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Research & Development Projects

 

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

LINCDIRE - LINguistic and Cultural DIversity Reinvented 

Project staff: Enrica Piccardo (Principal Investigator), Angelica Galante (RA), Yecid Ortega (RA), Kimberly Cho (GA).

Funding and Duration: SSHRC/ Partnership development Grant. 2015 -2018 

LINCDIRE, LINguistic and Cultural DIversity Reinvented, is a 3-year collaborative research project with Canadian, American, and French institutions: M’Chigeeng First Nation School, Institute for Innovation in Second Language Education, University of Toronto, University of Toronto Schools, University of New Brunswick, York University, University of Ottawa, Columbia University, and University of Grenoble. The goal of this project is to design and implement an online tool called LITE: Language Integration through E-portfolio (LITE). LITE will be used in language classrooms in primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions to enhance and maintain diversity by interconnecting a plurality of languages and cultures, including Aboriginal and heritage languages.

ACTION RESEARCH IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN CHILE - THE ARC INITIATIVE @ UPLA

Project staff: Antoinette Gagné (Principal Investigator), Marlon Valencia, Yecid Ortega, Andrea Mardones (Research Assistants), Danai Florou, Danielle Freitas, Heejin Song (GAs) Luis Minutti (Work/Study Program)


Funding and Duration: Non-funded, 2013-2015

This research and development (R&D) initiative at the University of Playa Ancha (UPLA) in Chile is focused on supporting action research among professors, teacher educators, school partners, and university students. The goal is the creation of a culture of research among discipline-focussed university professors, teacher educators, and school partners working in collaborative inquiry groups. Each group is linked to an international critical friend with similar interests.

The ARC/SIA bilingual website http://wordpress.oise.utoronto.ca/arc/ and the Pepper learning environment support this R&D initiative by providing virtual spaces for various types of collaboration. “Translanguaging” is the norm in these virtual spaces and this allows English and Spanish participants to access both the material and human resources. The project is in its first phase during which participants have been introduced to action research. This initiative is connected to the 2013-2016 Institutional


ASSESSING AND SUPPORTING CHILDREN'S ORAL LANGUAGE AND WRITING DEVELOPMENT THROUGH PLAY IN CLASSROOMS, DAYCARES AND HOMES IN NORTHERN COMMUNITIES

Project Staff: Shelley Stagg-Peterson (Principal Investigator), Eunice Jang, Janette Pelletier OISE/University of Toronto (Co-investigators), Laureen McIntyre, Laurie Hellsten-Bzovey - University of Saskatchewan Donna Forsyth, Karen Rempel - Brandon University
Funding and Duration:  SSHRC Partnership Grant, 2013-2020

This research aims to develop and evaluate a play-based assessment and instructional framework (Assessing Language through Play or ALP) that describes and supports young Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children’s oral language and writing development in an attempt to address achievement gaps that have social and cultural, as well as geographic dimensions.

The research program will take place in two phases over seven years in northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. Using design experiment methodology, community and university team members will collaboratively design, implement, and evaluate an innovative play-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment and instruction framework through multiple iterations over two years in Phase I. Also in Phase I, these team members will also co-create a professional development model that infuses Aboriginal perspectives, is responsive to the needs of educators in northern communities, and provides a foundation for sustainable capacity-building that is essential for strengthening northern communities’ educational practices.

Phase II will involve tracking approximately 800 children’s oral language and literacy development from the ages of 5-7 years. Treatment and comparison group data will be used to evaluate the ALP framework and to inform theories of oral language and writing development, early childhood education, Aboriginal education, assessment, and teacher education. Knowledge mobilization and capacity development are also important outcomes of Phase II, as community participants and researchers will support, using the collaboratively-created professional development model, a group of northern Canadian teachers from their own and other school districts in their implementation of the ALP framework. Interview and observational data will be used to evaluate the efficacy of the professional development model.

DIVERSITY IN TEACHING (DIT) WEBSITE  http://wordpress.oise.utoronto.ca/diversityinteaching/

Project staff: Antoinette Gagné, Clea Schmidt (University of Manitoba), Mariana Jardim (Education Commons), Marlon Valencia, Diane Dekker, Jiang Tianfei, Arif Anwar, and Paul Quinn (Graduate Assistants)
Funding and Duration:  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as part of an International Opportunities Fund Grant, 2012-ongoing

The main goal of the Diversity in Teaching is to promote discussions, sharing of resources and collaboration among educators, teachers and administrators from all over the world who share the belief that ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural and gender diversity in our classrooms will enhance the learning for all students. The DiT site includes information about events, projects, and resources related to teaching diverse learners and diversifying the teaching force with numerous ways to become involved.  It is possible to submit a profile to the DiT Community, let others know about an upcoming conference or workshop, share resources, react to some of the videos or respond to one of the surveys.

