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RESEARCH & INNOVATION

Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2013-2014 SSHRC Insight Grant, Insight Development Grant and Connections Grant Competitions!

Building knowledge, understanding about people, and addressing societal challenges and opportunities are a few of the objectives for SSHRC. In 2013-2014, five OISE faculty members won the Insight Grant competition, three OISE faculty members won the SSHRC Insight Development Grant competition, and two received the Connection grant awards. The winning proposals offer an exciting look into new approaches to teaching, youth engagement, digital literary practices, the value of play, and knowledge mobilization.

SSHRC Insight Grant (2013 competition)

Kathleen Gallagher
Title:
Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement 

Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández and Suzanne Stewart
Title: Youth Solidarities Across Boundaries
Gila Hanna
Title: Factors in Reconstructing a Mathematical Proof: Implications for Mathematics Education

Kang Lee
Title:  Development of Honesty and Trust in Children: East-West Comparisons 

Marlene Scardamalia
Title: Digitally-Mediated Group Knowledge Processes to Enhance Individual Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy

SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2014 competition)

Patricia Ganea
Title: An examination of the educational potential of interactive touch-screen media for young children
Angela Pyle
Title: How can children develop literacy skills through play? A study of the play-literacy interface in full-day kindergarten classrooms
Rob Simon
Title: The Minecraft Project: Exploring videogames as a platform for teaching and learning

SSHRC Connections Grant (2014 competition)

Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández
Title: Researching Elite Education: Addressing the Conceptual, Methodological and Ethical Challenges
Clare Kosnik
Title: Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education for the Digital Era: Teacher Educators, Literacy Educators, and Digital Technology Experts Working Together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

SSHRC Insight Grant (2013 competition)

Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement

Principal Investigator: Kathleen Gallagher, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning

Professor Kathleen Gallagher, an international expert in drama pedagogy and digitized theatrical performance at OISE/UT has been awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant of over a quarter of a million dollars, titled Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement. She argues that the lives, and life prospects, of young people have been destabilized by global economic and political uncertainty. The research aims, therefore, to initiate and document the relationship between creative drama activity and youth engagement with civic life in schools and communities in Canada, England, Greece, India and Taiwan. The research will interrogate the connection between engaged youth and a thriving democracy by examining the aspirational ideals of democratic theories, the pragmatic conditions of classrooms, and a theatre pedagogy focused on collectively produced and digitally shared work.  In this research, Gallagher will engage youth in performative storytelling using a combination of theatrical, popular and scholarly discourses. The aim here is to challenge the global misrecognition of youth as apathetic and civically disengaged.  The research activities focus on the collective production and sharing of 'live’ and ‘digital’ data that emerge in the different theatre-making contexts. To probe further the interrelationship between engaged youth and a thriving democracy, Gallagher proposes to position youth as co-researchers, where they create and document through video the production of their live performances, sharing these across sites and engaging in virtual dialogue.  Ultimately, the perspectives and art practices of socio-economically challenged youth living in diverse contexts will be captured through the: (a) examination of the cultural contexts of their schools/theatre organizations, (b) interviewing of key players in the schools and communities, (c) creation of digital productions of their arts practices across research sites, and (d) engagement in collaborative analysis of the ‘live’ and ‘digital’ data. These activities will build a theoretically rich and empirically grounded account of the ways in which the concepts of hope and care function in the lives of young people today and in turn how participation in artistic practices and local-global social relations might provoke forms of engaged citizenship worth considering in times of increasing youth social unrest.

 

