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.
Itinerant teachers of students with visual impairments (TSVIs) support access to the curriculum for students with visual impairments by promoting the use of adaptive tools, materials, and strategies to mitigate the impact of visual impairment on learning and development. Traditionally, the number of students served by the TSVI is referred to as a “caseload” and is used as an indicator of the breadth of the TSVI’s professional responsibilities. This study uses “workload” as a more inclusive term that encompasses the full scope of the itinerant TSVIs’ professional practice, including direct, consultative, and indirect service to students with visual impairments and their educational teams. Given the low incidence of visual impairment among children and youth, many special education administrators responsible for staffing TSVI positions do not have an awareness of the specialized educational programming needs of these learners that factor into TSVI workload. Resources targeted to special education administrators that consider a broad scope of educational programming, personnel, and policy factors are required to support data-driven workload determinations for itinerant TSVIs. The purpose of the study was to develop a set of factors that experts rate as important considerations in the process of TSVI workload determination. This study was conducted using the Delphi approach, an iterative process through which consensus is built among a panel of knowledgeable experts on a topic of specialized interest. Panelists rated the importance of 45 initial educational programming, personnel, and policy-level factors with 22 panelist-nominated factors added in the second survey round. Four survey rounds were required to arrive at a set of 45 confirmed factors. Each factor included in the final set of confirmed factors had a rating at a high level of importance, strong consensus among panelists, and stability across survey rounds. After adjusting for the total number of initial and nominated factors in each thematic cluster, educational programming factors accounted for the greatest proportion of confirmed factors, followed by personnel-level factors and policy-level factors. The results of the study are intended to provide special education administrators with a set of evidence-based factors to inform the process of workload determination for itinerant TSVIs.
Given the predictive validity of early reading skills for future reading proficiency,early assessment and intervention in the primary grades are of vital importance. Thestakes are particularly high for those students who are deemed “at risk” for current andfuture reading problems. Students who are blind and read braille may be at enhanced riskfor literacy problems relating, for example, to reading speed and accuracy, or oral readingfluency (ORF) (Coppins & Barlow-Brown, 2006). However, the field of visualimpairment lacks a “body of empirically-based, experimental research” to inform thedevelopment and use of interventions to address such reading challenges (Ferrell, Mason,Young, & Cooney, 2006, p. 4).The purpose of this study is to build on the limited repeated reading research thatshows promise for improving ORF for students with visual impairments, targetingbraille-reading students evidencing ORF-related challenges in the critical primary grades.The intervention design was informed by the Instructional Hierarchy’s (Raring, Lovitt,Eaton, & Hansen, 1978) stage model of learning such that the intervention was matchedto the skill-based needs of the participants (Daly & Martens, 1994). Accordingly, theintervention drew heavily on empirically validated best practices, employing curriculum basedmeasurement (CBM) and user-friendly assessment materials to investigate theeffects of a repeated reading intervention on ORF within a Response to Intervention(RTI) framework.A nonconcurrent multiple baseline design was used to investigate whether therewas a functional relationship between the implementation of the repeated readingintervention and ORF and comprehension. Participants’ response to the intervention was measured using assessment materials designed as High Content Overlap (HCO) passagesand Low Content Overlap (LCO) passages. The study also investigated the social validityof the intervention for teachers for students with visual impairments (TVIs). Additionally,the study evaluated the effects of undertaking the intervention on participants’ selfperception as readers. TVIs were trained to implement the intervention with their studentsin their respective schools. Results indicated tentative support for the continuedinvestigation of reading intervention as a socially valid means of improving ORE andcomprehension for primary braille readers.
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.
The purpose of this research project was to explore how field experience can be used to increase understanding and researcher behaviours in young adults who are blind or visually impaired. This study probed effective teaching methods and solutions to accessibility issues through high-level participation in a field ecology research setting involving marine mammals. The weeklong program was executed in a pre-existing long-term gray whale ecology research site in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia. Four research questions guided the overall planning of the program. The concentration of effort was applied to adapting the field site and equipment in order for students to use and access the resources during planned multisensory activities. Three post-secondary students spent a week in the field becoming active marine mammal researchers. Data for this study were gathered through a variety of qualitative methods including vocabulary checklists, journal writing, a group case study and questionnaires. The results of this program have implications for educational opportunities by highlighting how addressing and offering learning tools that appeal to a variety of learners can create new and vital opportunities for students who are visually impaired.
The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that have influenced successful participation in physical activity of school-aged children and youth who are blind or visually impaired. Data for this study were gathered through analysis of the personal narratives of four blind, physically active young adults (one active adult and three competitive athletes) as they reflected on key childhood and youth experiences that positively influenced their participation in physical activity. Using a socio-ecological framework, the study sought to map out, in detail, the individual and interconnected factors (e.g. family, teacher, peer attitudes) that influenced success within and across three different environments (family, school and community). The results found common themes across participant narratives indicating identifiable success factors related to the family and school environments. While individual themes emerged related to the community environment, they did not recur across the participant narratives. Interconnections among the three environments were similarly evident in individual participant narratives, but no recurring themes were found for this across participant narratives. Taken as a whole, the results present a holist perspective of the complex web of factors that have helped craft successful experiences and foster continued participation in physical activity for the individuals in this study.