TEACHING AND LEARNING SPANISH ONLINE: ACTION RESEARCH AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR LANGUAGE TEACHER EDUCATORS

Project staff: Antoinette Gagné, Carrie Chassels (University of Toronto), Marlon Valencia (University of Toronto), Clea Schmidt (University of Manitoba), Geraldine Smyth (University of Strathclyde), Kirsten Lauritsen (Nord-Trøndelag University College)
Funding and Duration: Non-funded, 2013-ongoing

For more than a year, six experienced educators have engaged in critical ethnographic action research focused on teaching/learning Spanish using a comprehensive website complemented by virtual meetings in different Canadian and European cities. Data collection strategies have included videotaping of virtual meetings, a learning blog, electronic documents, and triple entry journals. Using a critical theoretical lens drawing on Bakhtin’s understandings of discourse as situated in social context and influenced by multiple positions, the collaborative inquiry group are documenting what they have learned about 1) themselves as language learners and teachers, 2) aspects of learning and teaching including the role of feedback, assessment activities, interaction with other learners and the teacher, authentic experiences, types and nature of learning activities and practice, culture, and homework. This study was initiated as PD to better understand learning an additional language mediated with online tools to inform our practice as language TEs. However, it has also allowed us to reflect on the knowledge bases of language teachers and language TEs, and how these overlap and intersect.

PREVIOUS RESEARCH PROJECTS

A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON LEARNING TO WRITE FROM SOURCES FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES

Project Staff: Alister Cumming (Principal Investigator); HyeYoon Cho and Conttia Man Lai (Graduate Assistants)
Funding and Duration: Non-funded, 2013-2014

A major challenge for students learning to write for academic purposes is developing the ability to integrate source material effectively into written compositions. This project is a systematic synthesis of research publications that have investigated writing from sources from a variety of analytic perspectives and in diverse contexts internationally, including students in universities, colleges, and secondary schools. Five general claims emerged across our analyses of 49 empirical studies published in refereed journals in English since 1993. Each claim warrants further research, evaluation, and refinement: (1) students experience difficulties with the complex processes of writing from sources but can overcome these with certain strategies; (2) prior knowledge and experience influence students’ performance in reading-to-write tasks; (3) performance in reading-to-write tasks varies by task conditions and types of texts; (4) differences appear between L1 and L2 students in their understanding and uses of sources in writing; (5) instruction can help students improve their uses of sources in their writing.


A VALIDATION STUDY OF IMPLICIT MEASURES OF SECOND LANGUAGE KNOWLEDGE

Project Staff:  Nina Spada (Principal Investigator) Meng-Ying (Daphne) Lin, (Graduate Assistant); Yasuyo Tomita and Shiu Li Ju (Research Assistants)
Funding and Duration: SSHRC Institutional Grant, 2011-2014

This research project was motivated by the need for more systematic investigation into the validity of implicit measures of L2 knowledge in instructed SLA research.  Previous research has shown that tasks with specific design features (e.g., time constraints, focus on meaning, low degree of awareness) are conducive to the access and retrieval of implicit knowledge. One task that is considered to have great promise as a measure of implicit knowledge is elicited imitation (EI).  However, research investigating the validity and reliability of EI tasks is limited. Using factor analyses, we carried out a validation study by comparing L2 learners’ performance on an EI with their performance on other language measures hypothesized as measures of explicit and/or implicit knowledge.


COMPARING TOEFL IBTTM SPEAKING TASKS WITH PERFORMANCE ON REAL-LIFE ACADEMIC SPEAKING ACTIVITIES

Project Staff: Merrill Swain (Principal Investigator); Lindsay Brooks (Project Coordinator)
Funding and Duration: Educational Testing Service, 2010-2013

In this project we compared test-takers’ performances on TOEFL iBT speaking tasks and their performances during real-life academic speaking activities. Thirty international graduate students from mixed language backgrounds, and different disciplinary backgrounds, participated in the study. We recorded our participants’ performances in the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT and their performances in one in-class activity and in one out-of-class activity. We obtained stimulated recalls from half the students about their speaking performances in these three contexts, and interviewed all our participants about their perceptions of speaking.

