Deborah Butler


Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Supporting all learners' engagement in a multicultural classroom using a culturally responsive self-regulated learning framework (2019)

No abstract available.

Collaborative inquiry: teacher professional development as situated, responsive co-construction of practice and learning (2011)

The research reported here grappled with the challenge of designing and facilitating teacher professional development that bridges theory and practice so as to enhance teacher practice and learning and student learning outcomes. A case study design was employed to study a community of inquiry (CoI) located within a Southern Arctic school district within which classroom teachers and special education teachers worked as partners to improve their writing instruction and increase access to learning and outcomes for students in inclusive classrooms. This research addressed three questions: (1) what practices did educators engage in as co-teachers within a CoI to consider, explore, and construct more inclusive writing instruction?; (2) how and why did collaborative, action-oriented inquiry cycles help teachers to develop understandings and practices that addressed, nurtured and supported diverse students’ literacy learning?; and (3) what conditions and qualities within professional development activities supported teacher learning and development of practice?. Findings suggested that teachers can make situated changes to practice that increase diverse students’ access to curriculum and learning when they: (1) set, enact, monitor and adapt context-specific goals for both students and themselves; (2) work collaboratively and problem-solve with others while trying to make shifts in practice; and (3) draw in resources as supports that can be adapted within their inquiries. In addition, co-teaching was found to be an approach that not only increased student access to curriculum and learning but had significant potential to support teacher learning and sustained shifts in practice. Implications for teachers’ learning, changes to practice, collaboration and professional development are discussed.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Experiences of responsibility and professionalism in an educational accountability context (2013)

This research project sought to explore how individuals working within a particular accountability context perceived their roles and responsibilities related to their participation in an educational change initiative. Accountability policies are often invoked in order to achieve desired improvements across educational systems, but managerial accountability in particular too often fails to effect the change it is intended to promote. Professional accountability has been called for in response to the shortcomings of managerial accountability. However, solely relying on professional accountability may inadequately address the complexities of change, and has led some to call for a combination of managerial and professional accountability. Secondary analysis of interview data from a larger, existing, longitudinal case study was employed to investigate educators’ experiences of accountability in educational change. In the larger project, a case study design was used to examine how members of a professional learning community (PLC) in one urban, inclusive, and multicultural school district in British Columbia made changes to practice in support of students’ learning through reading (LTR). In a secondary analysis of interviews from that study, conducted with 40 participants ranging from classroom teachers, teacher consultants, school- and district- level administrators regarding their experiences related to the change initiative, the present study addressed the following two research questions. From stakeholders’ perspectives: (1) How was professional responsibility evidenced within a professional learning community? (2) What conditions supported teachers to build from, and act upon, their sense of professional responsibility within the context of a larger accountability structure? Findings suggested that (1) participants evidenced professional responsibility in the ways they committed to continuous learning/improvement and focused on student needs; and (2) conditions supportive of professional responsibility were related to working in trusting relationships; availability of needed supports (e.g., from others, structures, resources, from different levels in the system); shared goals; and experiences of formalized accountability structures.

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How instruction supportive of self-regulated learning might foster self-efficacy for students with and without learning disabilities during literacy tasks (2011)

While self-efficacy (SE) and self-regulated learning (SRL) are key processes that are related to successful literacy performance, these are two areas where students often struggle, particularly students with learning disabilities (LD). Fortunately, research has identified instructional features that can be embedded in classrooms to support SRL. This study built from that research to investigate whether those SRL-supportive instructional features might also support students’ SE while working on literacy tasks in different kinds of classroom placements (inclusive, support, or pull-out). An instrumental qualitative case study design was used to examine the SE of seven intermediate students at different achievement levels, including three students with learning disabilities. Results revealed: (a) similarities across teachers working in different kinds of placements in their use of SRL-supportive instructional features, with some features being implemented with greater frequency and consistency, (b) relationships between environmental conditions and SE, such as the provision of choices, but also (c) the ways in which SE perceptions were mediated by students' perceptions of environmental conditions. Overall, cross-case analyses highlighted the complex, dynamic, and situated nature of SE, and identified ways in which environmental and personal factors interacted in students’ SE attributions. In closing the thesis, these results are considered in the context of previous research, and theoretical, methodological, and practical limitations, contributions and implications are outlined.

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ESL Students' Academic Help Seeking and Help Avoidance: An Exploratory Multiple-case Study in Secondary Classrooms (2010)

Help seeking (HS) is an important resource-management strategy in self-regulated learning (SRL). Although investigations on HS and help avoidance (HA) by first-language or fluent speakers in a single context have been plentiful, not enough is known about the impact of language and culture on second-language learners’ HS/HA across contexts. This study aimed to fill this knowledge gap by employing a case study design to produce holistic understanding about the dynamic and complex HS phenomenon in natural settings. The study was grounded in a sociocultural model of strategic HS in context within an SRL model. I adopted a comparative multiple-case design to examine the HS/HA of 9 secondary ESL students simultaneously enrolled in ESL and Humanities classes. Multiple sources of data were collected to construct rich profiles of individuals’ HS across classrooms. Cross-case patterns suggested important implications for practice and theory. For example, to facilitate student use of adaptive HS strategies, teachers need to foster students’ perceptions of HS benefits, diminish HS deterrents in classrooms, establish classroom norms favorable for HS, and provide help in ways that scaffold learning based on students’ current levels of knowledge and understanding. Theoretically, this study evidenced the potential utility of a sociocultural model that represents the complexity of factors involved in self-regulated learning and HS by students who are situated within socioculturally- and historically-delimited settings.

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Mathematical Flexibility (2010)

Mathematicians, mathematics researchers and educators are now arguing that an essential aim of mathematics education should be to equip students so they can adapt to new mathematical situations and use mathematics to solve authentic problems that arise in day-to-day life. This, mathematical flexibility – defined here as adaptation when dealing with number, magnitude or form – is important to mathematics researchers and educators, but the classroom context may not always promote flexibility. Building across converging lines of cognitive, social-psychological, and neuro-biological research, this study investigated whether mathematical flexibility might be profitably understood as a network of functional components. This study was designed to: 1) investigate the functional components of mathematical flexibility and contrast them with functional components of mathematical competence; and 2) evaluate the effectiveness of a network approach for understanding the relationship between environmental and individual components of mathematical flexibility. Results indicated that flexibility appeared to be associated with network activity which co-activated two or more other networks, while competence appeared to be characterized by a series of network activations which occurred individually and in sequence. Further, results suggested that the case study approach used here to identify network activity could reveal meaningful dynamics in network activity, and these dynamics could be related to flexible or competent performance. Implications for researchers and practitioners are identified in the discussion. However, because this study was constrained by the ways in which flexibility was conceptualized and features of the methodology, limitations and directions for future research are also suggested.

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