Youth Solidarities Across Boundaries

Principal Investigator: Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning

Co-Investigator: Suzanne Stewart, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Professors Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández and Suzanne Stewart are the recipients of $400,000 in funding from the 2013 SSHRC Insight Grant competition for their project on Aboriginal and Latino/a youth in Toronto public schools. In Gaztambide-Fernández and Stewart's words, “Aboriginal and Latino/a immigrant youth face challenging circumstances affecting their schooling, like poverty, racism, and colonial curriculum.” The research team will engage these youth through Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to better understand what youth identify as the key dynamics affecting their school engagement and how they develop strategies for better understanding these dynamics. This research is guided by decolonizing frameworks from critical race theory and Indigenous conceptions of knowledge. In essence, the decolonizing framework positions Aboriginal and Latino/a youth as critical researchers and agents of change. In this model, youth are placed at the centre of the inquiry process where they will critically examine their roles in and contributions to the public school environment. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is the partner host of this research since it aims to enhance access and inclusivity that will have immediate benefits for the students. The proposal involves two teams of researchers, each one led by one of the co-applicants, one TDSB teacher, and two graduate student research assistants as the adult facilitators for the school-based youth groups. As Gaztambide-Fernández and Stewart summarize, “each school-based youth group will examine what it means to apply knowledge in different contexts and how social categories influence perceptions of and relationships to knowledge”.  Specifically, the youth will reflect on social science issues and theories, devise and revise research questions, explore multiple modes of data collection and analytical approaches and further defining research projects. Essentially, these students will be taught about the research process and analyze the validity of the process from a critical race, ethnic, and Indigenous knowledge perspective and lens. The youth will collectively define the parameters for dissemination of the findings and organize pubic events for their peers, teachers, parents, as well as other scholars and community members. Ultimately, this research will provide a forum and space for voices of the youth, a project that is enacted by youth, with the youth, for the youth.

 

Factors in Reconstructing a Mathematical Proof: Implications for Mathematics Education

Principal Investigator: Gila Hanna, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning

Professor Gila Hanna is a winner of the 2013 SSHRC Insight Grant competition. Her project will address from a new point of view the general question that has been the focus of much of her past research: How mathematics educators should approach the teaching of proof. As a central idea in mathematics, proof forms part of the mathematics curriculum, but there is a great need for guidance on how best to teach proving, and in particular on how to have students understand and remember proofs. Professor Hanna’s point of departure is the recognition that a proof is not only a formal derivation, but a rich interplay of mathematical concepts and methods that offer the key to understanding. Her research will investigate a promising new approach to the teaching of proving: identifying the factors that favour the reconstruction of a proof. This approach is based upon ideas presented by Gowers (2007), a winner of the Fields Medal. It takes to heart his observation that practicing mathematicians actually remember a proof, and thus are able to reconstruct it, not by memorizing its technical details but by remembering the few important ideas upon which it is based. Believing that this approach might have value in the classroom as well, Professor Hanna and her colleagues have suggested that students create narrative accounts of a proof, i.e. succinct personal stories of the key ideas that brought them to an understanding of the proof. The new SSHRC research project will test the conjectures that key ideas form the best basis for the reconstruction of mathematical proofs by students, and that it is easier for students to understand and reconstruct a proof when they have each created for themselves a mathematical précis of the proof that identifies its key ideas.

Reference

Gowers, W. T. (2007). Mathematics, memory and mental arithmetic. In M. Leng, A. Paseau & M. Potter (Eds.) Mathematical knowledge (pp. 33-58). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

Development of Honesty and Trust in Children: East-West Comparisons

Principal Investigator: Kang Lee, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Supported by SSHRC since 1995, Professor Kang Lee and his colleagues have been awarded almost $500,000 from the 2014 SSHRC Insight Grant competition. Kang Lee is a world renowned expert and scientist in the area of moral development in children. His award winning proposal examines and studies the Eastern and Western differences between trust formations in children aged 7-15 years. As he eloquently summarizes, “Trust is fundamental to interpersonal relationships. Trust strengthens the bonds among individuals whereas mistrust weakens them. Honesty is one of the major factors that contribute to trust.” Previous research completed by Lee et al. found that while all children from all cultures can be dishonest, there are significant cultural explanations for differences that exist in dishonesty in children from Chinese-Canadian born children. One of the major differences Lee found was that dishonesty in Canadian children was due to avoid harm, but in Chinese children it is to save face. Chinese children favor lying to conceal personal good deeds to show modesty whereas Canadian children favor truth-telling of their own good deeds to promote self-esteem. Chinese children will prefer truth- or lie-telling for the collective at the expense of a friend, whereas Chinese-Canadian children will keep loyalties to a best friend. It seems in the Chinese culture, white lies are used to spare feelings of hurt commonly told through blunt truths. These significant advances in understanding of cultural East-West differences inform the reasoning processes of children through a cultural lens. Ultimately, this exciting research will aim to develop cultural sensitive honesty- and trust-promoting strategies to help immigrant children from Eastern countries to adjust to the new Canadian culture without much conflict and misunderstanding.

 

Digitally-Mediated Group Knowledge Processes to Enhance Individual Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy

Principal Investigator: Marlene Scardamalia, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning

Professor Marlene Scardamalia’s 2014 SSHRC Insight Grant has been awarded close to $500,000 in research funds. Marlene Scardamalia is a renowned cognitive scientist known internationally for her research in the area of Knowledge Building and her technology Knowledge Forum™. Her proposal to SSHRC focuses on the Digital Economy priority area which places significant emphasis on the interrelationship between digital technologies and the learning environment.  

