Sandra Mathison


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


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.

A Theory of Program Evaluation Practices in Disability Management (2015)

This grounded theory study developed a theory of evaluation in disability management programs. Disability management involves managing the interactions between health condition impairments and their environments to overcome functional barriers. A sample of four sites was selected each site representing a different paradigm of disability management practices: biomedical, labour, biopsychosocial or insurance. Data collection included semi-structured interviews with 9 participants, including an administrator and practitioner from each site, the Readiness for Organizational Learning and Evaluation Instrument, and documents from each site were analyzed. There were five major findings of the study. 1) Meaningful disability management program evaluation requires insight into how impairment environment interactions are being managed by the program. 2) The presence or absence of collaboration among stakeholders contributes significantly to the variability in disability management and disability management evaluation. 3) Understanding how disability management programs are adapting to contextual influences contributes significantly to an explanation of variability in disability management and disability management evaluation. 4) There are five primary disability management evaluation criteria: return to work, cost savings, timeliness of services, client satisfaction, and client functioning. 5) Disability management evaluation followed a consumer working logic approach, and was predominantly concerned with usefulness of services, and secondarily framed from perspectives of multiple stakeholders. Additionally, disability management programs and their funding organizations are increasingly using technology to develop new data management systems for future use in evaluation.

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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.

Teaching the intangible: how early childhood teacher education instructors "teach" relational development (2016)

This thesis set out with the research question, “How are relationships framed, valued, taught and assessed by early childhood educator program instructors in British Columbia?” I conducted six group interviews and five individual interviews with instructors and directors, respectively, at public and private institutions around British Columbia. Using narrative analysis, I constructed a composite instructor character and a composite student instructor character and, using Ollerenshaw and Creswell’s (2002) problem-solution strategy, analyzed the characters during a chronological school year to illustrate tensions that arose at specific points. Overall, instructors frame relationships as foundational in the Early Childhood Educator Program. I draw parallels between the struggle to support adult students while being responsible to children and the balance between pedagogical and andragogical principles. Modeling and engaging in authentic professional relationships with students were the most effective tools for teaching relational development. Instructors engaged in an editing process to ensure that their actions reflected their beliefs, but were still professional. They noted that relational skills can be difficult to assess, and that they cannot assess a student’s willingness to use appropriate skills when needed. In the discussion, I trace the findings back to the purpose and questions for the research. I draw lines between instructors’ discursive constructions of students and Langford’s (2007) Good ECE, and examine the small but distinct cluster of instructors who spoke of the reconceptualising movement and its bearing on a teacher education program.

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Investigating evaluation as an accountability mechanism by international non-governmental organizations working in humanitarian relief (2015)

Accountability of humanitarian relief organizations has been a key topic of discussion since the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda was published in 1996. Dozens of initiatives stressing accountability to beneficiaries have been launched. However, humanitarian organizations still receive criticism for focusing on accountability to donors and ignoring their responsibilities to account for their actions to the communities they serve. Evaluation is considered a key mechanism for providing accountability and can give opportunities for reducing power imbalances. This study investigates how humanitarian International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) are using evaluation, asking whether evaluation practice is providing accountability to communities affected by crisis. Using a critical hermeneutic framework, the study undertook an empirical review of a sample of evaluation reports published on the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance (ALNAP) website. Interviews with evaluators and INGO staff involved in the evaluations contributed to the understanding of current evaluation practice. The study found the accountability provided was mainly internal to INGOs and accountability to affected communities was low. Ensuring program improvement through evaluation was a weak form of accountability but affected communities were not able to use evaluation to influence decisions that affect them. Participation in evaluations was limited to the inclusion of beneficiaries at the data collection stage, and there was no evidence of participation in developing the evaluation scope or questions. Participation at the final stages of the evaluation was also low, although the evaluations that included local civil society partners showed evidence of community involvement in either negotiating or receiving the evaluation results. These latter evaluations provided the highest degree of accountability to the community. Opportunities for participatory evaluation approaches were constrained by INGO control of the evaluation scope and the time allocated for the evaluation. As a result evaluation approaches that favoured internal utilization rather than community engagement or empowerment were most common and thus INGOs benefitted the most from current evaluation practice.

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Accountability and Aboriginal education: an exploration of educators' experiences (2012)

The government mandates accountability mechanisms, such as standardized testing, to ensure educational quality; however, more research is needed to determine how such measures affect educational equality. In Canada, differential achievement outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students has stimulated a public discourse on the need for educational change. This study investigates how accountability policies mandated by the British Columbia government affect elementary educators who have worked in schools with high Aboriginal students populations. Through narrative inquiry, the study explored how such policies influence classroom curriculum, practices and pedagogy; moreover, it explored how mandates from controlling forces shape educators’ professional identity. Poetic transcription was employed; in which participants’ words were used to create poetic compositions reflective of their experiences. This analysis technique provides the reader with a vast and rich exposure to the study data, which is intended to raise awareness of how such policies influence teachers’ and students’ lives. Through this process, educators’ experiences with competing job demands, limited professional autonomy, narrowed curriculum, and surveillance are shared; as well as, the marginalization of Aboriginal students within the current educational system. Educators express and understand these issues by constructing two chief guiding narratives that of the attentive teacher and the objective professional. These competing narratives bring about frustrations and create resistance to such accountability mechanisms and a demand for reform.

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The relationship among process use, findings use, and stakeholder involvement in evaluation (2012)

No abstract available.


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