In our analyses of the participants’ speaking (examining grammatical, discourse and lexical features), reported strategy use and in analyzing their perceptions, we have demonstrated that there are distinct differences in their performances and their perceptions of their performances across contexts. Our findings, therefore, raise questions about extrapolating from the TOEFL Speaking test items to real-life academic speaking contexts.  Additional analyses will be conducted during 2014-15.  At present, one article is in press (see publication section) and another one has been submitted for publication.  Three papers based on this study have been presented at AAAL conferences.


DIVERSE TEACHERS FOR DIVERSE LEARNERS (DTDL): A NORDFORSK RESEARCH NETWORK

Project staff: Antoinette Gagné, Clea Schmidt (University of Manitoba), and Hanna Ragnarsdottir (University of Iceland), and additional partners from Scotland, Finland, Iceland, and Norway.
Funding and Duration: The Nordforsk Foundation, 2011-2014
This project includes senior researchers and graduate students from Finland, Iceland, Norway, the UK and Canada, whose research touches on the aspects of diversity in teaching. This group has met 5 times since October 2011 and will have a final meeting in May 2014 to allow team members to create a research agenda, carry out a number of comparative projects and prepare joint publications on interrelated topics ranging from the diversification of the teaching force and inclusive teaching strategies to the experiences of immigrant children and youth and leadership for diversity. The meetings have taken place in Finland, Iceland, Norway, the UK and Canada.

ELECTRONIC INTERLANGUAGE PRAGMATICS (EILP)

Project Staff:  Julie Kerekes (Principal Investigator); Zhanna Perhan (Co-Author); Nobuko Fujita (Co-Author)
Funding and Duration: Non-funded

This investigation of email communications as a learning tool for English-learning and English-proficient graduate students has resulted in three manuscripts (two under review and one being completed).  One examines, quantitatively, the pragmatics of greetings and closings in communications between lower- and higher-status interlocutors.  A second is its qualitative counterpart, analyzing the co-construction, over time, of rapport-building strategies between these interlocutors.  And the third examines email as a tool used by graduate students and their professors for academic socialization as well as subject-matter learning.


ENGLISH INSTRUCTION IN CATALUNYA PRIMARY SCHOOLS: AN ENRICHMENT PROGRAM OF SELF-DIRECTED READING/LISTENING

Project Staff: C. Muñoz and E. Tragant (Principal Investigators); N. Spada (Consultant)
Funding and Duration: Ministry of Education Catalunya, 2012-2014

This research project is intended to increase the opportunities for more ‘quality’ input by providing primary students of English as a foreign language in Spain with extended periods of self-directed silent reading and listening in English. The progress of learners in an experimental input enrichment group will be compared with learners in a control group who will receive traditional teacher-led instruction. The motivation for this research is based on the observation that in primary schools in Spain, English instruction is based on textbooks that offer limited input and are sequenced in terms of grammatical forms. There is also a tendency to expose students to activities that are highly controlled with few opportunities for learner language production. In addition, many students tend to have little contact with English outside the instructional context. As a result foreign language learning tends to be a very slow process. The goal of this research is to investigate whether opportunities for greater input via self-directed reading and listening will lead to higher levels of English language ability for this group of learners and if so, to determine how English language input enrichment programs can be best implemented on a large scale in primary schools in Spain.


ENHANCING INTERNATIONALLY EDUCATED NURSES’ LANGUAGE COMPETENCIES:  FAIR AND EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS CHANGE

Project Staff: Lillie Lum, RN, Ph.D., and Pat Bradley, RN, Ph.D. (Principal Investigators); Julie Kerekes and Antonella Valeo (Co-Investigators)
Funding and Duration: Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, 2011-2014

This project looks at the role of pragmatic competence in internationally educated nurses’ (IENs’) communicative success in clinical settings. Analyses of transcripts of IENs’ performance in nursing assessments, which include clinical role-plays, indicate that pragmatic competence is not enough to combat sociopolitical ideologies that prevent many IENs from becoming gainfully employed in their profession.


