Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development, Learning, and Culture (PhD)
Youth-Initiated Mentoring and Community-Based Participatory Research: A Participatory Model for Research and Practice.
Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
Learning at university demands students to be more independent learners than learning in high school and many undergraduates struggle academically because they have not mastered the skills to take control of their learning. Moreover, contextual factors may limit their engagement in productive forms of learning. Most institutions offer academic supports to help students overcome academic challenges and navigate university learning, which students must proactively seek out. Often students are unaware such supports exist until after they experience difficulties. Promoting student engagement in self-regulated learning (SRL) in content courses would make supports for learning more accessible to the wider postsecondary population. However, the successful and sustainable implementation of such changes to instructional practice requires course instructors’ involvement. With the goal of advancing teaching concerning SRL in postsecondary settings, my research sought to: document how a group of university instructors included SRL supportive practices (SRLSPs) in their undergraduate courses; probe instructors’ and students’ perspectives about SRL supports; and examine how instructors’ engagement in SRL-focused inquiry enabled them to enhance their teaching practice. Using a multiple-case study design, I partnered with five Science instructors at a Canadian university to form a Community of Inquiry (CoI). Through individual and collaborative inquiry, they learned about, designed, and implemented SRLSPs in a course of their choosing. Data collected revealed instructors’ SRL-focused teaching and their insights about the experiences of teaching for SRL and engaging in inquiry. Instructors’ data was enriched by interviews with a small group of students about their learning experience in these SRL-informed courses. Findings suggested that the instructors infused their teaching with SRLSPs in meaningful/context sensitive ways and observed general positive effects on students’ participation and performance. Both the instructors and students perceived the implementation of SRLSPs as important to make a difference in students’ learning. The instructors perceived systemic, student, and instructor factors afforded and/or constrained their efforts at teaching for SRL and that the CoI model and inquiry processes were productive, validating, and led to sustainable changes to their practice. Contributions to theory, research, and practice about SRL-focused teaching in undergraduate courses as well as considerations for future research are discussed.
Challenges are important for learning. Research on self- and emotion regulation describes the effective and adaptive beliefs, strategies, and supportive contexts that help students in schools overcome small and big challenges at school and in life. Conjoint behavioural consultation, in which parents and teachers work with a consultant to address challenging behaviour, has been demonstrated as an effective intervention for externalizing problems (e.g., non-compliance, hyperactivity) but has not been widely applied to students with internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety, depression). There is a need to integrate contemporary research with effective models of intervention to best support students with significant difficulties regulating their emotions. The current study explored the development of a collaborative, consultative intervention for young adolescents with emerging emotional and behavioural difficulties in schools and at home. Rich and in-depth descriptions of five case studies, each involving a student with their parent(s) and a teacher, are presented. The researcher was also the consultant for each case. Data included questionnaires, interviews with parents, teachers, and students, home and school observations, and daily rating forms. The descriptions provide insight into the processes involved in the young adolescents’ development of emotion regulation. Eight cross- case themes were identified that represented key individual and contextual characteristics and key intervention components and processes: personalizing supports based on strengths and needs; considering motivation for and about change; reconciling context and relationships; viewing emotion regulation as more than coping; building and bridging trust; providing support and an outside perspective; collaborating to create opportunities for growth; and facilitating awareness, understanding, and insights. This study makes unique contributions to research on self- and emotion regulation and conjoint behavioural consultation.
No abstract available.