Scardamalia's proposal represents a large and sustained effort to investigate the potential of digital technology to help schools respond to two imperatives: to raise achievement levels---especially in reading, writing, and mathematics---and to help achieve governmental and private-sector objectives of innovativeness. New technology opens possibilities for schools to do both within a coherent and manageable 'education for innovation' framework. The project's strategy is to bring the kind of creative knowledge work practiced by knowledge-creating companies and research centres into classrooms and shape it toward the production of knowledge that advances literacy and numeracy. Chances for success are enhanced by the convergence of three initiatives: (1) a large-scale instructional improvement initiative by the Ontario Ministry of Education, aimed particularly at achievement in literacy and numeracy; (2) a well-recognized Canadian-made international program of research-based innovation, Knowledge Building, which has won numerous awards and is aimed particularly at engaging students collaboratively in sustained creative work with ideas; and (3) an international open source technology development effort aligned with project purposes.  Partners to the research include the Ministry of Education Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Education Quality and Accountability Office, Ontario Principal's Council, and Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study.

 

SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2014 competition)

An examination of the educational potential of interactive touch-screen media for young children

Principal Investigator: Patricia Ganea, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Professor Patricia Ganea is a winner of the 2013 SSHRC Insight Development Grant of $75,000 over a period of two years. Her research will examine when and how children learn from electronic devices and from their early media interactions. Ganea builds on evidence about infants' learning from traditional symbolic media (e.g., videos and books) and from their interactions with other people to identify 1) how parents and infants interact when using new media, and 2) beneficial media features that provide added support for learning from new media. Ganea’s work addresses two important early learning domains:  language and cause-and-effect actions, and also focuses on four critical attributes of new media interactions:  parent language, manipulative features, active learning, and feedback.
 
The long-term goal of the project is to combine what learning outcomes are required to design optimally educational e-books for use with both typical and atypical populations. High-quality media can be developed for parents to use with their young children as an enjoyable educational tool. With more knowledge about the supports for learning from media available at younger ages, interventions may also be developed for use with infants and toddlers who are at risk, such as those at-risk for autism and those who often learn language slowly from face-to-face interactions. Ganea’s goal is to explore possible ways in which learning from electronic media can be enhanced through four critical attributes: parent language, supportive manipulative features/hotspots, contingency with feedback, and active learning.

 

How can children develop literacy skills through play? A study of the play-literacy interface in full-day kindergarten classrooms

Principal Investigator: Angela Pyle, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Professor Angela Pyle from the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study is the recipient of a SSHRC Insight Development Grant of $70,000 over a period of two years. Her award-winning research focuses on the integration of play-based learning and literacy development in Full-Day Kindergarten classrooms in Ontario. Ontario's Full Day Kindergarten maintains the academic expectations of prior curricula while mandating the use of play-based programming. The maintenance of these academic expectations acknowledges the importance of supporting student development of critical skills, such as reading and writing. The development of these literacy skills is critical to children's learning. However, supporting the development of these skills in the context of play is a challenging task. One approach that Pyle is exploring is the integration of the teacher into children's play where the children's natural curiosity leads them to initiate an inquiry and the teacher extends this play to support the inclusion of academic skills. Pyle gives an example of what this looks like in practice: For example, participants in one classroom co-created a class bank to support their learning about money. Within this context, the teacher provided formal instruction about concepts of money, the students and educators collaboratively determined the resources to be included in the play-based centre, and the students played freely within the centre (Pyle, 2013). The outcome of this research is predicted to deepen the understanding around this critical gap, and make more explicit to parents, educators and educational researchers the value of play in the learning of literacy skills.

Reference

Pyle, A. & DeLuca, C. (2013). Assessment in the kindergarten classroom: An empirical study of teachers’ assessment approaches. Early Childhood Education Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10643-012-0573-2

 

The Minecraft Project: Exploring videogames as a platform for teaching and learning

Principal Investigator: Rob Simon, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning

Professor Rob Simon is the recipient of a 2014 SSHRC Insight Development Grant of over $70,000 for a 2 year study on understanding the value of Minecraft in educational settings. Minecraft  is like a virtual LEGO. This software is a game about breaking and placing blocks. As Simon summarizes in his proposal, “Players use 3D building blocks representing wood, glass, stone, as well as text and other materials, to construct buildings, homes and even cities”. These models have been used by educators and urban planners in the planning and building of communities. One significant use of Minecraft has been for the project “Block by Block” where the developer of Minecraft, Mojang, partnered with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) to “provide local communities in developing countries input on urban redevelopment, without the need for sophisticated architectural software” (Meneh, 2012).