EVALUATION OF THE HAMILTON-WENTWORTH DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD MANDARIN PROGRAM OF CHOICE AT PRINCE PHILIP JUNIOR PUBLIC SCHOOL: PHASE 3

Project Staff:  Jim Cummins, Becky Chen Bumgardner, and Jia Li
Funding and Duration:  Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board through the Council of Directors of Education (CODE), 2012-2014

This project continues the evaluation of the Mandarin-English bilingual program initiated by the HWDSB with specific focus on the relationship between students’ progress in Mandarin and English literacy and their Grade 3 EQAO results. In previous phases of this project, it was reported that students in the bilingual program were progressing well in both English and Chinese literacy. The present phase will relate these findings to mandated provincial assessments at the Grade 3 level.


EWIS (EXPRESSIVE WRITING AND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS)

Project Staff: Enrica Piccardo (Principal Investigator) Alesia Malek (Research Assistant)
Funding and Duration: Non-funded

This project aims at studying the potential of expressive/creative writing to promote effective language proficiency among international tertiary students. The first phase of the project has included a survey of international students both at the University of Toronto and in different contexts. A second phase is foreseen with new data collection (interviews and focus groups) and an article is in preparation.


INTERNATIONALLY EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS PROJECT (IEPRO)

Project Staff:  Julie Kerekes (Principal Investigator); Yulia Smirnova and Chris Harwood (Graduate Assistants)
Funding and Duration: Funding completed (SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2008-2012)

This project investigates the role of second language ability and second language learning in the identity and employment trajectories of internationally educated professionals (IEPs) in the Greater Toronto Area.  In the past year, data from interviews with internationally educated teachers have been analyzed, and two manuscripts have been drafted.


LEARNING ABOUT SELF AND THE WORLD BEYOND: CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE CLUBS IN HIGH SCHOOLS

Project Staff: Antoinette Gagné (Principal Investigator), Stephanie Soto Gordon (Field Partner), Genna Megaw (Videographer), Marlon Valencia, Diane Dekker, and Paul Quinn (Graduate Assistants)
Funding and Duration: Inquiry into Practice Project, 2012-2014

The research study builds on the successes of the five DVDs and resources guides in the Growing New Roots Series as well as a Ministry-funded Speak Up Project at WL Mackenzie CI focusing on the impact of club involvement for English languages learners.  This study focuses on the role of cultural, religious and social justice clubs in terms of student participation and identity development in four TDSB secondary schools as well as among members of the Student SuperCouncil. The study explores 1) the impact of cultural, religious or social justice club involvement on students, 2) the type of relationships students develop as a result of their membership in cultural, religious or social justice clubs and 3) what students learn from their peers in these clubs and how this relates to their understanding of themselves and the world beyond.  An online survey and videotaped focus group interviews are our two main sources of data. Study findings and video clips highlighting key themes are posted on the DiT - Diversity in Teaching website http://wordpress.oise.utoronto.ca/diversityinteaching/projects/project-4/ along with related resources on cultural, religious and social justice clubs.


NEW LITERACIES PERSPECTIVES AND PRACTICES IN TEACHING AND LEARNING: AN ACTION RESEARCH STUDY

Project Staff: Jill McClay, University of Alberta (Principal Investigator) Shelley Stagg Peterson (Co-investigator) Christine Portier (Research Assistant)
Funding and Duration: SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2010-2013

Jill McClay and I investigated grades 4-8 teachers’ transition to using digital affordances and multimedia to teach writing. We examined issues related to teachers’ action research as they developed new teaching practices that used Web 2.0 technologies, as well as students’ contributions to wikis and their demonstration of content knowledge through their collaborative and independent writing.


PLP (PERSONAL LANGUAGE PORTFOLIO)

Project Staff: Enrica Piccardo (Principal Investigator) Co-applicant Dr. Aline Germain-Rutherford, Middlebury College, USA, Co-applicant Dr. Anette Guse, University of New Brunswick, Collaborator Norman Sieweke, Institute for Innovation in Second Language Education, Edmonton Public Schools, Collaborator Dr. Sandra Styres, OISE – University of Toronto, Angelica Galante, Kate Higgins and Alice Meyers  (Graduate Assistants)
Funding and Duration: SSHRC Institutional Grant 2012-2014 & 2014-2015 and Departmental funding

