciplinary approach of which science is a part. The study’s findings have implications on how climate change topic and discourses can be framed in the local BC curricula including secondary school science curriculum and instruction.

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The educational experiences of refugee youths in greater Vancouver schools: parents' and teachers' perspectives (2021)

This master’s thesis is a report of the analysis of the refugee youths’ educational experience in schools in the Greater Vancouver area from the perspectives of their parents and teachers. On an international scale, when people have been forced to leave their home country, the United Nations (UN) defines them as refugees. Based on the 1951 Refugee Geneva conference, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country because of war, racial persecution, genderidentity, religion, nationality, political opinion or/and environmental catastrophes and has crossed international borders to find safety in another country (UNHCR, 2019).This thesis looks at what has been said in previous studies about refugee students’ experiences in classrooms and integration into the new host society. While some studies have explored the behaviour of refugee children in classrooms and their integration with the school community, they have often focused on the teachers’ perspectives. Thus, there appears to be a lack of studies that involve the voices of refugee students’ parents about their children’s educational experiences in Greater Vancouver schools. Hence, the reason for my decision to explore parents’ and teachers’ perspectives of refugee youths’ educational experiences in schools within the Greater Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada. At the core of the exploration about the topic is the interplay between one's national home culture and the Canadian culture, the school's multicultural/ multi-ethnic environment, the development of friendship across cultural borders, and the role that social class plays in the integration of refugee children in the school community.

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The living and learning experiences of Saudi Arabian undergraduate students in a Western Canadian University (2017)

Saudi Arabian student enrollment in undergraduate programs has been increasing over the years in postsecondary institutions worldwide. This has been more so in English speaking countries. Yet, there has been no research investigating Saudi undergraduate students’ living and learning experiences in postsecondary institutions abroad. Hence, the study reported in this thesis explored through a qualitative case study Saudi Arabian undergraduate students’ experiences at a Western Canadian University (WCU). The goal was to understand the nature of Saudi students’ living and learning experiences during their study abroad and in particular at a WCU. Involvement and sociocultural theoretical frameworks and narrative methodology were employed to interview 10 undergraduate students from Saudi Arabia studying at WCU. Narrative method of interviewing allowed the students to tell stories of their living and learning experiences at WCU. A search for common patterns within each individual story and across the stories revealed two key themes common to their experiences: 1) “Expression of an Understanding of Educational Systems and the Complexities and Challenges of Attending a Canadian University”, manifest in both: a) academic; and b) language encounters; and 2) “Expression of Understanding Social Complexities”, which manifested in encounters involving: 1) new cultures and environments; and 2) different rules and responsibilities. The study’s findings reveal insights into the challenges and successes experienced by Saudi Arabian students studying at a WCU and personal responsibilities they considered to be successful as well as offer suggestions for ways stakeholders can make Saudi student study at WCU a rewarding experience.

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Investigation and analysis of nature of science perspectives among key curriculum influences in British Columbia (2016)

In this study I investigated the Nature of Science (NOS) perspectives advocated among three significant influences on school science in British Columbia: the official curriculum materials – Integrated Resource Packages (IRPs); the teachers; and the textbooks since these three significantly influence student learning experiences. I examined the Science 9 Integrated Resource Package (IRP) 2005 and two editions of B.C. Science Probe 9 by Nelson Publishing by using the protocol established by Chiappetta, Fillman and Sethna (1991) with the addition of a method from Green (2012) to investigate the nature of science in text. I used an interview protocol developed by Padayachee (2012) for exploring teachers’ views of the nature of science. Analysis of the perspectives indicates that there is alignment between NOS perspectives by teachers and those implied in the IRP. The agreement that hands-on, inquiry-based, and experience-oriented science learning is worthwhile acknowledges the value of science as a way of investigating, science as a way of thinking and science in the context science-technology-society. On the other hand there is partial alignment of textbook-based NOS perspectives with those discerned from IRP and teachers’ views of science teaching. Textbook NOS perspectives emphasized science as a body of knowledge without reference to history, creativity or imagination. The study’s findings have implications on how complete understanding of the nature of science might be taught, learned and represented in various learning media.

