Yuen Sze Michelle Tan

Associate Professor

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


For always supporting, encouraging, stretching, and inspiring! 

Travis Fuchs (2019)


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.

Engaging in socially responsible science education (SRSE) : professional development of secondary science teachers through a learning study approach (2023)

In the revised provincial curriculum, secondary school science teachers in British Columbia, Canada, are expected to prepare students to critically understand and address socioscientific issues (SSI). SSI are issues pertaining to science and society that highlight risks and uncertainties in their development. Despite this new curricular initiative, professional development necessary to support these goals and teacher accounts detailing its actualization in classrooms remains limited. This study aims to support science educators (and, in turn, their students) in creating more just and sustainable futures through what I call socially responsible science education or SRSE.A 30-week professional development approach – a Learning study – was implemented to support and study four secondary teachers’ learning experiences toward SRSE. A Learning study is a collaborative action research variant that distinguishes itself through an explicit focus on theoretical perspectives. These perspectives help structure teachers’ classroom research, acting as a lens through which they collaboratively plan, enact, and evaluate classroom practices. In this work, Sjöstrom et al.’s (2017) Three Visions of Scientific Literacy Heuristic (3-VSL) was drawn on to frame participants' engagement in the Learning study.Data sources included transcripts of teachers' semi-structured interviews conducted before and after the study (n=8), audio-video recordings of Learning study meetings (n=26), lesson observations (n=22), and artifacts of teachers’ work (e.g., lesson plans). Sixty hours of audio-video recordings were transcribed and analyzed. By borrowing phenomenographic perspectives, I constructed three qualitatively different ways participants understood, enacted, and developed strategies to pursue SRSE. The description of the categories included several ways the teachers overcame challenges faced in SRSE. This study provides practical examples of SRSE approaches and illustrates how they might be effectively employed to support teachers’ evolving ideas, their classroom practice, and enrich students’ learning. The results showcase teacher and professional development attributes essential for SRSE adoption, offering considerations for teacher professional learning and development. This work makes novel contributions to teacher and science education scholarship. The 3-VSL is unique in Learning study literature – its employment supported the teachers in building and shifting their science education beliefs and practices towards action-oriented and emancipatory outcomes.

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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.

Teachers' perspectives of Ocean Literacy through an ethic of care (2021)

The world’s oceans face an uncertain future through human actions leading to environmental crises such as warming waters, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, and ecosystem collapse. Ocean education through ocean literacy is one approach to mitigate the consequences of our industrialized society by promoting awareness, connection, and caring for the ocean. This study sought to understand the perspectives of five teachers who experienced a module on ocean literacy through an ethic of care during an environmental education course. Nel Noddings’s ethics of care along with Peter Martin’s interpretations of her work within the context of environmental education provided a theoretical framework to guide the study. Qualitative research methods including structured interviews (surveys), semi-structured interviews, participant reflections, and research fieldnotes were used as data sources. By employing Miles and Huberman’s approach to thematic analysis, the findings were organized into three key themes which denoted how the teachers: (1) expanded their awareness of their relationship with the ocean; (2) increased their Ocean Literacy; and (3) increased their understanding of Ocean Literacy and the role of place in ocean education. Study findings indicated the teachers incorporated a growing awareness of their relationship with the ocean through reflection of past experiences. Recognizing the important role of companions and place was also an important contributor to their perspectives. This study’s findings have implications on how ocean education through ocean literacy, with an emphasis on an ethic of care can be framed in educational settings.

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Harkness and action research: activity and affect (2019)

No abstract available.

Focusing on the object of learning and the critical aspects: a case study of teacher candidates applying variation theory (2018)

In an attempt to bridge the theory and practice gap in teacher education, this study employed a learning study approach as a platform for teacher candidates to learn about variation theory. This study investigated teacher candidates’ experiences in applying variation theory in lesson planning and explored how teacher candidates identify the object of learning and the critical aspects. In groups of four to five, 27 teacher candidates participated in a learning study and worked collaboratively to plan science lessons either on the topic of genetics and cell division (biology) or rate of reaction (chemistry). The lesson planning was framed using variation theory. Guided by a descriptive case study approach, variation theory was employed as the theoretical framework and phenomenography was the methodological approach. Data sources included the teacher candidates’ lesson plans, the researcher’s field notes, and participant interviews. Data analysis included the construction of individual profiles of the teacher candidates, followed by a construction of three categories of description that build on each other. Arranged in increasing complexity, the categories included: (1) Analysing content knowledge in order to develop a coherent learning plan; (2) Reflecting on personal experiences and beliefs about teaching and learning; and (3) Developing knowledge about students and their prior knowledge as informed by external resources. These categories captured the different ways the teacher candidates identified the object of learning and the critical aspects during their lesson planning. The findings revealed the complex nature of this critical stage of planning a lesson based on variation theory.

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Current Students & Alumni

This is a small sample of students and/or alumni that have been supervised by this researcher. It is not meant as a comprehensive list.

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