This research aims at valuing Canadian and North American linguistic and cultural diversity and at facilitating plurilingualism and explicit language focus in Canadian and North American classes. On the basis of the results of current research on plurilingualism in link with the Common European Framework of Reference for languages and the European Language Portfolio this research is studying the potential benefits of a newly conceived Personal Language Portfolio (PLP) in the Canadian context. It is a developmental research that aims at creating and piloting a new tool, the PLP, in different Canadian provinces and in a US institution. After analyzing institutional documents and studies, relevant scientific literature and different models of existing portfolios, the research has moved to a preliminary collection of data through interviews with Aboriginal educators and through the feedback of the implementation of a newly conceived portfolio in Middlebury College. The team is now creating the first part of the PLP, i.e. an online master template which will allow users to upload and organize portfolio content in different languages. During the second phase we will create a prototype of PLP specially adapted to the Canadian context, including both Canadian official languages, one aboriginal language (Ojibwe) and one heritage/international language (German). A testing phase will follow which will guide the development of the tool and also an analysis of its potential impact on language learning. This first phase of the project is a small-scale study in view of developing a larger, more ambitious one in this domain. The first phase of this project has in fact informed a proposal for a larger pan-Canadian and international research involving several languages and technologies.


RECIPROCAL LEARNING IN TEACHER EDUCATION AND SCHOOL EDUCATION BETWEEN CANADA AND CHINA

Project Staff:  Shijing Xu and Michael Connolly (Project leaders); Jim Cummins (Co-applicant)
Funding and Duration: SSHRC Partnership Sub-Grant, 2013-2015

This SSHRC Partnership Project, granted to the University of Windsor, involves two Canadian and five Chinese universities, two Canadian school boards and over forty Canadian and Chinese schools. The project is Co-Directed by Professors Xu Shijing, University of Windsor and Michael Connelly, OISE/UT and is advised by an International Advisory Committee. University of Toronto professors Doug McDougall, Grace Feuerverger, Jim Slotta, Jim Cummins, Jim Hewitt, Gila Hanna, Ruth Hayhoe, Linda Cameron, Mark Evans, and Lee Bartel are Co-Applicants and Collaborators.

The research program extends and integrates two programs: the University of Windsor -Southwest University, China, Teacher Education Reciprocal Learning Program, and the Shanghai-Toronto-Beijing Sister School Network. Seven research teams, each with Chinese and Canadian team leaders, faculty membership and graduate students, define the research scope: Arts and Humanities Education, General Education and Culture, Information Technology and Communication (ITC), Language and Culture Education, Mathematics Education, Science Education, and Teacher Education. The purpose is to create a comprehensive cross-cultural knowledge base and understanding of school education, teacher education and the cultural contexts for education in Canada and China. Researchers will begin with national surveys and the review of educational policy and relevant literature. The main research activity will be school visits to document classroom teaching and other school activities.

Research findings will be presented at annual general meetings held at Partner universities. The work will be mobilized for academic, professional and public audiences by traditional methods and by the use of an electronic communication platform developed by the ITC Research Team.


RESLE (THE ROLE OF EMPATHY IN SECOND LANGUAGE EDUCATION)

Project Staff: Enrica Piccardo (Principal Investigator) Carolyn Piersma and Burcu Yaman (Research Assistants) Marie-Emilie Masson and Eleonora Maldina (Graduate Assistants), Joëlle Aden, Université du Maine (Research collaborator), Claire Lepetit (Research Assistant)
Funding and Duration: Connaught New Researcher Grant 2011-2013 and SSHRC Institutional Grant

This interdisciplinary and international project investigates the role of literary narratives in second language education (SLE) through the emotional lens of empathy. Particularly, the study aims at investigating reading comprehension in SL through the targeted use of emotionally relevant literary narratives. Situated within an interdisciplinary context, the research focuses on how empathy and emotional resonance can positively affect L2 learning through a deep understanding of characters and situations in literary narratives. To understand a situation in a SL, one needs to be aware of the fact that perception is a multifaceted notion, which involves predicting, remembering and imagining, and which interrelates with emotion. During this past year narrative text have been presented to teenage SL learners for exploring their emotional reactions to them, and for testing their level of empathy towards specific characters. All data collection with teenagers has been completed in 2013. The second phase of the data collection with young adult SL learners has been completed in early 2014. Data are presently been coded and analyzed. The research is being conducted in Canada and in France following the same protocol for ESL and FSL students. On the topic of empathy and its role in SL acquisition in link with plurilingualism, a book chapter has been written and is under press with Multilingual Matters. An article cosigned by the Canadian staff involved in the project is under review. A  presentation will be given at the CAAL/ACLA conference and another at the CATR/ACRT conference both In St Catherine in May. 


 

 

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