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Towards Caring: The Role of Place-Based Learning in a Secondary School English First Peoples Class (2016)

This research examines the current challenges of teaching a First Peoples English course using place-based pedagogy, and the benefits of incorporating place-based learning despite these challenges, through a qualitative study in the teacher-researcher's English 10/11/12 First Peoples class at Howe Sound Secondary School. The research draws on evidence from observations and journaling of the teacher-researcher, samples of student work, and student responses to short answer questions in order to address the over-arching research question, What stories of learning have I identified regarding a First Peoples English course that makes use of place-based methodologies? This question is broken down into two others: What challenges exist in introducing place- based learning at Howe Sound Secondary School, and, if possible, how may these challenges be overcome? and, What are the benefits of conjoining place-based learning and a course focused on Indigenous perspectives? The primary purpose of this study is to determine how to incorporate a place-based education in a traditional secondary school setting, and what are the benefits for students. The results of this study indicate that it is possible to overcome some barriers to place-based learning, and that the benefits to students make it worthwhile to do so when possible. The findings indicate that offering a place-based, student-centered approach and connecting to local landscape and community contribute to increased student engagement with, effort in, and enjoyment of the course. They also indicate that place-based strategies can successfully facilitate connections with individuals from the local Indigenous community, contributing to greater understanding of the history and people of the place, and a possible breakdown of prejudice. The evidence also indicates that incorporating discussions of hegemonic educational models alongside local and non-local Indigenous ways of learning, including learning from place, also contributes to understanding of other cultures. Some place-based activities also encouraged family and cultural connection and lead to feelings of pride in Indigenous students. The study concludes with suggestions for future practice.

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Sexuality Education within High School Curriculum in Uganda: Exploring Teachers' Perceptions of Contextual Influences on Classroom Discourses (2015)

This case study investigated teachers’ perceptions of contextual influences on their instruction and student engagement on sexuality discourses within four selected schools in Kampala, Uganda. The question that guided the study was: What and how are the contextual factors as perceived by health education teachers in Uganda influencing classroom discourses on sexuality? The research is grounded within two relevant theoretical frameworks; constructivism and the conceptual change theory (CCT). Constructivism acknowledges that individuals have preconceived notions rooted in their social, cultural and historical backgrounds, and CCT enables teachers to develop strategies that allow learners opportunities to reexamine their preconceptions about phenomena with a view of aligning them with canonical science.Through a narrative methodological approach, teachers narrated their stories based on their lived classroom experiences. Data sources included researcher’s field notes, e-mail correspondences, semi-structured questionnaires, and audio recordings of the teachers’ narratives. The data corpus was analyzed following intense dialogic analysis procedures, which encompassed elements of thematic and structural analytical methods as well as other broad interpretive dimensions such as how talk among speakers is dialogically produced. The findings revealed that while there is some form of sexuality education in schools and while teachers are very enthusiastic about its implementation, it is largely constrained by a plethora of contextual factors. Four themes that best addressed the inquiry were identified: 1) Dilemmas around navigating conflicting social stances; 2) Competing dichotomies with regards to adolescent sex health provision; 3) Teachers’ inadequate training to play the envisioned roles as sexuality educators; and 4) Relegation of Sex Health Education (SHE) to extracurricular status undermines its value and potential. The teachers therefore have a steep task to continue searching for appropriate pedagogical approaches to diffuse these dilemmas. This thesis provides a nuanced approach to understanding the practical realities and complexities involved in designing a framework for SHE delivery in schools, and also suggests various approaches teachers can employ to bring about meaningful learning.

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A discursive exploration of children's school garden experiences, perspectives, and developing ecological literacies (2013)

Research has largely neglected ways to explore how school gardens are used, the qualityof the children’s garden experiences, and the educational possibilities including the process ofsupporting children’s ecological literacy. The purpose of this study was to better understand thepossibilities for discourses in and around current garden-based education and ecological literacywhile making space for an emergent and narrative research design. This qualitative study drawsupon phenomenological and narrative methods to understand children’s garden experiences andis synthesized and analyzed through ecological place-based framework and the notion ofcrystallization. This study’s findings provide an enriched understanding of children’s diverseschool garden experiences and perspectives while supporting their developing ecologicalliteracies.

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Implementing curricular and pedagogical reforms in Chinese schools: the case of collaborating physics teachers (2010)

In 2001, China launched a large-scale educational reform encompassing curricular and pedagogical content in both elementary and secondary levels. Zhengzhou, a city in the Henan province, began to fully implement the reform in senior high schools in 2008. Consequently, the question that is critical to the reform process regarding physics, one of the science education curricula, is: What are physics teachers’ views on collaborative approaches to understanding and implementing the new curricular and pedagogical reforms in Zhengzhou senior high schools? This question was the focus of the research for this thesis. Investigating this question necessarily involved inquiring into the administrators’ perspectives on their role with regard to the teacher development. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in three senior high schools. Thirteen physics teachers, 2 administrators and 2 students were interviewed. Some classroom observations were made before the interview. Personal reflective journals were written after everyday’s investigation. Field notes and photos were taken to record the research context. The study indicated that teachers modified their pedagogy as a result of a collaborative process. The power hierarchy between experienced teachers and novice teachers was reduced because of the reform. The College Entrance Examination, students’ feedback, and administrative support were found to be key factors influencing successful teacher collaboration. Administrators provided and explored strategies for teacher development. Moreover, they created a supportive climate for teacher collaboration through school based incentives for systemic change.

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