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Great Supervisor Week Mentions
I want to thank my great supervisor, Dr. Jennifer Vadeboncoeur, because she has taught me the difference between being a student and being a learner. Her invaluable guidance has pushed me beyond my limits not only as a researcher but as a person.
She is always available, supportive, and has opened many opportunities for her students including opportunities to teach, present at conferences, and publish papers. She's always there for her students when they need emotional support. She doesn't hesitate to spend her weekends to meet with students and support their academic progress. Above all, she has tremendous trust in her students and has a substantial impact on our self-esteem which directly affects our success in our program of study. I feel very fortunate to have been her student in the past four years.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Mar 2019)
Based upon Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, which emphasizes the interdependence between individuals and their sociocultural environments (Vygotsky, 1993; Wertsch, 1985), this generic qualitative study focused on the experiences of high school students with learning disabilities, as well as their perspectives and the perspectives of their parents on their experiences. The research questions guided this study were: 1) How do students describe their experiences of and perspectives on having learning disabilities? 2) How do parents describe their experiences of and perspectives on their child’s learning disabilities? 3) How do students describe their strengths and challenges in relation to their academic experiences in school? 4) How do parents describe their child’s strengths and challenges in relation to their academic experiences in school?Semi-structured and collaborative interviews with high school students and their parents, both separately and together were employed to answer the research questions. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using reflexive and iterative thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Findings were coded and five themes were constructed: identifying difficulties in learning; “testing” to diagnose a disability; searching for alternative learning settings; learning and teaching; and students’ strengths and challenges.Five conclusions based on the lived experiences of these students emerged. First, there was no systemic early identification and pedagogy in place in their schools. Second, students reported experiencing secondary disabilities as a result of interpreting their primary learning difficulty as “being stupid.” Third, participants reported the affordances and constraints of, what they called, “testing” for diagnosis of learning disabilities. Formal diagnosis did not seem to inform teaching and learning and was limited to allowing the noticeability of students in school and entry to specialized programs or schools. Fourth, the profound sociality of learning was evident as participants benefited from collaborative relationships with their peers and teachers. Fifth, malleability of learning was shown in students’ academic successes in schools with parents’ provision of support. Educational implications included the importance of educating for diversity in learning, the importance of academic assessments integrated with pedagogy, distinguishing early screening and diagnosis, and systemizing early screening of students’ strengths and challenges.
No abstract available.
This critical qualitative research investigated the meaning making practices of a group of 10 youth activists in a youth-driven social justice organization, called Think Again, located in Vancouver, BC. An overarching goal of this study was to contribute to scholarship concerned with how young people, as cultural producers, re/narrate what it means to be a young person in a neoliberal society. To this end, I explored the ways in which contemporary youth narratives, such as the “millennial youth” narrative, afford and constrain learning opportunities for specific groups of young people. My research questions were as follows: (1) In what ways can Think Again be described as a community of practice?; (2) What forms of participation are encouraged at Think Again?; (3) How does youths’ participation at Think Again support and/or challenge the broader social narratives of youth? and; (4) How do participants narrate their lived experiences and participation at Think Again? These questions allowed me to explore the potential disconnect between contemporary youth narratives and youths’ activist narratives to better understand how youths perceive of themselves and their lives within an evolving community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Analysis of the qualitative data was conducted at three levels in order to identify and examine: (1) narratives across the data, (2) traces of participation across youths’ constructions of knowing, being, and valuing, and (3) participation as future-making. This study resulted in four key findings. The first is a set of more nuanced counternarratives of what it means to be a “youth” today. The second attends to how thinking about learning as participation, a holistic endeavor, also entails changes in knowing, being, and valuing. The third outlines local opportunities for youth participation that generate the conditions for a “politics of possibility” (Holland & Gómez, 2013) as essential to personal and social transformation. The fourth addresses the changing face of youth activism in the contemporary neoliberal context. This study advances the fields of youth engagement, learning as participation, and qualitative methodologies by deploying narrative accounts of young people’s lived experiences.