Large numbers of North American youth are disengaging from and dropping out of school. These youth are increasingly either being placed in, or electing to attend a growing number of alternative education programs (AEPs). Unfortunately, attendance at AEPs often results in the further marginalization of struggling students because (a) relatively little research has identified effective practices within AEPs and (b) negative conceptions of AEPs and of the students who attend them abound. To contribute to the growing body of research identifying effective alternative education practices and to provide an authentic view of these contexts and youth, I examined former students’ perceptions of (a) their experiences in AEPs and (b) the impact their experiences in AEPs had on their lives both during and after attendance. Two semi-structured narrative interviews were conducted with six participants who attended four different AEPs. All participants were female—no males volunteered to participate. The first research interview captured participants’ perspectives on their experiences at the AEPs generally. The second focussed on their perceptions of whether and how characteristics of the AEPs addressed their needs and were linked to outcomes both during and after they attended the programs. Holistic-content analyses identified themes within interviews and a thematic analysis identified themes across narratives. Interviews with former teachers and document analyses provided additional contextual information. The former AEP student participants described characteristics of the AEPs they attended that they perceived addressed their unique and varied social, emotional, and academic needs and facilitated their success, not only while they were attending, but beyond their time at the AEPs. Analyses revealed seven predominant themes across their narratives: relationships with a key teacher and with other students; counselling services; the identification, use, and development of personal strengths; flexibility and structure in the organization of academic learning; life skills learning; exercising control over the goings-on and culture at the AEP; and a homelike physical set-up. My study contributes to the promising new field of research investigating the impact of AEP practices from the perspective of students. This approach contrasts the majority of previous research that has ignored the voices of these key stakeholders.
Self-regulation involves metacognition, motivation, and strategic action. Children who develop and engage in self-regulation experience positive developmental and educational outcomes. Also, children are more likely to develop and engage in self-regulated learning (SRL) when features of classroom contexts support it. Although research has demonstrated that self-regulation predicts academic achievement, it has not examined; (a) whether teachers distinguish between different aspects of self-regulation, such as emotion regulation (ER), SRL, and socially responsible self-regulation (SRSR); (b) whether and how features of classroom contexts, which have been linked to opportunities for SRL, can also provide opportunities for ER and SRSR; and (c) relationships between individual children’s self-regulation and features of classroom contexts. Therefore, this mixed-method, multi-level study addressed these issues. Data consisted of 19 kindergarten, grade one, and grade 2 teachers’ ratings of 208 children’s ER, SRL, and SRSR and a full day of observations in 17 of the participating classrooms. Quantitative (EFA, HLM) and qualitative (in-depth analysis of classroom observations) analyses were conducted on these data. Results indicated: (a) teachers did not distinguish between the aspects of self-regulation; data converged on a unitary construct of self-regulation; (b) self-regulation predicted academic achievement; (c) older children had higher levels of self-regulation compared to younger children; (d) boys were rated as having lower levels of self-regulation compared to girls; (d) features of classroom contexts provided meaningful opportunities for children’s development of and engagement in ER, SRL, and SRSR; and (e) complex tasks and teacher support were statistically significant predictors of children’s self-regulation—they were implicated in children’s uptake of opportunities to engage in self-regulation during classroom lessons. Implications of this study are discussed. These include: the benefits of designing a wider range of measures and including mixed-method and longitudinal studies to examine trajectories of children’s self-regulation, the low ratings of self-regulation for boys in the early school years, and the role of complex tasks and teacher support in constructing meaningful opportunities for children to develop and engage in adaptive and effective aspects of self-regulation.
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Self-authorship refers to individuals’ capacity to make complex meaning of beliefs, identities, and social relationships. Self-authorship theory thus provides a holistic framework to consider young adults’ development across epistemological, intrapersonal, and interpersonal dimensions. Recent research on self-authorship not only increased representation of demographically diverse students, but also challenged the original individual-centered theory through incorporating lenses that afforded greater sociocultural relevance. My research aligned with this collective effort toward a more inclusive, socially situated, culturally responsive view of self-authorship. My research adopted narrative inquiry to explore how self-authoring was experienced and expressed in a group of Chinese undergraduate students. My study’s framework was informed by sociocultural theory, narrative constructionism, and dialogical perspectives on narrative analysis. Specifically, 12 Chinese undergraduate students were interviewed in China and Canada about their stories of personal growth in university. Participants were invited to share stories about their pivotal university experiences and how these experiences shaped their beliefs, identities, and social relationships and actions. Dialogical narrative analysis was performed to develop a narrative typology of self-authoring for the Chinese students. Three signature narrative types were elaborated in the typology. They are passion narrative (i.e., participants developed their inner voices by pursuing their passion), resistance narrative (i.e., participants developed deep forms of self-consciousness through resisting uncomfortable situations), and competence narrative (i.e., participants sought a lifepath to fulfill their need to be successful). Under each narrative type, individual narrative trajectories were further specified to capture variations among the participants’ self-authoring processes. These variations reflected how participants’ personal characteristics and their situated context shaped their distinct processes toward self-authorship. The novel insights produced by the narrative typology contributed to a more situated, holistic, and diversified understanding of self-authorship. As the first study to introduce a Chinese student sample, a sociocultural framework, and dialogical methods to self-authorship literature, my study not only generated complex understandings of self-authoring processes in culturally diverse students, but also offered methodological implications for future research in different sociocultural contexts. Finally, my study offered important questions for rethinking practices to foster students’ self-authorship in higher education.