In the context of education, researchers and developers in Finland and the United States have developed a version of Minecraft for schools called MinecraftEdu. In this sense, Minecraft, as described in Simon’s proposal, is “a writerly platform offering players endless choices for constructing and even programming their own inventions, structures and narratives”. For examples of such creative and useful school-based Minecraft inventions, please see the compiled YouTube video of teacher and student creations at: Minecraft in School - Student and Teacher Creations 2012 and Welcome to the Minecraft in School Wiki!

Simon intends to develop a Gaming Pedagogy Framework in the project including activities and curriculum for adoption in classrooms. Uses of curricula that will provide insights into the nature of the pedagogical affordances of these projects will be documented. This project will inform undergraduate and graduate teacher training and learning in order to understand youth digital literacy practices in Toronto classrooms.

Reference

Manneh, C. (2012, September 5). Mojang and UN presents: Block by Block. Available online at: https://mojang.com/2012/09/mojang-and-un-presents-block-by-block/

 

SSHRC Connections Grant (2014 competition)

Researching Elite Education: Addressing the Conceptual, Methodological and Ethical Challenges

Principal Investigator: Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning

Professor Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández is the recipient of a 2014 SSHRC Connection Grant. As part of the knowledge mobilization initiative, Gaztambide-Fernández will be hosting a three-day conference to enhance multidisciplinary research on elite education by paying critical attention and bringing fresh thinking to current theoretical and methodological debates and issues. As his research title encapsulates, “Researching Elite Education: Addressing the Conceptual, Methodological and Ethical Challenges,” this conference will bring together researchers, educators, and graduate students from diverse disciplines and geographical regions to engage in knowledge exchange and creation on elite education, and extend this critical discussion internationally through papers in book, journal and online formats, videos, and social media engagement.

The relationship between the education of privileged groups and marginalized communities has received increasing attention. Further, questions are increasingly being asked about how studies of elite education can better address the changes associated with rapidly shifting and diverse economic and political, global and national circumstances. As well, a new research focus has emerged on the social justice/responsibility proclamations and practices of elite education institutions themselves, raising the question of how credible are they and what other approaches might plausibly encourage the privileged to challenge their own status. Leading and emerging scholars from multiple disciplines, as well as those doing research in multi-national contexts, will pre-circulate papers which will then be rigorously debated at the conference with a view to subsequent collective publication. In addition, this event will be geared toward practitioners working in elite schools to promote a social justice agenda.

 

Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education for the Digital Era: Teacher Educators, Literacy Educators, and Digital Technology Experts Working Together

Principal Investigator: Clare Kosnik, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning

Professor Clare Kosnik is the recipient of a 2014 SSHRC Connection Grant for her project entitled, “Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education for the Digital Era: Teacher Educators, Literacy Educators, and Digital Technology Experts Working Together.” The Connection Grant aims to address how teacher educators should prepare student teachers for a digitally-complex world. Kosnik’s research seeks to address the question:  How do we create a literacy pedagogy that promotes a culture of flexibility, creativity, innovation, and initiative (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009). One of the aims of this project is to develop a statement on literacy teacher education that offers direction on how to integrate digital technology into teacher education literacy/English courses. The project includes scholars from three disciplines: teacher education, literacy education, and digital technology, and four countries: Canada, US, UK, and Australia.

A two-day symposium was held in June 2014 as part of the Connection Grant. The symposium aimed to sharpen insight into barriers teacher educators face in re-visioning their literacy/English courses in the digital age; offer researchers and teacher educators direction on literacy goals and English courses in teacher education; and provide teacher educators with examples of digitally-rich curriculum "in practice." The grant also supports the extension of the Literacy Teaching and Teacher Education website (www.literacyteaching.net) to include video interviews of participants discussing their views, current research and course outlines; produce an edited book “Building Bridges: Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education in a Digital Era” (Sense Publishers) and articles and conference papers for both scholarly and teacher-focused groups. These materials will provide a foundation for presentations at university Teaching Centres, teacher associations, and government organizations.  

References

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009). “Multiliteracies”:  New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal4(3), 164-195.