Indian Punjabis constitute a large proportion of the immigrant population in the Lower Mainland of BC. By 2031, it is anticipated that South Asians will be the largest visibility minority group in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2005). As a result, the mental health needs of this population may soon have a large impact on mental health providers. The present study investigated how Punjabi immigrant women constructed the meaning of mental health through the following research questions: 1) How do Punjabi immigrant women define concepts related to mental health and illness?; 2) How are mental health services accessed and utilized by the participants?; 3) In what ways do the existing mental health services meet or fail to meet the needs of the participants?; 4) How can these services be made more culturally accessible?; and 5) How is mental health defined by prominent mental health organizations? Drawing from feminist post-colonial theory and utilizing a critical qualitative approach, the first segment of this study was a narrative analysis of qualitative interviews that enabled an understanding of the participants’ views of mental health and experiences accessing mental health services and; the second segment of the study critically analyzed documents pertaining to the meaning of mental health as defined by three prominent mental health organizations. The results of this study suggested that the participants’ conceptions of mental health shared some similarities with Western models. The meanings that the participants constructed for various concepts, and their underlying metaphors, however, differed from Western models of mental health. Further, cultural conventions and perceptions often affected how participants’ viewed mental health issues and the type of help they sought. Recommendations, limitations and challenges, and future directions are discussed. As critical research, the results of this study contribute to the ongoing development of a culturally responsive approach to health care provision.
Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
This study addressed a gap in the literature regarding Muslim educators’ perspectives on learning and development, and the practices they utilize and create with their students. Participant observation and active interviewing at a Sunni Muslim mosque school in Canada were the methods used to examine four educators’ perspectives on learning and development and how those perspectives were enacted in social practices. Sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1987, 1994) framed the study, defining learning and development as socially, culturally, and historically situated and mediated by social practices. Observations and interviews were analyzed using reflexive, ongoing thematic analysis that aimed to balance the analysis between the etic perspective provided by theory and the emic perspective of the researcher as a practicing Muslim. Three main themes were identified. First, for these educators, learning and development was interwoven with the Islamic system of principles and practices and contained unique developmental goals. Second, these educators used distinct Islamic social practices to mediate the Islamic system. Third, the pedagogies educators used in the classrooms, as integral components of the social practices, included some that were intrinsic to the Islamic social practices, some that the educators developed themselves, and some that emerged from the secular cultural context. The ways in which the educators used pedagogies to mediate the Islamic system had the potential to facilitate learning and development. Further research is required to examine how these pedagogies serve to expand and/or constrain learning and the cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual development of Muslim children. Limitations of this study included a small sample size, researcher biases against less-creative pedagogical approaches, like close-ended questioning, and partiality toward Islamic practices. As the learning and development of Muslim children is linked to the Islamic system of principles and practices, attention needs to be paid to enhancing developmental potential within this system, enriching intrinsic pedagogies and incorporating and Islamizing select extrinsic pedagogies. As mediators of both the Islamic system and secular cultural contexts, educators have the potential to enhance children’s development as Muslims, as agentic members of multiple cultural contexts, and as active participants in the re-interpretation of Islamic principles for the current age.
The current research used a Vygotskian approach, in particular his definitions of everyday and academic concepts, to examine the perspectives of two novice and two experienced science teachers on the relationship between theory and practice. Semi-structured and artefact-mediated interviews were used to examine novice and experienced science teachers’ definitions of theory, practice, and learning, as well as their experiences in teacher education, and their expectations for their future pedagogy. Thematic analysis was conducted to analyze and interpret the interviews and the artefacts produced. There were five findings that emerged from the research: different perspectives on theory and its role in decision-making processes; a shift in perspective on teaching practice, student practice, and learning; the importance of gaining teaching experience—and further education—in the development of effective teaching; how the role a teacher candidate plays, as a student or a teacher, affects their learning and identity construction and; the importance of the relationships between the university and the practicum school. There were eight barriers that appeared to affect teacher candidate learning and development that were identified in the research and eight recommendations were articulated to overcome these barriers. Three of the recommendations included: for teacher education programs to examine ways to make theory explicit and to discuss how to apply theory and practice; to develop assessments that assess teacher candidates’ understanding of theory and their ability to apply theory in practice; to increase time for guided dialogue and reflection around why certain strategies are used in different contexts and/or for different students and how theoretical grounding can help teachers think about approaching classroom interactions. Working toward the integration of everyday and academic concepts in teacher education may enable the development of theory and practice as related academic concepts, thus, improving their internalization as psychological tools that facilitate learning and development in classroom contexts.
The research reported here is based upon a critical qualitative study with six Early Childhood Educators (ECE) who had the experience of providing care and education to young children labeled with ASD in preschool/daycare classrooms. Three main research questions guided this study, including: What are the participants’ perspectives on inclusion? What factors are influential in their perspectives on inclusion? How do these perspectives on inclusion inform their practices? Six active interviews with the participants were conducted. Each interview was co-constructed by the research participant and the researcher through the interview dialogue as an interactional event. Theoretical thematic analysis, informed by Derridian deconstruction embedded in a social constructive epistemology, was employed to analyze the resulting interview transcripts. After each transcript had been analyzed, four meta-themes were identified across the transcripts to highlight the participants’ perspectives on inclusion: acceptance as advocacy, agency as conformity, othering as vulnerability, and knowledge as expertise. These meta-themes are mutually constitutive of what appears to be a highly constrained Discourse of inclusion. Implications for education, along with limitations of this study and ideas for future research, are addressed in the conclusion.