During late childhood and early adolescence, the peer context becomes increasingly important as peer friendships manifest themselves as important sources of self-esteem and well-being (Parker et al., 2006). Research has shown that close peer friendships can protect students against peer victimization, poor academic achievement, low self-worth, and experiences of negative affect (Gest, Welsh, & Domitrovich, 2005; Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Fenzel, 2000; Parker et al., 2006). Cross-age peer mentoring programs, where older students mentor their younger peers, provide rich opportunities for participants to form healthy relationships with their peers (Karcher, 2005). This study applied Relationships Motivation Theory (RMT; Ryan & Deci, 2017), one of Self-Determination Theory's (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2017) most recent "mini-theories", to the cross-age peer mentoring process. RMT was explored for its usefulness to prepare high-school mentors to support the three Basic Psychological Needs (BPN's) (autonomy, belonging, and competence) of mentees and investigate the potentially reciprocal benefits high-school students experience through mentoring. Ten students (ages 7-18) were recruited from an after-school program to participate in this study. A descriptive multiple-case study design was used to understand participants' experiences. Data include participant-created documents, audio recordings of dyadic interactions, a 9-item self-report questionnaire, and exit interviews. Descriptive statistics and a combination of Provisional and In-Vivo coding (Saldana, 2009) were used to analyze data. On average, mentors demonstrated an ability to use language and practices associated with BPN satisfaction, even though various challenges were highlighted. Mentees reported the greatest satisfaction of their belonging. Mentors reported the greatest satisfaction of their autonomy and competence. All participants reported feelings of happiness and satisfaction within their mentoring relationships and most often attributed these feelings to a sense of competence.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is important for family physicians due to the complex and continually evolving nature of family practice. Family physicians need to keep abreast of scientific advances and current best practices in order to practice competently and effectively. As with many professions, family physicians are required to demonstrate participation in continuing professional development (CPD). Research suggests that organized CPD varies in the extent to which it influences physicians’ practice. This study aimed to advance understanding of the complexities surrounding the role of CPD in family practice by examining family physicians’ perspectives on and experiences of CPD. A mixed-method approach, incorporating a self-report survey and semi-structured interviews, investigated: (a) family physicians’ participation in organized CPD; (b) family physicians’ reasons, or motivations, for participating in organized CPD; (c) the relationship between family physicians’ motivation for CPD and their organized CPD participation; and (d) factors that influence family physicians’ motivation for and organized participation in CPD. Self-determination theory (SDT) was used as a sensitizing lens, providing relevant conceptual categories for interpreting family physicians’ reasons for participating in CPD. Ninety-one family physicians completed a self-report survey and six of these participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Overall, participants valued CPD and viewed it as important to practice. SDT concepts helped to create a more nuanced portrait of family physicians’ motivation for learning and CPD than reflected in previous studies. Six overarching themes captured participants’ motivations for, participation in, and experiences of organized CPD: Maintaining Competence, Connection to Colleagues, Me as a Learner, Opinions on the ‘CPD System’, Practicalities of Participation, and Links to Informal Learning and Practice. Relevance to research and practice are discussed.
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