This thesis examined the representation of social actors responsible for sexual assault prevention published in media and police reports and grassroots poster campaigns that followed a series of sexual assaults perpetrated in Edmonton between May 2008 and March 2010. Reporting by Edmonton Journal, CBC News, and the published responses of the Garneau Sisterhood, a grassroots organization, was examined through a lens informed by feminist critical discourse analysis (FCDA). Using FCDA, I analyzed the ways in which the representations of social actors in these texts changed across time both linguistically and interdiscursively.Three main neoliberal discourses found to be operating in media representations of social actors in the Edmonton Journal and CBC News were discourses of individualization, authority, and feminization. An analysis of social actors in the media showed these assaults to be isolated and individualized crimes. In addition, media representation included an unquestioned deference to police authority in seeking solutions and justice, and the construction of rape-avoidance as a hegemonic norm of femininity. The main discourse found in the Garneau Sisterhood poster campaigns was a discourse of collective responsibility. Sexualized violence will not likely end without a shift in the culture of violence toward women. At a time when the federal government is defunding feminist advocacy and direct service organizations—forcing them to close or function precariously—the presence of collective-oriented, grassroots interruptions of normalized rape culture is both urgent and hopeful.
Vygotsky (1896-1934) was an eminent Soviet scholar who saw the fragmentation between Behaviourism, Gestalt Psychology, and Introspectionism as a “crisis in psychology,” (Wertsch, 1985) and aimed to construct a research methodology that applied Marx’s historical materialism to the psychological plane (Vygotsky, 1997c). To be able to both describe and explain the development of psychological processes unique to humans, the developmental history of the human species (phylogenesis), social practices and cultural tools and signs (sociocultural history), lifespan development (ontogenesis), and the development of psychological processes themselves (microgenesis) needed to be analyzed. Each developmental history, or genetic domain (Wertsch, 1985), has its own explanatory principle since the very mode of development changes. For phylogenesis, the explanatory principle is Darwin’s theory of natural and sexual selection. For sociocultural history, it is the decontextualization of mediational means. For ontogenesis, it is the dialectical relationship between the natural and cultural lines of development. For microgenesis, it is the interfunctional relationships between psychological processes (Wertsch, 1985). The purpose of this conceptual thesis was to apply the dialectical relationship Vygotsky explicated in ontogenesis—the dialectical relation between nature and culture—across the four genetic domains given current interdisciplinary research on the neurological underpinnings of development. The methodology of philosophical inquiry was used, consisting of an in-depth literature review, integration, and application. The conceptual thesis modified Vygotsky’s genetic method of analysis in two primary ways. First, the research gathered showed that the dialectical relationship between nature and culture could be grounded by research based on technologies not available to Vygotsky and applied across all four genetic domains. Second, there is a continuation of the natural and cultural lines from phylogenesis into sociocultural history given that the field of psychology no longer subscribes to the Critical Point Theory of the origin of culture (Geertz, 1973), which was popular during Vygotsky’s time. The conceptual analysis is followed by an application using the mathematical development of the concept of abstract number as an example. A visual figure provides a research framework for future research on psychological processes, emphasizing the dialectical relationship between nature and culture across all four developmental histories.
Research studies have consistently reported a correlation between exposure to appearancemedia and body dissatisfaction among young (and adult) women. The mainstream literature onbody dissatisfaction attributes body dissatisfaction to an uncritical consumption of media byyoung (and adult) women. The feminist literature on body dissatisfaction suggests that mediamessages are one aspect of the social subordination of women and that body dissatisfactionoriginates in unrealistic social expectations about the female body. This thesis examined howSeventeen textually constructs the female body. Through acts of linguistic and discursivesignification, the female body is homogenized and differences—in terms of race, ability, andsocial class, for example—are erased. Moving across a range of genres in Seventeen, thediscourses of heterosexuality, hedonism, paternalism, vulnerability, and altruism work togetherto universalize a singular perspective on the female body. Ultimately, Seventeen constructs thefemale body as a barrier to the aspirations of the subject occupying it. The female body isconstructed as a body that cannot gain attention without being constantly changed and made tolook different. Based on the analysis, this thesis recommends that educational interventions gobeyond media literacy and focus on media production: Eliminating body dissatisfactionnecessarily involves the production of an alternative female body. Future research needs toexamine the semiotic resources and media production support that can be offered to youngwomen in order to help them respond to the mainstream construction of the female body withtheir own alternative constructions.